Is Vieques Safe? (Honest Advice for Safety in 2023)
Vieques, Puerto Rico is a popular weekend getaway spot with beautiful beaches, but with COVID-19 affecting both illness and crime rates around the world, you may be wondering: is Vieques safe to visit?
As a local that’s been to Vieques and enjoys all the fun activities in Vieques, the short answer is that yes, Vieques is safe to visit.
But, since you might have specific concerns about safety in Vieques, this article is full of tips and safety advice to keep note of when visiting the island.
Before you dive in, bookmark my guide to safety in Puerto Rico for more info on how to stay safe in other parts of Puerto Rico.
Table of Contents
- Is Vieques Safe?
- Things to Know About Safety in Vieques
- 5 Safety Tips for Vieques
- FAQs About Safety in Vieques
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Is Vieques Safe?
Overall, Vieques is one of the safest places in Puerto Rico. While it isn’t a risky destination, you should be aware of (and take appropriate measures for) the effects of the ongoing pandemic, the possible hazardous weather during the hurricane season, and petty crime in Vieques.
Vieques is extremely safe for every type of traveler. Being a small municipality island, you’ll hardly find any dangerous areas or become a victim of crime. Overall, I’d suggest you take the same safety precautions you would in any other destination.
Violent gun crime is present in Vieques, but it mostly revolves around drug trafficking and gang activity and doesn’t affect tourists. If anything, visitors are more likely to experience pickpocketing and theft, which can be easily prevented by not carrying around valuables and leaving them at their hotel.
There is a hurricane season in Puerto Rico, but hurricanes don’t affect the island every year and travelers can still visit Vieques.
Things to Know About Safety in Vieques
Vieques Travel Advisories
Although Vieques is generally safe, both the Canadian and United Kingdom governments issued a travel advisory regarding COVID 19. The CDC classifies the United States as a high-risk country as of the beginning of 2022.
There is a travel advisory for terrorism in the United States, but the risk is particularly low in Vieques, Puerto Rico, as it’s a non-incorporated territory. You could see occasional manifestations in Vieques, but they’re rare.
Petty crimes like pickpocketing and robbery are the most common crimes in Vieques, and visitors should take standard travel precautions to avoid them.
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Vieques
Overall, Vieques is safe. Neighborhoods like Isabel II and La Esperanza are particularly touristy, but the mountainous interior is home to dozens of vacation rentals too.
However, Vieques is safest during the day. Night owls will find more things to do in El Malecón, but otherwise, it’s best practice to avoid wandering the streets of Vieques past midnight.
As for the Vieques Wildlife Refuge, home to secluded Vieques beaches, visitors should leave their cars unlocked with no valuables inside and keep an eye on their belongings at the beach.
👉 Need a place to stay? Check out my guide to the best and safest areas in Vieques.
Covid-19 Safety in Vieques
Puerto Rico continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In Vieques, more than half of the population has the first vaccine dose and the government continues to implement safety regulations.
Masks are mandatory indoors, on public transportation, and outdoors if social distancing isn’t possible. You’ll also need to present your vaccine card or negative PCR test when entering many restaurants and bars. However, you won’t need the vaccine card to take the ferry ride to Isla de Vieques.
📚 Related Reading: Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel Right Now?
Crime in Vieques
The crime trend in Vieques is the same as in the rest of Puerto Rico and San Juan, with travelers facing mostly pickpocketing and theft. By not leaving belongings unattended and not bringing valuables to the beach, tourists can easily avoid this type of crime. Violent crimes are generally related to drug gangs and they rarely affect visitors.
Common Scams in Vieques
When visiting Vieques, visitors should still keep an eye open for the following:
🚗 Rental car scams – While renting a car in Puerto Rico, you could face some scams. Beware of hidden charges for simple things like wet seats, cigarette smell, or sand in the car.
💰 Pickpockets – Pickpocketing is not uncommon in Isla de Vieques or Puerto Rico. Thieves could easily nab your belongings while you’re distracted, so always keep an eye on them.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters
Depending on the time of the year you visit Vieques, you might experience dangerous weather conditions or natural disasters. Some things to look out for are:
⛈️ Hurricanes – Vieques, like the rest of Puerto Rico, features a hurricane season that goes from June to November. Hurricanes don’t affect the island every year, but if you’re still concerned, consider travel insurance for Puerto Rico.
🌊 Rip tides and swimming conditions – During the fall and winter seasons, Vieques beaches have high tides and riptide currents. Visitors should check the local weather and avoid swimming if the tide seems too strong.
Tap water in Isla de Vieques is safe to drink. The water supply comes through a pipeline from the mainland of Puerto Rico where water is monitored, tested, and processed as per the USA Environmental Protection Agency and the Puerto Rico Department of Health.
👉 Local Tip: If you’re worried about water drinkability, I recommend buying a filter water bottle. The Grayl water purifier bottle offers a simple cleaning system that purifies water in minutes.
5 Safety Tips for Vieques
Tip #1 – Leave Your Car Unlocked and Empty
Contrary to the safety rules in Puerto Rico, in Isla de Vieques you should leave your rental car unlocked and without any belongings in it, as locked cars send out the signal there is something valuable inside.
Tip #2 – Leave Valuables at Your Vacation Rental or Hotel
You won’t be needing your fancy jewelry or iPad while visiting a secret beach or the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Avoid petty theft by simply leaving any valuables you packed for Puerto Rico at the hotel or vacation rental.
On that point, if you need a hotel in Vieques, be sure to check out my guide to where to stay in Vieques.
Tip #3 – Respect Private Property
The people of Vieques have a sour history with the United States military and citizens on their land, so be mindful and respectful of their properties and space to avoid any negative experiences.
Tip #4 – Don’t Swim in High Tides
Drownings of tourists are somewhat common in Puerto Rico because they risk swimming with strong tides. Use common sense and monitor the local media to know if the beaches are optimal for swimming.
👉 Read Next: Is San Juan Safe?
Tip #5 – Don’t Wander Vieques Alone at Night
Vieques doesn’t feature the same nightlife as San Juan or Carolina. After 10 pm, there is hardly anything to do in Vieques, so unless you’re at an Esperanza bar, don’t wander alone at night.
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do in Vieques
FAQs About Safety in Vieques
Is it safe to visit Vieques?
Vieques is a generally safe destination for tourists and visitors. The crime rates usually involve petty crimes that visitors can easily avoid by taking common safety precautions.
Is Vieques safe at night?
El Malecón in La Esperanza is overall a safe neighborhood to stay outside at night, but for the rest of Vieques, it is safest to avoid transiting the streets late at night.
Is Vieques safe to live in?
Vieques is a safe place to live in. The island features a large community of ex-pats coming from the United States and the nearby Caribbean islands.
Thanks for reading my safety guide to Vieques, Puerto Rico!
If you’re planning to visit other parts of the island, check out our general guide for safety in Puerto Rico, and don’t miss these popular things to do in Puerto Rico.
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This place was the military testing grounds for agent orange.
It’s extremely toxic, it’s in the environment there, and the tourist industry will never tell you.
Isla Nena is about peace and harmony. One love.
Vieques es hermoso y su gente espectacular. Es importante saber que los negocios cierran en horarios no comparables con otras áreas turísticas. La transportación no está accesible de la misma manera y hay hoteles que cierran a las 10 pm. Eso significa que no hay servicio después de esa hora. Si desea una experiencia con horarios y servicios limitados al querer desconectarse pues Vieques es la alternativa.
I recently visited Vieques and agree with the author’s assessment. I really enjoyed my visit and never felt unsafe anywhere I was. Take the same precautions you normally would for any other tourist destination.
It is not toxic. Stop spreading misinformation.
Pickpocketing? In Vieques? This is the first time in all the years of being a native in this beautiful small Island that I read or heard something like this.
We are visiting Vieques by charter boat in a couple of weeks. I’ve heard reports of dinghy motor theft. Any local knowledge about this?
“leave your car unlocked since a locked car signals valuables inside”…? Are you kidding? That’s the WHOLE POINT of locks on cars! 🙁
We love Vieques and both times we were told the same. Just leave the car unlocked and take anything valuable with you. We had a car full of beach chairs and kid stuff and none was ever bothered. It’s a beautiful place with tons of amazing beaches. Each one a little different