Once we got safely to the island of Vieques, off the ferry, and picked up the jeep, we started heading through the darkness and down tropical tree-lined roads to the town of Esperanza on the south side of the island, to the Airbnb apartment we were renting there. On the way, we rolled down the windows and were shocked to hear the same sounds of the rainforest: rustling leaves and the chirpy sounds of the coqui frogs ("Is that the radio?" "No, it's real life!").
We arrived pretty late, but after a quick orientation from our hostess, enjoyed BBQ ribs at Belly Button's (seriously) and a walk down the Malecon, Esperanza's seaside strip of bars and restaurants (where we ended up every night, as it was a 10-minute walk from our place, and also the only place to go in town).
Let me introduce our jeep and our home while in Vieques, plus our neighborhood:
A big chunk of Vieques used to belong to the U.S. Navy, but since the base was deactivated, it has been turned into a nature reserve. All the beaches have a Puerto Rican name as well as a (pretty boring) Naval name. The first day we decided to try Navio, a beach rumored to have a harrowing road, but worthwhile spoils. In order to understand both the Road to Navio as well as how my friends and I make decisions, please watch this hilarious video:
Don't you worry, child. We made it and it was in fact gorgeous!
She'll get ya.
Gio preparing to make an unsuccessful palm hut
We also spent some time at Media Luna beach that afternoon, which was so much a favorite that we ended up returning a couple days later!
Here are the best pics from our underwater camera. We would do some sort of weird pose and then Brittany would ask, "Was it cool?" Several shots were spent trying to capture the acrobatic male models doing a photo shoot on the shore.
That evening we went on the much-anticipated Bioluminescent Bay tour through a company called Abe's. To reach the bay, we had to go over roads very similar to Navio's, only this time at faster speeds, in the back row of a giant commuter van with a dozen other people, in pitch blackness. Carlitos, our charismatic guide, ended up also being my kayak partner, as we were an odd(-numbered) group. We kayaked out to Mosquito Bay (eek!) and he taught us all about the micro-organisms that glow blue as a defense mechanism whenever they're disturbed. We only needed to agitate the water by splashing our hands or feet to see tiny blue sparks dance over the surface. It was like wearing a sparkly Michael Jackson glove, really spectacular! Even without the bioluminescence, it was such a beautiful, peaceful experience to kayak over the bay at night, taking in the sounds and the stars.
Later that night, for dinner, we went to Lazy Jack's Pub where we met some unique island characters, including David, the (oft drunk) ex-marine that did 10 push-ups in exchange for us correctly guessing his age.
The next day we went to Bahia La Chiva (Blue Beach) and this was fo' sho' our favorite beach of the trip, largely thanks to our palm tree oasis.
We made some young friends that afternoon, Jada and Klaus, that latter of which enjoyed stealing sandwiches from a nearby group!
We were in need of a little fancy, so before we dropped off our jeep, we headed to the W, the only resort hotel on Vieques. The vibe and decor was something along the lines of "modern, vibrant beach luxury" and we soaked up the sprawling ocean view, in front of the fire pit with drinks in hand.
Vieques has wild horses roaming the island, and we finally stopped to visit with some on the W grounds. With curated grass and loads of excited tourists (ehm, Brittany), these horses know where it's at.
That evening we caught the tail-end of the sunset and had a great dinner at Bili, you guessed it, along the Malecon, where we could hear the beats resonating out of La Nasa, Esperanza's seedy, seaside salsa bar.
On our last day in Vieques, we were jeep-less, meaning we got a different kind of adventure. We decided Sun Bay, the closest beach, just wasn't up to par (we had become so spoiled!) so we returned to Media Luna, after many miles on foot! Thank goodness for the jammy pack, Robyn, and Shakira.
That night we grabbed a 6-pack of El Presidente beers and headed to Malecon's narrow beachfront, settling down near the mysterious shipwreck to enjoy the sunset and revel in our last night on the small island we had come to love! We also started planning our next trip (or ten), of course.
Here's Brittany eating a fish eye at dinner at Duffy's that night. As part of the bet, I had to walk down the Malecon with my underwear on my head. This face was totally worth it.
Our last day, we took the ferry back to the mainland to spend a day in Isla Verde, part of San Juan. Lowlights of the day included a nauseating ferry ride, mushy PB&Js for lunch, a hotel that sounded like it was in an ongoing earthquake, and, well, leaving. Highlights included an iguana sighting, a machete-opened coconut, a rooftop happy hour (although I think all our hours in Puerto Rico were happy), and walking up and down the beach at sunset to Beyonce's "Drunk in Love".
"I want to remember everything...but I just can't." -Brittany