Island Hopping Part 3 - Can't Get Enough of Vieques
Continued from: here...
...But there is more to do on Vieques then just eat and we managed to add a few hours of beach time to every day. After our brief adventure at Punta Arenas our next beach excursion was to Secret Beach/Pata Priete which is part of the National Wildlife Refuge that is home to the majority of the popular beaches on the island.
When we arrived at Pata Priete we were shocked to discover that we had the big, beautiful beach all to ourselves. Perhaps it was because there weren't many spots to find shade or perhaps it was because we were really lucky. Either way, we walked the beach from end to end without human interruption. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip. I'll be posting a separate blog about our island photoshoots soon!
The beach we spent most of our time on was La Chiva (aka Blue Beach). La Chiva is a long stretch of beach accessed by about 26 little parking lots with picnic tables. Our favorite stretch was about halfway down at #15. We had great shade and a clear path to the water. We moved into our little cove and spent hours relaxing, reading, snorkeling and soaking in the warm turquoise water... until the shark. Sharks are not common at this beach, but we got to see one hunting for lunch just off shore. We also saw a stingray or two, hermit crabs and little fish.
One morning, we decided to drive to the end of La Chiva and found a gorgeous cliff with a path to a secluded beach below. It was pretty rocky with strong surf but perfect for a little photoshoot. I can only imagine what it would be like if we got there early enough for sunrise! But given that we were on the southern part of the island, on the beach and had access to the highest rooftop, the Mann captured beautiful sunrises every morning.
While I would have been happy spending all of our time lounging at the beach or hotel, we decided to try something new for us: horseback riding. We learned about Esperanza Riding Company through Chronicle, our favorite local newsmagazine show in Boston (ERC also has locations on the Cape and Martha's Vineyard: another New England-Vieques connection). ERC is a short, 10 minute, drive from Malecon and next to the Blue Horizon Hotel. We booked the early morning spots since we wanted to get back to the beach during the mid-day heat. We met our guide and two other guests and started off with a brief lesson on how to ride. Then off we went on a horseback tour of the island. We started on a beautiful, golden sand beach and then rode up through town and into the hills in the middle of the island (near Hix House Resort) for gorgeous views and a short attempt at a "paso corto" which is a smooth version of a trot. Personally, I did not find it smooth since I had no idea what I was doing and wound up running into a tree. We then descended and headed back to the shore for a treat: a shaded ride to the tough-to-get-to black sand beach, Playa Negra! The Mann and I had decided not to take the hike required to get there and I was having FOMO so getting there on horseback was a wonderful and unexpected surprise. The last stretch was an easy ride from the beach through a field and back to the ranch. The ride was worth every penny, battle scar, and sore muscle. I'm actually thinking of taking horseback riding lessons for the exercise! My posture was on point, my core felt strong and my legs and butt were aching for days. I had no idea riding was such a workout!
Sadly, our time on Vieques was ending but we decided on one more little adventure before heading to the airport. El Blok is across the street from a small set of ruins from an old hotels. There's great graffiti all over them and if you go deep enough into the surrounding bush, you'll find.... an abandoned train. Nothing else to say. A short walk from there is an older set of ruins that have been beautifully taken over by nature. There are vines, trees, hermit crabs everywhere. If you go deep enough into the surrounding bush, you'll find.... an abandoned truck. We took one last walk along the beach, packed up and headed to the airport for one more adventure.
The Mann getting ready to head to the airport...
I really enjoy reading your descriptions of your adventures. The photos compliment the writing perfectly!
Waiting for the next entry!
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