In honor of St. Valentine, the twitterverse has been abuzz with romantical round-ups. As the resident romantic around these parts, I’ve spent the past week mentally filing away all the fancy hotels and far-off places I’ll one day visit with the hubs. My biggest source of wanderlust? HostelBooker’s list of the 100 Most Romantic Places on Earth.
I was pretty excited to scroll through and see which of their chosen destinations I’ve visited. Turns out… not many. One place, however, did stand out: Vieques, Puerto Rico.
For Memorial Day in 2011, the hubs and I decided to jet off to Puerto Rico for a long weekend. We had a stockpile of Starpoints to burn, and the W Vieques had recently opened to rave reviews. Though we’d been to the Caribbean once before, we’d never really stayed in a resort–our first trip involved sleeping on a sailboat in St. Thomas with four boys, so, you know. It was the exact opposite of romantic. Even though many travelers swear by the comforts of a luxury resort, the hubs and I were a little on the fence. We like to be a little more in the action when it comes to traveling, and something about a tropical compound just seemed like it wasn’t exactly our style.
Since then, we’ve had a few more experiences and we can say that, many times, that is the case. However, unsurprisingly, the W Vieques did everything right, and I officially declare Vieques to be the most romantic island in all of the Caribbean!
(Feel free to keep in mind that I’ve technically only been to two).
Though we’ve heard excellent things about Puerto Rico, we initially chose Vieques in favor of its lack of any hustle and/or bustle. Because Vieques was used as a Naval testing ground until as recently as the early 2000s, tourism is slowly just starting to take form on the island. When we visited, there were only one or two other hotels–and even now, there only appear to be a handful aside from the W. Yes, this meant a long, LONG day of travel to get there (thanks to a missed flight, limited connections, and an impromptu plane charter with a moderately famous musician’s manager… this is all another story for another time), but it also meant that when we left the resort to explore other parts of the island, we often felt like the only other tourists.
We decided that we wanted to rent a car to spend at least one day exploring other beaches and taking a few tours. Prior to arrival, we arranged some of the excursions with the help of the on-site concierge service–the W-standard “Wherever, Whenever.” Unlike many resorts, every tour was operated by an external company that wasn’t affiliated with the W, so we were supporting local businesses.
My favorite? A late-night tour of the bio-bay in a clear bottom canoe with Vieques Adventure Company. It’s not something you’re really able to capture on film–meaning I wasn’t taking my DSLR out into a mysterious body of water in the pitch black–but it was one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. Though plenty of tours on Vieques offer a bio-bay excursion (it’s not really something you can miss), we went with Vieques Adventure Company because they were the only one to offer clear-bottom canoes. 100% worth it.
Other highlights include a snorkeling & kayak tour with Abe, who grew up on the island and definitely loves the ocean more than anyone I’ve ever met, and a horseback ride with Esperanza Riding Company. I enjoyed this even if my horse, Rescate, was kind of a dweeb. (Probably because I’m kind of a dweeby horseback rider, let’s be honest).
Like many islands, Vieques showed us more than a few gorgeous sunsets. But I also have to hand it to the W: they perched two adorable chairs, right in view. Well played, people. Well played.