Old San Juan Puerto Rico
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Travel Guide: Puerto Rico

August 8, 2017

Hi friends!

Has anyone else been super inspired by summer weather and dying to travel more than ever? A bit belated, but I’ve got a little travel guide treat for y’all below.

When Brett and I were ‘just friends,’ I felt really bold one day, so I called him up and asked him to go on vacation with me. (Pro tip: Find a man that’s always up for an adventure.) The day we started dating, we booked our first trip together (sorry, Dad), and three months later, I went on one of my favorite vacations ever! Now, every time someone is looking for a quick weekend away, I always recommend travelling to Puerto Rico! Not only is the island so gorgeous and warm, but you can absolutely make the most out of a few days away. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to my Travel Guide to Puerto Rico.

Where Should I Stay?

When deciding what we wanted out of our trip, lazying around on the beach was top of the list. For that reason, we decided to stay out of Old San Juan and opted for Isla Verde, where our hotel could be on the beach. San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel (what a name, right?) was the perfect place to stay, and exactly what we wanted! The hotel was right across the street from the beach, the rooms were super clean with a silly, fun option to flip a switch and make your room lighting blue, and the rooftop bar was the perfect place to get an overpriced drink with a beautiful view. The hotel had free towels and beach chairs for our use. Also, if you were lounging on the beach in the afternoon, the hotel staff brought out complementary, homemade frozen coconut pops. Delicious! I recently recommended this hotel to a coworker who went and loved it.

Where Should I Eat?

1. Zest – Located in the lobby of San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel, Zest is a delicious (but pricey) dining option! Brett and I got all fancied up and headed down the elevator for dinner one night, ate until our bellies were too full, and regretted not one bite! It’s been a while, so I can’t tell you what we ordered, but I remember that the presentation was beautiful and the food was amazing.
2. Anywhere with Mofongo – Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish made of mashed fried plantains, typically served in either a red sauce or a garlic oil. It is incredible! Brett and I ordered this at almost every restaurant we went to, and to this day, we still talk about getting this dish. (Also, whenever one of us loses their phone, we always say “Where’d mofongo?!” Get it?).
3. El Alambique Beach Front Bar and Grill – To be honest, it was definitely the Mudslides that kept us coming back to this Bar and Grill, but that’s enough for me. They were so.good. and you should absolutely do yourself a favor and drink as many Mudslides as possible while in Puerto Rico. El Alambique was only a few minutes walk down the beach from our hotel, too, so it was an easy-peasy nice walk.

What Should I Do?

Aside from lounging on the beach all day (the sand is soft and the water is clear), there were a ton of places to go and things to do on the island!
1. Hike in El Yunque National Forest – El Yunque is a beautiful tropical rain forest located on the far east side of the island. It makes the perfect day trip for a hike and a swim! Brett and I wore bathing suits and dipped in the waterfalls, but beware, the water is so cold! Across the street from our hotel was an Ace Rent-a-Car, so we rented one for the day and headed over. The hike isn’t anything crazy, and the drive isn’t too long, so you don’t have to plan for this to take up your entire day.
2. Shop and Eat at Los Luqillo Kioskos – On the way back from El Yunque, I recommend stopping at Los Kioskos, an open ‘strip-mall’ of sorts, filled with local food and artisans. They are located right on the coast, although the beach behind was a bit dirty. Brett and I ate some super tasty plantain treats, and I bought my mom these pretty handmade earrings. Definitely worth the stop.
3. Visit Old San Juan – Right by our hotel, we hopped on a local bus for less than one dollar, and took a trip west to Old San Juan. The area is beautiful, and there are two old forts to explore with stunning views. Cruise ships come in to this port, so you can expect touristy shops, but there were a ton of local shops as well. We ate at The Old Harbor Brewery which was tasty and cute (although it is now closed!), and a cigar maker offered Brett a free cigar (which he immediately regretted).
4. Drink on the Beach at Night – Growing up on Long Island, I am so used to being kicked off of the beach after the sun goes down. When I realized that this was not the case in Puerto Rico, Brett and I ran to the store, bought a bottle of wine, and sat down with our toes in the water and butts in the sand until 2 AM. I love being by the water, and it was the most peaceful feeling.

El Yunque National Forest Puerto Rico Hike
Chasing Waterfalls in El Yunque
Castillo San Cristóbal view Puerto Rico
Visiting Castillo San Cristóbal

Quick Tips:
1. Grab some drinks at the local dive bars. You’ll find endless pool tables and domino boards, and the locals are all very friendly.
2. If you stay at San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel, talk to the Concierge. They were so friendly, and helped guide us in the right direction multiple times.
3. Rent a jet ski. It was pricey but worth it – so much fun!

~XO

P.S. These recommendations are based off of my quick trip experience, based in Isla Verde. Brett has been back to Puerto Rico since, and would definitely add a few things to this list. Let us know if you need even more ideas!

P.P.S. Looking for another tropical destination? Check out my Travel Guide to Barbados!

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