This Caribbean Oasis Enters Its Second Act After Hurricane Maria
Travel’s not always glamorous. The business of getting to your destination is often full of delays, hunger, and restless impatience. With any luck, you’ll end up at Finca Victoria, an eco-lodge on the island of Vieques.
“I noticed your shoulders dropped when you arrived,” Sara, one of the keepers of la Finca, told me as she walked us around the grounds. It was true. Finca Victoria has such a peaceful, utopian feeling about it, relaxation washed over me and it was impossible to imagine a bad day here. Yet as hard as it was to fathom, the property has had its share of strife. Hurricane Maria destroyed most of its original structures and the future of this oasis remained in question. Sylvia DeMarco, Finca’s current proprietor, emerged as its savior.
Fifteen years ago, in the midst of a career in film, Sylvia began what would become routine visits to the property and struck up a close friendship with its previous owner, Corky. “When asked about my favorite place to visit from all my travels, I’d say without hesitation, ‘La Finca in Vieques,’” Sylvia tells us. The land and lodge had inspired Sylvia, a Puerto Rican native, to move back to the island from New York and start a hotel of her own, the enormously popular Dreamcatcher in San Juan.
Following the hurricanes, Sylvia offered help re-build the place that inspired her new path and Corky was so struck with Sylvia’s commitment to the project, she passed the property on to Sylvia. In the short span of time Sylvia’s been at the reins, she’s managed to revitalize La Finca to such a degree that it appears to have never even witnessed a storm. Inspired by this victory over trying circumstances, she christened the lodge with the name Victoria.
Inside the rooms at Finca Victoria, Sylvia’s keen eye for detail is evident. The awning above the hammock on the deck of the Victoria Suite features a skylight for a breathtaking view of the starry night sky (note: Vieques has nearly no light pollution). Each room is appointed with its own unique collection of vintage furniture and artwork. The mattresses and sheets are made of organic cotton. Every room has its own private balcony and outdoor shower.
And the idyllic conditions of the hotel don’t stop there. A pack of lovable dogs live on the property. Sunrise yoga sessions are held each morning. A selection of house-made meals featuring the spoils of the onsite garden are available poolside along with wine and beer. And while there’s no shortage of things to do on the island (read below for more on that), you’d be forgiven for hunkering down and staying on the premises for the entirety of your visit.
Let out the tension in your shoulders, take a deep breath, and unwind. You have arrived.
The island of Vieques is smack-dab between Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. Ferry boats run consistently from the town of Ceiba (roughly an hour’s drive from San Juan), but if you'd rather take to the skies, 10-minutes flights are also available for $40.
Around the Island
Unwinding and disconnecting is the name of the game here, but there are a few bars and cafes dotted around Vieques. The one thing you can't miss? A glass-bottom kayak tour of the nearby bioluminescent bay at night. Home to a micro-organism that gives off an otherworldly neon glow, it's an experience unlike any other. Ask the staff at La Finca to connect you with a local guide—we can't recommend it enough.