Puerto Rico: The Island of Enchantment
Find your way to Puerto Rico!
First of all, I am going to say that this amazing 10 day trip to Puerto Rico was unplanned and on a whim. I always plan my vacations months ahead, but this time I decided "oh what the hell" and just like that I found myself on Jetblue.com looking for flights to Puerto Rico just 5 days before lift off!
If you've ever been to any island in the Caribbean, you already know that it's going to be super HOT HOT HOT! Prepare yourselves people! Be smart and make sure you buy your sun screen. The Puerto Rican sun is No Joke. Also be aware that it does occasionally rain sporadically during the day depending the time of year you are on the island. I went in late August which is Hurricane season in the Caribbean, so plan accordingly. Other than that , enjoy the island when you get there. There are beautiful beaches, Biolumenecent bays, El yunque National forest, Old San Juan, and lets not forget the food!
Quick side note. As Puerto Rico is a U.S territory, you won't have to worry about changing currency as they use the U.S dollar. Also, the predominate language spoken in P.R is Spanish, but no worries. About 70 percent of Puerto Ricans living on the island speak some English . There shouldn't be too much trouble communicating with the younger generation when looking for directions.
Hola Puerto Rico!
Once we set foot in Puerto Rico after a 3 hr and 20 min flight, we were lucky enough to have a place to stay due to having family in the country. Now if your not as lucky as I was, there are plenty of places to stay around the airport. Just make sure you book ahead of time as the rooms get booked quickly. Even during Puerto Rico's off season, the hotels can be a little annoying to book. If hotels aren't your cup of tea or your just looking for a cheaper alternative, there are websites like Airbnb that you can use to rent out homes. We rented out two different but equally amazing places in gated communities to stay in as we road tripped across the island. The first rented out establishment was in a gated community called Ocean villas. The place was amazing with the the amenities you would get at a hotel just at cheaper prices. It boasted a three bedroom, 2 bathroom condominium with sweeping views of the ocean and mountains in the distance.
I couldn't find a trip adviser review for this particular place but when I do so, I'll be updating this hub.
The second place we stayed in was in San Juan about 10 mins away from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport called Coqui del Mar. This was in a gated community as well. It was a quaint little inn turned into several mini apartments with different names. The hosts are very friendly. I highly recommend this place to anyone that wants to stay 2 mins from condado beach. Don't take my word for it, check out the reviews on trip adviser if you need more convincing.
El Yunque National Rain Forest
El Yunque in Rio Grande
Our first stop was to visit family in Fajardo, which is a nice and lively little town with very nice people. Walking around the area, you'll notice many of the locals standing outside small eatery's waiting for their orders. As your driving towards Fajardo, you'll see many signs for El Yunque which is in Rio Grande. Now, El Yunque for those that don't know, is the islands national rain forest. It's a pretty amazing sight to see. Make sure you wear sneakers and are prepared for one hell of a hike, because in order to get to see the waterfall you have to walk a slightly rocky trail for about an hour. ( It felt like an hour, especially with the sweat pouring down my face.) OK, it was more like half an hour with a bunch of stops in between to catch our breaths. But boy was it worth it.
The trail to the water fall is a long hike, but here is also a short drive up the mountain area. I say this because there are a lot of things to see in this park/rain forest. Different areas are catered to what you want to see. I wanted to experience the rain forest, hence the very long winded hike. If you want to just see certain things like the trees or walk along checking the scenery, there are plently of little car parks where you can drive up your car to and take some nice pictures.
Some relaxation at Luquillo Beach!
After our trek into El yunque, we were exhausted but still ready for more adventure. So what better way to end an exciting day then heading to the nearest beach? That particular beach is called Luquillo beach and is about a 20-30 min drive from El yunque. I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was north, south, east or west. We spend most of the trip trying not to get lost using the GPS!
The beaches in Puerto Rico are beautiful. Where ever you go, you'll notice clear water and white sandy beaches. This particular beach is actually called Agua Viva, which translates to live water. The water is filed with clear jelly fish. You can see a lot of them washed up on the shore. When you get to entrance of the car park for the beach, the security guards warn you of the jelly fish and tell you to enter the water at your own risk.
Viejo San Juan/ Old San Juan
Walking through Viejo San Juan is like being transported to another time. The cobbled streets give the area such a historic and yet lively vibe that you can't help being in awe of its beauty. Once there make sure that you walk the streets at your own pace. You might even see a ship or two on the docs as this is a favorite destination of cruise line ships. Puerto Rico gets a nice influx of tourists through these ports and the smells of the wonderful restaurants serving traditional Puerto Rican fares lure everyone, young and old, to taste the amazing and delicious dishes this island has to offer.
Fun in the sun!
There are so many amazing things to do while in Puerto Rico. One specific thing I did was get on a catamaran to one of the several little islands. This particular catamaran was for an excursion in which we went snorkeling in about 20 feet of water. Now, I don't know how to swim so this was probably one of the most thrilling and beyond frightening experiences I have ever put myself through. But, I will say that it was super fun once getting on the island and getting to spend some time just relaxing on the beach. I recommend this kind of fun excursion if you would love to swim with the fishes and see some interesting sights.
Go and Have a wonderful time!
If you have never been to Puerto Rico, I highly recommend it. Its a beautiful country and amazing people and wonderful food. After the terrible, tragedy that occurred on the island with hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, the island is still in recovery but open for business. This is something that must be emphasized when talking about tourism in the country. The more people come the more money will be coming into the country to hopefully continue to help the country rebuild. Don't be afraid to take the chance and experience a wonderful and resilient island. I had a great time with such short notice and I am sure that with enough planning and a decent budget, you can too. Have fun!
Learn about Puerto Rico! Here's a travel guide that may help on your adventure!
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