Lace up your hiking boots for a trek back to Vieques’s not-so-distant military past, which ended in 2003 when the U.S. Navy withdrew from the island after six decades of occupation. Fuel up first with a stop at Panadería La Viequense (352 Antonio G. Mellado Street; 787-741-8213) in Isabel Segunda for morning pastries like sugar-sprinkled pan de Mallorca, and then grab their huge namesake sandwich (with turkey, ham, pepperoni, and pickles) for the road before taking off to the island’s western flank. Park at the base of Monte Pirata and then make the hour-long ascent on a series of paved and unpaved roads, teeming with wildlife and colorful flowers, until you’ve reached the peak, which at 1,000 feet is the highest point on the island. Once on top, explore more than 100 abandoned military bunkers, now emptied of their former caches of bombs and artillery shells. Now covered in weeds, the bunkers make an eerie sight, but they’re offset by the panoramic views of Vieques, Culebra, and the Puerto Rican mainland. After making your way back down the mountain, rest up at sea level before ending the day back in a bunker that’s been transformed into the 10,000-square-foot nightclub Club Tumby on the island’s western tip. Arrive late to dance among Puerto Rican PYTs to the sounds of salsa, merengue, and reggaeton deep in the jungle.
5. Oddball Day
Published on Mar 17, 2011 as a web exclusive.