Tamarind Beach Hotel
The big draw at the Tamarind Beach Hotel is the beach—glittering, talc-soft white sand with the bright blue of the Caribbean Sea on one side and lush, palm-tree-dotted tropical gardens on the other. The sheltered bay is a popular mooring for smaller sailboats (mega yachts post up on the southern tip of the island, where a new deep-water marina has been built off of Glossy Bay), and the hotel has a well-stocked deli for reprovisioning. For land-based overnight guests, there are thirty-one rooms and eight beachfront suites. The bedrooms are breezy and comfortable with hardwood floors, walnut-and-white-paneled walls, comfortable beds, and a balcony or patio opening onto the beach. There are two restaurants, a beach bar, and a spa, as well as kayaks, windsurfers, paddleboards, and snorkel gear. The hotel also enjoys reciprocity with the Canouan Estate, should guests wish to play the golf course or visit the restaurants there.
Mandarin Oriental Canouan
Carenage Bay, Canouan
Located on a picture-perfect stretch of Godahl’s beach on the Atlantic side of the island, the Mandarin Oriental takes full advantage of the sweeping views out over the water. The hotel’s twenty-six colonial-style suites and thirteen villas all face the ocean; ground floor suites have individual access to the beach, and those on the upper level have balconies overlooking it. The rooms are done in a palette of creams with dark woods and fuchsia accents, and each is equipped with every luxury you could wish for (walk-in closet, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, Nespresso machine, Acqua di Parma toiletries, blackout shades, yoga mat, beach bag, your own personal butler) as well as a quite a few you’ve never thought of, like an iPad that controls nearly everything in the room. The pink lounge chairs on the beach and by the infinity pool are perfect for a morning of doing nothing. Then grab lunch at the pool bar—the conch ceviche or the shrimp tacos is the way to go. The hotel is on the Canouan Estate, with access to five different beaches (some on the Atlantic and some on the…
Carenage Bay, Canouan
With dark wood tables, navy-and-white upholstered chairs, and beautifully painted murals on the walls, Tides is a graceful, comfortable space even when the windowed French doors aren’t open to the view of the beach and sea beyond. There are also two private dining rooms you can book for a special occasion. The menu offers a selection of meat and fish, and many of the ingredients are grown on the island or sourced from nearby St. Vincent. A variety of small plates feature fresh seafood and local specialties, like a conch chowder with purple potatoes and a spice-dusted crispy fried jackfish—a small, strong-flavored fish that you eat whole—with creole sauce and plantain crisps. There are excellent steakhouse options (porterhouse, tomahawk, filet mignon, or lamb chop, with five sauces to choose from), but vegetarians hardly suffer: The wild mushroom and squash risotto with blue cheese and basil oil is something to be remembered.
Carenage Bay, Canouan
Asianne’s light, airy dining room is elegantly done with cream-colored walls and navy-and-yellow upholstery to play up the island vibe. But before you take your seat, head over to the huge open kitchen, and take a moment to ogle it: It’s a work of art. With a black-and-white checkerboard floor, stainless-steel-and-cream cabinetry and worktops, cream subway-tiled walls, a wood-burning stove, and a giant tandoor oven, this is the place for dinner and a show. Chef Nonky Tejapermana has put together a menu that showcases local ingredients and Eastern flavors: a tender, five-spice-roasted duck salad with just the right amount of heat; three types of slow-cooked curry; crispy pork belly in Sichuan chili sauce. You won’t have room, but order dessert anyway—the pandan panna cotta with lemon-honey-marinated fresh local mango and Grenadines pineapple sorbet is not to be missed.
El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the US—and it’s still recovering from the recent storms, but don’t let that deter you. On the 29,000 acres, there is still a plethora of hiking trails through an exotic landscape of flora and fauna begging for your attention. You might want to hire a guide to help you take it all in. Pack a light lunch for the end of the forty-five minute trail that takes you straight to the awe-inspiring La Coca waterfall.
El Blok Hotel
158 Calle Flamboyan, Vieques
Inspired by the coral reefs surrounding Vieques, El Blok’s unusual Brutalist architecture comes courtesy of Puerto Rican architect Nataniel Fuster. Natural light and fresh air flit through the round cutouts of the concrete walls, creating shadows to mimic the feeling of being underwater. The four-story building curves around an oval atrium, meaning there are no hard angles to be found in the twenty-two spacious one-bedroom suites. Minimalist in nature, each room is a playfully designed mixture of texture and light, featuring sleek furnishings and lightweight cotton linens. Upstairs, El Blok’s swanky rooftop bar and infinity pool draw live bands, DJs, and a crowd of local hipsters. Skip across the street to the Vieques beach, where you may be able to catch sight of some of the wild horses that roam the island.
Calle Caribe 58, San Juan
Chef and owner Martin Louzao recently moved Cocina Abierta to the trendy streets of Condado, where the cool-kid atmosphere of the eclectic kitchen fits right into the fashionable neighborhood of boutique stores. The menu is composed of five acts, with each unit working to form the full dining experience: appetizer, vegetable, seafood, poultry and pasta, and finally, red meat. Select one dish from each act to create a custom tasting menu, so your final play-by-play might be fresh ceviche, roasted cabbage with onion jam, seafood green curry, goat cheese ravioli, and lamb Wellington. Even the wine parings have a creative edge: Sommelier Arturo Campos suggests multiple wines for every dish—a classic if you want to play it safe and a wild card if you have a taste for adventure.
1055 Ashford Ave., San Juan
The bar for fine dining is set inside the walls of the historic Condado Vanderbilt hotel. Here, executive chef Juan Jose Cuevas crafts his menu in collaboration with local farmers. The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has been a lesson for Cuevas in what plants best survive devastation. The menu explores the whimsy of Cuevas’s mind: tuna in arugula-almond pesto, salmon confit, eggplant for dessert. More than a meal, 1919 is a conversation with the land of Puerto Rico that can connect you to the spirit of the country.
The Villas at Stonehaven
Stonehaven Bay, Black Rock
Architect Arne Hasselqvist constructed these fourteen villas from a medley of well-sourced materials: greenheart hardwoods from Guyana, oil-ribbed bronze hardware from Peru, granite and marble countertops from Brazil. The finished product is a seamlessly integrated design that channels the old-fashioned glamour of a Caribbean manor house. The villas—which range in size from a one-bedroom with a king-size bed to a four-bedroom that can accommodate seven adults—each come with an infinity pool, private gardens, and panoramic sea views. Breakfast can be cooked in your private kitchen upon request, and the Pavilion Restaurant is always a solid bet, serving Caribbean and American fare in a lush garden setting.
A pond of clear water and shimmering coral are draws of Nylon Pool, which Princess Margaret visited on her honeymoon—but these are hardly the only reasons to visit. What makes these shallow bodies of water within the ocean magical is their location in the middle of the Caribbean Sea (the pools are all enclosed by coral, hence the name “pool”). Book one of the glass-bottom boats docked at Pigeon Point and gaze down at local marine life during the fifteen-minute journey over. It’s a little surreal to find mini swimming pools enclosed by dark seawater, but it’s great fun to float and snorkel here. Locals swear that a swim in the aquamarine waters is the secret to eternal youth.