A Tropical Getaway to the Island of Vieques
Vieques, Puerto Rico
By Casey Hopkins
In the early months of 2019, I traveled to Vieques, Puerto Rico to assist in my older sister’s film project. Vieques is a Caribbean island located on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast. We flew into San Juan, and then took a taxi to get to the ferry port in Fajardo. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the ferry only costed about $1 per person. The process was quick and easy, and the 45-minute ride was especially enjoyable sitting on the outside deck.
As soon as the ferry got closer to the island of Vieques, I pulled out my camera to capture photos. I couldn’t believe how blue the water was, anchored with many small boats. The buildings surrounding the port were full of color.
The minute we arrived, we lost signal, making it truly feel like island time. Whenever I travel, it almost feels nice to lose phone signal because it allows you to truly place yourself in the present moment, without distractions. We then waved down a taxi for a ride to our Airbnb.
Although Puerto Rico is part of the United States, I felt like I was in an entirely different place as soon as I stepped off the ferry. I was quickly embraced by the Puerto Rican culture.
Although only a 15-minute drive, we had to cross to the opposite side of the island. This was exciting because we were able see the whole island on our ride over. The roads were extremely narrow, surrounded by green plants and trees. I must say, the way people drove was similar to New York, yelling out their windows and laying on their horns. It was hilarious, but I would not recommend driving around the island yourself if you are not a local. The buildings we passed by were run down, but extremely unique with paintings, which I find to be so interesting beautiful.
I became so excited when we passed by “wild” horses on our way to the house. They seemed incredibly peaceful. Little did I know, I would soon see these beautiful animals in the very backyard of where I would be staying. I was informed by the driver that these horses are often called wild, however, they are not. Most of the horses have owners yet they roam the island freely. This article discusses the so-called wild horses of Vieques
The film crew and I stayed at a property called Encantada Vieques. The house was absolutely gorgeous, and almost completely open to the outdoors. The furniture was simple, as to not distract from the amazing view.
As soon as we pulled through the gate, we were greeted by the cutest dogs, that seemed to be stray, but clearly hung around the property. They looked up at us, their new visitors, with joyful goofy smiles. I couldn’t stop laughing as they followed me around, trying to chew on my shoes.
The furniture was simple, as to not distract from the amazing view. Each bedroom had gigantic windows and outdoor showers. I became worried when I found out there was no air conditioning, but you’d be surprised how cool it gets with just the wind!
This house was beyond perfect for such a big group. I would highly recommend it to any large groups looking to stay on the island. The owner was nice enough to give us a discount on our stay, since the property would be featured in the film. We also chose to hire a caterer to make meals easier and our trip more relaxed. She delivered the most delicious authentic Puerto Rican lunches and dinners to us.
The beach behind our house was truly magnificent. I chose to walk along the sand each morning, breathing in the fresh salty air, listening to the waves crash. What I love so much about Puerto Rico, is that you can see beautiful beaches, as well as huge mountains.
Each day, groups of horses would randomly pile into the backyard to snack on grass and relax by the beach. My eyes would brighten as soon as I saw them gallop down the yard. I took advantage of this daily occurrence, running down the path with my camera to capture them in action. The horses were friendly and quite curious, always walking towards me as soon as they saw me. However, I made sure not to get too close and scare them.
While on this trip, we mainly stayed on the property and utilized the beautiful lands and beach for the film. However, we walked into the small town for a few scenes as well.
One place we stopped at was a convenient store. However, this was not just any normal convenient store, it had a bar inside that sold giant mojitos! While filming, we became good friends with the local owner that went by “Blanco.” He was overwhelmed with excitement to be featured in my sister’s short film! It was interesting to walk through the small food store, since I hardly recognized any brands.
In the main area of town were small bars and restaurants, lined up along the beach. I wouldn’t call this very much of a party town, since places didn’t stay open too late. But if you’re looking for more of a calm vacation for a smaller group, this is the place for you. There seemed to be mostly residents in the town, but a good number of tourists as well. Nothing in the town was too crowded, so it was just the right level of relaxed.
What I missed:
Overall, I had an amazing trip. However, there is one thing I did not get to do: tour the Bioluminescent Bay. Mosquito Bay is located on the southern shore of Vieques. This is what Puerto Rico is so well known for, where microorganisms give the water a blue-green glow. There are only five of these bays in the world, and three of them are located in Puerto Rico. In 2008, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Vieques with the brightest in the world. Unfortunately, I did not get to see this natural wonder, however, I hope to return soon for it.