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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vieques....aka Paradise

Our first sojourn begins with a trip to Vieques.In case you don't know Vieques it's an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

This trip was a way of celebrating my daughter's coming graduation from high school (that's her to the left). We were awaiting pending news of a possible scholarship for college and had been hoping to have gotten some info on it prior to leaving for the trip. As is turns out we learned that she indeed did get the scholarship on the first full day of our vacation. She’s all smiles.

So why Vieques? Well initially I had ask my daughter where she might like to go on a vacation. I must also add that we hadn't taken a family vacation, of this sort, for nearly 10 years. Her response to me was "Some place warm where I can swim in the ocean." Given those parameters I knew we would be leaving the United States. I was able to narrow down the list even more given that we didn't have passports at the time. That led me to Puerto Rico since it was the furthest point south where we didn't need a passport. Vieques seemed a little bit more unique in that it wasn't quite as developed, for commercial tourism, as the main island was. I did some googling and found a web site Tripadvisor.com that had a ton of information about the island and a unique group of people with very detailed information about the place.

So... armed with all this data we booked the flights and a suite at the Hacienda Tamrindo. We opted to fly directly onto the island of Vieques rather than take the ferry. Here's a shot of the "puddle-jumper" we flew. (I rode in the co-pilot seat on the flight over, Jessica rode shotgun on the flight back).

We also purchased snorkeling equipment from Amazon. We bought 3 sets of snorkels. The type we bought worked fantastic for us. Other things we purchased were beach shoes (this turned out to be a real necessity since there are some wicked sand burrs just off the beach-front. We also bought 3 disposable underwater cameras. We bought the Fuji brand.

Vieques exceeded all our expectations and we're heading back in the fall. Rather than rattle on about every detail I'll just post some photos now.


This guy greeted us each morning at breakfast!


Zach, tired from a long day of watching the wild horses.


and here’s one of those horses just a stones throw from the pool…


This is how most mornings were spent before breakfast, Lorrie is behind the camera.


We spent nearly all of our beach time on Blue Beach. The picture on the header of this blog is a shot Lorrie took of Jessica from inside our makeshift shelter (courtesy of some previous visitor). Here’s a picture of that magnificent structure…



Civilization still managed to creep into our beach time…”Fours bars, now if it’ll just hold till I finish this text”


That’s looking west along Blue beach…notice the crowd.


Now from everything I had read prior to us making the trip I was convinced one could swim out to
the island in the picture above. But standing there with Lorrie it sure looked like a long swim and we had no idea how deep the water would get.

I finally got up enough nerve to get it a try. If you go snorkeling off the beach you will quickly learn that you DON’T put your fins on the way I am doing it and you move backwards into the water. Rookie move, what can i say.


After my test run we all geared up.


Jessica was convinced that spitting into her mask was the most disgusting thing ever!


Now we’re ready for action!


Oops…almost forgot Lorrie. She’s a natural when it comes to snorkeling.


This is 3/4’s of the way over to the island. Notice how shallow it is. The whole way over to the island it never really got very deep. Lot’s of sea grass. This is an edit to the orginal post made with our first trip . Please DO NOT MAKE the mistake we're making here. DON'T walk on the coral. We are probabaly destroying new coral by standing here.  Even though it's looked like mostly sea grass  there were probably juvenile coral formations present. We had watched other people people doing it, and like lemmings followed their lead. Swim out to the cay off of Playa Chiva. The picture above and the next few were taken with the Fuji underwater disposable camera.


Just some pictures of fish and coral.


At times the water wasn’t much deeper than this so you had to be really careful picking your path. We were told to avoid the black sea urchins.


A touch blurry but you can see three of the  little devils in this picture. It’s rather hard to hold the camera steady underwater and shoot pictures. I shot 3 rolls and 75% of the shots are either blurry or the water was too deep for a clear shot.


You can see in this picture how all the colors become muted with any distance at all.


I thought the little blue and green fish in the lower left forefront was so cool. Too bad you can barely see him.


Break time…it’s amazing just how dry your throat gets snorkeling. Once again DON'T stop and stand like we are doing here.
Once again another fish, but still, you can’t really see him well.

Doesn’t that brain coral look strange? (I’m guessing it’s brain coral..not really sure)


Time to head back.


Large starfish Jessica spotted on the way back. It was in the seagrass.


Finished











On the left is Jessica pointing to some sea glass she found. We spent one evening over on the north side of Vieques, east of Isabell II searching for sea glass. In a little under an hour we found quite a few pieces.
 Below is me doing the same.














Lorrie and Jessica both got pedicures for the trip...


Lorrie and Jessica outside Biobay tours. The flowers were just beautiful.


Well since I started down this tangent here's another flower shot.


one more....


Last one I promise...


Well I lied...I wanted to show this because it is a Ylang Ylang bloom. The scent from these were everywhere around the Hacienda. You can't describe the fragrance you've just got to experience it.


Evening time on the Malecon in Esperanza


Lorrie and me...like my new carribean shirt.


I got a shirt, she got a new dress. Looks beautiful.


Last day at the beach....


I could get used to this.......

8 comments:

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for such a great blog! I just spent a few hours poking around your blog because my husband and I are making our first trip to Vieques on Tuesday Jan 12th... and staying at the Hacienda Tamarindo where you guys first stayed. Maybe we will bump into you and Lorrie. We would recognize you in a second! Thanks for the preview and your wonderful videos on the island. Rebecca from Boston

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  2. Rebecca you'll love the Hacienda, so quiet and relaxing. It's a great location with easy access to Esperanza. You can walk to Island Adventures to do a bio-bay tour from it. If your not already a Trip Advisor member check out the Vieques forum. Post a trip report there for us. I'm glad you like the blog, makes it all worth while.

    Curt

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  3. Curt, thanks for sharing so much info here. My family is making our 1st trip next month, and you have really helped answer some questions. I don't suppose you have had any luck getting US Airways to
    check your bags straight thru to your Cape AIr flight? The travel is the only thing we are not looking forward to. Gracias,
    Deb in PA

    ReplyDelete
  4. Deb,

    No we haven't had any luck with checking bags thru with US Air. If you read our entries from our November trip you'll see the problems we had and how much extra time you need to get your bags from one airline to the other, but it's all worth it. We'll be back on the island the first two weeks of Feb, maybe we'll see each other...heck I'll even buy a round for everyone. Glad our little blog was of help...makes it all the more worth while. We love getting comments.

    Curt

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  5. I've been checking out this blog for the last week and I am getting really excited about visiting Vieques! My fiance and I will be going down there in June for our honeymoon. We're staying at a small house outside of Isabel (it's called Tranquility by the Sea). Your blog and Trip Advisor had so much useful information I just had to say THANK YOU!
    Although I do have a few questions (you do seem like an expert!).. Have you ever been there in June? I know its the start of the rainy season, and after research I am not too worried about too much rain - but just wanted a first hand opinion.
    Also - one thing that has been bothering is our car rental. We went with the cheapest choice and rented an older jeep from Vieques Car Rental. The reviews on this company have been awful! I am almost thinking about switching to another one.. have you had any experiences renting with them?

    Thank you,
    Angela

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    Replies
    1. Angela,

      First thank you for the kind words. It was always our hope that this blog would help other people with finding/exploring Vieques. Secondly..we are by no way experts...we still have lots of exploring to do on Vieques.

      Now regarding the time of year. No..we haven't been to Vieques in the summer. We have been caught in some rainy weeks at times on our early November trips. The one thing we've noticed is that if you get a lot of rain over several days the water will turn cloudy and turbid. It can takes a few days to a few weeks for it to clear up. Just remember that. The dry season in the winter is when you find the consistantly clear azure waters that most associate with the Caribbean. Use our video "slow'n it down" ...shot on Playa Chiva, as an example of just how clear it can be.

      We haven't rented from Vieques Car rental before. We usualy rent from Maritzas. When we did rent from Martineau one time we got a junker..but it ran. We got that one for $50 a day. The convienance of Maritzas having a desk at the airport is worth the extra cash to us (it costs us right at $1000 for two week rental)..that and the fact that they've done us some real favors in the past (picking us up at the airport after 9pm when we couldn't get to the island because of Hurricane Thomas). I wouldn't be too worried about the reviews about Vieques Car Rental. So many people are expecting to be treated like they're stil on the gulf coast of Florida or something. This is Vieques, it's different.

      Delete
  6. Curt, Thank you for your reply! I am really looking forward to exploring Vieques

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  7. Ha Ha glad you corrected yourself for standing on the coral you naughty lot :)

    ReplyDelete