Best Exotic Beach Vacation (Without a Passport)

Man galloping down the street bareback near exotic beach


An exotic beach vacation has always been on your Bucket List.

The Caribbean has you intrigued.

You dream of sparkling emerald waters lapping at spectacular white sandy beaches.

Bright stars twinkling in the clear Caribbean sky while the beat of the music reverberates from bars and houses deep into the night would make for an amazing exotic beach vacation.

Spending time in a quaint town where you feel your troubles melt away in a warm salty breeze would be extraordinary.

A place where everyone greets each other.

“Todo bien?”

“Si! Todo bien!”

The abundance of Caribbean islands challenges your ability to zero in on one destination.

Vieques, Puerto Rico is a US Territory making travel a breeze. No Passport required!

I traveled 42 months out of 13 years, visiting 16 countries on five continents.

Regardless of the type of traveler you are, these locally tested suggestions will help you enjoy the rich culture, awe inspiring sights and the friendly people of Vieques, Puerto Rico!


Horse Lovers Alert


Watch these two horses trotting down the Malecón during your exotic beach vacation
Horses on the Malecón   ©Donna Kos


Imagine the unmistakeable sound of the clip clop of the horse hooves while they meander the streets of Esperanza in Vieques.

Your exotic beach vacation has you inspired and awestruck.

Teenagers street race Friday night in Vieques like any other town.

But sparks flying off the hooves as boys race horses galloping at break neck speeds leave you speechless.

On an early afternoon stroll you watch two wild horses fly by in an apparent race. Hearing the sound of galloping hooves rapidly approaching you turn around just in time to see the chestnut mare bolt by you.

On the sidewalk…

Horses, chickens and an occasional pig wandering the neighborhoods in Vieques add an old world feel to your exotic beach vacation.


Finding the Best Beaches


Gorgeous secluded beach to go for your Exotic Beach Vacation
Sun Bay on Vieques  ©Donna Kos

Imagine all you have to do to find a magnificent beach is to hang up a map and throw a dart. On the island of Vieques, you can’t miss.

The dazzling water and extensive beach line of Sun Bay has easy access. The swaying palm trees provide plenty of shade, making it a winner for a day trip to the beach.

Playa Grande is a beautiful beach as well. A little more difficult to access but well worth the trip. It’s only about a 15 minute drive out of Esperanza. Many of the roads will be dirt. Keep in mind signage isn’t a given.

Playa Negra is a black sand beach so you want to plan accordingly. It gets extremely hot. If you spread out a towel on a warm sunny day and lay down on it don’t be surprised if you pop off that towel like a water droplet on a hot cast iron skillet. It’s worth the visit but plan to go early or on a cloudy day.

Navío has arched caves providing awesome photo ops! You can harvest snails off the side of the cave. Eat them raw on the beach or bring them back to your kitchen. Fire up a little butter, fresh garlic a splash of white wine and thoroughly enjoy the decadent morsels.

Caracas is a pristine white sand beach with gazebos, bathrooms and parking. The perfect water might wash your troubles away.

You’ll likely wander on to other beaches just as spectacular but this will get you started.


Your Vacation Can Help the Revitalization post Hurricane Maria


Surfboard with “We are stronger than Maria” painted on it after Hurricane Maria.
A message of strength ©Donna Kos

The people of Puerto Rico are strong, loyal and proud.

Lazy Jack’s opened 3 days after the hurricane to provide a place for people to gather and heal. They were the only place open for six months.

Generators were the only thing that helped run the island. They use to have “Blackout Parties”. People gathered at the bar and hung out, partied and leaned on each for support until the lights went out.

Power was out for 186 days…

Water wasn’t fully restored for nearly three months…

That’s a long, damn time…

You’ll find a beautiful home right next to one that is still decimated after the apocalyptic Hurricane Maria. Some people just left and didn’t look back. Can’t blame them.

You wouldn’t know it to look at town now so come to Vieques and revel in the revitalization!


Amazing Tours For Your Exotic Beach Vacation


Woman riding horseback in the ocean on an exotic beach vacation
Jurutungo Tours ©Donna Kos

Horseback riding with Jurutungo Tours is a great way to see the beaches. Carlito and Kalina provide a private tour for two to three people for $65 each.

The BioBay Tour is a must do! Experience the magic of the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. The glowing water makes you second guess your vision and your grasp on reality. The glass bottom kayaks make your encounter with this magical world unforgettable. For this tour and more check out:

Fishing, snorkeling and island tours are readily available on Vieques. So explore the island at your pace and see the sights that will make life long memories of your exotic beach vacation.


A Vacation History Tour


Old Sugar Mill Ruins entrance with overgrown trees
Sugar Mill Ruins ©Donna Kos
Sugar Mill Ruins underground tunnel
Tunnels Sugar Mill ©Donna Kos

Finding the Sugar Mill Ruins is a bit challenging but worth the effort. Arriving at the well worn sign will let you know you’re at the right place. But the underground entrance isn’t marked.

A large hole next to a large tree is the entrance for the underground tunnels. A flashlight is a must. Very cool and a bit creepy as well!

If you’re not ready to climb down large roots to enter the ruins, there’s plenty to see above ground.

You’ll also see bunkers as you get near the Sugar Mill Ruins.

Historical parts of the island are fascinating. And you’ll leave with some amazing stories to tell.


Snorkeling on Your Exotic Beach Vacation


Man on a boat on the water holding a large lobster
Photo by Travis Shack

Mosquito Pier is on the north end of Vieques and visible if you fly on to the island. Snorkel on the left side of the pier as you’re facing the ocean. Under the pier is a plethora of amazing creatures in all colors, shapes and sizes. Seeing the majestic sea turtles is a bonus.

Navío is another snorkeling winner. While you enjoy the underwater scenery, gather some of the caracoles to eat later!

Esperanza Pier is also teeming with underwater life. And it’s the easiest place to get to making it hard to beat.

Where ever you break out your snorkel it’s sure to please.


Accommodation Choices

Very colorful hostel building with a hammock and bicycle under a mango tree
Common area at The Lazy Hostel ©Donna Kos

You can’t beat The Lazy Hostel’s location. Budget oriented, social and fun accommodations on the Malecón. Rooms start at $65 for private and $25 for dorm. It’s attached to Lazy Jack’s where they serve food, stellar cocktails and stay open longer than any other place on the island making it the go to on Vieques.

Duffy’s has accommodations that won’t disappoint. Quieter vibe than a hostel and on the Malecón too.

Airbnb is also a good choice if you’re looking for more private digs.


Transportation Options For Your Exotic Beach Vacation


Inside of a 9 seater plane getting ready to land for an exotic beach vacation
Preparing to land in Vieques ©Donna Kos

You’ll be awestruck during your brief flight on Vieques Air Link or Cape Air from San Juan to Vieques. By far the best way to get to the island (and off the island). The nine seater plane provides spectacular views during your brief 10 minute flight.

The Ferry can take you from Ceiba to Vieques but it’s far less reliable.


And you still have to get from San Juan to Ceiba which is about an $80 car ride. If you’re traveling with numerous people and have a lot of time on your hands taking the ferry may be worth it. Schedules change hourly as the locals like to say. If you’re traveling solo and on a tight time frame, you may want to rethink taking the Ferry.

Scooters & Golf Carts are a great way to see the island and readily available. Read the rental contract and lock up anything you rent when you stop around the island.

Cars are also a great way to see the island and won’t be hard to find.

Público is the local bus/taxi/van for getting around. If you’re leaving early in the morning call the night before. Don’t expect the taxi to show up right when you call or exactly when scheduled.

You’re on island time in Vieques. Even an exotic beach vacation might have a few small drawbacks!

Armed with transportation recommendations you’ll be able to make the best use of your valuable time and not be caught off guard!


Exotic Vacation Food to Tickle Your Palette


Two bowls with Caracoles (snails) from an exotic beach
Caracoles gathered on Navio ©Donna Kos

Numerous food trucks are scattered around the island of Vieques. Both in town and on that beautiful exotic beach. Jump out of your comfort zone and try some local fare. It might be your most memorable meal!

Banana’s Restaurant is on the Malecón offering excellent food, cocktails with an outstanding view. The mussels are outstanding and might have you placing a second order. Banana’s also offers accommodations.

Caracoles (snails) gathered from the sea while checking out beaches are an amazing treat. You can break them open on the beach, clean off the stomach and foot(it’s easy to see) and pop them in your mouth. For the less brave foodie, take some back to your kitchen. Boil in some water or white wine, garlic and butter for about 15 minutes and you’ll have delectable morsels that are sure to be etched in your memory.

Fish and Chips and pizza are favorites at Lazy Jack’s. Throw back a few Puerto Rican Medalla beers at the busiest establishment on the island for a local experience.

There’s no shortage of restaurants for any palette, so let loose and try them all!


Round Out Your Exotic Beach Vacation on Vieques


Esperanza pier with blue ocean in front and woman sitting on pier with blue sky
Esperanza Pier ©Donna Kos

Watching the sunset and jumping off the pier is a daily ritual for many locals and tourists alike. A ladder is at the end of the pier for climbing back up so you can do it again!

El BLOK Restaurant offers a spectacular view of the sunset. Walk through the front door. Take the elevator to the top. Besides fine dining on Sundays can enjoy a DJ some dancing and drinks while taking in the amazing sunset.

On the north end of Vieques is a 375 year old Ceiba tree. It holds a special place in the hearts of locals. The Ceiba tree is a survivor like the residents of Vieques. Standing next to the Ceiba tree for a picture can be humbling.

Now you have a long list of places to see and things to do on your exotic beach vacation on Vieques!


Beautiful herd of wild horses on an exotic beach
Herd of horses at Sun Bay ©Donna Kos

Locals stir as roosters crow at the crack of dawn.

Another exquisite sunrise is waiting for you on Vieques.

The herd of horses meandering along the beach in the early morning light is breathtaking.

Imagine getting out of your cab as you arrive at your long awaited exotic beach vacation.

You study your surroundings and are blown away by the pristine water, beaches and the laid back vibe that Vieques delivers.

That’s why an Exotic Beach Vacation made your Bucket List.

With these locally tested recommendations, you can plan your epic adventure with confidence.

Now you just need to book your tickets!


12 thoughts on “Best Exotic Beach Vacation (Without a Passport)”

  1. Alvin Almodóvar

    If they were Spanish Virgin Islands, they would belong to Spain and not to the United States of America.

  2. This may be the most accurate report on Vieques that I’ve read. Very well done. Thank you for the excellent reporting, writing, and photography!

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