Best hidden gem islands near Puerto Rico: a guide for island hopping Puerto Rico edition

Island hopping in the Caribbean is one of the best relaxing vacations. Enjoying day after day lounging on the beach, now that’s paradise. The best part about island hopping is experiencing new beaches and exploring new areas, yet you still all of your time relaxing. Sound perfect to me!

An island where you should try island hopping at is Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has nearly 143 minor islands surrounding the mainland. Only two of those islands are inhabited: Vieques and Culebra.

How to get there is sometimes complicated and frustrating, but let me tell you how.

Culebra is home to the world-famous Flamenco Beach and definitely deserves a spot on your Puerto Rico itinerary

Options for island hopping in Puerto Rico

Flights to Culebra or Vieques

If you’d like to visit the island in 30 minutes flat, take a flight. Flights depart from San Juan airport and go to both Culebra and Vieques. On an initial search, I found roundtrip flights to each island for $100.

If you’d like to find affordable flights, the app/website I use is Kiwi Flights.

Options for getting to Fajardo

If you opt not to fly, you’ll have to take the ferry from Fajardo for both Culebra and Vieques. How you get to Fajardo is completely up to you. 

There are no buses or other forms of mass public transportation that go to Fajardo, but here are some options.

Rental car

The easiest way to get there is by rental car. You’ll take PR Highway 66 and PR Highway 3 to get there. The drive is a little more than an hour, but it whizzes by fast. The road isn’t very scenic but does go past the El Yunque National Rainforest. Many people visit the rainforest either before or after their adventures to Culebra or Vieques.

If you drive to the ferry you’ll have to pay to park in the parking lot. To park overnight it cost $8.

Uber

This is more difficult. While I was in Puerto Rico I met some workers at my hostel who had personal connections with Uber drivers. The drivers would often make trips out to Fajardo and El Yunque Rain Forest is there had a full carload. The only problem was finding a way to get back to San Juan. If you’d like

If you’d like to get a free first ride with Uber, sign up using my referral code: marthal3127ue.

Taxi

To rent a taxi to Fajardo costs about $85 from the San Juan airport.

There also public cars that you can take to the ferry that will take 12 to 15 people. They cost about $20 per person and takes about four hours to get to Fajardo.

From Fajardo to the islands

Editor’s note:

Ferries that run between Fajardo and popular tourist-stops Culebra and Vieques is the primary source of transportation for the locals. Consider taking a flight to experience these beautiful islands to not place a strain on the locals. There have been reports of locals needing to wait 12+ hours for ferry rides.

The ferries to Culebra and Vieques both embark from the Fajardo Port Authority. When purchasing a ticket make sure you specify what island you want to travel to and the time you’ll embark. Note: boarding calls are made in Spanish so make sure you’re in the right loading area by asking the ticket tellers and security, some of which might speak English.

Another note is that the ferry does not travel between Culebra and Vieques. If you want to travel to both islands, you’ll have to venture back to Fajardo before embarking to the next island.

The ferry is a passenger and a cargo ferry. The ferry costs $4.50 round trip to go to Culebra and $4 for Vieques. You can take your car on the cargo ferry for $26 roundtrip to Vieques and $26.50 roundtrip to Culebra. Prices for truck and large cars are a little more expensive. Call or email the office for exact rates (787-494-0934).

Double check the ferry schedule before you embark:

  • Fajardo to Culebra 
    (7 days/week & holidays) 9 a.m. • 3 p.m. • 7 p.m.
  • Culebra to Fajardo 
    (Mon-Fri) 6 a.m. • 1 p.m. • 5 p.m. (Sat/Sun) 1 p.m. • 5 p.m.
  • Fajardo to Vieques 
    (Mon-Fri) 4 a.m. • 9 a.m. • 1 p.m. • 4:45 p.m. • 8:15 p.m. (Sat/Sun/holidays) 9 a.m. • 1 p.m. • 4:45 p.m. • 8:15 p.m.
  • Vieques to Fajardo 
    (Mon-Fri) 6 a.m. • 11 a.m. • 3 p.m. • 6:30 p.m. (Sat/Sun/holidays) 6:30 a.m. • 11 a.m. • 3 p.m. • 6:30 p.m.

If you want to know more about cargo ferry from Fajardo you can read more here

View from Vieques ferry’s port one of the easiest ways for island hopping in Puerto Rico. The ferry runs from Fajardo on the mainland to nearby Puerto Rico islands Culebra and Vieques.

Getting around Vieques & Culebra

Jeep rentals

On the island tourists, the most popular form of transportation is car rentals, more specifically Jeep rentals. Rentals can be picked up all the airport or at other hot spots around the island. Rentals generally are around $66 a day. There is a discounted rate for weekly rentals.

Golf Cart rentals

Golf rentals are ideal for tourists who aim to bum on the beach during their stay at Culebra. Rentals come in at around $50.

Bicycle rentals

This is my favorite way to get around the small island. Bike rentals start at $20. This is a great way to get from beach to beach and cruise down some of the streets in Culebra.

Scooter rentals

This is similar to golf cart rentals, but are a bit cheaper. Call companies for specific rates.

Publicos/taxis

If you’d like the convenience of being picked up and not having to worry about parking. The white vans coast up and down the streets ready to take tourists wherever they’d like to go. The fares are usually a few bucks, depending on where you request to go. 

For specific rental companies to rent from in Culebra view the Culebra Tourism website. For specific companies to rent from in Vieques view the Vieques Tourism website.

Need more island getaways? 

If you itching for more adventure, make sure to island hop to other beautiful islands in the Caribbean such as Aruba, Turks and Caicos and Cuba. 

This post contains affiliate links. This means I may make a small commission off the links in this article. This is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Quirky Globetrotter! 

Quirky Globetrotter

Hi! I'm Martha! The mastermind behind Quirky Globetrotter a feminist travel blog. Quirky Globetrotter is devoted to telling narratives devoted to female solo travel and hidden gems worldwide with an emphasis on intersectional feminism and how that impacts travel on a global and local level.

27 thoughts on “Best hidden gem islands near Puerto Rico: a guide for island hopping Puerto Rico edition

  1. I’d love to rent a jeep and explore Vieques and Culebra although its slightly expensive so if I travel alone, I’d rather rent a scooter! Island hopping is amazing, I’ve done that in Greece (via ferries mostly) and will be doing it in Philippines soon (via flights) but ferries in some places (such as my Bali experience) can be very painful! I’m glad to hear they’re good to use in Puerto Rico and although I don’t have a trip planned in the near future, I will make it to the Caribbeans in 2019 for sure. Bookmarking your post for future reference.

    1. Hi Medna! I love island hopping in the Caribbean! I also did some island hopping in Belize when I was there in January — another island destination that I would highly recommend. I love both Greece and Phillippines, so I hope you have a blast there! Safe travels!

  2. I have been to Puerto Rico for a few days many years ago and did not know that you could travel to Culebra or Vieques. That is something that I would have like to have done. This is a great article on how to get to the ferry and to the islands. You have covered every question that I would have asked. Thanks.

  3. I didn’t know there was a Ferry service around Puerto Rico! That’s awesome. I like the idea of renting a jeep too just to feel more adventurous. My favorite traveling around Bermuda a bit ago was the scooters. Had a lot of trouble in the beginning but felt so liberating on a scooter

    1. Hi Crystal! So the ferry just runs from Fajardo to Vieques and Culebra, but it would be great if it visited other parts of Puerto Rico. In hindsight, I definitely wish I had rented a scooter in Vieques. There are ruins there that I also wanted to explore but after my taxi fiasco, that didn’t happen. Happy and safe travels to you!

  4. Some of these islands look stunning! I was planning to visit Puerto Rico in 2020 but you’re making me want to visit now. Another great post with a lot of useful information for first-time visitors as well. I didn’t know a ferry service runs around Puerto Rico. Thanks for all the information on how to get to the ferry and to the islands. I’m so glad I came across this article- I’m definitely bookmarking it for later.

    1. Hi Daniel! I’m so happy that you found this article helpful! I would definitely recommend going to see both islands (Culebra and Vieques) if you can. If you need suggestions for your itinerary, I also have a ton of Puerto Rico content on my blog. Eat lots of mofongo for me! Happy and safe travels to you!

  5. This is such a practical post, I appreciate you collected info about the prices for everything. It would awesome to do island hoping there, rent a car and go around. I did island hoping in malaysia and it was fun, though, it would be much better if I could do it by myself not through the agency.

    1. Hi Anita! I definitely loved the freedom that I had with the ferry. I wish I had rented a scooter or something in Vieques, but it worked out fine. I went island hopping in Belize as well and it was a dream! Happy travels to you!

  6. This sounds like something I’d love to do! I’ve not made it to any of the US territories when I’ve been there, and would love to see Puerto Rico. You’ve also provided excellent details on the different transportation types and the prices too. Culebra sounds idyllic, would love to visit the next time!

    1. Hi Lisa! Island hopping can be a little stressful, so I figured a guide would help ease others. I had to do a lot of research myself to understand how the process works. I did a similar thing in Belize that I plan to write about. Happy and safe travels to you!

  7. This would be amazing! Your pictures look great. It’s interesting to see the low costs of getting around. I’m guessing the drive to Fajardo would be pretty cool plus it only takes an hour!

    1. Hi David! I was surprised at how affordable it was in Puerto Rico. I didn’t think I would be able to island hop, but I was so happy that I got to. It was an unbelievable experience. I would highly recommend. Happy and safe travels to you!

  8. Only 2of over 100islands are inhabited! That’s so fascinating . I can see the undiluted beauty if puertorico in your photos. Thanks for the useful information about transportation etc.

    1. Hi Sinjana! Isn’t that incredible? I think in the near future, Puerto Rico will start to rent out these islands are luxury stays, but in the meantime Vieques and Culebra both deserve a visit. They are stunning and really untouched by overtourism. They are struggling since Hurricane Maria, so they are in desperate need of our financial support as well. Thanks for reading!

  9. First things first, have to say quite an informative post for anyone who is planning a vacations in the Caribbean for the first time. Haven’t been to Puerto Rico till now, but its on my radar for sure.The main thing that comes across the mind is how to travel from one place to the other in a new place, and you have hit the nail bang on with all the details. Bookmaking this for the future.

    1. Hi Arnav! I hope you do get to Puerto Rico soon. It’s a growing destination in the Caribbean. It also looks as if the island is finally rebounding from Hurricane Maria, which is fantastic to hear. I’m itching to go again just thinking about all the lovely beaches!

  10. Culebra and Vieques both are stunning islands. I would love to explore both of them. I just wish there be a ferry connecting both of them, instead of getting back to Fajardo for that.

    1. Hi Shreya! Yes, Culebra and Vieques are definitely two hidden gems in Puerto Rico. I definitely want to jet back there immediately. It would be ideal if there was a ferry connecting Culebra and Vieques directly. Maybe in the future if tourism continues to grow in Puerto Rico!

  11. Peurto Rico is 143 Islands!!? I never knew that. I have done island hopping in Andamans and I totally enjoyed the experience. I love to travel in ferries too.. Would love to visit these islands some day.

    1. Yes, Puerto Rico has so many little islands, but there are only three that are inhabited — the mainland, Vieques and Culebra. I would highly recommend visiting because they boast some of the most beautiful beaches in the world!

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