What to do:
This part of my trip was actually a dream come true. We booked and excursion trip through Sail Getaways which was incredible. We began at about 8am and it took us about an hour and 15 minutes to get to our first stop at the island of Culebra. Be warned, if you get motion sickness, this is NOT the trip for you, catch a flight instead because you are definitely at sea, I however, LOVE a bumpy boat ride. Also, you will get wet.
Our first stop was at the coral reefs to snorkel! I have snorkeled before at different destinations and honestly I didn’t really love it, but this saved my snorkeling feelings and turned me back into a huge, giddy fan. I saw a lot of cool fish and it was definitely busy under the sea! We could come and go on the boat as we please, so we did not have to swim the entire time!
Our second stop was to Flamenco Beach, which was around 40 minutes away! Guys, according to some lists, this is one of the top three beaches in the world. This is definitely the most beautiful beach I have ever been to; the water is literally crystal clear and the sand is the softest. This is also the famous army tank beach which was cool to see, the entire beach is a mile long and it was fun to walk down because it was like a movie everyone was playing and dancing and it was just magical.
If you are taking a boat to the island, note that you will have to get out in the water and make your way to the island that way. Luckily I have a GoPro and a lifeproof case so I got all the awesome photos! If you’re going to Puerto Rico, this is my biggest recommendation. The crew of Sail Getaways made this trip so enjoyable and so fun and they really were professional and safe while still keeping things exciting! You will be on the boat with other people as it fits around 25 people, but it was fun meeting so many people from around the world!
Viego San Juan, Puerto Rico
What to do:
I loved Old San Juan! The colorful houses and cobblestone roads definitely make you feel like you’re stepping back into another time, however, after driving in for a day from Luquillo (about an hour!) I feel like I learned a lot bout how this small, but popular city works. For this day, you need to have a plan on how to start your day and the things you want to do but, especially where you would like to park. It honestly took us probably forty additional minutes to figure out where we wanted/could park. We, surprisingly, didn’t do too much planning ahead which was a mistake because we spent a while aimlessly wondering, which would’ve been fine, but it was HOT and it is HUGE so a lot of walking was on the itinerary.
It was really fun wandering around the streets with all of the bright colored walls and street art, I loved seeing it all. There’s a street with a ton of high end shops, but we enjoyed looking through all the cheaper stores with the interesting, random knickknacks. We did go to the military fort but we didn’t walk all the way up because HOT. However, there’s a walk near Puerta de San Juan that is gorgeous, it’s a shaded walk with great trees & a nice view into the bay.
What to eat:
Bun’s Burger Shop: When we first got to San Juan we were starving because we had just spent near an hour trying to find parking, so we decided to go here because it was right across from the parking garage. I was sorta peeved because I was wanting ‘authenticity’ but it did the job and was good nonetheless! Inexpensive, under $10 a person!
Punto de Vista Restaurant and Bar: This was one of my favorite places I ate on this trip! I am a total sucker for rooftops and we went at dinnertime so the sunset was stunning. When I went to PR, one of my missions was to have Sangria and that I did. I got the white here and it was phenomenal. The mojotos here were also great! Like I said, I wanted authenticity and one of the most popular Puerto Rican foods was Mofongo which is mashed plantains flavored in different ways. I got the chicken and garlic (I am a garlic FREAK) and SO GOOD. However, if you aren’t looking to venture out, my dad got the tacos which he really enjoyed. This was more expensive, if you order drinks, it will probably be about $25 a person!
What to do:
We decided to take a roadtrip to the southern part of the island through the mountains! Our first stop was Guavate which is famous for the pig roasts. Basically, they have big parties every weekend where everyone gets together to dance and eat and it was just so joyful. It was super cool because they had a bunch of smaller shops and everyone was so happy! As a dancer, it was also incredible to see everyone dancing. It’s crazy to think that that’s so culturally normal and something that they’ve all grown up doing together.
We also met this awesome guy who was just walking around with his parrot and he let us take a photo! Me being me, I got in a conversation with him and he started telling me about his parrot and it was so nice to see a man who cared for his animal because so many times you see people exploiting their animals for money and this was such a happy parrot, seriously such a fun memory.
Then we continued driving to Ponce and I honestly wish we had more time to explore. It was much more European than the northern side of the island, but it was relatively quiet with stunning architecture. We also met the kindest man that worked at the fire station, literally every single person we encountered in Puerto Rico had the sweetest soul. We did drive up to the cross overlooking the city, but were unable to go to the top. It was a stunning view though!
On our drive back to Luquillo (which was around 3 hours) we made our final stop of the day at Punta Tuna Beach to see the Punta Tuna Lighthouse. I obviously wanted to see the lighthouse, but I also really wanted to see a beach on the southern coast. The beaches on this coast didn’t come close the those on the north side, but it was still really cool to see, ot to mention shocking how the land can change so drastically from one side to the other. To get to this beach you have to drive through a neighborhood and take a, almost hidden, trail down!
What to eat:
Pig Roast: We did eat exactly like the locals at the pig roast in Guavate. To further explain, it was one of those scenes where they take the ENTIRE pig, put it on a stick and roast it. We ordered a family meal, so they took the meat directly off the pig and put it on our plate along with a ton of rice. It wasn’t my favorite thing I have ever eaten but it definitely was an unforgettable experience.
Overall, I LOVED Puerto Rico….and I have actually begun making plans to return before the year is up. Here’s to hoping it all works out! The food is incredible, the people are just so kind and very friendly and you cannot pass up the views and the culture. Here’s the link to Part One of this post. I have left a huge piece of my heart here!