All Time Favorites
Out of all the Caribbean islands, I continue to go back again and again to Puerto Rico. I've been 3 times and I would go back for a 4th. What makes PR so great? So many things! Here are a few:
- Accessibility from the US: It's so easy to get here from the east coast. It's less than a 4 hour plane ride, multiple flights a day, no customs or passports to deal with, and once you arrive it's a 15min cab ride to the Old San Juan/Condado Beach area. So convenient!
-Price: Right now, because of their economy, Zika scare, PR needs tourists bad- so they have had some great deals on both airfare and hotels. I've stayed in both hotels and Airbnb places, both have worked out really well. Also the activities and restaurants are not overpriced either.
-Beaches: There are no beaches really in Old San Juan, but just 2 miles down the road is where I usually end up staying. The Condado beach area has a strip of hotels, condos and restaurants right along the water. The ocean usually has a few waves, but if you stay at the Hilton there is a cove by the bridge which is calm and perfect for a dip. The water is never too cold but still refreshing. On the other side of Condado is a large lake for SUPing, kayaking and other water activities. It also has a great running path that goes around it.
-Old San Juan Forts: These are super cool- amazing, huge forts on the water- totally worth a tour. There are 3 in town, my favorite is the San Felipe del Morro Fortress. It has a huge park in front of it, so the walk up is pretty epic, and once there you can walk down to the cliffs on the right, where you will get an amazing view of the ocean, a beautiful cemetary, as well as the rest of the town. This is a must do, the pictures alone are worth it.
-Area Options: Getting a rental car here is a great idea. The whole island is extremely manageable to get around- to drive the entire circumference would take you less than 6hrs. If you've done Old San Juan, and have had enough beach time, the El Yunque rainforest is about 45mins away. If you drive 1 hr east of Old San Juan, you will reach the coast of the island, Fajardo, which has a cute town with some bars/restaurants and public beaches, and also where you can hop on a ferry to either Vieques or Culebra- 2 additional islands. Culebra is known for their beautiful beaches, Vieques for kayaking through mangroves to their famous bioluminescent bay. If you head west 2.5 hrs from Old San Juan, you will end up in Rincon, which is a popular surfing area which also has some bars/restaurants. I have stayed in Old San Juan, Condado Beach, El Yunque, Rincon and Fajardo- and have visited Vieques. All of these places will not disappoint, but I think Old San Juan/Condado is my favorite of them all.
-Boarding Options: Fajardo - resort hotels or airbnb condos. Old San Juan - hotels or airbnb apartments in town. Condado beach - hotels or airbnb condos/apartments in high rises. Rincon - a few hotels, airbnb houses in the hills. El Yunque- airbnb houses. Vieques- airbnb houses, a few hotels. Culebra- hotel resorts.
-The Food: OMG the food! Puerto Rico has amazing food. When I go, I usually end up eating a ton of mofongo- which is a Puerto Rican dish that either consists of fried plantains or yucca as it's main ingredient. The plantains/yucca are fried, and then mashed with salt/garlic/oil. You choose your sauce (garlic or spicy tomato) which is poured on top, then you choose your topping (shrimp, chicken, pork, etc). It is the most delicious thing. If I'm not eating mofongo, I'll go for garlic shrimp and other seafood, tostones, chorizo, arroz con pollo, you really can't go wrong here. When it comes to tasty food they know what they are doing.
-Bar/Restaurant Scene: If you want the most nightlife- Old San Juan is it. Lots of bars/restaurants, a casino, clubs, you name it they have it. Condado would be second in options. El Yunque- you need to drive out of the forest for any restaurants. There are a few along the highway that back up to a beach, great for lunch and a quick dip after. Rincon has a few bars/restaurants spread throughout- due to the surfer culture mostly. Fajardo and Vieques have a few restaurant options as well, but not much nightlife.