Happy Friday, friends, and cheers to the weekend! Now that Little Miss is settling in to her school routine, it’s time to send Mr. College back to campus. One of us is really excited, and I can tell you it’s not me!
It’s definitely not as hard as the first year (read about my experience of sending my first-born off to college HERE), but missing him never quite goes away. He’s one of my favorite people, and that’s a good feeling as a parent.
We spent much of this Summer’s break apart, given our displacement for the house repairs (see the new floors HERE), so our family vacation was even more special this year. Plus, for the first time ever, each of the kids brought a friend along!
I’ll admit, I was a little sad about it at first… after all, our family trips are a sacred time for us to reconnect before the craziness of a new school year. I was anxious that including friends might hamper that, but it ended up being one of our favorite trips yet! The kids were so happy to have their friends along, which meant everyone was in a good mood all the time, ha!
We chose Vieques, Puerto Rico for several reasons… it’s a little off the beaten path, so rentals were still readily available and significantly more affordable than most stateside spots, and it’s a US territory, which means there’s no testing required to return home. (They do have requirements for entry, you can find those HERE.)
Not to mention, it’s one of the most special places we’ve ever visited, and after a period of hardship for the island, we were thrilled to return!
If you’ve ever traveled with teens, then this scene looks familiar!
The Caribbean island of Vieques is part of the United States, but might as well be on another planet. Wild horses trot through town, a bioluminescent bay glows with every paddle stroke, and pristine beaches are prime for discovering. The whole island feels like an undiscovered gem, even though it’s just 7 miles off the east coast of the bustling Puerto Rican mainland.
You won’t need anything fancier than flip flops, so I recommend packing light and minimal! I wore this comfy dress coming and going, and it was perfect for both the plane and arrival. Plus, it didn’t wrinkle and got tons of compliments!
Sugarplum Sale Alert! Gibson is having a Last Splash Sale, with an extra 30% off all sale items… including our Hi Sugarplum Summer of Fun Collection! Shop it HERE, and grab pieces from several GxHSP Collections for a steal!
Summer Nights Maxi Dress (Use code SPLASH30 to save 30%!) | Miller Sandals | Aviators | Initial Necklace | All-Weather Bangles (Use code HiSugarplum to save 15%!) | CalPak Suitcase | Weekend Vibes Tote
Our last visit to Vieques was in 2014, and they’ve since suffered through a major hurricane and a pandemic… so while there were occasional glimpses at the devastation, and a handful of places were still closed, we found the island just as magical and serene as before! (See our earlier visits HERE)
We were a little concerned our rental house wouldn’t have fared well over the years (especially given the rates!), but it was just as special as we remembered! This home holds half the magic of the island for us, and part of the whole experience that we love so much. (Find it HERE.)
In fact, I dedicated an entire post to this rental after our second stay several years ago… and as you can see, it’s just as stunning and stylish as ever! See my post HERE.
We started our days on the patios (there are several!), then packed up our Jeep for a day of exploring beaches. There’s no air conditioning, no street lights, and minimal service… so it was truly an unplugged week.
After a year of electronic learning, seeing the kids snorkeling, swimming, reading, and exploring the outdoors was a highlight!
We couldn’t resist recreating Little Miss’s starfish pic from seven years ago…see the original HERE. This girl… she amazes me every day! Navigating puberty, high school, and a pandemic is not for the faint of heart, and she’s handling herself so confidently. She gives me gray hair, but I couldn’t love her more!
Where did my baby boy go?! It’s amazing watching your kids grow into good, kind human beings! This guy has my heart, for sure.
Vieques Must Sees //
The island is only 20 miles long, with nothing but the land and sea to explore.
Bioluminescent Bay / Currently deemed the brightest bio bay in the world, a visit here is a must. We’ve used Abe’s Snorkel Tour three times and can’t recommend them enough.
Ceiba Tree Park / This majestic tree is over 400 years old, but be careful where you lean… I almost died by tarantula! (Not really, but it practically scared me to death.)
Mosquito Pier / Many of the beaches have reefs for exploring, but the best snorkeling is off this mile-long pier.
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches / Grab a map and start exploring! Most days, you’ll be the only one there! But pack a cooler with water and snacks, as the majority have no facilities.
Where We Ate in Vieques //
There’s a farmer’s market on Fridays, with lots of fresh produce and baked goods, along with a handful of small groceries with all the necessities. We usually ate either breakfast or dinner at home, and the other two meals each day out.
There are two towns on island. Isabel holds all the ‘business’ of the island, like car rentals, gas stations (there are 2), markets, and a few restaurants, while Esperanza is a beach-side strip of casual restaurants.
All of the restaurants are mostly outdoors, and extremely casual (shirts are required everywhere for men). These were our faves, but be sure to check the hours because they’re sporadic at best.
Buen Provecho / Small specialty food store, with a small counter in the back serving the best breakfast, and incredible sandwiches perfect for a beach day picnic. We stopped here almost daily.
Vieques Food Park / Currently just 2 food trucks, with food all day. It’s painfully slow, but great authentic Puerto Rican food.
Tin Box / Serving delicious BBQ and sushi (yep, you read that right) in a dreamy, twinkle-light filled spot in the middle of the island.
El Yate / The best Puerto Rican food we tried! The sweet plantains are a must!
Lazy Jack’s / Beach side, open-air spot with amazing fish tacos and the best drinks. It turns into the local bar scene in the evenings.
Where We Stayed in Vieques //
We rented Casa el Dormilon for the third time, and it still remains one of my favorite VRBOs to date! It’s located high on a hill with sweeping views and constant trade winds (perfect since there’s no air-conditioning).
It’s big enough for large families, and fully-stocked with all the kitchen and beach supplies we needed. The house manager lives up the street, and is quick to help out or respond, and the house is kept spotless.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: We had the house stocked with grocery basics before we arrived so we didn’t have to worry about rushing to the store the moment we arrived. It made for a much calmer entry!
Vieques Travel Tips //
You’ll definitely want a rental car, preferably an SUV or Jeep, for exploring the island and navigating the pot-hole riddled, windy roads. We used Vieques Car Rental, and they had a fleet of brand new Jeeps, plus they provided airport pick-up and drop-off.
You can arrive on Vieques by plane or boat. We fly either Cape Air or Vieques Air Link from San Juan, but you can find all your options HERE. Our only snafu came when our return flight to San Juan was cancelled due to weather, causing us to miss our connection back to Dallas.
The island has only a small clinic, so they are incredibly protective and careful to prevent illness. The majority of the island is outdoors, but masks are respectful in the smaller, enclosed spots like markets.
Puerto Rico is a US Territory, so no passports required! They also speak English and use the US dollar.
It was a glorious week I’ll never forget, and these girls now feel like part of the family! If you’re looking for swanky comfort with lots of service and amenities, Vieques is not your spot. But if you want to unplug, while connecting to the outdoors and experience island life in its purest form, you’ll adore this little oasis!
In other news, there are a handful of fantastic sales you don’t want to miss this weekend! As I mentioned, Gibsonlook’s sale styles are an additional 30% off with code SPLASH30, including several GxHSP Collection pieces!
At J.Crew, use code AUGUST to save 20% on your purchase with an extra 30% off sale styles.
What was the highlight of your summer?! Happy weekend, lovebugs!