The islands of Vieques and Culebra are more than just a scenic getaway from San Juan; they can also be terrific value vacations. For this reason, both are favored weekend destinations for locals and tourists alike. In Vieques, you have a few low-cost hotels to choose from. Depending on how far you can stretch your dollars, these range from the truly cheap and basic to some of the best bargains in town. The majority of the options listed below offer rooms for under $100.
A white-washed multi-story building perched on a cliff, the Sea Gate wins my vote for anyone who wants to mix comfort with budget. For starters, you get magnificent views of the town of Isabel II and the ocean (hang out in the complimentary hammock one evening and soak it in). You also get a spacious room. Sure, the decor is on the basic side, but you'll be comfortable and the ocean breeze is better than any AC.
Sea Gate also delivers a complimentary breakfast to your room, a terrific add-on for the value. Guests also have access to the pride of the hotel''s owners: the beautiful horses. In fact, Sea Gate is a guest house for animals (mostly dogs and cats) as much as humans; if you're an animal lover, you'll enjoy this place even more.
Casa La Lanchita's only drawback is its distance from town. I start with a negative because everything else is quite positive about this cute inn. The rooms are large and airy; the pool, with the cheesy yet cute dolphin statues and the obligatory fake shark head, is fantasctic and looks out onto the ocean. The hosts are warm and affable. And it is one of the larger budget hotels on the island. This place is especially great for families, as the large rooms offer plenty of living space and some come with kitchens. If you don't mind the relative remoteness (Isabel II is only a short drive away), this place is a gem.
Among the pricier options on this list, Crow's Nest compensates for the "high" prices with cozy rooms set amid the paradise of Vieques' lush interior. Landscaped grounds bursting with flowers and a pleasant pool are among the reasons to love it here, and the rooms are quite cozy (the larger ones have mini kitchens). Crow's Next also has a realty office if your'e looking for your own place while you're on the island.
Photo © Zain Deane
If its basic you want, Bananas is for you. The rooms are nothing to shout about ... in fact, they're among the most sparse on the island. But they do come with advantages. The first is the bargain-basement room rates. The second is the terrific restaurant, bar and nightlife institution that is Bananas' true claim to fame. Third is the terrific location, right on the malecón
, or boardwalk, of Esperanza and across the street from the ocean.
Bananas attracts a fun, lively crowd and seems built for the beach life. Sure, it's a "gin-u-wine" waterfront dive ... but it celebrates its status, and it's happy to welcome guests into the fold.
5. Esperanza Inn
Photo © Zain Deane
Let's see; a family or group of seven can stay for $200 a night; rooms are available for $100 a night; and guests get all kinds of extra benefits, like a communal kitchen, pool, and lounge. Yup, that makes Esperanza Inn a great value for travelers.
Throw in a free continental breakfast during the winter months, free beach accessories and laundry facilities, and a convivial low-key charm ideal for the island, and Esperanza Inn deserves its place on this list.
6. Trade Winds Guesthouse
Trade Winds follows the Bananas blueprint: cheap, basic accommodations built for budget travelers, attached to an excellent restaurant in a prime location. The Trade Winds restaurant is one of the best seafood joints in town; even if you don't stay here, I recommend a dinner by the boardwalk. But if you're expecting luxurious lodgings after your lobster dinner, you'll be disappointed. The rooms are small and nothing too fancy to look at.
Call 787-741-8666 for more information.
7. Hector's By the Sea