Why San Juan? Well, because why not?! Haha! Okies, let’s start at the very beginning.
Advantages of Puerto Rico over other Caribbean places:
- Part of the US, so if flying from the US, you do not need a passport to travel! A valid driving license or ID would do.
- Currency is US Dollars and even though the main language of the island is Spanish, mostly everyone (atleast in the tourism industry) speaks English.
- Many direct flight options are available from major airports and if not, then the connections are via bigger cities and layovers are not very long, hence making it a good option when traveling with kids.
- All ranges of hotels, restaurants, and things to do are available depending on what your budget is, hence making Puerto Rico an economical holiday destination.
- You have some of the regular fast food restaurants like Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and Dominos to choose from, if trying new cuisines does not tickle your taste buds.
- Also available to you are a wide variety of activities to choose from. You could pick one or two or even better, do them all!! From chilling by the pool to being a beach bum, from zip-lining to doing touristy things in Old San Juan, from Bioluminescence tours to hiking, from scuba diving to jet skiing or trying out what the latest water jet pack craze is all about. Puerto Rico has it all!!!
In a nutshell, Puerto Rico was simply amazing. I had so much fun in my recent trip to San Juan that I am all ready to hop on an airplane and head back at a moment’s notice. The beaches, the friendly people, the chill attitude, I loved absolutely everything about the place.
I am sharing some details of our trip below and will provide some suggestions as well.
Where to stay:
- We stayed at the San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino (only thing missing here were hammocks!)
- Other hotels we were considering but did not end up choosing (I give you my reasons as well):
- Courtyard by Marriott at Isla Verde Beach (this one had hammocks, but was not centrally located)
- Caribe Hilton Beach (does not have a proper beach of its own)
- La Concha Resort (good option but was sold out for our dates)
- El Conquistador “A Waldorf Astoria Resort” in Fajardo (too far away from the main city of San Juan, so a good option for 2nd or 3rd time visit to the island, when all you want to do is relax and hop onto the other islands of Culebra and Vieques)
- Sheraton Old San Juan (does not have a beach)
Public transportation is good if you want to explore San Juan, but I would recommend renting a car if you want to visit Fajardo or the national forest, and if you want to have the freedom of exploring San Juan at your own pace. We rented a car for 2 days and it worked out well for us. We rented from Avis Rent-A-Car but you have many other options available such as ACE Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Dollar Rent A Car to name a few. Definitely pre-book the car to avoid delays/wait times. Parking is not an issue outside the city of Old San Juan and mostly all the hotels provide valet parking. Since parking can be challenging while in the city of Old San Juan, we parked at the fort parking and then either walked or used public transportation to get around the city of Old San Juan.
Things to do:
You can surely Google and find the top “must sees” but here I am sharing what we did on our trip this past November. Our trip was 4.5 days and honestly, too short. I would recommend planning a longer trip so you could do all the touristy things while still having enough time to just lay back and relax, sip cocktails and enjoy the beach.
In 4.5 days we did the following (in no particular order):
- Spend time at different beaches around the island, some of our favorites were:
- Condado Beach (our resort was on this beach stretch)
- Luquillo Beach
- Hobie Beach in Carolina area
- Escambron Beach
- Take an evening stroll by Bahia Urbana and continue onto Paseo de la Princesa to enjoy some yummy food stalls.
- Experience the Bioluminescent Bay night kayaking in Laguna Grande, Fajardo.Here are some links you could use to book the Bioluminescence tour in Fajardo:
- Definitely try to squeeze in sometime at the El Conquistador “A Waldorf Astoria Resort” in Fajardo and trust me it won’t disappoint.
- Visit and tour Casa Bacardi. I was amazed by the variety of Bacardi drinks that are made there.
- Spend an entire day around the City of Old San Juan experiencing the local culture and taking in the beautiful architecture.
- While in Old San Juan, visit the El Morro Fort (Castillo San Felipe del Morro), La Fortaleza and Castillo de San Cristóbal.
- Shopping at the Los Kioskos De Luquillo and definitely go for a stroll along Luquillo beach as well! It’s right there and oh so worth the stop!
- Try a variety of different foods (just ask your hotel concierge for the local favorites around you).
- Gamble at the casinos!!
As I mentioned earlier, I would recommend planning a longer trip, say 7-10 days, so you would be able to cover the other islands as well as experience the El Yunque National Forest. Culebra is home to the world-famous Flamenco Beach, which has been voted as one of the best beaches in the world multiple times by sites like Trip Advisor. Vieques is home to the world famous Puerto Mosquito, #1 site in the US for experiencing Bioluminescence. If this does not convince you, I do not know what will.
Now from my favorite part, the pix! Sorry for the photo dump, I promise you will enjoy them! Scroll on…
Aaaah…. Just looking these pix again, I am feeling refreshed. I absolutely have to plan a trip back to Puerto Rico. Along with hiking the rain forest this time around, I am surely going to eat more of the Mofongo Chicken and Empanadas all while sipping Pina Colada on the beaches of Culebra and Vieques as well enjoying more of the hot tub in the pic above.
I loved every second of my vacation to Puerto Rico and can’t wait to go back!! Hopefully my post has helped you in deciding where your next beach vacation should be – Puerto Rico!!
Feel free to reach out to me shall you need any help in planning your perfect beach vacay! Cheers!