ISLAND STYLE - VIEQUES, PUERTO RICO – ACTIVE
A fantasyland of palm-fringed beaches and endless activities, Vieques enchants with unspoilt appeal.
Words By Kyle Fulton
A fantasyland of palm-fringed beaches and endless activities, Vieques enchants with unspoilt appeal. Jump right in and DO a bioluminescent boat tour of Mosquito Bay in clear-bottomed canoes. (www.viequesadventures.com) Rather use your getaway sticks? Then HIKE Sugar Mill Ruins. Thick with vines, the hidden trails and abandoned buildings will excite your inner Indiana Jones. (www.blackbeardsports.com) DIVE into Big Blue with Isla Nena Scuba. The island’s only dive outfit with a certified technician for scuba equipment, they safely go with the flow. www.islanenascuba.com
No trip would be complete without a VISIT to Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Part of the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, it is home to subtropical dry forests and the federally endangered Antillean manatee and green sea turtle. En route keep peepers peeled to SEE wild horses that still roam the countryside.
Blessed with an embarrassing number of unspoilt BEACHES, this pristine paradise begs you to EXPLORE. Family-friendly and postcard perfect, Playa Caracas is best for long walks, tumbling in the surf or snoozing under an umbrella. If hunting for over-the-top-amazing vistas, head to Playa Negra. A volcanic black sand beach, it recently hosted the Victoria’s Secret Angels. ‘Nuff said. Those intent on snorkelling, sunning and splashing should bump over to Playa la Plata. Living up to its name with bright white, soft sand, calm, azure waters and bewitching views, this slice of heaven is medal worthy.
With hunger knocking head to Conuco and EAT Mofongo. Considered the country’s unofficial national dish, the beloved garlicky fried plantain meal is a must. (FB: restauranteconuco) In the mood for an unbuttoned yet upscale experience? Head to El Quenepo and enjoy their locally sourced island fare in the open-air dining room. (www.elquenepovieques.com) If fun is the name of the game mosey over to hotspot El Blok, Jose Enrique’s first venture outside of San Juan. Both a boutique hotel and a restaurant, this internationally recognised culinary talent has put together a menu that is simple, fresh and out-of-this-world extraordinary. www.elblok.com
Ideal for one DRINK or ten, El Blok’s rooftop bar sizzles with cool. Come for the handcrafted cocktails and stay for the food at Tin Box. A raw bar and BBQ house, lucky visitors will swoon over juicy ribs, briny oysters and their famous Bloodless Marys. Trip next door and hit up their sister joint, Noche. Your resolve will be rewarded with slurp-me-up-delicious margaritas while you listen to the jungle buzz with life.
With its rustic elegance, outdoor showers and digital detox approach (think no TVs or phones in rooms), a STAY at Hix Island House is a delightfully unique and refreshing experience. Situated on 13 acres, this green-minded luxury refuge offers everything from concierge services to open-air yoga classes. (www.hixislandhouse.com) If a beachfront setting and vogue décor is more your speed, lay your head at The W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island. Pulsing with a sexy tropical vibe, it offers all the bells and whistles in a dramatic setting. www.wvieques.com
Make like a local and DON’T MISS El Resuelve to munch pastellilos (Puerto Rican empanandas).
OF INTEREST: Vieques was a training site and testing range for bombs and missiles from 1941 to 2003.
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