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Renting a car in Vieques / Related Puerto Rico Questions


Old Jan 16, 14, 11:12 pm
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Join Date: Nov 2013
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Renting a car in Vieques / Related Puerto Rico Questions

Hi all,

My gf and I are staying in Vieques for a few days as part of a Puerto Rico trip in late Feb / early March. From most accounts, a car is really necessary to get the most out of the trip.

A few questions for any folks that have been there recently or live in the area:

Have any of you had any memorably good / bad experiences with any of the car rental operators in Vieques?

Are any major rental car providers in business there? I'm looking for a way to use points to pay for the rental if possible, but more importantly I want to make sure that nothing happens to my reservation or car after I book! I noticed that Avis is there, but they are all booked during my trip. I really didn't see any major providers aside from Avis but maybe I'm overlooking something.

We're going to bite the bullet and take the ferry from Fajardo to Vieques. Will most rental car providers pick you up from the ferry in Vieques at no charge or do you need to take a cab / pay for them to pick you up? Also, Any tips to make that trip as painless as possible? On the website it says something about purchasing tickets ahead of time. If we're planning on going over to Vieques Sunday morning, does that mean we can buy tickets on Friday or Saturday, for instance? I'm hoping our trip time of Sun - Tues will make things a little bit more manageable.

Finally, I'm open to any really suggestions on really interesting things that are worth checking out.

Things we are definitely doing:
Bio Bay in Vieques
A few of the beaches - probably a combination of Blue / Caracas / Secret - just going off of Tripadvisor
El Yunque
The Caves in Arecibo
Old San Juan

Things we might be doing:
The Bacardi Rum Factory
Snorkeling, somewhere

We are completely undecided on places to eat so I'd appreciate any suggestions there as well.

It should be a fun trip, many thanks to anyone who can share some insight to make it even better!

Cheers,
1stTimeFlyer

Last edited by 1stTimeFlyer; Jan 17, 14 at 11:55 am
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Old Jan 17, 14, 10:49 am

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Regarding auto rentals, what location are you looking to rent from? All of the major operators are located @ SJU airport, Budget, Avis, National, Alamo and others are in a separate area, Thrifty, Enterprise. Some local operators are L & M, Charlie Car Rentals, AAA, many others. Maybe Vieques has limited auto rental facilities, but I wouldn't recommend renting in there as they tend to be expensive than mainland rates and have limited supply. It's best to use the public taxis or rent a moped.

I presume you are staying around Puerto Rico, and then going to Vieques for a couple days correct? If so, I would suggest as follow, stay in the mainland, rent car locally at airport and do your sightseeing, a few days latter drive to Fajardo to catch the ferry to Vieques and park the car in Fajardo area. There are numerous local parking areas within walking distance, I think fares are $10-$15 daily, but don't hold me to this fare. Vieques has numerous public taxis that typically shuttles people from the port, airport to the hotels, town and beach. Fares are about $5 or so depending on where you are going and how much luggage, it helps if you can get a group and get a group rate. From Vieques, return back to Fajardo, pick up car and stay in mainland again at least one night before catching your flight back to USA. I DO NOT recommend leaving Vieques, and then flying back home same day if you are taking the ferry. Reason is that sometimes they change schedules, other times they may have limited space, and if there is bad weather the ferry is cancelled.

You can take rental car to Vieques if you want too, but you must make a reservation ahead of time to book it, and there are extra fees with this. Back in the days, I used to get my ferry ticket same day I went to Vieques, or Culebra Island. You can still do this however you must go early and wait in line for some time, they typically open the window for ticket sales 30minutes prior to sailing. Keep in mind which ferry you are taking, as there is cargo ferry that has limited seating spaces and in case of high demand, the locals take priority, as they are returning home, work or school.

May I suggest you visit Guavate and tour a lechonera, roast pork puertorrican style, lechon asado. You should also visit Piñones and try some of the local fried food, my favorite is Donde Olga, within a couple of minutes drive as you enter Piñones. There are other beaches within Piñones area that the locals like to go to.
I'm actually heading to SJU at this moment.

Last edited by arollins; Jan 17, 14 at 10:57 am
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Old Jan 17, 14, 12:31 pm
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Join Date: Nov 2013
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arollins,

Thanks so much for your reply. We're definitely renting a car in SJ, and as you suggested I expect we'll park it by the ferry in Fajardo when we head to Vieques. From looking at prices, you are absolutely correct in saying that the rental cars in Vieques are significantly more expensive than on the mainland. I still think it will be worth it for our purposes, as we want to do a fair amount of exploring in the limited time that we have.

I was initially intrigued by taking the cargo ferry over and forgetting to mention to my rental car provider about that leg of the trip , but the cargo ferry seems really unreliable and I'd hate to be stranded in Vieques (well, I'd love to be, but you know what I mean). Plus I'd like to avoid that terribly awkward conversation w/ Enterprise if god forbid I get into a wreck and I'm trying to explain how my car got to Vieques.

Thanks for the warning about ferrying back and flying out on the same day. We're currently slated to do that, unfortunately, but we moved our flight back to give us a little bit of leeway. It still might be a little bit close. We were planning on taking the 11 am ferry back and taking a 4:30 pm flight back. We'll have to give strong consideration to the 6:30 am ferry just to be safe. From your experience, how long do you need to be at SJU prior to your flight? Keep in mind that we'll be flying out @ 4:30 pm on a Tuesday.

And thanks a ton for your recommendations. I was interested in getting out of San Juan and exploring other areas of the island so it sounds like a trip to Guavate is in order!

Cheers,
1stTimeFlyer
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Old Jan 19, 14, 9:58 am

Join Date: Sep 2006
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Yes, you will need a car on Vieques. I believe we rented ours at the airport. The roads are fine. A number of the beautiful beaches require you to park a bit away and then walk over. They are worth the walk. The Bio Bay at night is also terrific. Have fun.
flyr16 is offline
Old Jan 19, 14, 6:37 pm
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Thanks flyr16, which beach was your favorite?
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Old Jan 20, 14, 1:16 pm
mkt

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From experience, I despise the ferry, and prefer to pay extra to fly there. There are flights both out of SJU and SIG, as well as RVR (Ceiba) on PR's east coast.
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Old Jan 20, 14, 1:51 pm
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There is a car rental company onsite at the W Vieques. We rented from them as we were staying at the W. It was roughly $100/day.
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Old Jan 21, 14, 8:52 am
mkt

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http://viequescarrental.com/
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Old Jan 21, 14, 4:56 pm
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Join Date: Nov 2013
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Thanks for all suggestions / responses. We have decided to take the flight from SJU to Vieques instead of the ferry. We were able to get the one-way for $60 p/p on Seaborne which was a pretty decent price, and now we'll decide whether to take the ferry back or get a return flight depending on pricing.

In Vieques, we ended up going with Martiza's Car Rental, which has received quite good replies on Yelp. I'll update after the trip with my thoughts on the different companies we ended up going with for car rental / hotel / etc.

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 25, 14, 11:20 am

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To get to many of the beaches on Vieques, you will need a 4WD jeep. Most of the rental vehicles on Vieques are jeeps.
andrewstahl is offline
Old Jan 30, 14, 5:36 pm

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We were in Vieques a couple of years ago for spring break and loved it. We stayed here http://maleconhouse.com and loved it. Very easy to walk to the restaurants of Esperanza. We used scooters to get around.

Just a small heads up- when it was time to leave we had a hard time getting a taxi because the island was low on gasoline. I would recommend keeping your jeep filled up enough. The line at the gas station was several blocks long.
mules is offline
Old Feb 3, 14, 2:25 pm
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Originally Posted by mules View Post
We were in Vieques a couple of years ago for spring break and loved it. We stayed here http://maleconhouse.com and loved it. Very easy to walk to the restaurants of Esperanza. We used scooters to get around.

Just a small heads up- when it was time to leave we had a hard time getting a taxi because the island was low on gasoline. I would recommend keeping your jeep filled up enough. The line at the gas station was several blocks long.
Thanks for the tip, mules. We're also staying at Malecon House, so it's great to hear that you enjoyed it. Trip can't come fast enough, I think it's averaged about 5 degrees a day here in Chicago for the last few months
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Old Feb 7, 14, 3:40 am

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I just got back from Vieques, and had a good time. Trip was hampered by the Biobay being dead. That was my entire reason for going to Puerto Rico, so I was pretty sad. We made the best of it, and I actually wished I would have spent more than 2 nights on the island.

We rented from Avis. They said to call from the airport when we arrived, and they would come and get us. When I called, they were busy and said it would be 1/2 hour, so I opted to use a cab. It was only $3 a person. The Avis agent was extremely friendly and helpful. No hard sell on insurance, he marked all the scratched on the jeep, and on return, had us taken to the airport in the same vehicle so I didnt have to unload it.

The funniest thing to me on the island, was pulling into the W parking lot, and seeing dozens of Jeeps, with not a bit of dirt on them in the parking lot. We had ours covered in mud within an hour of receiving it, so I am assuming people at the W just rented and drove to the W, never to leave again. Really a shame if that is what happens, because the beach at the W is pretty lame compared to others on the Island.

As for things to do in PR, I would skip the Bacardi tour if you are short on time. It is ok, but I would not do it again. The Camuy caves are worth the time, although I had a hard time finding them. I would skip the Observatory at Arecibo unless you are a real science nut. Old SJ is worth a couple of days if you like history. They are working on a lot of new exhibits in the forts that might be done, and if you take time to read all the info, it will take a couple of days to see the entire thing. I think the forts in OSJ were my favorite part of the entire trip, and I traveled the Island for 11 days. Make sure to talk to some of the park rangers. They are a wealth of information, and have some very interesting stories to tell about life in the forts.

Last edited by tatterdema; Feb 7, 14 at 3:51 am
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Old Feb 9, 14, 9:52 am
Original Poster

Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 46
Hey tatterdama,

thanks for sharing your experience! I think the caves look pretty amazing, so that's definitely on the itinerary. When you say the Biobay was dead, was it because there was too much moonlight or it was still dead regardless? And were you doing it in Fajardo or Vieques?
1stTimeFlyer is offline
Old Feb 11, 14, 12:24 pm

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It was the bio bay in Vieques. I scheduled my trip on a new moon, knowing it would be brightest then. It depends upon who you talk to about why it died, but cold weather and rain played a part in it. It is slowly starting to recover, but all trips for at least 2 weeks were cancelled.

The one in Fajardo had recovered from its "outage" in Sept, so I was going to try to do it instead, but by then it was too late, being at the end of my trip. People I talked to in Vieques told me that it is very much worth the effort, and much better than the one in Fajardo, but I would keep an eye on it before setting my plans in stone.

Last edited by tatterdema; Feb 11, 14 at 12:31 pm
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