Mary Lee’s by the Sea (off Carr. 333, first road on right just past the Copamarina Beach Resort tennis courts, 787/821-3600, fax 787/821-0744, www.maryleesbythesea.com, $100–250 plus $10 per additional person) is unlike any guesthouse in Puerto Rico—maybe the world! This bright, cheerful, sprawling guesthouse has a distinctive bohemian style reflective of its unique owner, Mary Lee, who came to Puerto Rico 50 years ago on a diving trip and never left. Each of the 11 rooms is different, but they all share two things: wall-to-wall thick straw mats and tons of hand-sewn curtains, bedspreads, and furniture upholstery made by the owner and her daughters, which gives the place a pleasant 1970s-era Southern California vibe.
Rooms vary from small single units that sleep four ($100) to an enormous three-bedroom apartment with a living room, dining room, and furnished porch ($250). Each unit has some form of kitchen, whether it’s a cleverly efficient “closet kitchen,” a kitchenette, or a full kitchen. The grounds are basically a series of funky, small courtyards and seating areas with a lovely a view of Gilligan’s Island. There is a small dock, kayak rentals, and boat rides to Gilligan’s Island, as well as swimming at the beach at Bahía de la Ballena. Rooms have air-conditioning, but no phones; small TVs are available for rent. There is weekly maid service and laundry facilities on-site. Be sure to book early: Mary Lee’s by the Sea has a high return rate of regulars who come here every year.
Guánica Parador 1929 (Carr. 3116, km 2.5, Ave. Las Veteranos, 787/821-0099, www.Guanica1929.com, $102 s/d, plus $20 per additional guest, plus 7 percent tax) is a two-story Spanish colonial–style structure built in 1929 as Hotel Americano. Recently restored and reopened, Guánica Parador feels brand-new despite its history. What it lacks in landscaping, it makes up for in bright comfortable furnishings and modern facilities. Rooms come with cable TV and air-conditioning, but no phone. There are a small pool and restaurant on the grounds, but no bar. The property is part of a small, locally owned and well-run chain.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition