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What? Where? Why? When? How?

We invite your questions about Vieques. We can't promise to answer all of your questions, but will attempt to answer as many as we can and you will get a personal response.

Please email all questions to: Ask Tammy
The questions posted here are chosen for their general interest to travelers and are, for the most part, timeless in nature.

Questions?
Question? Hi! I am wondering if you have any recommendations for Gluten Free dining in Vieques. While we plan on cooking many meals, we would like to enjoy a few meals out.
Answer. Jimmy at Coqui Fire Cafe can totally accommodate gluten free, most of the items except for burrito sms fried foods are gf. Taverna Joe makes zucchini noodles dishes and other gf foods, and El Quenepo are pretty good with that, too.
Katarina (our gluten-free friend)
Question? Tammy can you tell me where can I rent a crib for my child while in Vieques?
Answer. Crib rentals are available at Vieques baby rentals and more. Ask for Patti 787-435-2465. Do it ASAP to make sure you can get one. They are in limited supply.
Owen
Question? So, what's the job situation like at the new resort on Vieques?
Answer. The W Retreat and Spa opened April 1, 2010. If you're interested in applying for a job, the W invites you to go online to www.Whotels.com/careers.  They expect 50% of their future staff to come from the island of Vieques....
Jim
Question? We are coming to your lovely island for 2 days in Sept. Does anyone there rent jet skis???
Answer. There is a Jet Ski rental, go to www.enchanted-isle.com/fyivieques.htm for the contact number.. But you could rent a kayak through Blue Caribe Kayaks and enjoy a bit of the coastline that way!
Thanks for asking!

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Question? I've been enjoying reading your newsletter, and it sounds like Vieques will be perfect for my next trip. My biggest question is where to stay. I am looking for a guesthouse near a swim-able beach. I am not looking for anything fancy just clean and friendly. Does anyone offer MAP? If not a will need a close inexpensive restaurant. I am traveling on a budget and need the most bang for my buck. One more question will I miss the crowds if I visit around April 15, or do you have crowds? I'm not sure if this would be of interest for the newsletter, if not I would love it if someone would e-mail some advise.
Answer. Thanks for your letter! Since you are on a budget I would suggest that you stay in Esperanza, just a short walk to beautiful Sun Bay and some other smaller beaches. Banana's, Amapola, Trade Winds, Posada Vistamar and Ted's guest house offer affordable rates and there are plenty of inexpensive places to eat right on the strip. There also is a place referred to as Chateau Esperanza, this is not deluxe! You share a bathroom with others and it is definitely no frills but lots of the younger travelers have made it their home base while here. It is just a short walk into Esperanza and to Sun Bay also. The season here is usually defined as Christmas through April, so coming in May should be a bit less crowded. You should have no problem getting a room somewhere at that time. Good luck!
Jim
Question? My family and I will be coming to Vieques in April.
I am looking for things to do with my family and all sites that are interesting.
Would you kindly recommend any web sites re: Vieques.
thank you so much !!
Answer. As far as websites dealing with Vieques, I recommend www.enchanted-isle.com and www.vieques.travel.  Also on the opening page of the site is a link to tour PR which deals with the main island. Hard to recommend things for the family to do since I don't know ages of people. A must do is the Bio Bay trip, either by electric boat with Island Adventures or by kayak which you can do through Blue Caribe Kayak. If you are interested in Scuba Diving go with Nan-Sea Charters, they also offer snorkeling trips, as does Vieques Charters. If you have time I would suggest a trip to the big island and tour El Yunque, the rain forest. You can take the ferry over and return the same day. Renting a car is easy and close to the ferry dock, the rain forest is about a 25 minute drive from the ferry. Check out the Fort in Vieques to get an idea of the history of the island and see great views of Vieques and the big island. You can make a quick trip in and out of the Lighthouse; that too offers some history. Stop by the Vieques Historic Society and Trust, again you can do that easily as it is on the strip in Esperanza. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy some of the gorgeous beaches like Sun Bay and Green Beach. Green Beach is best in the morning as the bugs can get bad in the afternoon. Check out Chez Shack for Grill night, Duffy often has a live steel drum band on Grill Night. I would call for reservations and information when you get here. Things could change in the next several months so keep reading the Vieques Events & Happenings page. Bring a few books to read and plan on relaxing. Hope this helps you out and thank for writing.

 
Question? I reviewed several web pages of accommodations but but found only moderate and high priced lodging. One of the pages noted (without providing any names) that one could find overnight rates as low as $10/night for 2 people. I was not necessarily expecting anything that low, but I am wondering if there is anything-including camping-in the $10-$25/night/person range.
Thanks for your help.
Answer. There has been nothing we're aware of for $10 a night in Vieques for quite a while, but camping is available at Sun Bay for about $10/night, you can contact them at 787-741-8198. I hesitate to recommend that option as petty crime is a problem and I would not suggest leaving things unattended at the site.
 

Question? I would like to know what's happening on Vieques as with the soldiers?
Answer. The Navy is gone and the bases have opened with thousands of acres to explore. Be safe and stay out of the areas which say DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT! This is because there are mortar ranges, grenade ranges and other areas where ordinance which are still being cleaned up.
The
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Question? We are planning a trip in February. Wondered what is going on at that time. This will be our first trip.
Answer. Nothing much changes here except for the number of people that time of year. Make sure that you reserve a car now for Feb. Feb. and March are probably our busiest months with tourists on the island. The water temps are usually in the high 70s depending on the area. Day temps should run into the mid 80s. We can still get some cool nights in Feb.  Make sure that upon arrival you book your trip to see Bio Bay, this is a must see. You may even want to make reservations for that before you get here. You can either do it by Kayak with the Blue Caribe Kayaks or at Island Adventures, she has an electric boat that she uses. Also if you are a water person, do some snorkeling, either on you own or with Vieques Charters or Nan Sea Charters (Nan-Sea also offers scuba diving). Blue Caribe also offers snorkel gear rentals. Days and evenings are relaxed, no need for any real fancy clothing. Sitting at any of the bars on the island you will meet travelers from all over and that can always be fun. Be careful about asking your servers what brought them here, we sometimes get tired of answering those questions several times a day!! You will find most people to be very friendly and helpful and all will tell you there favorite places to go. If you have time you may want to stay on the main island and visit El Yunque, the rain forest. It is lovely and there are some hikes that don't take much time. There are no casinos and night clubs here in Vieques however sometimes on the weekends there is music offered at some of the bars. Bring a few good books to read as you will have lots of time to just relax, you can see most of the island in a day! Remember to bring your sunscreen, nothing can ruin a vacation more than a bad sunburn! Hope you enjoy our lovely island.
Jim
 
Question? I have been reading and enjoying your column over the past few months and getting very excited about my husband's and my last trip alone (as we are expecting) down there over New Years and the first few days of January. I have a question about beaches. We love sandy beaches with few rocks that we can walk in, similar to St. Johns which is a favorite of ours. What suggestions do you have for a 3-4 day stay, with one or so beach per day? Are any of them better for snorkeling? - which I know may be the opposite of the sandy spots.
Thank You!
Answer. The best beach for walking would be Sun Bay. it is almost a mile long and beautiful. You can snorkel around the islands just off Esperanza and Sun Bay also. Some people really like snorkeling around Gringo Beach also, that is located very close to where the new W Resort is located. I have had fun snorkeling way out around the southern point of Green Beach also, which is located on USFWS land. The best beach for perhaps doing both activities is Blue Beach. You can check out all the beaches at www.enchanted-isle.com/vieques-beaches . Green Beach is best in the morning as the bugs can get bothersome after about 2 in the afternoon. You may enjoy doing a snorkel trip with Blue Caribe or Abe's Snorkeling too. You will find other areas on your own that you may like to walk just exploring the coastlines! Enjoy your vacation!
Judy

Question? I am looking for property on Vieques on the leeward side (South) of the Island. It must be approved to build a home and it must have a view of the sea.
Answer. If you go to the fyi page you will find a listing to the Island's realtors. They all have properties for sale. Once you're here, you can ask around in the community for other properties, which might not be listed. Good luck!
Question?  How do we get to Vieques, and what are our options?
Answer. In answer to the readers question, there are many airlines flying passengers and round trip fare from International is up to $135 and up. The other option would be taking a cab to Isla Grande airport and going to Vieques from there, again there is no flight after about 5 PM though and by the time you pay the taxi I do not know how much savings there would be. The airline schedules for advertisers are posted here on the Enchanted Isle. Non-advertiser schedules are posted here. I doubt that arriving at International at 2:45 would allow enough time for collecting luggage and reaching the ferry in Fajardo however you probably could make the last flight from Fajardo. Also there are now Car Services, Travel with Rivera and Mary & Angel, that will pick you up in San Juan and deliver you to the ferry in Fajardo, or if you get in too late, Travel with Rivera will book you a room at the Fajardo Inn and drop you off there and pick you up in the AM to get you to the ferry.

Ferry Schedule vieques-ferry.htm  They don't take passenger reservations.
The ferry is taking about 1 1/2 hours by the time you actually get off the boat these days. The flight from both airports in San Juan runs about 1/2 hour and about 10 minutes from Fajardo
Jim

Question? What do you know about Casa del Frances? We stayed there years ago.
Thanks!
Answer. The Casa burned to the ground in 2005 and has not been rebuilt yet.

jim

Question? I looked up the historical weather conditions, in January, and it seems every day is cloudy with rain. I'd like to visit in the middle of January. Does it always rain, daily, in January? 

What is your opinion of renting a cottage versus staying in a hotel? Do you know any romantic one bedroom cottages (preferably on a beach)? Do you know any romantic hotels? Price is a consideration. 

 
Answer. The weather is fabulous here in January, days usually sunny and warm, nights a bit cooler(70's) even requiring a long sleeved shirts sometimes. Clouds roll through the islands on a regular basis however I do not remember a week that it was cloudy all day. IT could be cloudy on one side of the island and bright and sunny on the other side. You just never know for sure. Find the historical weather here- vieques-facts.htm

As far as a romantic hotel, I would suggest The Inn on the Blue Horizon and Hacienda Tamarindo are both located very close to the ocean. Check out their websites for more information. Both have swimming pools too.

Off the top of my head the only rental houses that I can think of on the water that might be small and affordable are La Casita del Amor, and Casa Preciosa. Another option could be Casa La Lanchita, a comfortable guest house, and may be the most affordable option. All have links on the Vieques Information page. Browse through the listings and you might find just what you are looking for. As January is a busy month here do not wait to long to make your reservations.
jim
Question? I'm traveling (from the UK) to Puerto Rico at the end of November and though I may spend a few days in Esperanza. I've looked at numerous websites but as yet have not managed to find any details of single room accommodation (on the whole of Puerto Rico!). Obviously I don't mind taking a double room but ideally would be looking for something moderately priced ($50-70?) if I did this. Is it possible to stay this cheaply on Vieques? Also is it possible to get around Vieques without a car?
Answer. I don't think you will find many places to stay in the $70 price range, with the possible exception of Casa Alta Vista.  You will find more in the $80-100 range.. There are several options in Esperanza listed on the Vieques Information page. It is no problem getting around w/o a car. During the day, there are 'publicos' (public cars - vans actually) that go back and forth to Isabel II and to the various barrios. After dark, it's a different story, but cruising Esperanza on foot will provide all the entertainment you probably need if you've chosen Vieques as a vacation spot. 
Jim

 
Question? I am looking to rent a house (I think) for my family. It would be at the end of April for perhaps 10 days. We will be attending a meeting in Puerto Rico ( I don't know the exact dates yet). I am not sure of where I should look to rent. We would like to be on the ocean if possible and have a pool for our daughter she is 7. 
Should we stay in the Esperanza area? We like to go to restaurants and see the sites.
 
Answer. Rental houses are listed here. You will want to rent a car regardless so that you can get to the beaches and to the sights. To find out more about the rental houses you can check with the Realtors that manage various homes and villas, or use the link above.  Options range from Studios to 8+ bedrooms! It only takes about 14 minutes to get from one side of the island to the other so getting out to eat is not difficult! You should not have too much trouble finding a nice house to rent in April as that is when our season starts to wind down a bit. Good luck.
Jim
 
Question? We are 2 families (total of 6 kids from 5 to 15) looking for a place to stay. 
We have looked at some websites of some villas, with pools. They seem lovely, but not on any beaches. Are there any "luxury" villas within short walk to beaches? What do you think of the north side vs the south side? Any other thoughts?
Thanks. 
 
Answer. I think at this point you are better off talking with one of the Realtors or Property Managers about a house. Mid February is a very busy time here and I don't know of many houses that can accommodate the number of people you are traveling with that have a pool and close to the ocean. Check with all the Realtors as to what is available at that time. They can put you in two houses that are in close proximity. Rainbow Realty as well as Vieques Fine Properties have a large selection of rental properties. As long as you have a car/cars, it does not matter which side of the island you stay on. The really great beaches are not easy to walk to, except Sun Bay. Make your car reservations as soon as possible as many people book a year in advance for Feb.

Check out the information page to get the phone numbers you need http://enchanted-isle.com/fyivieques.htm  
Good luck and enjoy Vieques.  

Question? Can you shed any light on how income is taxed for someone who retires or lives on Vieques? I have some limited info that you do not pay US income tax, but there may be equally high PR tax. We have been to Vieques a couple of times and am considering retirement/second career on the island. Thanks for any help or direction for info.
Answer. I am going to refer you right to the accountant on the island. Technically there is no Federal Income Tax and the PR tax is on the high side. Victor Simmons 787-741-0189 in Vieques. He is not on the island every day as I believe he has an office on the main island as well. One of the women in his office speaks perfect English and she too may be able to answer your questions. Hope they can help you!  There is also a 7% retail tax.
Question? I would like to come to Vieques next March and bring my 18 year old son and his cousin. They are typical late teenagers: interested in girls, not interested in parents, like the sound of music more than waves etcetera.
They think that Vieques sounds interesting for maybe two days and then they would be dead bored. Is this an accurate conclusion? What can I say to them? Will there be lots of other young adults? Where do they hang out to get away from parents? What can I suggest as adventures for them? Thank you.
Answer. The one thing that might entertain them is the fact that the drinking age is still 18 here! However you may not like that as a parent! As long as they have a valid photo ID, they can be served at any bar. There are lots of local (native Viequense) girls that can be found walking the Malecon on weekend evenings and music quite often on the Malecon. Also families come down from the Northeast depending on when the school break is. There are always college spring breaks! The number of young adults on the island seems to increase each year. Early Sunday afternoons lots of the younger (and not so young) folks who work on the island get together to play volleyball at Navio Beach. They could always rent bikes or kayaks to see the island as well. One 18 yr. old might be bored however when a buddy is along they usually manage to entertain themselves Good luck!
Question? I spent some time on Vieques last January, and I am currently looking for a way to go back for a more extended stay to do some writing and relaxing. But since that will mean being unemployed and leaving NY, I'd need to find a way to save money. Do you know of people who are looking for someone to house/pet sit for them for a few months, or even just one month? I met someone last year who took care of a house that people owned but rented out. She did their laundry, took care of the short term renters, and then had her own apt. for free. I'd appreciate any pointers you can give me.
Answer. As of right now I do not know of any situations like that. These situations do come up now and then but usually they involve paying a minimal rent and utilities. You might try posting a message on the Vieques Classifieds. You could also try running an ad in The Vieques Events and see if you get a response. Many of the owners use their houses from Nov. through April or they get rentals those months, you might have better luck arranging something for the off season. Good luck.
Question? I am interested in traveling to Vieques with a colleague. What type of travel documents do we need? Is it like traveling to any other city in USA in the mainland? 
Are ID cards enough for travel from the mainland? 
I would appreciate a response.
 
Answer. All you need to travel to Puerto Rico is a drivers license (with photo) as long as you are a US citizen. I usually carry my passport and /or birth certificate with me anyway. Since the airlines sometimes ask for 2 valid forms of ID it just seemed easier to make sure that I had a back up! Also if you decide to do some island hoping you would need a passport to go to the British Virgin Islands. No visas or shots are needed ! 
Travel light, you don't need lots of fancy clothes here on Vieques, nice shorts and shirts are acceptable at all restaurants and the uniform is usually shorts and t-shirts during the day! The airlines (to Vieques) have the option of charging you extra for more than 25 pounds worth of luggage.
Thanks for writing!

Question? I am interested in renting a vacation home for my husband and I and another couple. We would love something on or near a beach. We also love sunsets. Is there a listing of villas for rent on Vieques? Is it too late for this February? 
Thank you for your assistance
.  
Answer. If you go to http://enchanted-isle.com/fyivieques.htm  you will find the information page with a listing of all of the "rentals by Owner" with links to pages complete with pictures and contact info. Also there are real estate people all of whom can help you find a place to stay. (Before November)It's probably not too late to find a rental, but the best ones do go quickly, so I would jump on it immediately. What goes faster than the house is the car rentals, so you should make and confirm those plans at the same time. Most of the car rental agencies are also available thru the FYI page. Good luck and enjoy your stay.
Question? I have been advised to read your web page, which I have, and find it very informative.

I shall be coming from England to Vieques for Christmas with my wife and 2 friends. We are staying in the "Crow's Nest", but can you advise what is happening over Christmas and who will be open?

Many thanks
Answer. Thanks for telling us that people are suggesting the "what's happenin'" as a must read! You are a month ahead of me. The plans for the Dec. edition will deal with the Holidays in Vieques. I will try and find out who is doing what for Xmas and New Years. As of right now I doubt that anyone has a definite plan so you will just have to wait until next month. If after reading through the archives you have decided on a specific restaurant that you think you would want to have dinner at (Christmas Day) you can always call them directly and see what their plans are and make reservations. I do know that the Inn on the Blue Horizon gets booked early so waiting until you get here may be a problem. As to the others they may be easier to get a reservation upon your arrival. Look for the next edition the first week in Dec.
Thanks for your letter.

Question? Our family is considering coming to Vieques for a week or 10 days late next fall...perhaps Thanksgiving. We are looking for a vacation with easy access to beaches (so we can stroll without planning a trip), longish beaches to walk on, and snorkeling from shore (which is conducive to the shorter snorkeling trips the kids enjoy, but lets the parents snorkel on longer while we keep half an eye on the kids while they play on the beach).
We loved camping at Cinnamon Bay at St. John's a couple years ago, but Mom would prefer a place with a warm water shower and not having to cook every meal. Does this sound like a good match with Vieques' resources? Can you make any housing recommendations? We are not in the luxury price range, but hope $100 a night might get us a room or apartment with some cooking facilities.! ! We would love to do without renting a car, but probably would need one as I guess we would find the snorkeling and beaches away from town? 
Answer. Vieques is much different from St. John as far as access to long, sandy beaches for walking. I spent a day on St. John and although did not see much, the feeling was very different. I think that you would be happiest in Esperanza as far as having easier access to Sun Bay which is great for walking. The beaches (Red, Blue, Orchid, etc.) located on the USFWS reserve (need a car to get to these) are provide great snorkeling. Blue Beach is great for walking and snorkeling.  If you decide not to rent a car, why not sign up with one of the companies that offer snorkeling tours?
I always will suggest renting a car to see and get around the island. By staying in Esperanza you may not need a car for the entire length of you stay but do rent one for at least 3 days. You can also take advantage of the Publicos (taxis) they make regular passes through Esperanza and Town and will drop you off at the beach however make sure they agree to come back and get you at a specific time.
As far as rental houses you can check with the Realtors as to what they have available in your price range. Also go through the listing available on the Vieques information page. Ted's guest house may also work , I believe he has 2 two bedroom suites with kitchen for $100 a night, 741-2225.
If you stay on the north side of the island you would definitely want a car the entire trip. There is a nice guest house, Casa La Lanchita, located right on the water with a small beach. The snorkeling is great, however the ocean needs to be very calm for safe snorkeling with children. It is about a 10 minute walk into Isabel (town).
Because of the age of the children I would suggest you find a place that does have a TV, not all do, and find out if they have a satellite. We only get 1 or 2 channels in English depending on where you stay! There is no cable available here! Some of the rentals do have a DVD's and selection of videos available to! Many of us like not having TV however children may not find that quite as enchanting! 
While here take advantage of a snorkeling trip by bkayak with Blue Caribe Kayak.
Hope this helps you out.
 
Question? What would you say are the best overall resources on the site?
Answer. The FYI Page gives you links to all the important information on the site. It includes lodging, restaurants, shops, rentals, and this page. Also, read all the issues of What's Happenin'. Armed with all of that, you'll have an "informed vacation".
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Question? I was wondering, if we are traveling light, is it possible to take a publico from San Juan to Fajardo? How long would it take? What do you recommend?
Answer. That would be a real adventure, but, if you've never traveled that way before, you may be in for a surprise. The route is far from direct, stopping in many places along the way. There are transfers in other towns, because there is no direct publico to Fajardo Playa. You have to know which corner to transfer to when you get to the different towns to catch the publico for the next leg.
Here is an explanation of the system from another website.
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If you get to San Juan before noon, you can make it to Fajardo by using the public car system ("carros publicos"). Give yourself at least 4 hours to make sure you get to Fajardo on time. First, take a taxi from the airport to the town of Rio Piedras (about $20), ask the driver to take you to the Rio Piedras central public car station and to leave you at the stop for the cars going to Fajardo "playa" (beach). These cars will take you directly to the Fajardo ferry boats or to the Fajardo airport. If the Fajardo playa cars are already gone, you can still take the cars on the regular Fajardo plaza route. Unless the driver agrees to take you all the way to the airport or port (they are not supposed to do it) you will end at the Fajardo plaza where you will take another public car to the airport or ferries. The whole trip in public car costs less than $10 per person
=================
A taxi to Fajardo is about $65 for the ride and an hour to an hour and a half.
The Publico can be a hassle if you don't speak some Spanish as PR is a Spanish speaking country, and not everyone speaks English.
For peace of mind and a smooth start to your vacation, I recommend taxi.
There is a service that will pick you up at the Int'l Airport and drop you at the ferry in Fajardo, even book you a room in Fajardo, if you get in late. Travel with Rivera

jim for the ASK JUDY team

Question? What are the expected costs for a Publico in Vieques?
Answer. PUBLICOS IN VIEQUES - You can use the publicos in Vieques for very inexpensively.. There is no taxi service in Vieques. The publico fares are regulated, and they are: 
$2/person one way trip to anywhere in the civilian area 
$5/person one way trip to anywhere in the military bases 
$5/person for a tour of Lighthouse, Fort, Sun Bay Beach in Esperanza 
You can make arrangements with any of the drivers to pick you up at specified times


Question? Can you give any general info on the island? size, weather, etc?
Answer. Vieques Island is 55 square miles and has less than 10,000 inhabitants and not many visitors. The beaches are just gorgeous. The Island is about 21 miles long by 5 miles at its widest point and it is located between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, just 6 miles from the south-east coast of Puerto Rico. 

The currency is the US dollar, the postal service is U.S. Postal Service, English is spoken by most locals (Spanish is the official language), and no passport is required. The electrical current is the same as in the U.S., 110 AC, more or less. The temperature does not fluctuate outside the 60-90 degrees and is usually in the mid 80's. The island is rather dry with no clearly defined rain season. 


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