Hello From… Vieques, Puerto Rico

A Feteful Life: Hello From Vieques, Puerto Rico

My husband and I were was looooong overdue for a vacation sans kiddos. We decided a few months ago to carve out some time for one and lined up care for our kids (THANKS Nona and D-rock), but we dilly-dallied a bit about where we’d go. Mostly because I think both of us were of the mind that a vacation by ourselves would be fabulous no matter where we went. And that was completely true, but we couldn’t have planned for a more ridiculously relaxing, beautiful, laid-back vacaye spot than where we ended up: Vieques, Puerto Rico.

I honestly almost don’t want to share all the Vieques goodness with you all because we plan to go back and I kind of want to keep it a secret. BUT it was just too wonderful to keep it to myself. Vieques is an island-municipality of Puerto Rico about 8 miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland and has the most amazing beaches I’ve ever seen. In the past, our beach-type vacations have involved planting ourselves at at resort and not moving much for the duration. But that is not how to do Vieques. We spent very little time at our hotel and a lot of time 4X4’ing our way around the island to discover ridiculous beach after ridiculous beach — each one seemingly more paradise-like than the last. Add in an incredibly low-key island vibe, great local brew, and some really fantastic restaurants, and we were in love. We’ve already picked out a house to rent next summer. I highly, highly recommend making the trip (with or without kids — the island is very kid-friendly) — here are my favorites and things I plan to hit up next time!

Highlights

A Feteful Life: Vieques Sun Bay

1. Sun Bay (Sombre) Beach – {Beach} — it’s almost not fair to pick a favorite beach. I truly loved something about every single one we visited. It was probably the most popular one we visited, but I think Sun Beach is the most accessible place to start. It has a gorgeous curved shoreline, wide beach, lots and lots of picturesque palms, is easy to get to (you can even walk from Esperanza), and has public bathrooms and a bar (which serves drinks inside freshly chopped coconuts). There is a $2 fee to enter, but they’re not always there to take your money, and the facilities make it worthwhile. Plus, wild horses visited us there.

A Feteful Life: Vieques Sugar Plantation

2. Playa Grande Sugar Plantation Ruins – {Off-Beach Activity} — get your Tomb Raider on and explore these abandoned historical sugar plantation ruins. We heard it might be difficult to find, and the Vieques Historical Conservation and Trust does tours only during certain seasons, but we had no problem. We hiked around for a bit and had the whole place to ourselves. Little lizards crawled down vines as the late afternoon sun streamed through ruins. It was gorgeous.

A Feteful Life: Vieques' Buen Provecho

3. Buen Provecho – {Lunch} — at what is essentially the “Whole Foods” of the island (located in Isabel II, one of two main towns) we had delicious organic sandwiches, yummy cocktails, and even picked up decent coffee one morning as well. Buen Provecho carries mainland deli favorites you won’t find elsewhere (lunch meat, good cheeses, deli salads such as cottage cheese) and lots of organic pantry staples. Sit at the bar to have your sandwich or get it to go.

A Feteful Life: Vieques' Tin Box Restaurant

4. Tin Box – {Dinner} — a wonderful break from the abundance of fried food, Tin Box is perched above the forest and boasts the only raw bar on the island and draft beer. The salad made from greens grown out back was SO delicious and the drinks were fabulous (see our Tin Box-inspired Painkiller here). Hands down, it was the best meal we had on our vacation … except that the brunch we returned to have right before our departure was equally delicious.

A Feteful Life: Vieques' La Nasa

5. La Nasa – {Night Spot} — the music at this great open-air spot along the Malecon in Esperanza has different music every night and cheap, cheap drinks. We lucked out and hit the live reggae band on Thursday night (Latin dance music night was just kind of “eh” the next evening). Grab dinner in Esperanza and walk across the street to La Nasa for dancing.

Want More? Here’s My “Get ‘Em Next Time” Spots

1. Green (Punta Arenas) Beach – {Beach} — we’d been warned that it’s best to avoid this beach in the late afternoon when it gets buggy, and we just were never able to make it work. The Caribbean and Atlantic meet up there and there’s supposed to be great snorkeling.

2. Bioluminescent Bay {Off-Beach Activity} — perhaps Vieques’ biggest attraction (besides the phenomenal beaches), is its  bioluminescent bay. Our visit was on the heels of a particularly long “cold spell” for the island, which apparently caused quite the decrease in organisms. The more reputable tour companies were not taking people out, so we decided not to go this trip. I hope the bay returns to health and we can go next time!

3. El Guyacan – {Lunch} — this newer restaurant in Esperanza is where all the locals told us to go for “legit local food.” We popped our head in to the no-frills location and it looked delicious.

4. Noche – {Dinner} — also owned by Hugh Duffy, Noche is purportedly one step up from our favorite Tin Box (it’s also located right next door). We picked somewhere else for our “finer dining” evening, but Noche is definitely first up on our return visit.

5. Chez Shack – {Night Spot}  this is Duffy’s little spot up in the forest and has reggae on Monday nights. We weren’t in Vieques on a Monday, otherwise we’d have been there for sure.

A Feteful Life: Hello from Vieques

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