Casa De Amistad
A COMFORTABLE, WELCOMING OASIS IN THE CENTER OF AN AUTHENTIC PUERTO RICAN TOWN.
By Stephen Curry
The tiny Caribbean island of Vieques, off Puerto Rico, is one of my favorite vacation spots in the world.
My first few trips to the island, I always stayed in Esperanza, a collection of tourist-friendly businesses set along the shoreline. With its seaside bars and restaurants, Esperanza is a fun, easy introduction to the island. It’s still my favorite spot for a carefree beer by the ocean.
But one trip, I decided to mix things up a bit, and I discovered a completely different side to Vieques life.
Isabel Segunda is a more authentic glimpse at Puerto Rican community, and it’s where Viequenses go to conduct the actual business of life. The farmacia is here, the post office is here, the supermarket, the bank, a really good wine store, and about half of the best restaurants on the island. Isabel II is walkable and compact.
And right here on a quiet side street, is one of my favorite places to stay in the Caribbean.
Casa de Amistad is a cozy, elegant guesthouse that is most powerfully defined by the hospitality of its hosts. It kept popping up among the top rated options on Trip Advisor, and I finally decided to give it a go.
It was one of the best decisions of my traveling life, and now I heartily recommend it to friends who are Vieques-bound.
Some people might lament being away from the Malecon and the ability to stroll by the ocean at night. What they don’t know about are the amazing sunsets on this side of the island, best enjoyed with a beverage at Mar Azul, Tsunami, and others. And that over here, you’re within walking distance from several of the island’s best restaurants.
And, truth be told, you’re going to be using a rental Jeep or publico to get to the best beaches anyway. So where you stay on the island geographically, doesn’t matter nearly as much as the peace and comfort your lodging brings you.
And that, is where Casa de Amistad is one of a kind. It’s clear that they’ve thought about their guests and their needs. Free coolers. Free beach towels and chairs. Even those little frozen blue blocks that keep your drinks nicely chilled.
When you think about the luggage limits on Vieques Air Link, it’s comforting to know that you can show up with just your swimsuit and your aspirations, and let Casa de Amistad take care of the rest.
CASA DE AMISTAD IS ONE OF THOSE RARE PLACES WHERE YOU CAN TRULY RELAX AND MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME.
The rooms are more than comfortable, with bedding you might expect in a boutique hotel, private baths with modern touches and amenities, and first-rate AC.
The property is filled with tropical flowers flanking wooden boardwalks, and out back, there’s a sparkling waterfall that feeds a swimming pool that is probably my favorite on the island. The surrounding tables are a perfect place to bring your lunch or your evening bottle of wine and just let life go by.
There is a communal kitchen where free coffee and conversation are served up in the mornings. Breakfast is up to you; bring back amazing pastries from Panaderia Lydia or a fancy health-food breakfast from Buen Provecho, or avail yourself of the pots and pans and feel free to cook up something for yourself and your newfound friends.
STAYING IN ISABEL II TAUGHT ME THAT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND HAS ITS OWN NOT-TO-BE MISSED CHARMS, RHYTHMS AND TRADITIONS.
The Casa is the kind of place you would whip up from scratch if you could create your own island hideaway.
It’s comfortably located within steps of everything Isabel II has to offer, but a private courtyard, Zen garden and swimming pool afford a sense of privacy to relax and reflect.
THE LOCATION IS STEPS FROM VIEQUES HARBOR, THE PERFECT SETTING FOR SUNSETS, LIBATIONS, AND CONVERSATION.
For years, I was welcomed by owners Owen and Dan, whose vision brought the Casa to life. This past year, the guesthouse was sold to longtime guests John Holden and Mike Lonardo. It really couldn’t have been a better turn of events, because after coming here for years Mike and John “get” the communal spirit of Amistad: coffee together in the morning in a shared kitchen, warm and genuine interactions with the neighbors, becoming an authentic part of the Vieques community.
They are ready with maps, advice, and assistance to make your trip exactly what you want it to be. And after years of coming to the island, they know everyone and know how to make things happen, a trait you definitely want in your hosts on Vieques.
THANKFULLY, the new owners are LONGTIME GUESTS WHO “GET” what casa de amistad is all about. It really couldn’t have turned out more perfectly.
If you’re the social type who values the friends you make on vacation just as much as the beer and the waves, Casa de Amistad is right up your alley. That said, your visit can be just as private as you want it to be. Check out the two large rooms in the annex if you want a little more space to do your own thing.
These days, my new MO is that I like to stay on both sides of the island during a Vieques trip, 3-4 days each.
I love a few sunny, carefree days in Esperanza. But the trip feels incomplete unless I’ve made the warm, familiar welcome of Casa de Amistad a part of my trip. They’re like extended family - only with a much, much better vacation home.
Mike Lonardo and John Holden are the new owners of the beloved Casa de Amistad guesthouse. The longtime regulars turned full-time residents of the island are excited about the opportunity to host an array of travelers and create a comfortable and welcoming experience. Whether you have an adventuresome spirit or a laid-back attitude, Mike and John invite you to discover their new home. Book at www.casadeamistad.com with discount code 'READY' for 10% off your stay through November 1, 2019.
(Not combinable with other discount offers.)