This is now our 3rd time to visit the island and we have grown to like it more and more every time. I truly believe that if you’re only going to visit one caribbean island in your life, this is the one. It has so much to offer in terms of resorts beaches, history, culture, and food. The last 2 trips we only spent about 5 days here, each, but we were also shooting/attending wedding activities for 3 of those days, so we did not have time to venture much outside of old San Juan. While old San Juan is definitely worth taking the time to walk around, you could do this in one long day of walking around the El Morro & Fort San Cristobal. On this trip we were happy to finally have been able to venture outside of the area to visit the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico.
We spent the first two nights of our trip in the Condado area where many, often Hilton, resorts are located. There are a lot of good restaurants in this area and the hotels are always equipped with pools to accomodate many. The better resorts will also have access to a beach. We stayed 2 nights at the historic el Convento hotel where all of our Puerto Rica weddings have been located. It was nice to stay there and be able to walk upstairs to bed after a long wedding day. It is a cute hotel with a nice restaurant and a tiny pool. The customer service is wonderful here but as I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t see much point to staying too long in old San Juan. After a change of plans to decide to go on the catamaran with our clients we opted to stay at La Concha hotel to make waking up at 8am to meet up with them easier on us. It is one of the best hotels in the area (also in condado area).
The catamaran took us as well as 12 of the wedding guests and the bride and groom out to Icacos island to snorkel and lay out in the sun. The water was crystal clear blue and some of the most beautiful ocean water I have ever seen. Unfortunetly, Ben & I did too much laying in the sun and came home a shade redder than we had intended. That night we made the 2.5 hour drive to Cabo Rojo and stayed in a place we found on Air BnB. The next day we hit up all the best beaches in the area, Playa Combate, Sucia, & Boqueron. Playa Sucia is the highest rated beach in Puerto Rico according to Trip Advisor so we had to check it out. I definitely understand why. It’s a beach that’s far enough off the beaten path so not many tourists make their way out there. It’s mainly a local beach which is perfect for spending a day at.
Tips for Puerto Rico : Remember that while it is technically America, it’s also very different. Laws are different (18+ drinking for example) and there are some dangerous spots that are very close to tourist spots. We have personally experienced police officers telling us not to go down certain paths due to being dangerous but they are not always there and have heard of people getting robbed (mainly in Old San Juan). With that said, I have still felt very safe walking around at night in the right areas. Most people will speak English but basic Spanish is courteous to use when possible. Fun fact : many Cubans and Puerto Ricans do not pronounce the written “S” when saying “gracias”, so it sounds like “gracia”.
Next time we hope to make our way Vieques island as well as finally visit the bioluminescent bays. There are only 5 bioluminescent bays in the world and 3 of them exist in Puerto Rico.
Here are photos from our last few trips to Puerto Rico.
Some of our meals from Puerto Rico. From left to right, top to bottom – Shrimp & fried sweet plantains, mixed mofongo, Pina Coladas from the bar that it was invented Barrachina (they were good but not mind blowing). – Steak with plantain, salad with churrasco strip steak and fried plantain bits. – Mahi mahi with rice & beans, & more mofongo! Mofongo is a very popular dish famous in the caribbean, it is smashed fried plantains stuffed with any protein you can think of and often covered in a garlic or tomato sauce. They love their plantains in the caribbean and I love it!