Beach Vacation Ideas #2: Vieques

Beach Vacation Ideas #2: Vieques

W ViequesAfter dreaming about going to Vieques in Puerto Rico for years, and an earlier misstep to San Juan last June, I finally made it to Vieques last month. I’m happy to report, it was well worth the wait.

The appeal of Vieques is that it’s off the beaten path. You have to take a puddle jumper from San Juan to get there. That’s our pilot, Spencer, flying us there. You can also take a ferry, but by all accounts, it’s unreliable and takes significantly longer than the 15 minute flight. Because Puerto Rico is part of the U.S., you’ll save on your flight, which at the least, has no international surcharges.plane-Vieques

We stayed at the W Retreat and Spa Vieques, the largest hotel on the island. One of the many advantages of staying at the W is that you’re offered free transportation from the airport to the hotel and have access to the W Airport Lounge—a very civilized way to start your stay. My husband, who is a nervous flyer, was very glad to have a Don Q and passion fruit juice upon landing.

The W has seven classes of room, ranging from garden view to pool view to ocean view to W Ocean Front Retreat. I opted for a “Fabulous Ocean Front Escape”. It was a bit of a splurge, but after wanting to go for so long, I wanted to do it right. Some people complain about the resort charge of $60 a day. I didn’t love paying it, but I was warned in advance. I also came from the Ritz Carlton in San Juan, where a $12 bellhop fee appeared on my bill, never mind that I had tipped the bell boys already, so $60 felt like par for the course.

W-Vieques-room

Another reason I wanted an ocean front room was that I had  heard that rooms by the pool could get noisy. (The resort was populated, but not packed when we were there in mid-December, so I doubt this would have been a problem during our stay.)

W-Vieques-pool

 

The hotel offers free yoga classes every morning at 9 a.m. The classes were easy, but a welcome way to start the day. A few of the wild horses that roam the island interrupted our class.

W-Vieques-horses

We ate breakfast at the W–the usual menu of omelets, pancakes and the like. We had lunch and snacks at the pool–usually a hummus plate or a salad. We skipped dinner at the Alain Ducasse Mix on the Beach after reading bad reviews of it on Trip Advisor. Those reviews were backed up by other guests we chatted with during our stay. The menu, featuring filet mignon and mofongo, also sounded too heavy for a dinner on the beach so that was the third strike.

Luckily, there are plenty of other places to eat in Vieques, which is part of why I liked the island so much. On other tiny islands I’ve been too, there aren’t many dining options or taxis cost a fortune. In Vieques, you can get anywhere for $5 a person. Both nights we hitched a ride into the tiny town of Esperanza–basically a strip not much longer than a New York City block with a number of restaurants and shops. Just be sure to ask your taxi driver for his/her phone number or you may get stranded in town for a while.

We had dinner one night at Duffy’s, a chill place that we chose because we could watch Sunday night football while eating burgers at the bar. We also had dinner at Trade Winds, a place that serves a variety of fish with different preparations (I had grilled mahi mahi with pineapple salsa.) We were told that El Quenepo was the place to go, but it was closed during our trip.

Our trip was only two nights–far too short, so I’m already plotting a trip back. Everything at the W was a delight–the service was friendly and prompt, the crowd was fun, and the room, which I already mentioned was lovely. We did partake of a couple’s massage at the Away Spa, which was the perfect way to end the trip. I’m happy to report, the hotel, and Vieques itself, surpassed my expectations.

W-Vieques-beach

The beach phone shows the hotel's sense of humour.

I received a discounted rate for my stay at the W Retreat and Spa Vieques.

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