When traveling to a tropical island off the coast of Puerto Rico, it's important know what the locals know. And when that island is Vieques, most of what you want to know isn't in a guidebook.
After calling a number of hotels on Vieques without getting hold of anyone (which frequently happens), a few hours later I received a prompt call back from Owen, one of the owners of Casa de Amistad. Owen was very cheerful and enthusiastic about the accommodations and what you need to know about his island. There are two towns on Vieques, Isabel Segunda and Esperanza. Isabel II, as they call it, is the main port town which has much of the businesses and also where the Amistad is located.
Owen was extremely helpful and made my trip to Vieques much easier than it could have been. Casa de Amistad is a cozy little guesthouse that only has seven rooms. Each guestroom is unique, with colorful painted walls, sparse artwork and clean and contemporary bathrooms. It’s a very different feel from a standard chain hotel setup (and cheaper too, around $100/night). The main house features a Wi-Fi connected computer and small bar area, a cute gift shop filled with Vieques memorabilia, a beautiful kitchen which is always stocked with vats of help-yourself coffee, a light-filled dining area and a private backyard patio/pool area decorated with lush flowers and trees. These accommodations perfectly match the flavor of an island-style vacation: casual, comfortable and colorful.
The owners, including Owen, know everyone in town and would often call ahead for us. For instance, most of the restaurants close up before 9pm and our ferry landed with very little time to spare. But Owen called ahead and asked the owner of the restaurant, Coconuts, if she would wait for us to get some food. She did, and the food was amazing. We were the only two people dining in their island-style patio our first night in Vieques. The food, ocean breeze and margaritas were invigorating after a long day of travel.
Every time we had a question, Owen was there with a map and a story. If you contact Owen you’ll learn that the first thing you have to do on Vieques is rent a car. Because Vieques is a small tropical island, there aren't that many places that rent vehicles. Owen insisted that the only way to see the island and its beautiful, remote beaches was by car (preferably a 4X4). And of course, he was right.
Casa de Amistad will always standout as an unforgettable stay partly for the accommodations and location, but mostly due to the outstanding customer service and pleasantries of having a local expert assist us with our every need. Owen was hilarious and very eager to help out. We crammed a lot into our short stay on Vieques but Casa de Amistad was both our cozy home base and local guide all rolled into one.
The features of Casa de Amistad:
- Location: It is very close to everything, many places will say they are walking distance from the bars/restaurants but Casa de Amistad actually is.
- All the rooms are air-conditioned.
- Most of the rooms have private baths (but make sure to request one upon making your reservation).
- WiFi in the hotel lounge.
- Refreshing private pool.
- “Honor bar” where you put in cash when you take out beer/water (truly the best deal on the island).
- Free beach chairs and coolers to sign out for your beach excursions (best open stretches of sandy beaches in the world).
- $10/day/per person to rent snorkel equipment, best deal as well (some of the best snorkeling I've ever done, just ask Owen, and he'll point you in the right direction).
- Daily maid service.