Welcome to Paradise.
Said the sign at the ferry terminal the moment we landed in Vieques. That brought a huge smile on our faces. Having been in the queue since 7 am at Fajardo terminal in Puerto Rico to get onto the 9:30 am ferry to Vieques, we were eager to get out and explore the Paradise Island. Unlike in Culebra, where we took a shuttle to Playa Flamenco and spent the whole day there, we decided the explore the Vieques Island.
Vieques is only 21 miles long and 3 miles wide but has several unspoiled beaches and hidden spots. You can surely find a beach or a spot that you will fall in love with. All you have to do is explore. Using a taxi or public van to go to a tourist spot won't do justice to the island, coz this is not a touristy place. This is a place that begs you to go wild, go free, go slow. Go for a rental. There are several options to choose from - car, jeep, SUV, scooter, bicycle, golf cart. My heart was set on a 2-wheeler.
|Our ride for the day|
I like the pace of the scooter. I like the wind blowing through my hair. I like the ease with which you can stop by the road side. I like how you can immerse yourself in the surroundings while still moving without much effort. I like how how easy it is to make sudden stops and ask for directions or talk to locals. I simply love the ride. It was the best choice for the day, not to mention that it consumes so much less fuel.
The scooter rental was a short walk from the ferry terminal and soon after we signed the rental (about $50/day), we set out on our search for Caracas Beach. Having heard from our Airbnb rental owner that Caracas Beach was one of the filming locations for the Victoria's Secret Swim 2015, my husband's heart was set on it. Caracas Beach, former Red Beach, is the first beach accessible on the National Wildlife Refuge on the south side of Vieques along the Caribbean Sea. The small secluded beach with its crystal clear waters and soft white sand looked definitely like a postcard Caribbean beach and my husband soon declared that if there was a dream beach for him, this was it.
|My husband in his dream beach|
My husband loved snorkeling in those calm crystal clear blue waters while I sat under the coconut trees and read my book. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't feeling too well that day, so I couldn't get into the water. After a couple of hours, I felt so restless that I declared beach vacations are not for me and that something might be wrong with me for not being able to sit on the beach and enjoy the view for hours. My husband hurriedly reminded me how much I love snorkeling in the water and how much I enjoy all water activities such as Kayaking, Jetskiing etc. I sheepishly agreed but insisted that we have to get on the road and explore the rest of the island. Like I always say, the more I travel, the more I learn about myself more than anything else. That day, I learned very clearly, how difficult it is for me to sit on the sidelines and watch, however pretty the picture might be.
We then headed to the tourist town of Esperanza to grab some lunch at one its several cute restaurants along the Coast. It was a little past lunch time and most restaurants would only open for dinner again, so we settled for some snacks and coconut water. This gave us a good excuse to stop at an ice cream shop (with a weird name - Chicken King & Ice cream) and savor some delicious flavors on the way to Isabella II, the capital city.
|@ Restaurant in Esperanza|
We checked out some other random places, hidden beaches, saw some wild horses and rode on deserted roads. We also stopped at a special Ceiba tree (known as Tree of Life for its cultural and historical significance) that is a little over 300 years old. 300 years! The tree has survived a lot and deserved a hug, or so I thought and gave it as big a hug as I could manage.
|The 300 year old Ceiba|
It was about time to return the scooter and get back to the Ferry Terminal to catch the 6:30 pm Ferry back to the mainland. Luckily for us, we managed to find one of the only 2 gas stations on the island on the way to the rental place and the rental place itself fairly easily. The beauty of small towns.
It was a beautiful day on a small island with lovely beaches and cute little towns. Some people who have been there say they could live there forever. And some people do. As for me, honestly, I wouldn't know what to do if I stayed another day. Unfortunately, I haven't yet learned the art of slowing down and not doing anything for long. Hopefully, some day I will.