Everything you need to know about traveling to Puerto Rico's island gems.
Nicknamed the Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra are the most famous of the small islands and cays that make up the archipelago of Puerto Rico. Located just 6 miles and 20 miles off the east coast of the Puerto Rican mainland, respectively, Vieques and Culebra are where you'll find two of Puerto Rico’s most treasured natural settings: Culebra's postcard-perfect Flamenco beach and Vieques’ Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Both have won prestigious awards and recognitions that place them among the must-see locations in the Caribbean.
So, ready to visit these two beautiful islands? Read on to find out how to get here!
Getting to Vieques and Culebra by Air
There are two options for arriving on either island. Although more expensive, the easiest and most direct way is to fly. Small planes leave from San Juan several times a day. Tickets range from $60 to $90 per trip.
If you plan ahead and include Culebra or Vieques in your itinerary before departing from the U.S., most major airlines will offer a combined bookable fare between the routes. Note that you will need to transfer from San Juan's International Airport (SJU) to Isla Grande's Airport (SIG/TJIG), a single runway airport a few minutes away, which is where the short flights to these nearby islands depart.
Getting to Vieques and Culebra by Ferry
The alternative to flying to Vieques and Culebra is taking the ferry that departs from the newly inaugurated terminal in the town of Ceiba. This is far more economical than flying, although it requires transportation to the east coast town's old naval base—about an hour-and-a-half's drive from San Juan.
The ferry tickets range from $2.50 to $3.00 and can be purchased through the Autoridad de Transporte Marítimo (ATM) website. The ride takes a little over 30 minutes from Ceiba to the smaller islands. If you choose to take the ferry, note that you'll have to leave your rental car in a parking lot near the ferry terminal and schedule separate transportation in Culebra and Vieques.
For each of the islands, there are boats that make round trips every two hours, starting at 4:00 a.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m. The schedules are subject to change.
What to Expect
The main activity at these sleepy islands is unwinding. If unplugging, slowing down, and relaxing is what you're looking for, a trip to either Vieques or Culebra will do the trick.
These pristine destinations are havens for nature lovers and laidback travelers. With a more chilled vibe, you can expect to kick back and be at ease.
Make time to add experiencing some of the best snorkeling and diving in the waters surrounding the islands to your must-do list. Near the cays, where the most vibrant marine reefs in Puerto Rico are located, sea turtles, stingrays, and more sea creatures can be seen.
Their beautiful, award-winning beaches are the perfect setting for snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and, in Vieques, horseback riding.
You can also explore the largest national wildlife refuge in the Caribbean, which covers over 60% of Vieques' island. Spend the day hiking and beach-hopping 'till you drop; you won't regret it. Also, be sure to take a kayak tour through the world's brightest bioluminescent bay, Mosquito Bay.
Both locations offer small boutique hotels and a handful of guesthouses to choose from, where you can achieve a blissful state of total relaxation.