If you’ve ever been to Puerto Rico, there’s a better than even chance you might have heard of an island just off the east coast called Vieques. It’s a small island about 8 miles and a short ferry ride from Ceiba. While the island is stunning, getting around in Vieques is a little bit more challenging than it is on the main island.
This post will explain how to choose the right Vieques car rental for your vacation.
We’ll share with you some of the things we learned along the way that you need to consider before you rent a vehicle and what your car rental options in Vieques are.
Related post: Check out our list of answers to common questions about Vieques. They may be helpful as you plan your trip!
Bringing a rental car to Vieques
It’s easy to rent a car on the main island in Puerto Rico. But can you take your car as part of your trip to Vieques?
Well, the answer is: it depends on your rental contract. Most people I talked to told me that their rental agreements prohibited bringing their rental cars to Vieques.
Vieques road conditions
And there’s a good reason for that. While Puerto Rico has some challenges with roads in need of repair, the situation is doubly so in Vieques. Getting around in Vieques is challenging for a few reasons.
First, there are paved roads around a lot of the island. But those roads don’t necessarily take you everywhere you want to go. Most of the beaches in Vieques, for example, are at the end of dirt roads. And a lot of those roads are rocky and full of potholes and ruts.
Second, even on the paved roads, there is a lot of brush growth that extends out into the road. There’s a very good probability, no matter what type of vehicle you have, that there’s going to be branches that scrape against it.
In other words, there’s a very good chance your rental car contract will prohibit travel to Vieques.
Taking a car on the ferry
Can you take a car to Vieques even if your rental car contract allows it? The short answer is yes. The practical answer is no.
Why? There are two types of ferries that run between Ceiba and Vieques – passenger ferries and cargo ferries. The passenger ferries only take passengers, as the name suggests. The cargo ferries take passengers, cargo, and cars.
BUT – they generally don’t take tourist vehicles. That’s because there is very limited space on these ferries. And to the extent that they take cars at all, they’re practically limited to residents of Vieques. For all intents and purposes, you’re probably not going to be driving in Vieques in your rental car from San Juan.
Do you need a car in Vieques?
No, you don’t need to rent a car in Vieques. Many resourceful people go to Vieques and get around the island just fine using taxis and vans that commute around the island. If you’re on a tight budget, this is something you might consider.
That said, we’re pretty budget-conscious, but I couldn’t imagine getting around in Vieques this way. Just the amount of time you’d have to put into arranging your schedule would be enormous, in my opinion. I put together a sample Vieques itinerary for example that would be very difficult to do if you had to rely on someone else to get you there.
Getting around in Vieques without some form of transportation is just not very practical – especially if you don’t have much time. Most of the beaches in Vieques are outside the towns. Even the ones that are close are generally not within walking distance.
And if you want to visit the military bunkers, forget it – even publicos and taxis don’t generally go there.
You need something to drive. So, what kind of Vieques car rental should you aim for?
Rental options in Vieques
To drive in Vieques, you have several options. They are:
- Golf Cart
- UTV (basically a suped-up golf cart)
- Jeep/4-wheel drive
The perils of driving a regular car in Vieques
Right out of the gate, I’ll advise against getting a regular rental car in Vieques. As I said above, they just don’t have the clearance you’ll need to navigate the potholes and deep ruts you’ll probably find on your way to the beaches, bunkers, and other spots on the island.
A car is the worst transportation option in Vieques, in my opinion. Unless you plan only on commuting on paved roads between, say, Isabella II and Esperanza, don’t get a car.
What about a scooter?
A scooter is a good transportation option in Vieques – until it rains. And it will rain. We did see a few people riding scooters in Vieques. And we also saw several people on scooters hiding under trees while it poured.
We thought about renting a scooter. Ultimately, we decided against it for this very reason.
Using a golf cart in Vieques
This is the type of vehicle we chose. And, buy “chose” I mean we really had no choice. One thing you need to know is that whatever you want to drive, you need to rent it well in advance. All Vieques rental vehicles go quite fast and you may find yourself with nothing to drive if you don’t book in advance.
We wanted a Jeep. We couldn’t find one available. When we checked before we came to Vieques, there seemed to be plenty in stock. But we were out of luck when we got there.
In the end, our golf cart got us everywhere we wanted to go and we were satisfied with it. Other than the fact that it was old and on its last legs/wheels, we didn’t have any problems.
Just keep in mind that you’ll have to be careful. A golf cart doesn’t have a lot of power if you end up getting stuck in the mud by taking it off-road. It very nearly happened to us on a few occasions.
Using a UTV in Vieques
I’ve never driven a UTV, but I really really wanted to! We saw plenty of people getting around in Vieques using them. They look fun to drive – a golf cart on steroids, so to speak. UTVs have a higher wheel-base than a regular golf cart and have quite a bit more power. They’re made for a place like Vieques.
I still would have preferred the Jeep, but if I could have rented a UTV, I would have been on it in a second. Every time we passed by one, I was immediately jealous while watching from my insignificant, comparatively wimpy golf cart.
Rent a Jeep in Vieques (if you can get one)
If you plan on exploring the island in any depth, I believe renting a Jeep for your Vieques vacation is the best option by far. First of all, you’re not going to have any issues getting anywhere you want to go. A Jeep can handle anything Vieques throws at it.
Second, it’s enclosed. And that’s good for a couple of reasons – it keeps the rain out and it keeps the sharp thorny branches out when you’re driving along roads that are a little overgrown.
Third, you can lock it. Now, I never felt like anyone in Vieques was interested in stealing anything from me. But the added security of having doors on your vehicle where you can lock your valuables while at the beach is an added comfort.
The best rental options in Vieques
In the end, it all comes down to how you want to play it. You need to decide your comfort level and how you deal with a bit of risk. In order of most to least-preferred, here’s how I rank the best ways to get around in Vieques:
- Jeep (or another 4-wheel drive)
- Golf cart
Where to rent a vehicle in Vieques
So now that you’ve made your choice, where can you find a good place to rent a vehicle in Vieques?
I’ve compiled a list of rental places below. The phone numbers are U.S. numbers, of course, so if you’re making an international call, preface the number with +1. I’ve put an asterisk in parentheses next to the places that I’ve found online to be the most highly recommended.
Where to rent a Jeep in Vieques
You can always rent a car at many of these places if you wish. I wouldn’t recommend it. But hey! Your choice! And don’t worry about the fact that some of them aren’t close to the center of town in Isabella II. The good guys will bring your car to you.
- Coqui Car Rental: 787-741-3696
- Maritza’s Car Rental: 787-741-0078 (*)
- Island Jeep Rental: – 787-741-3318
- Vieques Car Rental: – 787-412-8540 (*)
- Island Car Rental: – 787-741-8822
- Avis Rent-A-Car – 787-397-2533 (*)
Scooter rental in Vieques
Golf Cart and UTV rentals in Vieques
- Scooters to Rent by Vieques – 939-437-2053
- Vieques UTV Rental – 787-900-2535
- Vieques Car Rental – 787-412-8540 (*)
- Maritza’s Car Rental: 787-741-0078 (*)
Taxis and public vans (publicos)
Here is a list I found of some of the more reliable taxis and publicos in Vieques. I don’t have personal experience using any of these, but I’ve seen some of these folks at various places around the island.
- Letty Perez/Kiani Tours – 787-556-6003
- Vieques Taxi – 787-741-TAXI (8294)
- Henry – 787-649-3838
- Jose Morales – 787-435-4277
- Juanito – 787-645-2329
- M&M Taxi – 939-208-1600
- Angie Chauffeur – 787-455-4596
- Vieques Tours & Transportation – 787-397-2048
Enjoy your trip to this wonderful island. If you’ve had an experience with driving in Vieques, let us know what you thought in the comments.
We think we’re right that a Jeep is the best option for transportation in Vieques. How about you?
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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert. Michael has traveled to over 50 countries learning how to experience more for less as he travels.