Island Hop: Vieques From San Juan

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YOU’RE IN the Caribbean, naturally having a great time. But you want to turn an already exciting vacation into a full-fledged adventure with a few extra days on an island you’ve never explored.

The solution? Some good, old-fashioned island hopping, which is alive and well in the Caribbean — if you know how to do it. Our new Island Hop feature gives you a way to add another (or more than one) destination to your trip, with a simple, easy-to-use format. These aren’t all the things to do or see in a destination — obviously —but they’re a great sample for a one or two-day trip.

So — say you’re exploring the sights and sounds of Old San Juan, but feel like adding Vieques to your itinerary. Here’s how.

HOW TO HOP THERE

There are two primary ways: one, you can hop by air. There’s Cape Air which offers flights from the early morning to the early evening from San Juan to Vieques (the flight is about 20 minutes). There’s also Vieques Air Link, which runs daily service as well, albeit not as frequently.

The other option is to rent a car and drive to Fajardo and take the ferry, which runs several times each day and, crucially, costs $4 round trip and takes about one hour and 15 minutes. If you want to bring the rented car with you, the car ferry takes about twice that. (You can also leave the car in Fajardo).

GRAB A BITE

The larger Isabel II and the smaller Esperanza are both good dining bets, with restaurants ranging from more tourist-focused fare to pure culinary excellence. Some suggestions? El Quenepo (Esperanza), La Zafra (Isabel) and Bili (Esperanza), among a host of others.

HORSE AROUND

You’ll become fast friends with many locals in Vieques, but no one is friendlier than the quasi-wild horses that freely roam the island. Just think twice if you’re looking for good conversation.

BEACH HOP

Vieques has more beaches than you can count (at least two dozen, give or take a few), and you’ll almost always find one that’s empty. It’s a great way to spend a quick island hop.

SOMETHING UNIQUE

You can kayak in the evening on Vieques’ Mosquito Bay, also known as Bioluminescent Bay, which is an experience you’ll likely not forget. There are a number of good operators, including Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio Bay Tours and Vieques Adventure Company.

Above: the W Retreat & Spa

STAY FOR A BIT

The island’s top hotel is the luxurious W Retreat & Spa, set on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic coast. If you’re hopping on a smaller budget, try Hector’s By the Sea.

What’s your favourite way to island hop to Vieques? Tell us below in the comments section.

— CJ