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Can I Take My Car to Culebra or Vieques?

Posted on Aug 2nd, 2009 by • Updated on May 28th, 2014

Fajardo Cargo Ferry

The PR government will be solely responsible for transportation between the islands (no more Fast Ferry contract) Update May 27, 2014, Today, things are not good again. There were union meetings, canceled trips… possible strike coming? Lots of issues for passengers- policy changes at whim, poor communication about changes etc. Usually there are 2-3 ferries that can handle cargo operational, but break downs are frequent and many times schedules are off. Expect some issues- Keep posted and be flexible.

If I had $1 for every time we’ve been asked "Can I take my car on the ferry to Culebra or Vieques?" — I’d be rich! This article is meant to answer that question once and for all, not to provide ideas for something fun to do on vacation.

The information in this article will probably be most helpful to residents of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques — not to the average tourist.

Passengers vs Cargo

There are two types of ferries that run between Fajardo/Culebra and Fajardo/Vieques — passenger ferries and cargo ferries. The passenger ferries carry passengers only — no cars. The cargo ferries carry both passengers and cargo (including cars).

But, before you get all excited and think that you are going to save a couple bucks by taking your rental car over to Culebra or Vieques — think again. The cargo ferries are not intended for tourists. They do not provide reliable tourist transport and most car rental contracts prohibit taking rental cars off of the island of Puerto Rico.

If you are just looking for a way to get to Culebra or Vieques for the day (or for the start of your vacation over there), stop reading this article and go read our article about the passenger ferry out of Fajardo.

Cargo Ferry Basics

For the record, I have never tried to take our car on the cargo ferry. But I wanted to publish this information, just so that people have it. The information I have gathered here came from many different sources like the Port Authority website, info posted in the ferry terminals, and even TripAdvisor.com reviews.

The cargo ferry between the main island of Puerto Rico and the out islands of Culebra and Vieques is the main life-line for people living on those islands. It is the way the islanders get all their supplies (gas, food, building materials, etc.). Cargo trucks will get priority on the ferry, so the people who live on those islands can get the supplies they need.

Fajardo Cargo Ferry

There is a cargo ferry that runs between Fajardo and Culebra and one between Fajardo and Vieques. You need to make a reservation in order to get a spot one of the ferries. They sell out quickly, so book as far in advance of your trip as possible.

Passengers are also allowed on the cargo ferries, though they are usually slower boats than the passenger ferries and there are fewer seats. The trip can take 45 mins- 2 hours depending on which ferry and the wetaher. Adverse weather conditions will alter the schedule. The one time I took the cargo ferry (because we had no other choice), we sat outside, but there was no roof overhead. So you can get either sunburned or soaking wet if you sit out there! Inside, the AC was cranked all the way down, so it is freezing. You have your choice of risking sunburn outside or frostbite inside. I don’t recommend purposely taking the cargo ferry as a passenger if you have other options available, but it is an option if the passenger ferries are full. Note- if the gas supply truck is on the cargo ferry, passengers will not be allowed on that ferry (only the drivers of the vehicles on the ferry). Also, when the cargo ferry is full of its cargo, it will leave (not wait for posted departure time).

Cargo Ferry Schedule

Here is the schedule as of 3/16/14: Usually there is only one ferry for Vieques, it will run on the passenger times. If they happen to have a second ferry, it will do some of the cargo trips. This is all subject to change! Call DTOP to make sure there is a ferry.

    Note- the cargo ferry does not run on holidays or weekends.

  • Fajardo to Culebra: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00am, and 5:00pm. Wednesday and Friday at 4:00am, 9:30am, and 5:00pm. Call for weekend schedule.
  • Culebra to Fajardo: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00am, and 7:00pm. Wednesday and Friday at 1pm. Call for weekend schedule.
  • Fajardo to Vieques: Monday to Friday: 4:00am, 9:30am,1 pm, 4:30pm, 8pm . Weekends are sketchy -call to check If 2 ferries running- Published Regular cargo schedule: Mon-Fri: 4:00 am, 6:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm, 8 pm,
  • Vieques to Fajardo: Monday to Friday at 6am, 1pm, 6:00pm . Weekends are sketchy- call to check. If 2 ferries are running, the Published regular cargo schedule: Mon, Tues, Thursday: 6:30 am, 8:30am, 11am, 12:30pm, 3pm, 4:30pm, 6 pm.

Cost for the Cargo Ferry

The fee for passengers to Culebra is $2.25/adult; to Vieques is $2.00/adult each way (children and seniors are less). Round trip fares for small cars are $26.00 to Vieques and $26.50 to Culebra. Large cars and trucks are more money, call for exact rates. The car/truck driver’s fare is included in the fee for the vehicle. Payment can be made in cash or via VISA/Mastercard.

Making a Reservation for the Cargo Ferry

Reservations are required for the cargo ferry. You can reserve them in person at the ticket office around the corner from the regular ticket counter. It is only open during the week, 7:30am-3:30pm. Or you can try to make reservations over the phone. But you must speak to someone. You can’t just leave a message and assume that you have a reservation — because you won’t. It is pretty hard to get a human to answer the phone when you call the port authority. Be patient and call (again and again) between 7:30am – 3:30pm Monday – Friday. All I can say is good luck! I have actually gotten through to a human a few times, so I know that it is possible.

Here are the phone numbers for the Puerto Rico Port Authority

  • Cargo Ferry reservations: 787-497-7740, 787-494-0934 extensions 2729, 2727, 2736. Mon – Fri 7am-3pm or via email: reservaciones@atm.gobierno.pr

Getting Your Stuff onto the Cargo Ferry

You must be at the loading dock early on your reserved day and time or you will lose your spot. They recommend 1 hour before departure. If you are late, they will NOT hold the ferry for you. When you arrive at the ferry dock you have to check-in at the window where they validate your reservation. Bring your vehicle to the ship and someone will tell you when/where to load. These workers usually ask your name and compare it to the reservation list. Once you are parked on the ferry, they may need to you to hang around until everyone is loaded, because they sometimes have to jockey the cars/trucks around to fit everyone.

Rental cars are not typically allowed to be taken off of the island of Puerto Rico. Double-check with your rental company before you risk it. It may void your rental contract. Then, if something happens to the car on the ferry or other island, you would be fully responsible for it. It is really not recommended that you risk it. Realize, also, that some of the smaller roads on these islands aren’t paved, so it is rough on the vehicle. That is why the rental vehicles on these islands look so bad! There are also many beach roads that have the huge thorns in them, can easily puncture a tire and cause a flat.

Cargo trucks get priority, so even with a reservation, passenger cars may get bumped if a cargo truck needs a spot, which can leave you stranded and your plans totally messed up. Tourists just shouldn’t do it. Rent a car on the smaller islands and save yourself a lot of stress and extra effort.

You can visit the Puerto Rico Port Authority web site for more info.

Take Route 3 to Fajardo, and turn onto Route 194. There’s a traffic light and a Shell station at this intersection. It’s right near where Route 3 and Route 53 (the toll road) come together. Stay on Route 194 (it’s a winding road) until you get to Route 195. There’s a traffic light at this intersection, and a Burger King just through the light on the left. There’s also a sign for the ferry terminal on the corner. Turn right onto Route 195. Continue on Route 195 (it goes through a little town) until it ends. Pass through the arch at the end of the street (this will make sense when you see it), and the parking lot is on the right. The ferry terminal and ticket office is to the left as you walk along the water after you park your car.

The ferry terminal in Fajardo is about a 45-minute drive from Rio Grande

You can locate the ferry terminal on our Interactive Island Map

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid ... then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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6 comments
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  1. I just want to clarify that Puerto Rico as a whole is an archipielago.
    In this article says: ”The information in this article will probably be most helpful to residents of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques — not to the average tourist.”

    The main island, Vieques, Culebra, Mona etc. etc. Everybody here is a resident of Puerto Rico.

  2. Yes, thanks for the specifics of PR resident status. In the article, I was just trying to point out that residents of Culebra and Vieques (though yes, technically residents of PR) are “special” since they are residents of their respective islands and thus given priority on the cargo ferries, even over Puerto Rican residents that live on the main island of PR.

  3. Hola,
    In early June we will be helping build a community radio station on Vieques and Culebra. We will need to ferry over to Fajardo at some point to pick up some supplies, some of which will be heavy and long – galvanized pipe. It seems likely that we will need to bring that stuff back to Culebra on the cargo ferry. In addition to the pipes, we will also have a few boxes of other parts. We will be three people to shepherd this stuff. Would you give me some pointers as to how to get this done? We will ferry over from Vieques to Fajardo one day, rent a car (advice on that would also be very welcome), go to San Juan to do our errands, stay over night and go back to Fajardo the next day to take the stuff on the ferry. We will not be trying to take a vehicle on the ferry; just the pipes and boxes.
    Your articles above are very helpful, but I just need some more information that is specific to our particular situation.
    Gracias,

    Betty McArdle

  4. I am not a ferry-pro by any means….it changes like the wind! You would probably be best off talking with a Culebra local. I am sure they have done similar things. I think the ferry people are going to make you go on the cargo ferry since your supplies are cargo-like. But you would have to contact the ferry people to check into that. The car rentals in the ferry area are:
    Enterprise — 787-860-6868
    AVIS —787-605-0166 or 787-885-0505. They will pick you up at the ferry dock.
    Thrifty — 787-860-2030
    There is also a local place called World Car rental office at the Fajardo ferry dock. But I don’t know the phone #.

  5. So to avoid the pitfalls of trying to bring a rental car onto the ferry, what are other alternatives? Is it possible to rent cars on Culebra itself? Thank you!

  6. Yes, you can rent cars on Culebra- Carlos Jeep, Jerry’s Jeeps and even Avis now!

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