You can walk to local shops, restaurants, and some of the beaches. Most shops and restaurants in Esperanza are within five minutes walk or so. You can walk to the town beach and Coco Beach (five minutes), and there are other beaches about 20 minutes walk away (Sun Bay). You can also go down to Coco Beach and head west and walk for a long way along various beaches in that direction, with occasional scrambles over rocks. Beyond that, unless you are a keen walker used to walking in hot weather, you will need to use public transportation or hire some form of wheels.
There is quite good public transport by “Publico” – a kind of cross between a taxi and a bus. The whole island is served by random but frequent Publicos that go back and forth between Esperanza, Isabella and all of the smaller “Barrios” (townships). They can take you anywhere on the island, including beaches, and by arrangement will also come and pick you up from the beach at a specified time. Simply stop one in the street and start negotiating! In theory prices are fixed, $3/passenger in central areas, $5/passenger to get out to eastern or western ends (a list of prices are on a public notice board by the ferry terminal). In practice they may be a little fluid, so always check what the price will be before you climb aboard.
You can telephone and have a Publico come pick you up. The local restaurants and the various island newspapers and tourist maps will normally keep a list of current phone numbers of Publicos. (If you can’t find such a list, we suggest you try the shop at Tradewinds). Once you have some phone numbers you can organize for Publicos to come and pick you up at home. If your cell phone works on Vieques (most do – check with your provider), you could also just phone for a Publico from the beach when you are ready to come home.
Renting a car gives you the most flexibility. If you want to really explore the island, the best thing to do is hire a small 4-wheel drive jeep (most of the beach roads are unpaved). There are several car-hire firms on the island, and in peak season its wise to book ahead. A couple we have used are: Island Car Rental (787) 741 1666, and Martineau Bay Car Rental (787) 741 0087. Typical prices start at about $60 per day (Suzuki Vitara or equivalent) up to $80 a day (Jeep Cherokee).
Motor scooters and bikes may be available for hire. This changes from year to year. Check the local tourist paper Vieques Insider for details.
Transportation options change frequently, so check local information when you arrive. When you get to Esperanza, or before, you can get a copy of Vieques Insider in many of the shops and the museum on the sea front in Esperanza, and that will have an up to date list of all the car hire firms, as well as many other local services and restaurants. There is also a tourist map of the island available free in most shops which will have up to date information.