Looking for a unique tourist destination in the Caribbean? Perhaps one that’s a little more secluded than your average touristy Caribbean island? If so, then we think Vieques might be for you. To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled this Vieques 3-day itinerary for people who want to get the most from a vacation on this under-rated island.
Most will travel from Puerto Rico to Vieques by ferry. Some by plane. And usually, they do it as a day trip from San Juan or as a short overnight trip to see the beaches or the bio-bay. We think only spending a day here really won’t allow you to see all the cool things to do in Vieques.
But we also don’t think you need to spend an entire week in Vieques to get a good feel for the island! Though after having visited Vieques, I wouldn’t turn down a week or more here.
Our Vieques 3-day itinerary is unique, interesting, and a little more engaging and educational than others. It’s just about perfect for most people.
Related post: Check out our list of answers to common questions about Vieques. They may be helpful as you plan your trip!
Vieques is an island in the Caribbean about 8 miles (13 km) off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico annexed Vieques in 1854. The island became a United States Territory (along with Puerto Rico) in 1898.
Vieques became noteworthy in 1999 and 2000 when it was the site of huge protests against the U.S. Government’s bombing tests and other military exercises by the Navy and Marines. The protests eventually lead the government to order an end to military tests in 2003.
Since that time, much of the area once used for military exercises is now part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, which is a major tourist draw to the island.
Further reading: Wikipedia has a very thorough history of the U.S. military in Vieques that details everything from the protests through the withdrawl and more.
The island is known for its amazing beaches. A lot of tourists also come to Vieques to experience Bioluminescent Bay (sometimes referred to as Puerto Mosquito or Mosquito Bay).
Whatever brings you to the island, we know from experience that you’ll enjoy visiting Vieques for three days. It’s a beautiful place.
Best time to visit Vieques
So, when should you visit Vieques? Well, the warmest time of the year in Vieques is from May through November when the temperatures are generally in the mid-80°s Fahrenheit or low-30°s Celsius. The highest average precipitation is from July through December.
We visited the island in mid-January, which is pretty much peak tourist season here. Still, we found the temperatures here to be quite comfortable.
Our recommended Vieques 3-day itinerary
So, what should you do in Vieques? Here is a sample Vieques 3-day itinerary that we think will help you get the most from your trip.
We’re going to assume you’re staying in Isabella II (a.k.a., Isabella Segunda), the town where the ferry docks. But you can follow our Vieques plan no matter where you choose to stay on the island.
For example, Esperanza is only 20 minutes away from Isabella II in a golf cart.
Vieques Itinerary – Day 1
For the first day in Vieques, we recommend hanging out in Isabella II. If you woke up early to catch the ferry to Vieques, you might just be in the mood to relax.
Morning: Travel by ferry to Vieques from Puerto Rico and get set up in your accommodations in Isabella II (or Esperanza).
Mid-morning: Rent a Jeep, UTV, or golf cart in Vieques from one of the many rental places on the island. Do not rent a regular car. You won’t be able to get to the best places without an SUV or golf cart. The clearance of a car just can’t do it. I also don’t recommend a scooter. It does rain here on occasion, and you’ll get soaked.
Lunch: We really liked the pizza at Mama Mia’s on the main road into Isabella II. It’s probably the best pizza in Vieques and they have a full menu of Italian food. The chicken wings are also great here. If you want cheaper wings and/or pizza, you’ll find them at William’s Pizza. Neither is quite as good as Mama Mias, but William’s is a lot cheaper.
Late afternoon-evening: We recommend taking a walk around town and familiarizing yourself with it. Find the coffee shops and bakeries. There are a few good places to get ice cream as well. If you get a bit hungry, check out the main square, as there are often food trucks there. If you’re staying in Esperanza, you’ll find plenty of people set up stalls and trailers selling great food as well.
Vieques Itinerary – Day 2
Morning: Wake up and head for breakfast at one of the many restaurants in Isabella II.
Mid-morning: Make your way over to Fortín Conde de Mirasol. It’s the last fort built by the Spanish in America. The fort houses a museum with lots of Caribbean art along with information about the sugarcane industry the island used to be famous for.
Lunch: Take a quick drive to Esperanza and have lunch and drinks at one of the beachside restaurants. We really liked Bananas restaurant in Esperanza.
My favorite food item there was the Tripleta Burger. OMG. It was good! Mofongo is on the menu, too, but we didn’t try it. I can only imagine it’s delicious.
Afternoon: This is a good time to head to the beach. We recommend Caracas Beach (Red Beach), as it’s quite popular and has facilities like toilets and shelters. They also have barbecue pits, so bring along those hotdogs and burgers and have a beach picnic later on.
Sun Bay Beach is another good beach with facilities (and a small restaurant) that’s very close to Esperanza.
Evening: Your Vieques 3-day itinerary would not be complete without a visit to the Bio-bay. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. This is because there are so many dinoflagellates in this very shallow water. When it’s nice and dark, the water glows blue when it’s disturbed. It really is an amazing experience.
A note about Bioluminescent Bay: If there is a full moon (or really, anything over about 30% light), don’t bother with this excursion. It will be a waste of your money because you won’t see anything. Except, that is, for the reflection of the moon on the water.
Vieques Itinerary – Day 3
Morning: After you’ve had your coffee and breakfast, we think you should check out something really quite cool. When we were here, we visited the Vieques Military Bunkers. Read our post to learn more about the Vieques bunkers, including their history and how to get there.
Late morning: One really neat place we went on our trip to Vieques was something we only stumbled upon by chance. After visiting the beaches, we happened to see a sign that said “Puerto Ferro Lighthouse” on the way out of the park.
It’s about a ten-minute drive to get to the lighthouse from the entrance to the Wildlife Refuge, but it’s worth it. The views from the cliffs here are stunning.
Be careful though. It can get quite windy at the top of the cliffs. And, well, they’ve had some earthquakes in the area.
Late lunch: You can’t come to Vieques without getting your fix of authentic Puerto Rican food. And the place to do that is a small restaurant called El Resuelve de Carmen.
This place has a ton of great reviews. And when we asked around for a place to get authentic Puerto Rican food on the island, this was always the first place mentioned.
Afternoon: For many of you, we expect your Vieques 3-day itinerary to end here. Generally speaking, the ferry leaves the island to go back to Ceiba a few times in the afternoon – usually 3 and 6 pm – sometimes more frequently. You have to go to the ferry terminal and check.
If you’re leaving today, we hope you enjoyed it and that our Vieques 3-day itinerary helped you have a great trip.
Late afternoon/evening: For those of you sticking around and leaving in the morning, perhaps you haven’t yet had enough beach time. If that’s you we highly recommend heading back to Esperanza and making your way to Playa Negra – Black Sand Beach – to watch the sunset.
Other Vieques itinerary ideas
We’ve covered some of the coolest things you can do on a Vieques 3-day itinerary. But the list is certainly not exhaustive, nor was it intended to be. We believe a few days like this can give you a really great feel for the island. We actually ended up staying for 5 days, mostly to do research for this post.
If you’re a beach person or a military buff, you might want to spend even more time here. There are dozens of great beaches and a lot more military history here than you can see just by visiting the bunkers.
If you go to Vieques and see anything we should add, please let us know!
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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.