Highlights from our trip to Vieques April 11-19, 2

Trip Start Apr 11, 2007
Trip End Apr 19, 2007

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Flag of Puerto Rico  ,
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vieques has more lodging options than Culebra. I would definitely stay in Esperanza instead of Isabel II. We rented two studios
George's:  The Armijo family has an efficiency studio in their backyard that they rent occasionally. No A/C, clean and probably the cheapest accommodation in the island. It's two doors from the next.
Casa de Kathy:  http://kbg.web.prdigital.com/Casa/CasaKathy.html
Although the web site looks average, the place is much nicer than the photos. We rented the studio and is very clean, ample, has AC and also is nicely decorated. It has a small fridge, microwave, sink, etc. There are also beach chairs, umbrella and beach gear free of charge.
The owner, Kathy, is a great hostess and a local personality and besides driving us to an art opening and accompanying us for dinner the first night, she invited us for dinner at her apartment on our last night.  We definitely recommend it and would go back in our next stay in the island.
If you are a light sleeper perhaps Vieques is not for you. The whole island is full of roosters and around 4:30 am (way before sunrise) they start to crow. If you add the barking dogs, and that there are no proper windows, just louvers, is mayhem. Anyhow earplugs and the noise of the AC were enough for us.
Car rental:
In Culebra we rented a scooter (great an easy option) but I wouldn't do it in Vieques. A 4WD is a must. Most of the roads to the beaches are unpaved, uneven and full of potholes. We rented from Acevedo's Car Rentals (787) 741-4380, the oldest, breaking apart, bump-covered Cherokee on the island, but served us perfectly ($40/day no need for insurance) and you don't want a brand new shiny car in those roads. Is very easy to get a scratch and you don't want to pay for it. Acevedo let us drop-off the car at the airport the last day early in the morning, while picking up the paying voucher the day before, so no surprises and nice gesture of him.
There are several Colmados in the island with similar prices and little variety.
In Esperanza we shopped in the one located in Almendro St (very convenient) and closes at 6pm. The one around the corner over Hucar St belongs to the same family, opens at 6pm and closes late, but it almost only has drinks and works more like a bar with patrons sitting outside. The Tienda Verde is the other option in town. In Isabel II there is a larger (not much) supermarket. Not worthy to drive over there just to do shopping.
Bakeries: For us the one in Esperanza, next door to the Colmado, was better than the ones in Isabel II. We had our breakfast there and bought sandwiches for the beach. Again not much variety when compared to the Bakery in Culebra.
We had dinner at Trade Winds, Bili's and el Quenepo. All had alike menus and similarly priced. We liked El Quenepo better but I'd try all of them. Also Duffy's for a light meal. In Isabel II we tried Richards which offers good local food.
Not to miss are the empanadas or pastelillos sold at a road place on road 906 going north just before the hospital. Our favorites pulpo (octopus) and carucho (conch).
The Bar at the Blue Horizon is also great. Try to arrive before sunset to appreciate it.
Puerto Rico has lower taxes on alcohol so if you want to bring some back is much cheaper. Nevertheless we discovered that you can buy anything at the Duty Frees at San Juan International Airport even if you are on domestic flights, and you can carry it on.
The Bioluminescent Bay: Don't miss it while still exists and get in the water. Even we have traveled extensively we were really impressed. Words can't do justice and I haven't seen any picture or recording even fair. But to be covered in drops of light is truly amazing.
The Beaches:
All of them are different and everyone can find their preferred one depending or their needs. Ours were Blue Beach and La Plata. We look for some shade, powdery sand, warm waters, isolation and good snorkeling.
Warning: everyone in the island warns you about petty theft in the beaches. We felt very safe the whole time although took the regular precautions. The real danger are those small balls covered in stings that fall from the vegetation. You'll be stepping on them all the time unless you wear flip-flops or water shoes.
There are some spots with good snorkeling: lively vegetation, some corals, conchs and plenty of sea life, and I was able to swim with some spotted sting rays for a while; but there are no signs at all to try to protect them and most of the tourists were stepping on them. So sadly, find them and enjoy them while they last.
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