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Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

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Charlotte
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56 posts
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Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

I love reading what all you folks share. It's so helpful. My husband and I and another couple are coming to Vieques Jan 28-Feb 4. I have been reading EVERYTHING I could find for months, including the blog and a local publication and feel like Vieques is a home I have never been to. I sure hope it turns out that way. We've rented the house through Rainbow and the jeeps through Martinez. I also have my handy-dandy 34 pages of free-flow researched info cut and pasted from the internet, including everything from reviews in this forum to maps from the US Navy. I research just because that's the way I'm wired, but also because I can't stand it when everyone looks at each other and says, "what do you want to do?" and the next one says, "I don't know - what do you want to do?". I want to avoid that dilemna. While I am a "research hound" and love having read all about the place I am visiting, I actually can just wing it when I get there, but I don't want to miss anything, so we're trying to figure out just how much stuff we can cover while still being "beach potatoes" some days. Having said all this, here are some of my questions:

1. I really want to go sailing (have never been) & Captain Jay was kind enough to call me when I emailed him and while his boats sound like a good choice, do you folks who have been or live there think it's a good choice to go sailing with him?

2. I am dying to try standup paddleboarding (yes, I am older and out of shape, but was athletic in my day) - is it easy enough for a novice to try?

3. What time of day should we plan on heading out for dinner? We are early eaters and like to avoid the biggest crowds at supper if we can.

4. Should we go with Abe's or with Garry at Vieques Adventure Co. to the bio-bay? Is there sufficient parking where we meet for this adventure or should we get there extra early?

5. Similar question on renting kayaks? First of all, who should we rent from and is it worth it to have a guide for at least our first time out snorkeling or should we strike out on our own? We are fine with either, but want to have the best experience possible.

6. Please tell me which beaches you all think we should not miss.

Thanks for reading all this and for any replies I get. Can't wait for this trip - it's for our 20th anniversary. I'm praying the weather in Charlotte, NC will be fine for us to leave and return - NO SNOW! NO ICE! Looking forward to being in Vieques!

Toronto, Canada
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for Toronto, Isla de Vieques
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1. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

Hi,

When we dine out it`s usually around 8:00PM, so we can`t be of much help on the earlier hours aspect of things.

We can tackle your item #6 with this link:

http://www.viequestravel.com/beaches.html

With a whole week on the island, you can do lots of beach exploring. We'd suggest a visit to Punta Arenas/ Green Beach in the morning, as it's known for its afternoon sand flies. The views back to the main island are beautiful. Others that shouldn't be missed are Sombe/Sun Bay & Navio in the Sun Bay Park, and all the beaches on the Wildlife Refuge (the Garcia beaches in the link) are musts.

Hopefully others who are less of the "beach potato" types than we are can chime in on your activity-based questions!

Enjoy your researching! (we agree it's almost as enjoyable as the traveling!)

Vieques
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2. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

I think trying to answer who is the BEST at a particular service is very difficult and a little unfair of us to state.It is relative anyway, you may have a good experince with any of the providers you mention but you may also have a personality clash with someone that may interfere with your enjoyment but has little bearing on the quality of the service that operator generally provides. We need more than one person offering a service like Kayaks and sailing ( and horse back riding or even restaurants or car rentals and villas) And if someone has a good experience ( or bad) they should write about it. Try one provider for your day trip and another for the bay, flip a coin if you must, all have received positive and occasionally critical reviews.

Snorkling is not rocket science, get some gear, read about where to go and if you find you enjoy it you can book a tour because the guide MAY be able to take you to some spots you might not find on your own.

Charlotte
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56 posts
11 reviews
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3. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

Thanks for your opinion and thoughts. I'm not necessarily trying to find the "best" - I'm just looking for some feedback. Obviously, we all want lots of vendors - that's what makes the economy good, but some are better than others and some are licensed, etc. It just helps to get feedback from kind people who have been where you're going.

Indiana
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805 posts
8 reviews
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4. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

I know the way you feel regarding Vieques, we still feel that way.

I can't answer any questions regarding sailing because we haven't done any yet. You didn't mention Island Adventures on your bio-bay list? Have you decided on kayaks only? We did the pontoon and loved it. Also had a meal at Island Adventures when we returned. The guides on the tour were very knowledgeable and talked about not ony the bio bay ecosytem, but the night sky, from red dwarfs to constellations.

You didn't mention if you've snorkeled before? If you have, not going out with a guide might be ok. We didn't go out with a guide, but have managed to find our way around many of the reefs in the last couple years. Just like the guides on the bio bay tours a snorkeling guide is going to provide you with much more info regarding the different types of fish. They're also going teach you the proper ways to enjoy the fragile reef, jmo.

If your wanting to see a variety of beaches then I would hit the Atlantic side (sea glass beach), Puenta Arenas (green beach that Bruce mentioned, great snorkeling but sometimes a current, be careful), Playa Grande (east of Esperanza), Playa Negra (Black sand beach also east of Esperanza), Garcia Beach (make the hike and then check out the cliffs.....another hike off the southern end of Garcia Beach, it'll make for a great adventure), Caracas (red beach...Snorkel around the left side of the beach, as your looking out from land), Playa Chiva (Blue Beach...if your lucky you'll get to see the sea turtles there. They were in the sea grass when we were there in November), and lastly our fav Playa Plata (Orchid to us....Silver to many). Now that's a lot of beaches, maybe more than can be seen in a week. It's taken us a number of trips now.

or....

You can also spend most of your time at one or two beaches and get to know it intimately. We've been doing that with Orchid last couple of trips. There's so much to see if you just slow down and look. i.e. iquanas, iquana tracks in the sand, land crabs, rock formations, mongoose, butterfiles, the changing formations in the sand from the tide, refuse left along the beach from the sea. We watched a nurse shark on Orcihd for days this past trip. We saw eagle rays. The crazy crabs that cling to the cliffs. Horses. This last trip we had a "beach hen" begging for food on Secret beach.

Regarding dining...some of the restuarants we go to lend themselves to a more personal experience. i.e. Coconuts, Next Course. Places like Duffys, Tradewinds, Bananas can get a bit crowed at certain times of the evening...but I think it has more to do with the Malecon in general...but mostly in peak season. It's not a big island so your not going to see Miami crowds.

Hope this helps some. We keep a blog of our trips. There's video and pictures of most of what I've decribed above to be found there. You can check it out if your interested. There's tags for many of the beaches in the right hand column.

…blogspot.com/search/label/Blue%20beach

Charlotte
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56 posts
11 reviews
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5. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

Thanks Curt! I just read your blog yesterday and really enjoyed following you and your wife's trip. I was telling my husband today about your "adventures in construction" on the beach and with his carpentry talents, I have a feeling that structures will be forthcoming on our trip! From your blog, we decided that Sol Food was a definite choice. You two do at Vieques what we do each summer on the NC coast - just focus on one general area and enjoy it to the hilt.

No, we have not snorkeled and that's why I wondered about a guide, so your advice is good - since we have a limited time to be there, we might hire a guide the first time out so that we "have a clue" about what to do and how not to damage any of the habitat. Also, we had not considered the boat trip since most reviews focus on the kayak trips, so thanks for suggesting that.

Thanks for the suggestions on the beaches. We'll let you know how it goes.

New York, NY
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6. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

Have to agree on the beaches. Red, Blue, Garcia, Silver, and Green are all great. Green has grown on me because when there aren't any boats nearby, green sea turtles will come close to shore. It's a great snorkeling spot. Just stay away from the giant power cable bundle coming in from PR.

As for food, I have to recommend El Quenepo for fine dining (they start serving at 7pm, I believe), Conuco (in Isabel II) for more affordable fine dining, and Lazy Jack's for casual lunch and dinner. Lazy Jack's is seriously underrated. They might have the best electric oven pizza in the world.

Edited: 02 January 2012, 23:23
Phoenix, Arizona
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7. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

Maybe someone else can elaborate or confirm?? I see you rented your car through Martineau. You may want to check with Martineau Car Rental. We heard rumors they were going or had gone out of business?

Ohio
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45 posts
26 reviews
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8. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

My suggestion is to plan one or two things for your trip and allow the rest of the activities (or lack thereof) to fill in spontaneously. You will be back and can do the other stuff next trip. One big goal of Vieques is to not have a schedule. My feeling is that when you over-plan and over-think, you might not slow down enough to understand the island. I suspect that once your butt hits the beaches, you probably wont feel too compelled to leave. =)

Since you have never snorkeled before, my suggestion is to spend a few days learning on your own in the placid waters of Secret or Red beach. I would hate to see you spend $$ for a guide only to find out that you are not comfortable snorkeling. Once you are comfortable and confident, try snorkeling at Green or off the mosquito pier.

One "must have" IMO is a rash guard for snorkeling. This is a tight fitting shirt. If you dont wear one, you very likely will get sunburned. (Like 99% sure) Even "waterproof" sunscreen washes off fairly quick. Dont trust it!

You can do a search for rash guard to find out more.

Also, take a pair of beach slippers so that you can wade in the coral areas and walk to and from the beaches to your car.

Charlotte
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56 posts
11 reviews
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9. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

I goofed on the car company - it's Maritza's that we rented from. Thanks for catching that!

Charlotte
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56 posts
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10. Re: Feel like Vieques is a home I've never been to

Thanks, Companzer! Great help on the snorkeling - I've never heard of the rash guard and will search for one. We all 4 burn easily and have stocked up on sunscreen, but you're right about it washing off.

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