It's that time where the weather warms up and college students set their sights on a week of debauchery. Instead of the typical destinations like Southern Florida, Cancun or Lake Havasu, we're suggesting an alternative, more attractive island, free of drunken crowds.
Without further ado, here are our favorite places to stay and things to do in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
- While most people associate Puerto Rico with San Juan, Vieques is a small island eight miles east that is easily accessed from the mainland by ferry from Fajardo for $2. Or, take a flight in via commuter plane from San Juan International for between $135 to $200 each way.
- Known for its white sand beaches and clear blue waters, the island, which is 21 miles long by 4 miles wide, has earned a reputation as a relaxing Caribbean getaway for American travelers who are looking to go without a passport and...without crowds. It also helps that the drinking age is 18. Much of the island is a designated wildlife preserve, where visitors routinely spot wild horses roaming free on deserted beaches. Be on the looking out for iguanas, brown pelicans, egrets and sea turtles making their way to the water.
- For an other-wordly experience, head to Bio Bay off the southern tip of the island. Visitors board boats for guided nighttime tours to see the glowing micro-organisms floating just below the depths, which give the water a surreal blue-green glow. The best time to see the bioluminscent bay is during the full moon.
- For accommodations, you can't go wrong with the W Hotel Retreat and Spa, just two miles from the island's airport. We love the stylish decor with colorful accents throughout, open plan guest rooms and free WiFi. Add in two pools and the W's signature "Whatever Wherever" service philosophy, and you've got the perfect place to stay while you're snorkeling, paddleboarding and kayaking around the island.
- If you need something a little more intimate, try the recently opened El Blok Hotel, which made Conde Nast Traveler's 2015 Hot List. Featuring cutting edge design with an emphasis on sustainability, the boutique hotel's main star is the restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Chef Jose Enrique.
- When exploring Vieques, stop by the popular local restaurant El Quenepo for upscale Caribbean food. You can also impress your foodie friends by eating from a food truck like the Sol Food Truck, which is usually hanging out near the beach in Esperanza on the weekends. Go for the carnitas.