Many travelers find time away from the mundane, or a break from a job restores the mind and body. At the HIX Island House, on the island of Vieques in the Caribbean, downtime and getting away from it all is a truly regenerative experience.
Vieques, an island municipality of Puerto Rico, is situated eight miles off the mainland and reached by small plane in 22-minutes from San Juan or 10-minutes from Ceiba. A ferry also runs roundtrip from Ceiba to Vieques daily. It is home to the HIX Island House, a hotel with a unique connection to nature. A place where one is allowed to recharge and return home rejuvenated.
Spread over 13 lush acres scattered with lemon, banana, and papaya trees, 6 modernistic buildings dot the landscape. John Hix, the architect of the hotel, has strived to make his structures fit with nature, not the other way around. Strategically located to capture cooling trade winds, and designed to provide shade to those on the inside, the views perfectly frame the expansive vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding landscape.
Opening the oversized roll-up door on one end of the Solaris Loft 2, and the shuttered window on the other, the 1,010 square foot room is transformed into an open-air oasis. A canopy of trees, a far-reaching view to St. Croix, and warm breezes flutter from one end of the room to the other. The sun beams off soft mosquito netting and a sleek concrete kitchen countertop. So strikingly beautiful, my body and soul awash in peacefulness and awe.
This island oasis is a short distance to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, considered one of the most ecologically diverse refuges in the Caribbean. With over 28 beach entrances, coastal lagoons and mangrove wetlands, it’s home to over 170 bird species and nesting places for leatherback, hawksbill and green sea turtles. Manatees have been sighted swimming in the surrounding waters.
While exploring, we found each beach to be different, and we visited over 15. A few offered rocky fishing spots and far-reaching views, others we discovered, possessed unspoiled, calm seas ideal for snorkeling. All were exquisite with the sea ebbing at the shore. Perfect for calming the mind.
I’m sure each visitor will have their favorite beach, mine was La Chiva, entrance #8 to be specific. With its crystal-clear turquoise water, pristine sand, and beckoning sand bar, it would cause anyone to slow down and savor the moment.
It’s late afternoon when we returned to HIX from a day of snorkeling and beach hopping. We strolled the luscious grounds as we headed toward the fifty-foot pool and panoramic deck.
The pool runs off the sun with minimal chemicals, using instead a method of ionization, with copper and silver, for their natural algaecide and antimicrobial properties. A gentle trickle of water falls into the pool, the smell of jasmine and lush flowers from the cascading blooms surround the sundeck. The endless panorama soothes my body and mind, embracing me, eliciting a sense of mindfulness, of being present in the moment.
At HIX Island House, sustainable practices rule. Solar provides electricity and hot water. Shower and sink greywater nourish the surrounding landscape. The HIX gives back as much as it takes.
Heading back to our room there’s an outdoor, but very private, shower on the balcony. With views to the ocean and cooling, gentle trade winds, it was liberating and as close to a perfect shower experience as one can get.
When it’s time to say goodnight, indulgent Frette towels and linens, and Neeva Gayle nightshirts are soft and comfy. There are no distractions; no TV or WIFI (available at the front desk only).
Stretched out on lounge chairs on our expansive private balcony, my husband and I gaze at the countless diamond stars dotting a dark, yet brilliant sky. We point out constellations and the occasional, elusive shooting star. Eventually, we crawl under the mosquito net. The room, open to the elements, windows free of glass, allow the Caribbean winds to gently blow keeping the bugs far, far away.
In the morning the spectacular sun rises. Our bed positioned perfectly to capture it, like a movie screen sound and all, as the cacophony of birds awakens us.
In the afternoon, a ride into the tiny city of Isabell II. A charming pueblo with colorful homes, restaurants, and the Conde de Mirasol Fortress (the last Spanish fort built in the Americas), where we learned a bit about Vieques history.
I must mention the horses, over 3,000 of them, who roam freely throughout the island and out and about the hotel grounds. It’s just another dimension that connects visitors to nature.
There’s no better way to reconnect with nature and get away from it all than spending a few days on this island, at this hotel.
Owner John Hix knew what he was doing. The architecture and design fitting in with nature are the HIX Island House’s biggest draw. For those who need a full restoration, the space allows you to savor what you’re seeing, smelling, and hearing. He’s embraced the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi. As things age, they become more beautiful, for there’s beauty in imperfection, in the wisdom of nature, and the natural cycle of life and death.
HIX Island House offers a romantic destination for couples, an enchanting location for weddings, peaceful yoga retreats, (there’s a lovely yoga pavilion with classes offered daily), or a rejuvenating work conference. Breakfast is consistent with the healthy island life with fruits, fresh-baked bread, organic eggs, and Puerto Rican coffee. Beach chairs, towels, as well as a cooler are provided for beach excursions.
I long to experience that feeling again, of getting away from it all and to relax and recharge within the HIX experience. HIX truly keeps giving back in so many ways.
Our stay at the HIX Island House was complimentary, but all views are my own.
HIX Island House
HC-02 Box 14902
Route 995, Kilometer 1.5
Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765
Sandy Ruyack is the owner and writer of the popular and award-winning adventure travel blog, Boulevards and Byways. Her stories and photographs reflect her love of travel to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and elsewhere around the world as she introduces readers to off the beaten path destinations and provides travel tips, guides, and vacation inspiration. Through transformative travel experiences, she encourages readers to step out of their comfort zones and take the road less traveled.
Boulevards and Byways has provided written content for an array of hotels, tour companies, and travel publications and assists the travel & tourism industry with growth through engaging content, strategy, and storytelling. Sandy has lived in Brewster, NY for 34 years with her husband and splits her time between the northeast and Luquillo, Puerto Rico.