As promised in last week’s other travel post, here are my recommendations for Vieques Island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.
As the lesser known neighbour of Culebra Island, Vieques felt like diamond in the rough. A secret paradise island kept hush-hush by locals who want to protect its natural beauty and keep it as authentic as possible. Now, Vieques’ history isn’t all Piña Coladas and pristine beaches. It was, for many years, testing ground for explosives for the US government. Some off-limits parts of the island still harbour land mines. Nowadays, it is an up and coming tourist destination and wildlife refuge.
One of the most amazing experiences of my life has to be kayaking at nighttime on a clear boat over the Bioluminescent Bay of Vieques. It was insane. I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t want to risk dropping my or phone camera in the water, but somehow that makes it even more special. I have no tangible reminders of that night, just the most beautiful memories in my mind. It was magical. Our guide was beyond knowledgable and nice. We first admired the bioluminescent plankton around us, beneath us… Casting neon trails on the water behind our oars and our kayaks. Splashing on our skin, dripping from our hands as we dipped them into the shallow water of the cove. Then, our guide pulled out a laser pointer and made us look up to the sky. I have never seen so many stars! It was crazy because they weren’t reflected on the ocean, but the plankton was so bright under the water that it might as well been a mirror image of the stars above. He pointed out the Little Dipper, Big Dipper and a handful of zodiac signs.
As for hotels; we stayed at El Blok. A beautifully designed boutique hotel on the most lively street filled with bars and restaurants. Just a short walk away from the hotel, there’s a great place for comfort food called Duffy’s. As for drinks along that strip, Lazy Jack’s is a fun time. Another place that was so much fun is Hector’s By The Sea. Make sure to go at around 5 or 6pm for sunset cocktails and oceanfront dancing.
Another great hotel is the W Vieques. Even if you’re not staying there, I recommend going for an afternoon, hang out by the pool and have lunch, snacks or dinner. Everything was delicious and the staff was so welcoming! Likewise, if you don’t stay at El Blok, you can still go for drinks at the rooftop bar or for dinner at their restaurant.
As for the beaches themselves, well you pretty much can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose. We rented a Jeep and drove around the island beach hopping from one to the next! Red beach, blue beach and green beach are all spectacular!
Thanks so much for reading!
Photos by me. Photos of me by Marivi Gonzalez or Jose Castrellon.