For this new year, I promised myself that I would visit as many countries as I possibly could. And guess what I did this past week? I visited Puerto Rico for the first time. Honestly, I am so proud of myself for taking this step, because I usually tend to get anxious or afraid when it comes to visiting new places.
Some of my friends and I started planning for this trip only 2 weeks before, and so it was a bit hectic trying to find accommodation and flights for a considerable price. Expedia came to the rescue. Seriously, this website saved us from bankruptcy. We were able to find flights and a hotel room for such a good price! So if you’re looking to go on vacation but want a place that isn’t too expensive, this is it.
Day 1: We arrived to San Juan on a Sunday at 6:30 am, picked up the car that we rented, and headed down to our hotel, the Hyatt Place in the city centre. I have to emphasize a major key, rent a car! no matter what, you’re going to need it. Trust me, getting around Puerto Rico is not easy without a vehicle. Cabs are not cheap (the minimum they take is $12, yes 12-freaking-dollars). So do yourself a favour and rent a car, it’ll make everything so much easier and more convenient. You would save up so much money getting to touristy places without having to pay a tour company for overly-expensive crap. -rant over-
We arrived at the hotel, but the check-in time was not until 3:00pm, and so we decided to leave our luggage and head to Old San Juan. The old city was one of my favourite places in San Juan, it is so charming with its coloured buildings and little shops and allies. Oh and the temperature was 27 degrees Celsius. YES!
We then went back to the hotel, changed, and headed down to Ocean Park. There is a public beach there which is nothing but great. You can rent chairs and umbrellas, and there is a ton of restaurants and cafes around the area.
Day 2: The next day, we decided to go visit El Yunque rainforest, a tourist attraction that everyone talks about. We got there, and to our surprise, it was free! Thanks Obama (it was President’s Day).
The drive to the rainforest was breathtaking, you could see trees and greenery everywhere, but you could also spot graffiti on random walls. If I had to choose one picture that signifies San Juan perfectly, I would pick the following. The thing I loved about San Juan was the graffiti that I could see everywhere. Art is an immense part of their lives, and it is reflected throughout the cities with amazing art pieces.
There is a welcome centre at the rainforest where you’d be able to get a map and some tips on where to go and how to get to certain places.
Our top priority was getting to the waterfall! Mainly because it is allowed for people to swim there, what! The water was so cold, but everyone says it is worth it (I did not go in lol).
Later that day, we decided to visit Fajardo, a city near the rainforest where the bio-bay is. If you didn’t know, Puerto Rico is known for its Bioluminescent Bays where water literally glows. We thought we would be able to see the water glowing from the beach, but no, that did not happen.
Day 3: You have to take a tour to a certain area of the bay where it is more visible. Which we did the next day. It was breathtaking. I not only held a jellyfish that was glowing in the dark, but also saw the water glowing all around me. If you dip your hand into the water and move it around, the water would start glowing and would reflect different colours. I still cannot believe that was real!
Day 4: The next day, we went to Isla Verde, an area located just outside San Juan. I know this itinerary might sound crazy because we are literally in a different city every day, but trust me, this island is so tiny. It would only take us a maximum of 30 minutes to get to these places.
Isla Verde had nice beaches, but I would not compare them to Ocean Park. The latter, from my experience, is a lot nicer. All I can remember from Isla Verde was the seaweed all over the beach and even in the water.
Day 5: Surprise surprise, we went back to Old San Juan! If you visit Puerto Rico, you have to go see this place. You will not be disappointed. It is gorgeous, has tiny shops with amazing souvenirs, and delicious restaurants all over!
Also, if you are looking for nightlife, this is one of the places you can go to. Although I did not feel like it was safe enough at night, I still think you’d enjoy it if you’re in a group. There are pubs and interesting places all over! La Factoria is one of the cool places I visited.
Day 6: I saved the best for last, literally. Isla Culebra is heaven. I have never, in my entire life, seen a place that was this gorgeous. It actually felt like I was in heaven. The sand was so soft, that it felt like I was walking on clouds. The water was crystal clear. The palm trees wrapped around the beach. I cannot find the words to properly describe this place.
To get to Culebra, we had to take the ferry from Fajardo (the city we went to on day 2). I have to warn you, the ferry tickets sell out quick. So believe it or not, we had to leave San Juan at 2 am. We got to Fajardo at 3:15 am, and went straight to get the ferry tickets. There was a ferry leaving at 4:45, and another at 9:15. We decided to go with the earlier one. The ticket only costed 5 dollars. And yes, it was a round-trip!
We got to Culebra at around 6:20 am. There was a little cafe right in our face when we arrived, so we headed there for breakfast. The owner of the place was the nicest lady on the planet. She called us a cab, which took us to Flamenco beach for only $5 round-trip.
When we arrived to the beach, we all decided to nap, since it was only almost 7 a.m! That was the greatest nap I ever took in my entire life. I am not exaggerating. Sleeping to the sound of waves, while you’re laying over the softest sand, can it get any better?
The beach was completely empty when we first got there, and so we were able to see the sunrise and appreciate the lack of noise.
There was an old tank from the Second World War which was still at this beach! How cool is that?
For nightlife, here are some places that I visited:
– Brava (I would suggest you only go there on the weekend; it was a bit awkward on a weekday, no one was dancing)
– La Factoria: a fun pub that has multiple rooms with various themes. Loved it!
– La Taberna Lúpulo: a cool pub with amazing chicken wings, and is known for its beer selection
This trip was amazing. I would advise anyone to go and visit Puerto Rico. It is such a gorgeous country with amazing people, delicious cuisine, and incredible art.
I will be writing another post that is specifically about food, because you know, food needs a lot of attention. Also, a post about outfits and what to pack for such a trip! Stay tuned.
I hope you enjoyed this post.