The Beautiful Island of Isla de Vieques

November 1st 2023 in Explore
The Beautiful Island of Isla de Vieques

The Beautiful Island of Isla de Vieques

Isla de Vieques is a beautiful island situated just 6 miles off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, which is also known as the Star of the Caribbean. Puerto Rico has several other offshore islands, such as Isla de Culebra, Isla de Mona, and Isla Desecheo, but Isla de Vieques is the largest of all the islands.

  • Vieques has different names that are commonly used to refer to the island. The official name is Isla de Vieques. The Indians named it Bieke, while the residents kindly called it Isla Nena, which means little girl island. In English, it is referred to as Vieques Island, and sailors commonly use the name Spanish Virgin Islands to describe both Vieques and Culebra. Lastly, Vieques is the shortened version of the official name.

A Little Backstory

Vieques was initially inhabited by Native Americans who migrated from South America approximately 1500 years before Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico in 1493. The Spaniards took control of the island following a brief battle and enslaved the local population. In 1811, Don Salvador Melendez, the governor of Puerto Rico, dispatched military commander Juan Rosello to initiate the takeover of Vieques by the people of Puerto Rico. Simón Bolívar visited Vieques in 1816. Teofilo Jose Jaime Maria Gillou, the founder of Vieques as a town, arrived in 1823, leading to significant economic and social transformation for the island.

The Weather Forecast

The island boasts endless summers and comfortable tropical weather all year round. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful beaches and cool breezes even in the winter months, making it the perfect getaway from the cold.

The average temperature in Vieques is around the 80s Fahrenheit all year round, with record lows of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. On the island's interior, the temperature drops by 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit during the evening. A cold front from the north called a "norte" may cause the temperature to fall to the 60s Fahrenheit.

May, October, and November are typically the months with the most rain in Vieques. Most showers occur in the early afternoon and are short. At times, rain pours for a few minutes and stops just as quickly. If you're visiting during these rainy months or see rain in the forecast, get up early and head to the beach. Rain typically comes in the early afternoon, so it's a great time to visit the museums and shops in town as well.

Hurricane season in Vieques and Puerto Rico officially begins on June 10 and ends on November 30. Historically, most hurricanes hit the island in August and September. If you choose to travel during hurricane season, we highly recommend purchasing trip insurance to protect your investment if you need to cancel or require emergency care.

Before booking any accommodation in Vieques, it's essential to ask the management whether they have a water reservoir, a backup electricity generator, and a satellite phone for emergencies. These are crucial if you are on the island during a hurricane.

Tourism on the Island

For years, Vieques Island was a hidden gem for tourists seeking tranquil beaches and relaxation. The Navy occupied two-thirds of the island for six decades, using it for bombing practice. However, after the Navy left in 2003, Vieques became a hotspot in the Caribbean. Ironically, the Navy's presence helped preserve the island's past, keeping it uncrowded, lush, and serene with miles of undeveloped beaches. Whenever you come to the island, you will find more restaurants, improved hotels, and a sense of prosperity and change. In recent years, major magazines and newspapers have featured articles on the island, giving it greater exposure.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria caused significant damage to the island. However, the people of Vieques, the business community, and various organizations came together to rebuild and welcome visitors once more. Choosing Vieques as your vacation destination or visiting for a day can make a significant impact on the island's recovery.

Despite Vieques's challenges over the years, the island made it to Travel & Leisure's World's Best List as one of the "Top 15 Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda & the Bahamas".

Travel Season For Vieques

Vieques has different seasons that can affect your travel experience. To get the best value for your money, consider visiting during the low season, which runs from mid-April through May and mid-August through mid-November. During this time, accommodations and airfare rates are less expensive. However, remember that these months are hurricane-prone, so be cautious.

In June and July, the mid-high season, residents of Puerto Rico flock to Vieques and Culebra for beach vacations, and there are several holidays in Puerto Rico during this time. If you plan to visit in July, book your Vieques hotel or vacation rental early and arrive at the ferry terminal hours before your desired departure time to secure your tickets.

If you're looking for a warm escape during the cold winter months, consider visiting Vieques during the high season, which runs from mid-November through mid-April. However, be aware that the Christmas holidays and Easter week are the hottest weeks, and these weeks are booked far in advance, so plan accordingly.

Vieques has great temperatures all year round, but there are hurricane and rain seasons to remember. If you plan on travelling during hurricane season, we recommend purchasing travel insurance for peace of mind. For more information about Vieques' weather, rain, and hurricane seasons, check out our resources.

Getting Around

If you plan to visit Isla de Vieques, it's essential to know that this Caribbean island is unlike most tourist destinations. There are no casinos or golf courses here. Instead, tourists come to Vieques to experience the "Real Caribbean". To truly appreciate what the island has to offer, it's recommended to have a car rental. Many beaches are only accessible by car, and preferably a jeep. Public transportation (known as "publicos") may not take you to these areas, some of the most beautiful on the island. Some beaches may take you as long as 10-15 minutes to get there from the road entrance. In addition to renting a car, you can also choose to rent bicycles, scooters, or, if you're up for it, hike the trails. Remember, having a car rental is a must if you want to experience all that Isla de Vieques offers.