Jet-Set Guide: Top 5 Things To Do in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Kelly O'Reilly
Jet-Set Guide: Top 5 Things To Do in Vieques, Puerto Rico
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Hop on a Cape Air puddle jumper plane in San Juan, and less than 30 minutes later you’ll land in the laid-back island haven of Vieques—no passport required. Formerly a testing ground for the U.S. Navy, Vieques has spent the last ten years growing into a serious vacation destination with a vast wildlife preserve taking over where the bombs used to go off. The result—a small and quietly festive enclave of excellent, locally supplied restaurants, bars, outdoor activities, and, of course unparalleled stretches of white sand beaches.
Here, check out the top five things to do while hanging out among the easygoing charm of Vieques.
1. Stay in a Villa: The only major hotel to land on the island has been the W hotel chain, which means your best bet for accommodations—both for variety and luxury at a great value—is to rent a villa. FlipKey, a vacation rental arm of Trip Advisor, has an array of offerings, including some of the poshest villas on the island. Scroll through the gallery above to check out some of our favorites.
2. Hix Island House: Indulging in an open-air morning yoga session here is a must. Held in an airy pavilion overlooking a sunny green field ripe for picnics and ping pong on the newly installed permanent table, the Vinyasa classes strike the perfect combination of relaxation and challenging workout. You’ll be joined by friendly salamanders and occasional breezes throughout. Classes are held each morning and cost $15.
3. Tin BoxFollowing your yoga session let the vacation begin with a Bloodless Mary at the newly opened Tin Box bar and restaurant. Owned and operated by Hugh and Mikey Duffy as the latest outpost in their island empire (they own Duffy’s in Esperanza and Chez Sack—both institutions in their own right), Tin Box was also joined this year by the adjoining Noche, a slightly more refined but still casual island dining restaurant. The green Bloodless offers a spin on the classic cocktail with 18 different herbs and vegetables from the garden right out back, or for something fruitier try the supremely refreshing Watermelon Margarita.
4. Red BeachThis is the white sand, still, turquoise water postcard stretch that one envisions when booking a Caribbean vacation. Nestled at the edge of the cordoned-off wildlife preserve on the southeast side of the island, Red Beach (also known as Playa Caracas) also comes lined with shady cabanas for picnic lunches, and hammocks for afternoon siestas. Snorkeling, sunning, splashing—do whatever you want in this generally under-populated cove.
5. Esperanza: One of Vieques’ two towns, Esperanza is where it’s at when it comes to fun bars and outstanding restaurants. Along the bustling Malecon, Duffy’s has been the island’s legendary hot spot for 35 years, and Banana’s on the beach is always a good time with casual fare and tropical cocktails galore, anchored by the Dirty Banana. Tuck into the recently opened Orquideas set under a cabana, or El Quenepo for a breezy but slightly more buttoned up evening. Boat charters dock right offshore here, too, so enjoy the Puerto Rican sunset from the Vieques Island Powercat, or have them take you for a daytime active adventure of snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding.

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Click through for some of our favorite villa options in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

LOS ARCOS

Bohemian status-seekers looking to really disappear for a few days should book Los Arcos.

According to tour guides, this is “the nicest house on the island" (read: most expensive), a gated, Spanish-style palazzo set atop a hill surrounded by breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. The breezy, open floor plan and cool, tiled floors make you feel like you’re always outdoors in the breeze among swaying treetops, gazing out at an expansive infinity pool. 

Rate: $666-$1,000 per night

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Flipkey

BUNGALOW 180

Design-minded couple trios looking for laid-back luxe and the perfect party backdrop should book Bungalow 180.

Owned by interior designer Ray Booth, this ultra-contemporary three-bedroom estate is tucked seamlessly into the palm trees with spectacular views of the ocean and verdant landscape of Vieques. The name of the game in this setting is laid-back luxury—design lurks around every corner, from the master bedroom dressing room to the abundant outdoor showers—but part of that missive comes from the conscious lack of air conditioning. The fresh air makes for true outdoor living even when you’re inside the house.

Rate: $466-$750 per night

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Flipkey

View of the pool at Bungalow 180.

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Flipkey

The gorgeous porch at Bungalow 180.

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Flipkey

NORTH SHORE POINTE

Glamour girls looking for a Malibu-style crashpad for a week of cocktails by the sea should book North Shore Pointe.

This staggeringly sleek cliffside villa sits practically in the ocean, its many floors tumbling down toward the water and all bedrooms opening up to the ocean. Concrete, cliff, palm trees and bright whites with pops of color create a sexy island vibe amped up by the house’s several levels of wide-open patio and top-level infinity pool.

Rate: $500-$666 per night

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Kelly O'Reilly

The facade of North Shore Pointe.

Nothing beats the indoor and outdoor living at North Shore Pointe. 

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Kelly O'Reilly

The interior of the spacious villa. 

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Kelly O'Reilly

SEASIDE

Honeymooners looking to share a sexy week in the sun with just each other and the ocean should book Seaside.

Walking up to the front door of this seemingly diminutive cottage, you may hear waftings of local music from neighboring houses and feel the ocean breeze, but nothing will prepare you for the gasp-inducing view once you open the front door. The open-air layout of rooms around a courtyard centers on a straight shot to the ocean. To your left and right are bedrooms, baths, and patios, but straight ahead are waves and sunsets seemingly set up for this house.

Rate: $255-$350 per night

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Kelly O'Reilly

The interior of this romantic cottage by the sea.

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Flipkey

THE PALM COTTAGES COMPOUND

Old friends looking to reunite inside a palm jungle hideaway for a week should book The Palm Cottages Compound.

The richly landscaped fauna enveloping this compound gives it a romantic, Hemingway-esque feel. Besides the cottages, which contain four bedrooms facing the shady pool and courtyard is a screened-in room for indoor-outdoor lounging into the night.

Rate: $325-$500 per night

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Kelly O'Reilly

View of the pool at this lovely villa.

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Flipkey

Indoor and outdoor lounging makes this villa particularly special. 

Photo: Kelly O'Reilly/Kelly O'Reilly

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