Visiting Vieques with Kids

Author: Dan Brewer

Last Updated:

At many beach destinations around the world, you’re lucky if you can find a single seashell on the sand. Vieques is the kind of place where you can walk along the beach and find a conch shell – it’s magical. Visiting Vieques with kids is a wonderful part of any family vacation to Puerto Rico. There are so many incredible things to do with kids in Vieques, that you can barely see them all in a week!

After one day in San Juan with kids, we enjoyed a week long family trip to Vieques. We explored every corner of this incredible Caribbean island and are excited to share our experiences with you.

A family sits on a rocks at sunset on a beach while spending a week with kids in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
A beautiful sunset on the Esperanza beach.

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Family Travel Advice You Can Trust

Did you know many ‘travel blogs’ are written by AI bots or people who have never actually been to the destination? At Family Can Travel, we are a real family who travel with our kids to real places. We then write about our family travels in hopes of inspiring families like you to travel with their kids too! We hope you enjoy reading about our real life visits to the beautiful Caribbean island of Vieques, Puerto Rico!

a girl stands on the La Esperanza welcome sign in southern Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Our week-long family trip to Vieques was amazing!

12 Best Things to do in Vieques with Kids

1. Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay

When we were first researching our family trip to Puerto Rico, we were leaning towards going to the ‘other island’, Culebra. But we ended up choosing to visit Vieques with kids primarily because of the Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay, and we’re so glad we did.

A few years back, we were fortunate enough to go swimming in a bioluminescent bay while on a trip to Colombia with kids. It was so incredible that we’ve been looking for an opportunity to do it again. When we discovered that the bioluminescent bay in Vieques holds the Guiness World Record as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, we just knew we had to go!

Bioluminescent plankton light up the dark water in Puerto Mosquito, Vieques.
Our one decent picture of the bioluminescent plankton in Mosquito Bay.

The microscopic single-cell organisms which give Mosquito Bay its incredible BioBay glow are a species of phytoplankton – specifically a dinoflagellate called Pyrodinium bahamense, but let’s call them something easier, shall we?

Upon arriving at Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay, we were quickly outfitted with lifejackets (small ones for the kids!) and got in our kayaks. Our guide’s kayak had a small glowing orange light, which made it a breeze to follow him in the dark.

a family on a biobay tour in Puerto Mosquito, Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Our guide illuminates the mangrove trees around Puerto Mosquito during our BioBay tour.

It was immediately clear after our first few strokes of the kayak that Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay was something special. The brightness of the bioluminescent plankton was truly remarkable. They only glow when agitated, so when the blade of the kayak enters the water, the water turns an eerie, bright light blue all around.

Although it’s illegal to swim in the Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay, you can put your hand in the water (wash off sunscreen and insect repellent beforehand). It was such a thrill to splash our hands around in the water, watching it come to life with a glowing light.

a kayak tour to see the bioluminescent plankton in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

We booked a kayaking trip to Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay specifically with a company who has clear-bottom kayaks. The clear-bottom kayaks were an excellent touch and we highly recommend you find a BioBay kayaking tour who uses them.

As the kayak glides through the water, the bioluminescent plankton at the front of the kayak start to glow. As the kayak glides forward through the water, the plankton glows as the kayak glides overtop. The effect is otherworldly – like a bright blue-ish, green-ish bubble waterfall.

To us, the best part about kayaking Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay at night was watching the fish. Mosquito Bay is a very healthy body of water with plenty of fish in the water. At night, you can see the fish swimming beneath the surface as they also make the bioluminescent plankton glow. When you kayak near a school of fish, it was a truly incredible sight, which I’ll never forget.

Speaking of unforgettable moments in Mosquito Bay, there is also a species of jumping fish in the bioluminescent waters. As these fish leap through the air, or dart across the surface of the water at incredible speed, you can just imagine how amazing these glowing fish look in the darkness.

two kids get lifejackets on for their upcoming bioluminescent plankton tour in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
The kids are wondering why we are keeping them up well past their bedtime. They soon figured out why…

Although we had to keep our little ones up well past their bedtimes to kayak Mosquito Bay for the bioluminescent water, it was well worth it. I shared a kayak with my daughter, and at one point she said, “This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen”. And I think she may very well be right – kayaking Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay at night is an experience our family will never forget.

Tips for Visiting Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay with Kids

  • We waited until we arrived in Vieques with kids before booking our kayaking tour through Mosquito Bay. We almost didn’t get to go as we got the final two slots available for the entire week! If you are visiting Vieques with your children during high season, we recommend you book your BioBay kayaking tour well in advance to avoid disappointment.

  • If kayaking is not your thing, you can still see this natural wonder on a bioluminescent bay boat tour in a catamaran.

  • As you can see by the relative lack of pictures above, it is incredibly hard to get a good picture of the bioluminescent plankton. You’ll be on a moving boat in the pitch black of night, making a clear picture very hard to get. Release yourself from this pressure and simply enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime family activity.

2. Kid-Friendly Vieques Beaches

Vieques, Puerto Rico is a beach lovers paradise. With over 70 beautiful Caribbean white sand beaches to choose from, you’ll have no difficulty finding a kid-friendly beach on Vieques which is perfect for your family.

Most of the white sand beaches on this Caribbean island are located within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge on the south side. We explored as much of the island as we could during our week on Vieques with kids and are happy to share our favorite family-friendly beaches with you.

a boy plays in the gentle surf at Playa La Chiva Beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Playa La Chiva was our favorite kid-friendly beach in Vieques.

Here is the list of our favorite kid-friendly beaches on Vieques in order from our favorite to least favorite:

  • La Chiva Beach (Playa La Chiva): The water takes a long time to get deep at La Chiva Beach and the white sand is very soft under your bare feet. As there is very little rocks or vegetation in the water, the large area of shallow water is a brilliant turquoise blue – it’s the stuff Caribbean dreams are made of.

  • Caracas Beach (Playa Caracas): Easy to get to without a 4×4 vehicle, Caracas Beach is one of the most popular kid-friendly Vieques beaches. Reminiscent of the beautiful kid-friendly Mayan Riviera white sand beaches, the setting for Caracas Beach is stunning, with brilliant turquoise water and jungle-covered hills on either side.

  • La Plata Beach (Playa Plata): La Plata Beach is widely considered one of the most beautiful white sand beaches on Vieques, yet we had it virtually to ourselves. If, like us, your family enjoys a little seclusion on a tropical Caribbean beach, make the effort to visit La Plata Beach!

  • Playuela Beach (Playa Playuela): For the very small ‘cost’ of a 0.6 mile hike through the jungle, you’ll enjoy a south side beach that’s almost as nice as Caracas Beach (it’s right next door), but without the crowds.
two kids build a huge sandcastle on Playa Playuela Beach while on a family holiday to Puerto Rico.
Playa Playuela has great sand for sandcastles.
  • Punta Arenas Beach (Playa Punta Arenas): A small, but very beautiful beach, Punta Arenas is widely considered the most kid-friendly beach on Vieques. Located on the western edge of Vieques within the Wildlife Refuge, this beach is well protected from the trade winds which often makes the other Vieques beaches a bit windy. The calm water is nice for even small children to swim in.

  • Black Sand Beach (Playa Negra): Reachable via a highly enjoyable 0.5 mile walk through the jungle, the Black Sand Beach is unlike any other on Vieques. The midnight black sand is unlike anything we’ve seen before and a family walk on the beach is a fun thing to do on Vieques with kids.
the pitch black sand beach at Playa Negra is a lot of fun for kids.
They call it Black Sand Beach for a reason. The kids loved it!
  • Sun Bay Beach (Playa Sun Bay): The closest kid-friendly beach to the main tourist town of Esperanza. Sun Bay beach is so big, that it never feels crowded, even when there’s lots of people there.

  • Media Luna Beach (Playa Media Luna): Another beach considered to be one of the best kid-friendly beaches on Vieques, Media Luna Beach is unquestionably beautiful. But to be honest, we question the claim that is it a kid-friendly beach. We share the details on why you should skip Media Luna Beach in our full post on the best beaches in Vieques.

  • Sea Glass Beach: Just the name makes it sound like it’s a great kid-friendly thing to do on Vieques. But it’s not. There was plenty of broken glass at this beach near Isabel Segunda, and very little of the actual sea glass. Sea Glass Beach is hard to get to if you are not staying in Isabel Segunda, so we recommend you skip this beach and head to one of the better kid-friendly beaches on Vieques.
a white sand beach and Caribbean water color at Playa Media Luna Beach in Vieques.
As you can see from Playa Media Luna, even our least favorite Vieques beaches are quite stunning.

Get the full details for each beach for your Puerto Rico family vacation with our full post on the best Vieques beaches.

3. Sugar Mill Ruins

The Bioluminescent Bay kayaking tour was a clear winner for the best thing to do with kids on Vieques, but a family hike around the abandoned sugar mill is a candidate for runner up. Reminiscent of some of the temples we toured around Angkor Wat (pre-children), the Vieques sugar mill has been completely taken over by the jungle, making a tour through the remaining facilities a thrill for kids of all ages.

the entrance to the sugar mill ruins hike in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
The entrance to the sugar mill ruins.

The Vieques sugar mill shut down in the 1940s and the jungle has been reclaiming the land ever since. There is a very enjoyable short path (less than 1 mile) around the exterior of the complex, where you’ll pass many crumbling buildings. It’s truly amazing to see trees and vines growing atop the walls and ceilings of the old sugar mill. One day the jungle will completely retake this place.

old brick buildings within the Vieques sugar mill ruins are being reclaimed by the jungle.

There are a network of trails all throughout the sugar mill complex, but most of them are just short trails to a particular building or piece of rusting equipment. I recommend you track your progress on an app just in case, so you can backtrack if needed. We used the AllTrails app – as a bonus it showed the circular trail around the complex so we could make sure we were on the right track.

a boy climbs a set of stairs on the Vieques sugar mills ruins hike.
There’s no end to the adventure on the Vieques sugar mill ruins walk.

There are some long, dark tunnels which may be tempting for some to explore. We went down for a closer look and discovered the walls were literally covered in spiders. It didn’t take us long to get the heck out of there!

When you arrive at a large wall with stairs, be sure to climb the steps for the most interesting part of the Vieques sugar mill ruins. At the top of the steps must have been the old furnace complex as there are many large ovens and huge steel contraptions around. We loved exploring this section of the sugar mill ruins and we bet your kids will love it too.

two kids having fun on the family-friendly walk through the sugar mill ruins in Vieques.
What an incredible place to visit with kids!

If your family enjoys hiking and nature, don’t miss a visit to the Vieques sugar mill ruins. It’s easily one of the most fun and unique things to do on Vieques with kids.

two kids explore the Vieques sugar mill ruins.

Directions to the Vieques Sugar Mill Ruins.

4. Kid-Friendly Snorkeling at Punta Arenas Beach

Before children, we would go snorkeling every chance we got. It seemed like a long wait, but now our kids are finally old enough to start going on snorkeling tours on our family trips. We had just tried snorkeling together a few months ago during our visit to Corcovado National Park with kids in Costa Rica. That experience went so well, we were eager to try snorkeling with kids in Vieques.

We found a tour company which offers kid-friendly snorkeling tours in Vieques. Abe’s Snorkeling & BioBay Tours offers an easy snorkel tour for kids and beginners which enters the water right from the sand at Punta Arenas Beach.

the calm water at Playa Punta Arenas beach is perfect for kid-friendly snorkeling tours.
The reliably calm water at Punta Arenas beach is perfect for kid-friendly snorkeling tours.

After a fun and bumpy bus ride from Esperanza to Punta Arenas Beach, we got fitted in appropriately sized snorkel gear, and were quickly on our way to the clear Caribbean water. They have life jackets for those who cannot swim well (like me). We all made sure our gear worked properly and soon we were following our guide into the reliably calm waters of Punta Arenas Beach.

We started snorkeling over some rocks almost right away and therefore started to see some tropical fish. But after 5-10 minutes of swimming out, we reached a much larger rock formation. This area off the coast of Punta Arenas Beach was about 20 feet deep and was home to a decent amount of coral and tropical fish.

I was happy to see plenty of coral fans waving about in the water, as these are some of my favorite coral plants. There were also many coral formations which looked like flower vases, which fish loved to swim around.

We were happy with the abundance of colorful tropical fish swimming around the rocks and coral. Two notable snorkel sightings were a really large puffer fish and a stingray resting in the sand well below us.

But the star of our Vieques snorkeling tour was the massive Green Sea Turtle (which Celine was the first to spot!). This giant turtle was resting at the seafloor and was calm enough to let our group hover overhead for quite a while, before gracefully swimming away. Our snorkel guides estimated the Green Sea Turtle was over 100 years old. What a thrill to see such a beautiful sea creature!! 

seeing a sea turtle was a highlight of our family snorkeling tour in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

5. Cayo de Tierra Sandbar Walk

One of the most popular activities around Esperanza is to walk across a long sandbar which connects the mainland to Cayo de Tierra, a nearby island. It’s short and easy enough to be a fun family activity as well.

As you near the connecting point between the mainland and Cayo de Tierra, take a moment to admire the beautiful turquoise Caribbean water color in the calm waters nearby. You can also enjoy a nice view of the town of Esperanza from here as well.

Depending on the tide schedule, Cayo de Tierra may not be fully connected to land. If the sandbar is submerged, you can still easily cross the short channel by wading in up to your knees.

a family wades across a sandbar on an easy walk near Esperanza, Vieques.
Kids always love getting wet on a family hike.

Once on Cayo de Tierra, the first thing we noticed was a massive amount of coral and seashells on the beach. Brain coral is especially prominent all along the edge of the ocean, and you may just find an ancient conch shell or two. There is seagrass flowing in the currents just offshore and if you look closely, you’ll notice a few tropical fish swimming about.

a large piece of brain coral found on the Cayo de Tierra Sandbar Walk near Esperanza, Vieques.

Watch for a red dot painted on a rock which signifies the moment where you leave the rocky beach to start hiking across the interior of Cayo de Tierra. The jungle is very dense with plenty of lizards skittering across the path and a few really big hermit crabs too (which our kids love).

a family enjoys the easy Cayo de Tierra Sandbar Walk.
The beautiful coastline was our favorite part of this easy hike near Esperanza.

The hiking trail goes up and down a hill across the center of Cayo de Tierra and it can be a little steep in spots. When it emerges on the far side of the island, you’ll notice a shipwrecked sailboat which has run aground on this rocky island. Just behind the shipwreck is a hidden inland lagoon.

two kids approach a shipwrecked sailboat on an easy hike near Esperanza, Vieques.
The kids thought the shipwrecked sailboat was pretty cool.

Although the Cayo de Tierra walk is a lot of fun with kids, in order to get to the sandbar you either have to walk along the beach (which has an abnormally high amount of broken glass) or along a dirt road (which has an abnormally high amount of garbage around the sides). We recommend you walk the road with sports sandals.

6. Laguna Kiani Boardwalk

There’s a large lagoon called Laguna Kiani in the northwest section of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. For the most part, there’s nothing for people to see or do at Laguna Kiana, except for a short wooden boardwalk which runs through a large section of the mangrove surrounding the lagoon.

two kids on an easy walk on the Laguna Kiani Boardwalk in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
The Laguna Kiani Boardwalk is a very easy family walk on Vieques.

We found the spot where the boardwalk takes a 90 degree right turn is the best spot for wildlife viewing. We saw lots of big blue crabs, including two big brutes who kept circling each other with their claws out; looking to fight at any moment. In addition, we saw other crabs species and a few colorful fish swimming through the clear shallow waters.

the Laguna Kiani Boardwalk in Vieques.

Directions to Laguna Kiani Boardwalk.

7. The Wild Horses of Vieques

One of the many things which makes Vieques, Puerto Rico a unique destination for families to visit is the semi-wild horses that roam freely around the island. Our daughter loves animals, so getting to see beautiful wild horses as we drove our rental Jeep around the island was a real treat.

Wild horses enjoy some shade just off the white sand at Playa Media Luna Vieques.
These wild horses were just off the beach at Playa Media Luna.

It’s not very hard to find the wild horses of Vieques – in fact, they are everywhere. For instance, we had many wild horses on the lawn of our rental home on several mornings! There’s not many places left in the world where horses roam free, so this is a real treat for the whole family to enjoy.

wild horses of Vieques at sunrise.
We got to say “good morning” to these beautiful wild horses at our vacation rental house.

8. Visit a 375 Year Old Ceiba Tree

If you find yourself driving to some of the beaches along the northwest side of the island, keep an eye out for the natural reserve park which contains a 375 year old Ceiba tree.

As we parked our 4×4 and got out to visit the Ceiba tree, my first thought was that it wasn’t as tall as I’d expected it to be. But it didn’t take me long to realize this is still a massive, ancient tree.

a 375 year old Ceiba tree is a fun stop for kids during a family outing in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The 375 year old Ceiba tree has an overall twisted shape with a few massive branches winding their way skyward. All around the Ceiba tree, there are massive buttress roots, which add to the overall mass of this giant.

To get an appreciation for the size of the revered Vieques Ceiba tree, be sure to walk the full way around it. There are benches all around the circumference of the Ceiba tree if there’s a spot which you’d like to sit and admire this beautiful tree a while longer. 

Directions to the 375-year old Ceiba tree.

9. Enjoy a Family Walk Along Mosquito Pier

I first saw Mosquito Pier as our Vieques Air Link flight from San Juan was approaching the Isabel Segunda airport. Named for its long skinny shape (like a mosquito needle), I thought it’d be a great place for a family walk to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean Sea on both sides.

We quickly realized that a walk along the first 80% of Mosquito Pier wouldn’t be enjoyable as it’s just an asphalt road. But there is a parking lot at the end of the road which leads to a more traditional walking pier.

The first thing you’ll notice as you walk along this pier is that you can see the Puerto Rico mainland from here. It’s much closer than I’d expected it to be!

The pier has a central walkway, but I encourage you to walk along the edges so you can look at the abundant tropical fish which dart around the massive pier pillars. A lady we talked to on the pier had recently seen a sea turtle from the Mosquito Pier, but we weren’t lucky enough to see one.

a family watches tropical fish swim in the Caribbean Sea from Mosquito Pier in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
We saw a ton of colorful fish from Mosquito Pier.

The Mosquito Pier is a great place to see tropical fish in Vieques with kids if you aren’t planning to snorkel. There are no railings, so keep small children close.

Directions to Mosquito Pier.

10. Rusted Out Trains

Chances are very good that at some point on your trip to Vieques with kids that you’ll be driving from Esperanza to the Vieques National Wildlife Reserve on the east side of the island. If you do, as you leave Esperanza, keep an eye open on the right hand side of the road for a small collection of old, rusted train engines.

There’s something that’s just cool about rusted out train engines, especially for little ones. This kid-friendly activity near Esperanza won’t take more than 5 minutes, but it’s worth a stop.

A collection of rusted train engines and cars near Esperanza, Vieques.

Directions to the rusted out trains near Esperanza.

11. Vieques National Wildlife Refuge Observation Tower

For the final morning of our week-long vacation to Vieques, we needed an activity which didn’t involve getting sandy or wet before our flight back to San Juan. The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge Observation Tower fit the bill perfectly.

This observation tower is a fun thing to do with kids on Vieques.

You can visit the observation tower one of two ways: you can drive up or you can hike up:

  • The road to the Observation Tower is immediately on the left as you enter the eastern section Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. The gravel road is in pretty good condition, but it can be steep in spots. Our 4×4 Bronco handled it no problem.

  • The trailhead for the observation tower hike is a little further down the main road in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. The trailhead is on the left and is clearly marked with a road sign. The hike to the observation tower is 1.3 miles uphill through the jungle.

The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge Observation Tower is small, but it provides amazing views of the southern half of this Puerto Rican island. From the observation deck you can see Mosquito Bay (the bioluminescent bay which is the star attraction of Vieques).

Two kids enjoy views of Vieques from the observation tower.
We enjoyed looking for all the amazing places we had visited during our family trip to Vieques.

You can also see Cayo Real & Cayo de Tierra (the two islands just offshore from Esperanza), Puerto Ferro Bay and Sun Bay Beach.

I wouldn’t make the Wildlife Refuge Observation Tower the main reason for any outing, but if you have a few minutes before or after a visit to one of the south side beaches, this is a fun activity for kids on Vieques.

12. The El Pobre Hike in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

To be honest, we hadn’t set out to do this kid-friendly hike in Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, but as it turns out, we had a very enjoyable time. We had set out to visit “Starfish Beach” as described in our Puerto Rico Lonely Planet, which was described as the most kid-friendly beach on Vieques. Google Maps said we could drive right there. As it turns out – they were both wrong.

The road to Starfish Beach ended about 2,300 feet (700 m) before where Google Maps said it would. We parked our car and found a trail map which showed a path through the jungle to the area where Starfish Beach should have been with a return trail along the beach.

the beachfront trail sign for the El Pobre hike in Vieques.

The walk through the jungle was very enjoyable. For a large part of it we had Laguna Kiana on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. There were many palm trees lining the trail, little lizards all over the place and we found a many conch shells and a sun bleached shell of a massive land crab.

a young girl listens to the ocean with a conch shell she found on a family hike in Vieques.
Listening to the ocean in a conch shell.

When we arrived at the inlet to Laguna Kiana, we discovered that Starfish Beach was nowhere to be found. Perhaps it was a victim of Hurricane Maria? Or maybe the Lonely Planet had its GPS coordinates wrong?

Nonetheless, we followed the beach trail all the way back to the parking lot. The white sand beach certainly seemed like it fit the description, the waves were non-existent, but there was lots of vegetation in the water and no starfish to be found.

two kids walking on what might be starfish beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Did we find the elusive Starfish Beach? We’ll never know…

Despite the fail on finding Starfish Beach, we still really enjoyed our short, kid-friendly hike through the jungle and along the beach

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Eating out is a fun part of any family vacation. Although our house rental allowed us to self-cater most of our breakfasts and lunches, we enjoyed dinner out almost every evening. Here are our favorite places to eat with kids on Vieques.

1. Kristy’s on the Caribe

We first noticed Kristy’s during our first walk down the oceanfront promenade. We saw their menu board had acai bowls, which they learned to love during our visit to Cartagena with kids. After much begging, we made a promise we’d come back to Kristy’s for some acai bowls later in our family trip to Vieques.

We finally got to Kristy’s on the Caribe after our family snorkeling tour. We had worked up quite the appetite while snorkeling, so were eager to rip into some good food.

Kristy’s had a very kid-friendly menu with many popular breakfast and lunch items on the menu. We each started with an acai bowl (of course), which were delicious. The kids thought it was hilarious getting to order the “Fat Ass Pancakes”, which wasn’t just a funny name. The pancakes were super thick and were really quite tasty!

a girl eats "Fat Ass Pancakes" at Kristy's on the Caribe in Esperanza, Vieques.
“Fat Ass Pancakes” – huge, hilarious and filling!

I had the Fat Ass Pancakes too, while Celine had a Breakfast Sammie, which came on some incredibly good, fresh local bread. We each had a yummy coconut coffee too – a delicious iced coffee variation.

Directions to Kristy’s on the Caribe.

2. Tin Box Restaurant and Bar

Our rental house was approximately halfway between the towns of Esperanza and Isabel Segunda. We were lucky enough to have an excellent restaurant called the Tin Box just a few minutes away.

This large Vieques restaurant is quite popular, based on the consistently full parking lot we passed each night. When we saw that their menu featured BBQ and sushi (two of our most favorite foods!), we knew we had to give the Tin Box Restaurant a try.

Even since our daughter discovered sushi on our family trip to Kyoto, she’s been hooked ever since. She and her little brother each got a roll of sushi (a rainbow roll and a mango salmon roll), which they both promptly devoured.

an order of sushi at the Tin Box restaurant in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Celine and I veered towards the BBQ side of the menu. I got the BBQ Trio Platter which came with 2 ribs, a big helping of pulled pork and a delicious BBQ chicken wing. Celine, on the other hand, got a Shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich (which she first discovered on our trip to Charleston with kids). Served on a very fresh roll, her Po’ Boy was delicious!

The Tin Box is very colorful with a fun, lively atmosphere. The back of the restaurant even backs on to the jungle, which is a beautiful backdrop for any family meal.

a shrimp po'boy sandwich and french fries at the family friendly Tin Box restaurant in Vieques.

On the final night of our family vacation to Vieques, we gave the kids the option of picking their favorite restaurant for our final meal. They chose Tin Box as their favorite Vieques restaurant (so they could get more sushi, of course).

Directions to the Tin Box Restaurant.

3. Duffy’s Esperanza

Of all the oceanfront dinner restaurants we tried in Esperanza, we like Duffy’s the best. Located just across the street from the giant Esperanza beach chair, Duffy’s has a laid back, beach restaurant vibe that’s easy to like.

But, just because there’s relaxing beach music playing, doesn’t mean the staff are chillin’ – quite the opposite. We had our best service of any restaurant on Vieques.

Although Duffy’s Esperanza doesn’t have a kid’s menu, there are several kid-friendly menu items, such as burgers, sweet stuffed plantains, etc.

The daily specials included a wide variety of fresh-caught seafood, including lobster. Our children ordered a veggie burger with curly fries and an order of calamari. I had a delicious stuffed sweet plantain, while Celine had two huge fish tacos. The food was fast, the portions were good and everything was very tasty. A great combo!

a delicious stuffed plantain at Duffy's Esperanza restaurant.
The stuffed plantain was delicious!

Directions to Duffy’s Esperanza.

4. Rincon del Sabor / Rincon del Taco Food Trucks

On the outskirts of Isabel Segunda on your way to Esperanza is a parking lot with two food trucks which is worth a stop.

The Rincon del Sabor food truck offers up many Puerto Rico favorites, while the Rincon del Taco food truck offers up a variety of Mexican dishes, such as tacos, fajitas and more.

a girl eats a meal of delicious tacos at a food truck just outside Isabel Segunda.
Tacos are another of our go-to foods when traveling with kids.

We ordered a ton of tacos from Rincon del Taco and a side dish of Trifongo from Rincon del Sabor – both were delicious and very filling.

With a wide variety of kid-friendly menu options between the two food trucks and plenty of picnic tables, your family will have a great meal here.

outdoor picnic tables in front of the Rincon del Taco food truck in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Directions to Rincon del Sabor / Rincon del Taco Food Trucks.

5. Bananas

The Bananas restaurant is a colorful restaurant along the Malecon in Esperanza. Bananas is an open air restaurant, offering guests nice views of the Caribbean Sea while providing a nice ocean breeze to help cool you down on a hot Puerto Rican day.

You’ll enjoy a diverse menu at Bananas, with virtually something for everyone. We enjoyed our coconut curry grilled chicken on rice, while the kids ordered a hamburger and Mac n’ Cheese off the kids menu.

Coconut chicken curry at Bananas restaurant in Esperanza, Vieques.
The coconut chicken curry was ok…

The atmosphere and ocean views from the Bananas restaurant were really nice, but the food wasn’t amazing. It was a good meal, but to be honest it could have been better.

Directions to Bananas Restaurant.

6. Lazy Jacks

An open air pub across the street from the Caribbean Sea, Lazy Jacks has a large menu which should appeal to even the fussiest eater. They have a wide selection of pub food, tacos, pizza, burgers and more. Our kids enjoyed their 9” pizzas, Celine had pulled pork tacos and I had fish and chips.

a boy enjoys a pizza at Lazy Jacks restaurant in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
When traveling with kids, you can always count on pizza to fill them up.

The food at Lazy Jacks was good, but not great, but at least the kids ate a good, filling meal. Although they have a kid-pleasing menu, the atmosphere at Lazy Jacks was a little too adult pub-like for us, with many grownups smoking and getting loaded. This is a good place to eat with children earlier in the evening before the nightlife takes over. 

Directions to Lazy Jacks.

How to Get to Vieques with Kids

To get to Vieques with kids, we booked a flight with regional airline Vieques Air Link. With multiple flights a day from the San Juan regional airport, Vieques Air Link makes it super easy to get to this fabled Caribbean Island off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

a family boards a Vieques Air Link flight from San Juan to Vieques.
The kids had never been on such a small airplane before.

Every part about flying from Puerto Rico to Vieques was easy. Firstly, the regional airport (Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Regional Airport)) is a very quick and reasonably inexpensive Uber ride from Old Town San Juan.

Then, check in for our family flight to Vieques was only an hour in advance of our departure time. And thirdly, the flight from San Juan to Vieques is only 30 minutes long.

a family enjoys a quick flight from San Juan to Vieques.
Our quick flight to Vieques was exciting!

Our kids loved the small 8-seater airplane which flies low enough to give everyone amazing views of Puerto Rico and the dazzling Caribbean Sea.

The Caribbean Sea water colors look amazing from our airplane on our family flight from San Juan to Vieques, Puerto Rico.

There are several small airlines which offer flights to Vieques:

There is also a ferry service from mainland Puerto Rico to Vieques. Although the ferry is significantly cheaper than flying to Vieques, we chose not to take it as the ferry terminal is an hour outside San Juan and the ferry has a reputation for being highly unreliable.

Getting Around Vieques with Kids

There’s no reliable taxi service or public transit on Vieques, so anyone taking a family vacation to Vieques needs to get their own transportation. The road conditions on Vieques are variable at best, with large potholes found on the streets in-town, on the highways, and to the outlying beaches in Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.

Given the sketchy road conditions, you have two choices for car rentals on Vieques: a 4×4 Jeep or an off-road golf cart. Renting an off-road golf cart in Vieques is a very popular thing to do, and we tried to get one, but there’s a minimum age of 10 years old (making our children a little too young).

an offroad golf cart parked at a beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

So we ended up renting a really nice Ford Bronco from Avis. Having a 4×4 rental car on Vieques made getting around the island a piece of cake, even to the most remote beaches. And, to be honest, the folks in the golf carts didn’t look like they were enjoying eating our dust very much…

a red Ford Bronco 4x4 parked beachside in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Our Ford Bronco 4×4 easily got us to the most remote Vieques beaches.

Family-Friendly Accommodations on Vieques

Vieques is a very small island with only two towns of note:

  • Esperanza is the smaller and more touristy of the two. It has a very nice oceanfront promenade and lots of touristy restaurants to enjoy after a day of playing in the Puerto Rican surf and sand.

  • Isabel Segunda, on the other hand, is the larger, less charming one. One upside is that there are lots of restaurants here, but that’s about it.

There are very few proper hotels and resorts on Vieques, so most people who stay here get a vacation rental. This is fine by us as we prefer to rent houses when we travel with kids. Having a full kitchen, laundry and separate bedrooms makes it so much easier to travel with kids.

a girl enjoys a sunrise from the balcony of her family's rental home in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
We had the nicest sunrises from our vacation home balcony.

We rented a lovely 3-bedroom vacation house about halfway between Esperanza and Isabel Segunda. It was only a 7 minute drive to either town and had great access to all of the islands white sand beaches. We loved falling asleep to the sound of crickets, and not having to worry about the cars blaring loud music you hear so often in one of Vieques’ two towns.

a girl flies a kite on the lawn of her vacation home in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Our vacation home had a massive lawn and even had kites!

We highly recommend you get a 4×4 rental car or golf cart (if your kids are old enough) and vacation house in central Vieques. The central location gives you easy access to the best things to do Vieques with children.

a girl plays with a friendly dog in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
The neighbor’s dogs would come over and visit our daughter.

Final Tips for Parents Visiting Vieques With Kids

If you plan on doing any self-catering on Vieques, you should be aware that it is very difficult to find fruits and vegetables in the supermarkets. It seems like each store has a specific delivery day and they usually sell out quickly on that day. We were lucky enough to stumble across a large truck which had set up a roadside market near Isabel Segunda.

a lineup to buy fruit and vegetables in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

They had a great selection of fruits and vegetables to choose from. They typically set up shop at this location 2x per week. Ask your resort, hotel or vacation rental host for information on when the fruit truck will be there during your stay. 

a very happy boy in front of a bin of nectarines at a fruit market in Vieques.
Happy to finally get some good fruit on Vieques!

Parents may want to know that Vieques has been without a full-service hospital since Hurricane Maria destroyed the old one back in 2017. Construction of a new hospital in Vieques is slated to begin in January 2023.

We hope that our week in Vieques with kids has inspired you to visit this beautiful Caribbean island in Puerto Rico with your family!

two kids ham it up on a giant Adirondack chair in Esperanza, Vieques.
We loved our family trip to Vieques!

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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).