Today started pretty much the same with a lite breakfast on our lanai listening to crashing waves and menacing frogs.
I scurried through my travel bibles and decided that today would be the day to sample the la playa (beach) with the locals so we packed up and headed to Luquillo Beach. As I said in Day 2, its about 20 minutes further east on Rt. 3. Well worth the trip as it is quite, calm waters, friendly lifeguards, shopping kiosks and a food hut. I would ONLY recommend the food hut for local beers (@ $1.50 a pop for a 10 oz can) and ice cream. DO NOT EAT THE FOOD HERE. Pack a picnic lunch yourself or get back in your car and drive down the road to the Balneario Kioskos (food kiosks). Even though we sampled it, and it was horrible, thankfully neither of us got sick. There is one draw back of Luquillo Beach: you have to pay $1.00 to have all day admittance to the bath house that has lockers, bathrooms and showers.
Since mother nature was not cooperating with us weather wise, we got back in the car and drove to El Yunque Rain forest. You can easily find it by driving east out of San Juan on Rt. 3. But from Luquillo Beach it was a short 10 minute ride. Had we left from our hotel it would have been 25 minutes. Once you exit off the highway, you just follow the signs that are easily seen and all in English. Fair warning, if you have any kind of altitude sickness or are afraid of heights, this trip is NOT for you! Turn around and go back to your hotel!
After a 10 minute steep ascend up very narrow and winding roads, we reached the visitors center. I believe the fee was $4 a person for admission. it was nice enough. They showed us a short film, had a lovely gift shop and snack bar, and some interesting site maps.
Because we were not dressed properly having come directly from the beach, hiking would be out of the question. And Im a little upset because we missed swimming in La Mina Falls. We did drive up to La Coca Falls and the Yokahu Tower. Both were amazing and with spectacular views. I could only imagine what zip lining up there would be like. NOT!!!
Nor did i think I would be brave enough to climb to the top of the Yokahu Tower, BUT I DID!! HOLLAR!!! Again, totally amazing! There were two draw backs with this adventure: first, not dressing properly with hiking sneakers and bathing suits and second, not getting an earlier start. You must do this trip in total day light and allow yourself enough time to get out of the park (down the mountain) before it reaches dusk. I want to go back so badly just so we can drive to the top, hike one of the trails and swim in La Mina Falls.
Once we arrived back at our hotel to get ready for dinner, we realized housekeeping had struck out again!!! This time I lost my temper and called for the manager. Instead, I got the Director of Housekeeping ringing my door bell with his assistant and another butler. The five of us had a 30 minute sit down and I vented about all the things housekeeping and front desk staff had done wrong since we arrived. It was too chronic to go any further. By the end of the conversation, we had $450 in resort credits. Trust me when I tell you, it almost pained me to have to ridicule them for their shortcomings because I wanted so much to write a 5 star review for this place. I would have traded the $450 in resort credits to having a blissful experience instead. But sadly, this was not the case.
For our third nights dinner we drove to the El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo to try Sting Ray Cafe. Their signature seafood restaurant. It was just under an hour ride away, but I was hell bent on proving to myself that I made the right decision in picking the St. Regis over a Waldorf Asotria property in the El Conquistador. THANK GOD I did. The El COnquistador is truly massive and a city within a city. Reminded me in part of teh Atlantis in the Bahamas and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Just for kicks I timed how long it would take me to leisurely get from my hotel room to the beach: 60 minutes. You heard right. You first exit your room, walk to the nearest elevator. take an elevator to the lobby of the hotel, walk fro mthe elevator banks of whatever building you are staing in to the cable car area. Wait for the cable car - apoproximately 5 to 7 minutes, and then it takes you about another 5 to 10 minutes to reach the botmm where you take a short walk to either the marina or the ferry dock. From the dock you catch a ferry that is a 10 to 15 minute ride out in the ocean to their own private isalnd called Palomino. Here is where you can swim in the ocean. Again, NO THANK YOU. When I travel to a beach area, i need to have my toes in sand within 10 minutes of leaving my door.
The food at Sting Ray Cafe is to die for. Seafood was all amazing. Not a very adventurous wine list. After dinner we sat outside by the marina at the bar and enjoy the lovely weather. Sadly it began to rain and therefore took us nearly 70 minutes to return home back to our hotel that night. All in all, as much as I enjoyed browsing al lthe many different shops and restaurants and lavish grounds of the hills of the El Conquistador, I was happy to come back to the peace and tranquility of the St. Regis.
Began with packing and breakfast at Fern. Again, if your looking for easy cold food options, their buffet at $21 is best.
This day was my birthday so I wanted a Spa Package. Truth be told, I have sampled many resort spas, and spas in general and by far, this one exceeded every expectation. It was as if Sedona Arizona married Bahia Puerto Rico. Each treatment room was its own house. The common areas were all tastefully decorated in Brazilian walnut with earth toned fabrics. Very peaceful and very spiritual. My treatments and the staff memerbs who assisted me where all spectacular. Two draw backs though: first, the jacuzzi outside was freezing cold and the manicurist needed some bedside manner. The spa overall was a 10. Pirces were high but nothing out of the ordinary as far as I was concerned,.
WHILE i HAD MY 5 HOURS OF SPA DAY AND ENJOYED EVERY AMENTIY FROM STEAM, SAUNA, SOAKING POOL, TREATMENTS, ETC, MY HUSBAND WAS SAMPLING ONE OF THEIR HIKING TRAILS AND DOING HIS TYPICAL POOL AND BEACH THING.
Our time here ended with an early dinner at Molasses and a late flight home. Allow extra time when returning the car because you need to gas up right before you return. There is a gas station right on the opposite side of the road before you reach the airport. Returning rental cars seems to be an ongoing slow process in Puerto Rico, so renters beware!!!
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