Thursday, March 9, 2017


To celebrate finishing graduate school, we took a vacation to Vieques, Puerto Rico.  To get to Vieques, we had to travel for over 18 hours from Utah.  We started our journey in SLC at 12:40 am, arrived in Atlanta at 6 am, and after a 2 hour layover, we arrived in San Juan at 1 pm.  We then took an hour taxi ride with a really nice man named Peter to the ferry dock in Fajardo.  Peter was so nice that he even stopped at Verde BBQ and let us eat (best food on the island!).  For only $20, we ate the most glorious chicken that fell off the bone, tostones, mofongo, plantains, and rice and beans.  I know it sounds like a lot of starch, but the islanders don't seem to eat many vegetables.
Once we arrived at the Ferry, we found out the next ferry wasn't coming for 2 hours.  Well the 2 hour wait turned into 4 hours because the large ferry broke and we had to take a smaller ferry.  With little to no guidance from the rude and unhelpful ferry people, we found out that we weren't allowed to sit in seats for 4 hours (reserved for residents of the island), rather we could sit on the concrete ground in between some barricades for 4 hours and reserve our spot in line.  If we didn't make the next ferry, we were going to have to wait for 6 hours, so we sat on that concrete in line for 4 hours.  Luckily enough, they boarded us after a 4 hour wait, with no communication for the ferry workers (they like to keep you in the dark about what is going on).  The ferry ride ending up being horrendous.  Torrential downpours, ferry going sideways to the point that people and my children thought it was going to tip over (75 degree angle at least). Everybody on the boat ended up in this tiny cabin where we found out there weren't enough life jackets for all of us (eek).  A lady from NJ passed out from sea sickness while standing and I had to grab her and push her into a seat.  She threw up every 5 minutes for the next hour (poor lady).  My son cried on my shoulder.   After this horrific experience, one of the locals insisted we ride with him to our rental.  The guy was sketchy, but everything turned out to be fine.  His name was Estaban and he got us to our rental safely for $15 (which is pretty much the same as a taxi, but my husband wanted to ride with him).
Once we got to our rental, it was late (8:30 pm), so we quickly left our bags and went to the Malecon for something to eat.  We ate phenomenal food and couldn't wait to go to bed so we could wake up and see the Caribbean sea (none of us had seen it before).

When we woke up and walked down to the sea, it was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen!  Esperenza is the cutest little town with all the restaurants right on the sea, and great snorkeling under the pier.  We spent the day walking around and snorkeling.  We also visited Coco Beach (shown below) because it was within walking distance from the rental. 

Coco beach also was very beautiful.  We found a green coconut here and drank the juice before my youngest decided he was going to throw the coconut into the forest.  

On day 2 of our trip (after visiting Coco in the morning), we got a car rental and spent the next few days bumming around the island.  We snorkeled all over and visited some of the most beautiful beaches I could even imagine.  
We saw a sea turtle, octopus, puffer fish, and tons of tropical fish at Punta Arenas (shown below).  The Punta is where a sand drift has formed because the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet here.  The coral reefs are absolutely beautiful and so easy to snorkel -- the water is not deep, is very warm, and there are no waves. 

At Mosquito Pier, we swam in ~60 feet deep water in between schools of tiger striped fish.  We also saw a sea turtle at the pier.  There were signs on the pier telling fisherman what to do if they caught a sea turtle.  The sea turtles we saw were green sea turtles which are endangered.  How neat!

Our favorite beach, by far, was La Chivas on the wildlife refuge.  It was so picturesque!  Drake stepped on a sea urchin while snorkeling the caya off of the beach though.  He still (5 days later) has black sea urchin spines in his foot.  Luckily, they don't bother him and the body will eventually absorb them.

The caya (shown in the picture above) is accessible by swimming about 1000 feet across the sea.  Luckily, there is a sandbar underneath, but the water is still deeper than you can stand in at places.  We are very lucky that our son swam back from the caya after stepping on the urchin.  We probably should have a blow up life vest in case we ever need to pull either of them back from a dangerous situation.  We were stupid about safety measures on this trip (the pier was way too deep for a 12 year old with no way to save him if he went into distress).  On our next trip, we will be safer, we are lucky nothing happened.  

Our other favorite beach was Navio. This beach had waves the boys could jump and boogie board with the board they found on the beach. 

We are so lucky to have been able to take this vacation! I can't believe how warm the water is... I love Vieques so much and wish it was little easier to get to from Utah.