Make the most of Vieques’s compact size and well-marked roads by beach hopping from coast to coast. Reserve a rental car a couple of weeks in advance by calling Maritza’s Car Rental (787-741-0078) and then explore the sandy shores on both the island’s Caribbean and Atlantic sides. Head for Red Beach on the southern coast for clear waters fronting a placid cove; or marine-life-filled Blue Beach nearby, which offers excellent snorkeling through calm, turquoise waves. Not far from Esperanza, Media Luna Beach is the best option for shallow, kid-friendly shores.
Wear your best island attire to gallery opening parties, where you’ll clink wine glasses with see-and-be-seen locals who flock to these lively gatherings in the absence of other cultural events. Siddhia Hutchinson Fine Arts Gallery (Calle 3 A15, Isabell II, 00765; 787-741-1343) hosts monthly openings, where you’ll likely find landscape paintings by the owner and other artists. Newcomer Galeria de Arte Deda hosts monthly receptions as well and features a more progressive selection of works.
Throw on a bathing suit to explore Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent body of water that is the most stunning natural wonder on the island. Numerous tour operators offer “bio-bay” excursions, but only newcomer Vieques Adventures uses clear fiberglass kayaks for the best views of the glowing water, dense with photosensitive plankton. Tours begin just after sunset, and the 90-minute trip (from $35) sails past mangrove swamps out to the placid lagoon where you can dive in.
Learn about the island’s colonial past at the Vieques Museum of Art and History ($3 admission; 787-741-1717), where small-scale exhibitions display artifacts from Spanish rule and the island’s native Taino people, as well as historical archives and documentaries. Standing on a hill above the port town of Isabel Segunda, the museum occupies the historically significant El Fortin Conde de Mirasol, a neo-Moorish fort and prison that was last used in 1892 during the Spanish-American War.