Long weekends in Puerto Rico August 2022
This year was a return to the classics, the places I love, and Puerto Rico of course was on that list! So quick from Philly (3.5 hr direct plane ride, 10 min Uber from the airport to the hotel), so easy (no passport required so no customs), does it get any better for a long weekend? We arrived Saturday afternoon and stayed at the Caribe Hilton, which is across the bridge from Condado, very close to the Old San Juan area. The nice thing is, this hotel had it's own private beach with a cove, so the ocean swimming was really nice despite the rough surf outside the cove. And the water temperature was perfect. The hotel also had a really nice, large pool with a swim up bar, a couple of hot tubs, and plenty of room for kids to play and adults to have their space. Chairs were a little hard to find around the pool area, but lots of spaces to lay out, hammocks, etc were around. The hotel was good for the weekend- again convenient to walk to Old San Juan (30mins), had the beachfront/ocean cove, pool, and a few restaurants in the hotel, plus shops, and Starbucks, everything you need. We checked in early around 2pm, met our friends who flew in from Baltimore, and had lunch by the pool. Now the pool bar food, I would not recommend. The fish tacos were very fishy, ceviche ok, definitely pricey, but at least the drinks were good. After some pool and beach time, we headed up to Old San Juan for dinner- but first happy hour at Lavanderia rooftop. Their food actually looked pretty good too for tapas style, and it was a good sunset spot. From there we walked to Deaverdura for dinner- a recommended local's spot where their meat plate was ridiculous and sides were amazing. Basic on the drinks- we got a half bottle of wine and some beers, and it had a simple bar, but this was more an eat and go type spot, not really for hanging out after dinner. The food also came super quick. After that meal we went next door to the Alfresco rooftop bar, which had some more upscale cocktails and a nice view of the city rooftops. A quick 5min/$7 uber back to the hotel capped off our first night.
Sunday: We had signed up through Viator for a El Yunque rainforest hike with river swimming/rock jumping excursion that started at 8am. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel (pretty nice big buffet, omelet station was on point). Our driver showed up around 8:30, looking very hungover, and we started our 1.5hr drive to the rainforest. This was definitely sold online to be much more than it was. It ended up being not exactly in the rainforest- but more like some family's backyard. Regardless once we were parked, us and several other groups walked up a super muddy hill (took about 20mins with some stopping and we were all covered in mud up to our knees) to finally reaching our swimming hole in the Charco frio river. About 75 other people were there already, seemed to big a big draw with some rock jumping, rope swinging, and usually a waterfall you can slide down- but that day the water was rushing and it was unsafe. The water was actually not as cold as I expected, so that was nice. We spent a good hour jumping off rocks, watching other people jump off rocks, and rope swinging. A few wipe outs were entertaining. Funny enough, the ride back was way quicker- maybe 45mins. The whole thing was pretty fun, but if you are looking for a hike or actually seeing the El Yunque rainforest- this isn't the excursion you want. Back at the hotel we grabbed lunch at Mojitos in the hotel- which was pretty good. We got in some pool time, and back up to old San Juan. I showed my friends the fort at the tip of the town- with my favorite view (the cover photo). We had dinner at Ajo del Pais which had extremely good mofongo, and then headed to La Factoria for tons of amazing cocktails and even some salsa dancing to end the night. Sunday night seemed to be even more lively than Saturday in the bar area by La Factoria, don't sleep on Sundays in San Juan!
Monday: Breakfast at the hotel, followed by SUPing in the neighboring lagoon - we rented paddleboards through VIP co in Condado ($35) and did that for about an hour around the lagoon. After it was time for a massage at the hotel spa, which was needed since this was yet another vacation where I didn't bake in much time for relaxing. Following our massages we grabbed lunch at Rustica in the hotel- which was also a really nice spot and had legit good food. Beach time, and one last walk to Old San Juan to the Montecristo cigar bar for happy hour cocktails. Espresso martinis, bourbons and spritzes consumed, we then checked out La Taberna de Lupolo for another quick drink, then had some frustration finding a dinner spot. Most places were closed or only serving drinks, and others had 2-3 hour waits due to the Cruises being at port. We finally were able to get into Vaca Frito- which ended up being a decent spot with good food. Being our last night, we headed back to the hotel to shut the bar down at Rustica. The next morning I went for one of the toughest, hottest runs of my life, had breakfast at the hotel, said goodbye to our friends, and headed home.
I continue to just love the island of Puerto Rico- for more info on my previous trips here, and different areas of the island, check out my "All Time Favorites-Puerto Rico" section of my blog!