Vieques Vacation

Sunday, April 29, 2012 | Vieques, Puerto Rico (map)

A view along the malecón boardwalk in "downtown" Esperanza, Vieques.
Last month the lady friend and I needed a break from work, and took a few days off for a long weekend in Puerto Rico. After a night in San Juan (where we discovered the excellent vegetarian spot Verde Mesa—highly recommended) we took a small prop plane from the capital to the island of Vieques.

We found Vieques to be a peculiar sort of paradise. For decades, the US military used the island for target practice, and its eastern half still remains off-limits thanks to the presence of unexploded ordnance. The nine thousand residents mostly live in two main coastal towns, Isabel Segunda and Esperanza, with a scattering of homes and guesthouses located in the interior. The locals are predictably laid back; many own horses, but simply let them roam the island's forests freely, and round them up when they want to take a ride. (The wandering horses—and Vieques' extremely