Puerto Rico in 35mm

Jesse Reed

December 13 2015

On a holiday traditionally spent with family, Thanksgiving on the island of Vieques provided enough self-reflection and home-cooked meals to excuse my absence from Youngstown, Ohio or Cedar Rapids, Iowa—just this once.

A group of 15 friends, both old and new, spent five days exploring a place almost none of us have traveled to before. Vieques is a 25 minute plane ride, or one hour ferry, from the port of San Juan in Puerto Rico. To cover all of our bases, we began the trip in air and ended by sea. 

The island is known for many reason—abandoned U.S. Military bunkers, free roaming horses, a breathtaking bioluminescent bay, and of course, incredible food. You’ll be handed a cartoon-like map almost anywhere you end up staying—in our case, home was La Finca Caribe, located approximately 20 minutes south of the airport. Navigate through the island by renting a jeep or motor scooter, but do yourself a favor and get the scooter. 

Don’t waste time eating a meal at one of the three gringo-centric establishments on Flamboyant Street in Esperanza. You may be a gringo but not all gringos are created equal. Start in the parking lot and grab empanadas from one of three trucks, get beers (Medilla Light) at La Nasa, and bet your dollars on the (wooden) horses one stand over. 24 is the hot number. Take the low road on Bunker Street and try your luck finding which ones are open. Watch out for the bees nests infesting all of the others. Before you find the bunkers it’s worth exploring the old Sugar Mill located near by. It’ll take you some time, but unearthing the underground tunnels is worth the pitch black thrill. If you’re going to the beaches, you’re required to eat at the Sol Food truck either before or after—if you’re trying to impress someone, go after.

Tickets to the ferry back to San Juan open one hour before departure. Locals get dibs.

Jesse Reed is a graphic designer living and working in New York City. Read an interview we did with him earlier this year