It’s common to spot a wild horse while visiting Vieques. // © 2015 Ward Nipper
Feature image (above): The island’s quiet beaches, accessible via four-wheel-drive vehicles, are a main attraction. // © 2015 Thinkstock
Puerto Rico is always a popular destination — it’s involves short flight, passports aren’t required and its sunny skies are a welcome respite from chillier areas. But for clients who want to mix it up a little bit, suggest that they spend a few days on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
Beaches are a prime attraction on Vieques. Many are hidden away, but they’re reachable with a four-wheel drive vehicle (be sure to reserve well ahead of time) and directions from the locals.
Perhaps the nicest thing about Vieques beaches is that they are totally unspoiled by typical tourist shops and food stands — quiet and lovely, like something out of a movie. Even better, wild horses roam the islands and often greet travelers on the sand. Secret Beach is great for swimming and snorkeling, while Playa Navio is known for its caves and postcard views.
Vieques is probably most famous for Mosquito Bay, which bills itself as the brightest bioluminescent body of water in the world. At night, the water literally glows as the microorganisms that live there give off light. Suggest that clients visit on a moonless night, if possible, to get the full effect. If they want a guide, Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio Bay Tours offers nightly kayak adventures, complete with transportation.
For shopping, the malecon, or the main street along the waterfront, is the place to go. It’s also home to several casual beach bars and some sit-down restaurants. El Quenepo, relatively new to the dining scene, is known throughout the Caribbean for its excellent island cuisine. El Noche serves excellent seafood and more in a treehouse, which is fun for a romantic evening.
While Vieques is still relatively unknown to many Caribbean travelers, it has become a more popular destination since W Hotels & Resorts built W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island a few years ago. The hotel is upscale, modern and chic, located on a white-sand beach in a central location, and it remains the only large-scale property on the island.
Many visitors choose to rent vacation homes, but they are hard to come by, as many are reserved by the same guests every year. Malecon House and Blue Horizon are two inns that combine the best aspects of hotels and of vacation homes; each is small, upscale and boutique, with comfortable rooms, convenient location and excellent views over the ocean.
Vieques is easily reachable by plane, and several local airlines make the approximately 20-minute trip. Clients who want to save their cash for island activities might choose to take the ferry from Fajardo, located on the east side of Puerto Rico. A $2 ferry ride is hard to beat, and it also provides an opportunity to mingle with like-minded locals.