CHASING THE MAP

An Unexpected Gem, Playa El Gallito

I’ve found that when I’m least looking for something, I find it. This happened when I unexpectedly discovered El Gallito Beach, which means “little rooster.” It’s also nicknamed Gringo Beach. When you leave the airport past the Isla Nena Cafe and turn left, it’s one of the first beaches you’ll see heading east on Rt. 200.

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I was driving around the island that day, doing a loop from Esperanza. I hadn’t planned on a beach day, but it was hard not to, especially when I spied the small, but very beautiful, sandy beach. I drove by the beach at first, but quickly turned around to find parking on the side of the road.

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There is a parking area, but I also noticed several cars parked along the side of the road. The beach is that close, so you need to know up front that it’s not one of those private beaches that you drive out into the wilderness for. To me, that’s not an issue, especially as a solo female traveler. Not that I’ve ever felt threatened, but it’s also comforting to know that people aren’t very far away if you need them.

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So I pulled over and decided to walk over to the parking area and check things out first. I passed a small group of people, equally spread out on the sand and underneath the shady low sea grapes. They had just sparked up their charcoal grill, the music was blaring, and everyone had a cold beer in hand. Now that’s my idea of a day at the beach.

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As I continued to walk further, I heard the sound of bongos. A young man was playing them as his girlfriend lazily lounged in her hammock, with a small dog resting on her lap. Man, this is the life, I thought to myself.

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There is a small peninsula, which I’ve been told is a great spot to go and watch the sunset. It’s also spectacular from the beach. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the convenience of the beach, as well as it’s natural beauty. To the right you’ll notice the W Retreat and Spa, on bluff overlooking an impressive snorkeling reef below it.

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There was also a beach volleyball net set up. It wasn’t getting any use at the time, but I’m sure friends and families alike get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

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I was impressed by the calmness of the waters that day. I know that can change given wind conditions, but there was a great swimming spot that I lazed in to cool off from the sweltering heat. Have I mentioned how hot it is in Vieques right now??? I also found a quiet little spot to myself under a sea grape with ample shade. The beach is big enough to accommodate crowds of people without feeling like you’re all invading one another’s space.

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I will definitely be back to El Gallito. Although close to the road, the sparse traffic noise didn’t really bother me. There were plenty of waves to drown out the sound. This is a great beach for kids, small and big, who are looking for a clean, small stretch of beach to spend the afternoon on. We’re in paradise, after all. Might as well soak it all up.

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