Getting to Vieques
Fly to San Juan International Airport (SJU). There are flights to San Juan from many parts of the world. From the US the major carrier flying to San Juan is American Airlines. However, there are several other carriers flying there as well, so check from your local airport.
Note on passports/visas. For US citizens you currently can travel to/from Puerto Rico with a drivers license or a birth certificate. If you are a US citizen you do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico because it is a US Territory and you are not considered to have left the US. However, if you are traveling to any other Caribbean destinations you will need a passport. For non-US citizens travel restrictions are essentially the same as for travel to the US. Please check with your local US embassy for details.
Make sure your flights to San Juan give you enough time to get to and from Vieques. Exactly how much time you need will depend on your choice of transportation to and from Vieques (see below). San Juan is on the main island of Puerto Rico, Vieques is a small island about 10 miles South East of Puerto Rico.
To get to Vieques from San Juan, you basically have a choice of fast and convenient, or slow and inconvenient. However, the choice is not quite that straight forward since the slow and inconvenient option will give you more choices about visiting other parts of Puerto Rico if you would like that. Costs will vary depending on the size of your group.
The fast and convenient way is to take a 20 minute flight from San Juan to Vieques. From San Juan airport, you can take a short plane ride to Vieques – 20 minutes and about $170 return on Vieques Air-Link, or Cape Air. (Note: there have recently been several new airlines entering the scene and prices may become more competitive. However, in our experience Vieques Air Link and Cape Air are by far the most reliable of the various air lines. The other airlines are much more orientated towards charter flights and we have found them unreliable for scheduled flights). A more up to date list of airlines can usually be found here. Sometimes in order to make convenient connections, or if flights from San Juan International to Vieques are full, you may have to take a taxi to the Isla Grande airport, which is about a 20 minute $16 taxi ride from San Juan International. If there are only one or two of you in your group, then flying is also the cheapest option. Flights from Isla Grande are also usually cheaper than flights from San Juan International.
If you have a long stop over, take the opportunity to visit Old San Juan. If you will be hanging around San Juan International airport more more than a couple of hours, then a good diversion is to leave your luggage in the left luggage and head into Old San Juan. This is about 20 minutes and $16 each way. Old San Juan is a fascinating old Spanish Colonial Town with two Forts, winding streets, brightly colored houses and interesting shops. We recommend Cafe Majorca for lunch, cheap but good food.
The slow and inconvenient way is to take the ferry to Vieques. Ferries to Vieques leave from Fajardo, which is a port about 60 miles around the coast from San Juan). Last ferry to Vieques is 8.00pm weekdays, 6.00pm weekends and holidays. Allow for two hours from San Juan airport to the ferry (it should take less time, but baggage delays and traffic jams are common). Check ferry schedules for details. The ferry is very cheap ($2 per person), and takes about 75 minutes.
To get to the ferry you have three travel options: Publico/taxi, Bus, and one-way Car Hire.
Publico/taxi costs about $60-80 each way, and will take you something like one and a half hours. You can take up to five people in a car, seven in a mini-van. The first five people are included in the price, extra people pay $15/person, and there may be some small excess baggage costs if you have a lot. It is fairly reliable, though you are subject to traffic, road works etc. so allow plenty of time. If your group has three or more people in it, then this is a cheaper option than flying. Also, if you have a lot of luggage this may be a better option since the small planes to Vieques generally have a 20 pound baggage limit (loosely applied, but they will charge you if the plane is full!) To find the Taxis, go to ground transportation at SJU and ask. The ground transportation staff should give you a receipt with a fixed price on it for the trip.
Travel by bus is not recommended. The bus (know as a “Public Car”) is extremely cheap, but complicated. It requires deep immersion in Puerto Rican culture, some mastery of Spanish, and lots and lots of time (four hours recommended). We have heard of folks trying the bus and getting off half way along the route and catching a taxi because it takes so long. We don’t recommend this (and don’t try it at all on Sunday). But if you want a real big adventure … here’s how you do it: (1) Take taxi from SJU to the bus station in the town of Rio Pedras ($20). (2) Take bus to going to Fajardo “playa” (beach) and ask to be dropped off at the port ($6/person) (3) Take ferry. (If you miss the buses to Fajardo Playa, take one to Fajardo downtown, and then take a taxi to the ferry.)
One way car hire can give you lots of flexibility. A one-way car hire will likely cost about the same as a Publico, (prices vary with season), but give you lots more flexibility. Many of our guests like to spend a day or two on the big island of Puerto Rico either at the beginning or at the end of their holiday, you can see some of the sights such as El Yunque and other parts of Puerto Rico. Try Leaseway on 1-800-458-2647, or L&M on 1-787-860-6868.
Note: do NOT plan to hire a car in San Juan and take it to Vieques on the Cargo ferry. In theory you should be able to do this, but in practice (a) it is almost impossible to get a reservation on the cargo ferry and (b) you could get bumped by any utility repair or delivery vehicle, and (c) the cargo ferry frequently breaks down. Do not try it!
Your total travel time will be time to get to the ferry port, plus time to take the ferry journey. Therefore, if you take the ferry, it will always take you a minimum of three hours, and usually four or five hours, to get from San Juan International Airport to Vieques.
Taxi from San Juan to Fajardo and then a shorter plane ride to Vieques. This option costs about $60 for the taxi and then about $30/person each way for the plane. Call Vieques Air Link on 787-741-8331 for up to date times and prices of flights.
Fly to St. Croix or St. Thomas and from there to Vieques. Should be possible in theory, we’ve never tried it.