Running in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques is a small tropical island a few miles East of mainland Puerto Rico and can be easily reached by air from San Juan or ferry from Fajardo. Its North coast abuts the Atlantic whilst its South coast languishes in Caribbean waters. Vieques is far from overcrowded and has many perfect typically tropical beaches and overhanging, tree-lined access roads suitable for jogging. Any vehicle traffic on these beach access roads is quite slow because they have to navigate countless deep potholes and rocks.

Link to interactive map of beaches and roads.

I have visited Vieques three times in the last two years for a total of eight or nine weeks during Dec/Jan timeframe, when daytime temperatures reach into the low 80’s *F. It’s definitely a winter paradise escape to enjoy bright sunshine and just wear shorts and tee-shirt.

Duffy’s after jog/swim

There aren’t many roads on Vieques, so it’s pretty easy to navigate the island in a rental vehicle, scooter, publico/taxi, bicycle or by foot. However, most of the roads are narrow with no hard shoulder and local drivers tend to hurtle round blind bends at 40 mph or more! So road running can be a bit of a challenge, but totally do-able when undertaken during quiet times such as early morning. There are a couple of roads to avoid or be extra vigilant on though because they are the main “highways” between Isabelle II and Esperanza (201/996 and 997)

Link to map of roads.

Each visit I’ve stayed at La Finca Vieques because it’s informal, friendly, rustic, quiet, central to the N & S coast and has wonderful views over forest to the Caribbean from an extensive deck. It is very reasonably priced compared to the many other places to stay on the island. One of its attractions for me is being able to do some good runs directly from La Finca, even though they are on narrow roads. I generally set out just as the sun is rising to get a run in before it gets too hot or traffic starts – (typical island lifestyle is a slow start to the day).

Run 1: Leave La Finca and head downhill on road 995 to its junction with road 201, turn around and return – Distance 2 miles roundtrip.

  • A dip in La Finca’s pool might well be called for after the uphill return!

Run 2: Leave La Finca and head downhill on road 995. Turn left at junction with road 201, then turn right onto road 996 (watch for traffic!!). Continue to junction with road 997, turn left then right into Sun Bay beach or turn right into Esperanza Bay. Distance 3 miles one way, have a swim before returning.

  • Media Luna, Bioluminescent Bay and Navio beaches can be accessed from Sun Bay for increased jogging, swimming or snorkeling.

Run 3: Leave La Finca and turn right onto road 995 then follow it to junction with road 200 and turn left. Continue west on 200 passing Ceiba Park to Mosquito pier. Run the length of the pier then turn around and retrace the route back to La Finca. Distance 8 miles roundtrip.

  • There’s a strong possibility you’ll see small feral horses on road 995
  • Ceiba Park has a large, ancient kapok tree and if you’re lucky you might spot an iguana or two.
  • Mosquito pier has excellent snorkeling with many fish and the occasional turtle.

Southside beach road and trail runs can be accessed just off road 997 at “Sol Food” via a blacktop road with many substantial speed bumps to keep traffic slow. The adjacent land has been cleared and now occupied by feral horses with their attendant egrets.

Puerto Ferro Lighthouse run: Immediate first right turn after entering the “speed bump” road onto Puerto Ferro peninsula road which follows a hard packed sandy/rocky road to a disused lighthouse on cliffs looking South.

Other Beaches reached from  “Sol Food” speed bump road include:

  • Playa Caracas
  • Pata Prieta
  • Playa La Chiva
  • Playa La Plata

Northwest-side beach road and trail runs can be accessed off road 200/PR-994 Punta Arenas road and Green beach area. Lots of sandy trails here, good snorkeling and great views of Puerto Rico’s mountainous rain forest across the straits to the West.

Word of advice or caution: Make sure you’ve got plenty of drinking water.