My recent trip to Vieques was booked 8 hours before my plane took off. After a long weekend of hosting my annual Christmas dinner party and a Caribbean Yacht Week brunch, I took the opportunity to decompress and get some much needed alone time.
During the holiday season, I love to sneak away to find a little time for myself to reflect on what worked and what didn’t over the year and the fact that this trip was dreamed up the day of departure made it all the more exciting and spontaneous.
So many people I know find the thought of traveling by yourself extremely scary and overwhelming and are given even higher levels of anxiety by last minute travel plans with minimal thought… I find the combination of these two elements exceptionally exhilarating and makes the trip not only memorable but also magical.
For those that may not know, Vieques is an island 20 minutes by flight off the coast of Puerto Rico. So in less then four hours… bringing only a few bikinis, a backpack, my camera and a drivers license, I found myself in 80 degree weather on a white sandy beach, drinking a rum runner in the Caribbean.
After editing a few projects on the balcony of my hotel room, at the W in Vieques. I ordered a green smoothie and passion fruit juice to take a break. When my order arrived, I got to chatting with a Vieques local that worked at in-room dining about my blog and my love of travel after he noticed my FujiFilm camera and tripod. He explained to me that photography was also one of his biggest passions and that he loved shooting and exploring new parts of the island.
So the next day I rented a red jeep, and Wally and I drove down to Esperanza, on the south side of the island, and ate lunch at an amazing local spot called Bili’s. We ordered seafood paella and ended up shooting a couple looks at Sun Bay, Corona’s and coconuts in hand.
He told me about the history of Vieques as an island, what it was like growing up there and showed me everything from the best place to snorkel (mosquito pier) to a completely overgrown sugar mill that resembled something out of the movie Tarzan.
If I had been traveling with other people or didn't trust my instincts to explore and travel on my own, I would have never experienced and learned all about the magical nuances and intricacies of the island. Sometimes, the best way to see new places is to go unapologetically alone to the destination, as it forces you to come out of your shell, ask around and start to emerge with the other travelers and locals around you.
Vieques really is one of the most beautiful and easy to get to places from the East Coast, while still remaining organically cultured without the over saturation of trying tourists.