Adventure off the Beaten Path in PR

Oct 13th, 2003, 01:18 PM
  #1  
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Adventure off the Beaten Path in PR

My boyfriend and I head to Puerto Rico for one week on 11/6. Any suggestions for lesser-known spots or adventurous excursions? I've read hundreds of posts/sites and only night kayaking on Vieques' bio bay and a hike in El Yunque jump out so far. We'd love to rent a motorcycle, leave OSJ behind, and explore the romantic small towns, parks, or deserted beaches. Thanks!
DCTraveler is offline  
Oct 14th, 2003, 06:14 AM
  #2  
 
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Well, you say you've already read a lot of sites, so this may not be new to you, but if you haven't, check these websites: rainforestsafari.com; vacationpr.com; travelandsports.com; portadelsol.com. Off the beaten path, I would suggest visiting a couple of towns in the central mountains and exploring the west coast. You'll find ideas for places to vist on the websites listed above, as well as info and links for other activities, such as horseback riding on the beach, mountain biking, canyoning, caving, etc.
PRnative is offline  
Oct 14th, 2003, 08:16 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Ditto.
PRnative has got it down right. Mountains and the west coast. Take a ride on one of those lovely Paso Finos Tropical Trail Rides (Isabela) on the beach. It is not your typical horseback ride. These gaited horses will not bounce you around.

As for renting a motorcycle, I do not know of anyone who does this. Try Charlie Car Rental (local), maybe they have something.

Have fun!
scuba2work is offline  
Oct 14th, 2003, 01:40 PM
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Thinking about the motorcycle... There are a few things you should consider in weighing motorcycle v. rental car. If you're going to be using the motorcycle as your way of exploring the island you're going to spend a lot of time on very hot roads under very intense sun (& under a helmet!). Don't even think of doing it without applying loads of sunscreen every couple of hours. The mountain roads will be cool and shaded, but also very narrow and winding. Scary enough in a car, much less a motorcycle. IMHO, the motorcycle sounds like a nice fantasy, but wouldn't be very pleasant in reality, unless you're already used to biking in those conditions...
PRnative is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2003, 10:37 AM
  #5  
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Thanks so much for the info. I hadn't known about www.portadelsol.com until the suggestion and it had lots of useful info. We'll do a sunset horseback ride in Isabela, and have heeded the advice to rent a car rather than a motorcycle so we can drive the Cordillera Central. I'll do a post upon my return with lessons learned. Thanks!
DCTraveler is offline  
Nov 6th, 2003, 08:51 AM
  #6  
 
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As a frequent traveler to PR, the thought of a motorbike on those roads scares me!

Lots of ugly scenery between the spots that are mentioned. Not sure if you have been there before but PR is definately not a Jamaica, Antigua or Barbados, where the exploring is much more beautiful.

The traffic is horrendous, and they drive like crazy. I usually tell people it is a great place for a short trip, and the beaches and food are the best part.
markover is offline  
Nov 25th, 2003, 12:38 PM
  #7  
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Well, I left with a boyfriend and returned with a fiancé, so I?d say the trip to PR was as romantic and adventurous as we had hoped! As promised, here are some highlights/lowlights that might be helpful to others:

Find time for even a short trip to El Yunque. The vegetation there is like nothing else we saw on the island. Trails are well-marked and many are an easy climb.

Thank you for the sound advice to scrap the motorcycle in favor of a car. We drove from El Yunque to Ponce, the Cordillera Central to Rincon, and the scenic route through Karst country back to San Juan. Even if you?re pretty brave and have lots of cycle experience, you?ll wish you had the safety of a car.

Driving through small villages and rugged terrain, some scenery was breathtaking, other sites were a bit depressing (stray dogs and burned out cars). We?d still recommend this as a great way to truly experience PR. However, take motion sickness medication! Even driving cautiously, the twists and turns can do the same to your stomach.

Rincon, its beautiful beaches, and friendly people were a welcome site after being in the car for two days. Dinners at El Flamboyan and Sandy Beach Inn were excellent. We were touched at the SBI folks? efforts to help celebrate our new engagement. The best entertainment scene was at the beach bar at the Tamboo Tavern. The local band really set the mood and it?s a treat to be able to take a break from your Cuba libre to walk along a moonlit beach.

Horseback riding in Isabella was a highlight. The folks at Tropical Trail Rides were friendly and knowledgeable. We had a really pleasant ride and liked exploring the cliffs at the ocean?s edge on foot.

The Vieques Air Link flight from San Juan?s Isla Grande Airport to Vieques was thrilling yet comfortable. It was a very fast and convenient way to travel. Due to bad weather, we were almost stranded on Vieques for the return, however. Travelers should note that Sunshine Air (and I believe Isla Nena) have the navigational equipment to fly in storms, while VAL does not. It can be a big deal if you?re trying to catch a flight the next day in SJ.

Vieques:
Loved it. Had some trouble with the car rental agency delivering the vehicle late, and without much fuel. The three island gas stations we could find actually ran out of fuel, so don?t let your vehicle get too empty!

Trade Winds was a lovely place to stay. Small rooms, but clean and vibrant. We opted to skip the AC and were very comfortable with a ceiling fan and breezes. Trade Winds has a good restaurant and helpful staff. Their help was critical to locating the Air Sunshine flight off the island in the storm.

No advance reports we read of the biobay tour did it justice. It is truly a memorable experience. Due to the rain, we canceled the kayak tour and elected to go with Sharon on the electric (non-polluting) pontoon at Island Adventures. We benefited from the staff?s scientific introduction to the phenomena, and we?re glad we went this route. Mark even stopped the bus to pick wild jasmine and ylang-ylang for us to smell.

Despite everyone?s recommendations, Blue Beach had murky water for snorkeling when we were there. We found a great reef at Gringo Beach, however. Even though it was drizzling, we were still able to see a lot.

The biggest lowlight on Vieques was when the waitress at Amapola tried to rip us off by adding a larger gratuity to our bill than was stated on the menu. Perhaps embarrassed that she was caught, she declared very loudly in front of other patrons that the amount is rounded up the nearest quarter, but that she?d be happy to give us a quarter. (Certainly adding an extra 5% to an already overpriced celebration dinner/drinks is much more than a quarter.) Her poor treatment of the mistake was more disappointing than the actual error itself.

We ended the trip with a scenic walk in OSJ and a fantastic dinner at the Picoteo tapas bar in Hotel El Convento. We had no trouble with the $17.50 cabs from LMM airport to OSJ, and found the best rental car prices at Target. Enjoy!
DCTraveler is offline  
Nov 25th, 2003, 12:56 PM
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Thanks for the detailed trip report! It's good to hear back from the people we've corresponded with. It sounds like your trip was a success and you saw the real Puerto Rico. Where did you stay in San Juan and how was it? Glad you enjoyed the island and congratulations on your engagement! (It sounds like you got some of the recent bad rains, but perhaps not the worst of it).
PRnative is offline  
Nov 25th, 2003, 02:06 PM
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I can not say enough: GO TO CULEBRA. I was in PR for 1 week and made the most of it...went to Culebra for a day...talk about a beautiful island and fantastic beach. We also took day trips to Luquio (and please forgive my spelling..), El Yunque (bring your stamina for the hike back up), and Gilligans Island (wow...) There is SO much to do on Puerto Rico. Enjoy!
dgibber123 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2003, 10:02 AM
  #10  
 
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DCTraveler,

Thank you very much for the report. It's nice to see posters who ask questions and come back and tell us how their trip went. I agree with you on the Vieques bio bay - it is one of the most spectacular things I have seen.

I'm gearing up for a short 5-day jaunt in Puerto Rico next month. Where did you stay in the Rincon area? What beach did you like best in Rincon? Also, do you know how to ride or was the ride in Isabela your first time (it sounds like a fun activity, but I've never been on a horse).

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Dec 9th, 2003, 09:40 AM
  #11  
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PRNative ? We stayed in the Hotel Milano in OSJ. At $95, it was the most affordable hotel we could find that was centrally-located, but the rooms were unremarkable, typical hotel rooms. The restaurant on the roof smelled so badly of mildew that we couldn?t stand to be there.

Mariarosa ? In Rincon, we stayed at the Sandy Beach Inn. We were traveling on a budget, so this place caught our eye. The room was nothing special, and the fridge didn't work, but it was clean enough. The restaurant was quite good, though. We went to the beach right by Calypso Tropical Café just south of the Lighthouse. (I believe it was called Maria's?) We went there because we wanted to watch the surfers. We swam, but it was a bit too rough and we kept getting drawn to the rocks toward the south. I?ve heard the beaches south of town are calmer for swimming, but we did not visit them.

Don?t skip the horseback ride if it interests you! Only two of us in our group had any experience, but the beginners were fine. The guide leads you at a gentle pace, and will ask your experience level to pair you with a suitable horse. It's really a fun day, even if you are a bit sore afterward. Have fun!
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