We had never stayed in a B&B, but people had raved about this one: The Hacienda Tamarindo. Then, I realized that there are very few places to stay, and that's why people raved. It had internet, no TV. Beautiful views. Nice pool. Friendly staff. The American Breakfast here was AMAZING. So,. you can feed a crowd and be set for a while! The place next door is called the Blue Horizon. It has a restaurant and a bar... but poor cable TV, so....
The pool here was really nice. The view was outstanding. Everything was quiet. People were mellow. It's so laid back, you just need to get into 'relax' mode and really do it. This is a quiet place - not especially enticing for little kids, except for continuous horse sitings! Oh, and not to get too crazy... but we did see a full sized tarantula. We were told this is totally common on the island, so I'll leave it at that. Common. We are suburban dwellers, so we tried to get over that.
The most important thing to know about Vieques is that it is a sleepy island. It's about 9 miles wide and half of that is off limits. It's so casual, all you need are shorts. There are multiple beaches all around the resort. You drive to the end of a road, and there are little 'placards' with numbers identifying the spot. Shade is hard to come by... so, if you go on the south side, we found a beautiful spot #19, with natural shade. Then, on Green Beach (named by the Navy) on the west side, #5, if I remember correctly. It has a bungalow and nice swimming - adn a view of the mainland. On the way, there is a really, huge 300 year old trees with huge trestle roots, and sometimes wild horses around it. Nice for a photo - you cannot miss it. If you can, bring an umbrella and certainly chairs from the resort (for a small fee) and just get used to hanging out.
Restaurants in town are extremely casual. We only ate in Esperanza, a tiny, tiny town on the south side with a small boardwalk and about 6 very casual restaurants. We went off season (in August, so many restaurants were on seasonal break. The best by far was 'Bili' in Esperanza (Eggplant hummus, mahi mahi bites, fresh fish). Sit inside, with the open windows to the street. They face a local shanty across the street where local music plays and people dance. The food was outstanding. We went to Duffy's - all open, totally casual fare (nothing special) and special beer in bottles, wood tables, Sports on TV. We went to Banana's - also totally casual, plastic chairs. Food was OK and service was quick. Basically, this vacation was about serious RELAXING. My husband, who only necessitates an internet connection, actually loved it -and this surprised me because it was so laid back.
Eight important things to mention.
1. On Vieques, go to the Bioluminescent Bay. Totally a miracle of nature. Kayak on the seawater bay at night and see the most amazing glowing dinoflaggelites in the entire world. Go with an organized group. You will be crowded with other tourists, but... it's the legal way to go there (as opposed to a 'private' tour with someone who isn't authorized to go). Check the lunar schedule so that you do not go during a full moon (which excludes about 5 nights a month). There is one company that offers glass bottom kayaks - worth it, if you can book with them. Otherwise, do regular kayaks. If you do the 'boat', you miss a lot.
2. Wild driving. In Vieques, they really do not care well for the roads. Most have no shoulder, and when you see a local car weaving wildly back and forth, they are either avoiding horse poop (wild horses are everywhere) or HUGE potholes that could sink a car.
3. Take the flight to Vieques back and forth from San Juan on Cape Air. It's totally affordable, and so worth it. We ferried over to Vieques on the way there, and flew back to San Juan on the way back. DO THE FLIGHT! The ferry was affordable, but an adventure that we were not really in the mood for (hours of waiting and uncertainty to get a ticket).
4. We rented a car from Maritza's. Car rentals are necessary.
5. If you go to Old San Juan first (or last), go to AGUAVIVA. Have the salmon and lobster mashed potatoes. Also, get the mahi-mahi and grouper 'ceviche'. I'll stand by that recommendation 100%.
6. When San Juan, you have two choices to get to the old town: public bus, which is easy and affordable (75 cents and full of adventure), but takes a lot time. Or pay a lot more for a taxi, but get a ton of convenience. Drivers are plentiful. You may be able to name your price, if you have the energy to do so and have a large party.
7. The old fort "El Morro" is worth a trip for the photo op alone. Get a map of the old city and walk the exterior on the SW side. A nice promenade there. Lots of security presence everywhere was actually really good.
8. Language is not really an issue here. Most people are bilingual, but they will appreciate the effort, if someone knows Spanish.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vieques’ Hacienda Tamarindo offers 17 very special rooms, each lovingly and creatively designed and decorated by owner, Linda Vail -- her swan song after over 20 years as a commercial interior designer. Each guest room and public space is unique; imaginatively spiced with a lifetime’s accumulation of art, antiques, and collectibles. An ancient Tamarind tree in the lobby atrium majestically rises three stories through the center of the building. Terraces, courtyards, and sitting rooms offer ample space for relaxation and conversation. The Hacienda is perched on a hilltop with spectacular 180 degree views of the Caribbean -- from sunrise to sunset; looking down on the bedazzling, ever-changing myriad of blue, emerald and turquoise waters. Caribbean trade winds and lazy paddle fans keep you cool and comfortable. Here, you can fall asleep to a tree frog serenade and awake to the smell of jasmine on the gentle sea breeze. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hacienda Tamarindo Hotel Isla De Vieques