This week, we're launching Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. Four times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips, near and far, for making your trips more pleasurable. So enjoy and let us know if you have any hints for us—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With its undeveloped coastline, Bioluminescent Bay, wild horses and unparalleled beaches, the island of Vieques is for those who don't mind a little extra effort, transportation-wise, to make a getaway. (You'll have to take a puddle jumper from the San Juan airport to get to Vieques.)
Don't be deterred by this extra step, however. The fact that Vieques is a slightly-harder-to-reach spot than our other featured escapes means it's that much less developed, and that much more tranquil. One noteworthy hotel to truly unwind is the Hix Island House (rates start at $175/night till April 20th; $135/night after that) on Vieques, a pristine island off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Though Hix House is on a hill perched high in the middle of the island—it's certainly not waterfront property—Vieques’ best beaches are all within a scenic 30 minute drive from the hotel. And for those who love undisturbed, undeveloped beaches, Vieques is the place to go. Miles upon miles of picture-perfect sandy coastline stretch along its shore, and if you go early (or late) enough to one of its more secluded spots, you'll likely be one of the only people within striking distance...
But even more notable than the location of Hix is the very special experience of staying at the hotel. Every evening, you'll go to sleep with cool breezes blowing through the open air rooms, after taking in unbelievable vistas of the night sky, which was peppered with some of the brightest stars you'll ever see.
The pool at Hix House
Every morning, fresh baked bread, coffee, eggs, butter, fruit—everything you'd need to make a fantastic breakfast in your kitchen—are delivered to your room, which has a kitchenette (indulge in your vacation chef self!). You can take your meals on a private porch and plot the day's adventures. It may be difficult to actually leave the hotel itself, what with its 13 perfectly verdant acres and incredible fresh water pool.
Sound tempting? Keep reading for some tips!
HOW TO GET THERE: Flights are consistently cheap to San Juan from Newark, JFK and LGA. Once there, hop on Vieques Airlink puddle jumper to Vieques.
GETTING AROUND: A car is key, and ideally reserved as soon as you book your hotel as there are a limited number for rent on the island. For the best combination of availability and value, book online through Island Car Rental.
WHEN TO GO: The months of December through March are wonderfully warm during the day and cool at night, meaning the lack of A/C in Hix won't be an issue. Those who don't mind some heat should take advantage of the low-season prices, which start on April 20th.
TOP TIP: There are no screens on the Hix House "windows" (which also lack glass; rooms are essentially open air) so set your mosquito net up before the sun goes down; this way, you won't trap bugs in bed with you.
BEST ROOMS: We loved the Studio Room and Matisse in the Triangle House. Choose the Studio if you want the most room to stretch out in; choose Matisse if you'd like to optimize your outdoor space (it has a porch and private roof deck).
Photograph of blue beach by Angel Xavier Viera
FAVORITE BEACHES: Blue beach (choose parking space #9) and Playa Pieta were our two favorite beaches for solitude and privacy. It's hard to go wrong, however, on this island when it comes to beaches; they're all pretty wonderful in their own way.
GOOD EATS: El Quenepo is a popular restaurant—try the mofongo and reserve during the high season. Grab lunch at Sol Food, which, while not cheap, serves up gigantic portions of pork carnitas at the entrance to the beach reserve (get there before 1pm—they're known to sell out of grub). Also try the street food, like arepas filled with fresh conch or squid. El Resuelve is one spot with killer empanadas.
STOCK UP YOUR FRIDGE: Each room at Hix has its own kitchenette. Prepare breakfast and dinners in: Buen Provecho has the highest quality food for sale on the island, with gourmet goods like fancy cheeses and even grass fed meat. Do note that they're closed Sunday-Monday.
STRETCH OUT: Hix offers an excellent 90 minute yoga class every morning; it's $15, mat and props included.
DON'T MISS: A tour of the bioluminescent bay.