My hot date and I loved Puerto Rico, even after the major Hurricane impact. The island is beautiful and functioning. The natives have fantastic attitudes after being struck by a terrifying disaster and don’t just need our help but displayed sincere gratitude.
|The La Concha beach view.|
The airport is very modernized although now more compacted after closing a few terminals. We weren't sure what to expect regarding transportation so I pre-planned our pick up with Go Puerto Rican shuttle service for $36 each. The shuttle staff had great communication, called to stay in touch on the trip in and met us at the baggage claim to help with bags. We later learned Uber is now in the area for a cheaper price although they can’t pick up directly at the airport or resorts so if you want an Uber you have to take a small walk away from those locations to catch one. We learned a lot from all the local drivers we met in shuttles and Uber.
The resort we stayed in, La Concha Renaissance in San Juan reminded me of a Las Vegas resort. Beautiful spit-shined vehicles parked in front, a casino and modern design with 5-star service. I have zero complaints about the resort.
|Our room at La Concha Resort.|
|La Concha Resort Puerto Rico|
Our room was an ocean view and we slept like babies listening to the ocean waves each night. There are some rooms that offer a jacuzzi on the balcony if you really want to get romantic. Breakfast at Delicias every day was wonderful. We chose the buffet option but the menu had great options. There was never any issue getting a beach chair on the beach like I have experienced at resorts in Mexico and Florida so that was refreshing. The sun in Puerto Rico is not going to go easy on your skin, be sure to use double the sunscreen you normally would. Due to the latitude of Puerto Rico the sun so the rays are sizzling.
|My 1st of many Mojitos while in Puerto Rico|
|La Concha Bar |
|View of La Concha lobby bar.|
|"The L," drink at La Concha resort bar.|
Mojitos happen to be my beach drink of choice so I was in heaven in the Rum capital where they specialize in mojitos. My hot date reported "The L," as his favorite drink on this trip. San Juan was also the birthplace of the Pina Colada which was also delicious. The bartenders at La Concha make a solid drink! Both my hot date and I have bartending and mixology experience and we were both very impressed. The drinks run around $12 in price however you can catch the news on happy hours at the resort at the registration desk or by walking the streets nearby or in the city of old San Juan just a few miles away.
|Latino Star Resturant (walking distance). |
We almost walked the entire way to the old city of San Juan but eventually got too hot. It was a gorgeous walk and La Concha offers complimentary bicycles which, an afterthought, would make sense to utilize. We called an Uber and got let out on the streets of old San Juan which reminded me of New Orleans a bit. The blue cobblestone streets were cool but walking on them isn’t the best idea because apparently there aren’t many driving rules around the area.
|Old San Juan.|
|View during the walk in Old San Juan.|
If you want to buy jewelry, old San Juan offers a fine jeweler on every corner. The downtown area is full of shops, bars, and restaurants. We ate lunch at Barrachina Restaurant. I tried the traditional MoFonga combination dish and was very pleased. Puerto Ricans use plantains aka bananas for a ton of recipes. I am a believer in the diet plan I call “If God made it eat it; otherwise leave it,” and enjoyed the menus most everywhere. Everywhere we ate was around $18-$25 a plate. There are a ton of family-owned places away from the tourist area with lower prices.
|Lunch at Barrachina.|
|MoFongo shrimp plate. |
|Fried Plantain Canoe with chicken.|
|Mojitos at lunch.|
We walked over 5 miles in old San Juan so wear comfortable shoes. We saw the tourism center, went in and took a map which is how we found our way to Del Morro Fort. We were told there is a trolley that we could have ridden to the fort but we chose to get our exercise. The fort entry fee is $7 and worth it. No need to fix your hair before visiting old San Juan whereas it is the windiest place I have ever been. If you like to fly kites bring one on this part of the trip (PS: drones not allowed).
I was looking for a good souvenir and was recommended the Larimar, Caribbean gem. The stone is considered a healing stone only found in the Caribbean. Also, I was very happy to see a Walgreens on every corner and a Marshall’s, both have all you’d need to survive away from home at affordable prices.
I am a huge fan of lobster ravioli so we had dinner at the Serafina Italian restaurant next to the resort. The vibe at Serafina was awesome, we highly recommend even though it is a chain. Our friends celebrating their anniversary went to Oceano which was a short walk and they raved about their experience there also.
If you simply want to relax, the resort is perfect for it. We decided we wanted an adventure so we took a trip to the El Yunque, the only national rainforest with Natural Wonders tours. Raul taught us a lot about real life on the island and we got the chance to see the destruction from the hurricane on the 40-minute drive to the forest. We were saddened to hear Raul and his family went 4 months without power and have many friends whose power still hasn't been restored after the storms. Sounds to me like the government needs some new structure, compassion, and leadership in some areas, just speaking my opinion. The stories about the locals uniting to survive were uplifting.
|Shot at the El Yunque Rainforest.|
|El Yunque rainforest.|
|Natural Wonders Tour guides were awesome! |
|Water flowing to the natural slides falls and watering holes. |
Sections of the El Yunque rainforest are still being cleaned up after Hurricane Maria but we got to hike a good chunk of the area. The rainforest is no longer shaded after the storm ripped away the top of the tree canopy but still breathtakingly beautiful. I was pleased to learn there aren’t a lot of creatures to be afraid of in Puerto Rico. There aren’t monkeys, cheetahs, bears, gators, and no shark attack cases for example. Just harmless snakes, birds, street cats and bugs from what we encountered. There were some random port-o-johns and plenty of places to cool off while hiking the forest trails so wear a swimsuit and take extra socks, clothes, towel and toilet paper in your backpack. We found some natural water slides on the adventure and had a blast but the rocks are super slimy and it can be hard to get out of the watering holes without socks or water shoes on. I tend to need a nap around 3pm every day and in the middle of a rainforest on a cool flat rock is more relaxing than I would have anticipated. The entire experience was very peaceful.
|Our afternoon nap on the flat rock in the forest.|
5 days and 4 nights in San Juan Puerto Rico was wonderful and I will absolutely go again. Next time, I may get really wild and extend the trip by booking a cruise to the virgin islands ported out of San Juan in order to see more islands for the most affordable price. Puerto Rico needs and deserves tourist support so consider making the booking and let me know if I can help in any way. Please note this trip was offered through our travel club membership for a super great price, however, as an independent agency I can plan and book your trip to Puerto Rico (or anywhere) whether or not you have interest in travel club membership.
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