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Four day trip to Puerto Rico -- itinerary help please

Four day trip to Puerto Rico -- itinerary help please

May 29th, 2010, 02:44 PM
  #1  
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Four day trip to Puerto Rico -- itinerary help please

My 15 year old daughter and I will be going to PR in August. We get in on Monday and leave on Friday. We are thinking of a snorkeling trip (or doing it on our own if that is reasonable), a biobay trip, maybe the rain forest, a day at the beach and a day in Old San Juan. From my limited info, we need to do the biobay tour as soon as possible because of the moon. I have many questions and appreciate all advice.

1) We get into San Juan about 3. Should we head out to the Fajardo area right away so we can do the biobay tour the next night. I figure it would be hard to get there that day. Is it worth going to Vieques for the trip or can we do it in the bay near Fajardo? I gave read Vieques is better but is it worth the trip there -- or is it a really fun trip there? Just thinking here -- possibly we could fly directly to VIeques if it isn't too pricey.

2) During the day, perhaps we could snorkel or see the rain forest?

3) Any thoughts on where to stay out there?

4) Biggest question -- should I rent a car to get around. I have read the driving is scary near Fajardo so is there any other way to get to that area? (I drove in Ireland and found it terrifying!!)

5) If you recommend Vieques for the biobay tour should we just stay there that night and sightsee or snorkel or beach there? Again, is another car needed?

6) When we get back to Old San Juan, I thought it might be fun to stay in El Convento. Any experience with that?

Thanks again for any and all information.
burry is offline  
May 29th, 2010, 06:24 PM
  #2  
 
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Wow, you are really ambitious. I lived in PR for 3 years and did not do all that!If you can get a good rate, stay at the El Conquistador in Fajardo. The hotel will arrange transportation from the airport so you wont need a car. It is worth the price. The pools are beautiful, there is a tram down the side of a cliff to a private beach and they have their own islands off the coast where you can snorkel. The hotel will also arrange a trip to Vieques for you for the biolumenescent bay. We went several times...it was always awesome in every moon phase. Spend the night at Vieques (there are several inexpensive Paradors that are all clean and friendly then return to the mainland the next day. You won't need a car there...plenty of taxis will want to drive you around.
You won't need a car in Fajardo or San Juan because all hotels offer transportation to major tourist attractions like the Rain Forest which is only about 30 min from Fajardo. If you do want to rent a car, I don't think the driving was that bad, but I am from NY. Just be aware that PRs turn left or right from any lane on the road. I think it has something to do with losing the road signs during hurricanes so now it's a free for all.
El Convento is the ONLY hotel I would stay at in OSJ. It is very nice and near great restaurants (one at hotel that I always went to), art galleries, shopping and of course, El Morro.
Don't try to do a beach while in OSJ bc you will have to go out by the airport and the beaches there look like Miami. Do the beach at Fajardo/Vieques. Do the history walk in OSJ (do not wear heels...the streets are all coblestone and unless you are born in PR you will break your shoes and possibly an ankle!)One day in OSJ is plaenty unless you are a history buff.
Hope this helps.
Jackie36 is offline  
May 30th, 2010, 08:01 AM
  #3  
 
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We've done everything on your list but it took two trips to PR for a week each time!

We've done the Vieques Biobay twice though as it was fantastic but sorry I can't compare with Fajardo.

There is a biobay trip to Vieques where you don't have to overnight on the island. It's a little pricey but cheaper than flying to Vieques and with you time restraints I'd suggest you do this.
So hire a car and stay first 3 nights in Fajardo or near El Yunque. Beach on arrival (Luquillo or beach at near your hotel). Next day morning in El Yunque and biobay trip in evening.
Next day is snorkeling trip or beach day and check out
Last night in OSJ. Do check out El Morro.

If the moon ONLY allows you to do biobay on your first night I suggest you skip it in case of late arrival. Arriving at 3pm gives you very little time to get to hotel, check in, etc before Biobay tour.
sassy_cat is offline  
May 30th, 2010, 09:07 AM
  #4  
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Thanks to both of you for your responses -- if anyone else has suggestions, please chime in.

Jackie, I was quite excited about El Conquistador until I read a number of negative reviews. What do you think about the resort?

I think we can do the biobay tour the second night. It is still listed as "good" on the calendars. I agree, I don't want to push it if we are delayed.

So, does it make sense to hire a car to the Fajardo area, stay somewhere (possibility El Conquistador -- they pick up at the airport for $74 round trip. I would then like to do monkey island (which includes snorkeling) the next day and a biobay trip that evening -- possibly Fajardo, or maybe Vieques. The next day we could do a beach either on Vieques if we are there or Fajardo area. Then we could head back to Old San Juan with a final day (Thursday) and morning staying in El Convento (or somewhere else). Obviously we are just picking some highlights for this brief tour. I always tell myself there is next time to do more, but it does seem doable to me.

So how would I get from Fajardo to San Juan again? Just hire a taxi from there?

Thanks again,
Burry
burry is offline  
May 30th, 2010, 11:40 AM
  #5  
 
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We've hired a car (you can do one way hire to/from Fajardo) and last time we got a taxi. Prearranged taxis are cheaper. We used Angel and Mary.

Here's my trip report from our last time in Vieques.
http://www.fodors.com/community/cari...ec08jan-09.cfm

For just one night on Vieques I recommend Hectors by the Sea. You can walk from there to the Biobay tour office.
To see the beaches on Vieques you really need a car but for a overnight you could get by with a taxi to Sun Beach. It's walkable from Hectors in daylight if you're up to it!
sassy_cat is offline  
May 30th, 2010, 04:40 PM
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I never heard a bad thing about El Conquistador except that it is very big and can be expensive. Otherwise it's perfect for all that you want to do. Especially the snrkeling and beach...it'd right there.
Def stay at El Convento in OSJ. El Morro is a must see.
Jackie36 is offline  
May 31st, 2010, 05:37 PM
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Thanks to these additional comments especially about Hectors.

I am thinking now of renting a car as it might be handy to just drive staight out to Fajardo. Have you guys driven from San Juan to Fajardo? I wonder what it is like in terms of the actual driving and also leaving around 3:15 or so. I have heard the traffic is just terrible during rush hour.

I definitely plan to see El Morro. El Convento looks fantastic, too, Jackie.

For now, I am thinking of getting to Fajardo on the first day. If possible do a biobay tour that evening in that bay. Then the next day perhaps do a kayaking trip to monkey island which includes some snorkeling (anyone ever done this?). Then I thought we'd take the ferry over to Vieques to do the biobay tour there. The next day we could do a beach day and then head back to San Juan on Wed or Thursday.

I'm not sure what to do with the car if I have it. If we are at El Convento, what is the parking like? Is it hard to drive into Old San Juan?

Thanks, Burry
burry is offline  
Jun 1st, 2010, 05:43 AM
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Whew, just reading your itinerary is making me dizzy! The drive from San Juan to Fajardo is very easy. If I remember correctly (it has been several years since I drove this route), it was basically a straight run on one highway. There could be quite a bit of traffic in the San Juan area at rush hour but I think it would be more between Old San Juan and Isla Verde. If you are renting a car at the airport and heading away from the San Juan area, I think you should be okay (hopefully, someone will correct me if I am wrong on this count). I would not recommend driving in Old San Juan though. If you were doing Fajardo first, I would go back to the airport and drop the car off and take a taxi to Old San Juan. The taxi should be around $20.
tom42 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2010, 06:30 AM
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According to your plan above you won't need the car after you get to Fajardo.. take passenger ferry to Vieques NOT car ferry.

I think it might work better for you if you used a taxi firm.
Angel and Mary are very accommodating (Angel doesn't speak much English) and we were met at the airport as prearranged and dropped in Fajardo at the ferry.

Snorkeling... I haven't read about Monkey Island but google Erin go bragh boat trips. I've not used them yet but they get great reviews.

If you self drive then getting from airport to Fajardo is straightforward but do stick to speed limits and expect the road to be busy. So many tourists get ticketed for speeding! Mapquest suggests it will take under an hour but it took us over an hour and a half during rush hour.

Return the car before your stay in OSJ as Tom advises.
sassy_cat is offline  
Jun 1st, 2010, 10:33 AM
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I'd rent a car... they drive very aggressively there, so watch out, but we stayed 20 min from San Juan, which was well worth it.. and drove to Old San Juan one day, and also El Junque rain forest...
CaribbeanChick is offline  
Jun 1st, 2010, 05:50 PM
  #11  
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Great suggestions -- thanks to all. I wondered about whether to return the car before going to Old San Juan and you guys have confirmed. Sassy cat, thanks for the suggestion for Hector's. It looks great. Did you rent a vehicle there? I know he is near the biobay tour place, but he is about a mile from Esperanza, right? How far a walk would it be to Sun Bay, do you think?

It sounds like it would not be too hard to get to Farjardo (I'll call Angel and Mary to check that out tomorrow), but I wondered if anyone had ever done priceline for a flight from San Juan to Vieques? They are a little too pricey for me and there are some things to see in Farjardo, but it is tempting to think about flying straight to Farjardo.

Thanks!!
burry is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 12:34 PM
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W/that amount of time I would just stay in OSJ. Forget the car & just set up a rain forest trip (your hotel concierge can certainly help w/that). Thing is there is no other reason to go to Fajardo so you'd be spending a lot of your time just for the bio-bay trip. I think your time could be better spent. I've never had trouble driving once I got in & out of San Juan.
SAnParis2 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 01:10 PM
  #13  
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Thanks for the input. Sanparis2, if my husband was going, he would be with you all the way to just stay in OSJ, but my daughter and I are very set on taking the biobay trip. I know it is time and money, but it is what we want to do and is a once in a lifetime experience for us. Given that, can I ask for input on two ideas:

Fly into San Juan, go to the other airport in San Juan (20 - 40 minutes by taxi) and fly directly to Vieques (flights are much cheaper at this airport although I will still try to priceline right out of SJ International). Stay in Vieques for Monday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday night. Go on bio bay tour, go snorkeling, go on beaches there. Then return to OSJ early on Thursday and sightsee in the city staying overnight in OSJ.

Old plan (possibly still viable). Fly into SJ. Take taxi or rental to Fajardo and stay over. If possible do Fajardo biobay tour. See rainforest in a.m. and then take the ferry to Vieques where we would do the biobay tour there and then come back to OSJ as above. I am leaning away from this plan as there is considerably more travel time than the taxi ride and short flight to Vieques. I have heard the ferry is sometimes late, but not too bad. I also have heard you need to buy your tickets about an hour ahead -- more time unless the taxi driver can do it.

I'm just wondering if it will be more relaxing and fun to hang out in Vieques -- I'm a lover of the less crowded, off the beaten path kinds of things anyway.

Thanks again for your thoughts -- the plan is forming.
burry is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 01:14 PM
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Sassy,

Do you still recommend Hector's if we are doing the few day stay in Vieques? It looks like we might need to get a vehicle for the few days especially from there. I suppose we might get away without it if we were right in Esperanza, but maybe that would be limiting to us if we are there a few days. So my question is -- do you think Hector's is worth it? It really does look great to me. Is it hard to drive around in Vieques?
burry is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 01:45 PM
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Hi burry,

We stayed at Hector's for our first trip to Vieques. We really liked it but on our second trip we wanted more space for our family of 4 and rented a house in Esperanza.
Hector is great. He can get a car delivered for you. There is access to a private beach at Hectors which is far from the best beach on Vieques but is cool for walks along the shore before breakfast.

We rented a car for our entire stay on both trips. I think a car is essential for longer than 1 night on Vieques as the beaches are very spread out.

Yes, you can walk to the Malecon from Hectors or even Sun Bay but it is about a mile. The other beaches really require a car.

Here's a link to the catamarran I was suggesting. You don't stay on Vieques you just take the boat trip to and from the mainland for the Biobay tour.
http://www.eastwindcats.com/pages/group_planner.html

We like the ferry and have not had any problems. Just arrive about 30-40 minutes ahead of time. I like boats and I'm not so keen on the tiny planes so I enjoy the hour plus ride.

If I was you I'd try to include Vieques, the Biobay and the beaches there.
sassy_cat is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 06:42 PM
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Thanks, Sassy-cat, I think that will be our plan. Eastwinds is a great concept but I would like to visit Vieques and they are quite expensive when we don't need to avoid staying over on Vieques. I appreciate all your help. If you have any other tips for eating, groceries, etc. for Vieques I would love to know.
burry is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 04:45 AM
  #17  
 
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Your new plan sounds better. What airport are you referring to that is 20-40 minutes from San Juan?
tom42 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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Sassy, one more question-- since we are staying for three nights, we could stay in a little house in Esperanza. I wonder if that would be better than Hectors. Hector's truly sounds great, but we would have more room and be walking distance from the restaurants, store, etc. It sounds like you did both -- what do you think?

tom42, I can't remember the exact name of the old San Juan airport, but can look it up if you don't know what I mean. It is pretty close to OSJ. Flights to Vieques are $100 round trip from there -- almost twice as much from SJ International.
burry is offline  
Jun 5th, 2010, 05:21 AM
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Another question -- it looks like we will be pretty busy our first day with a snorkeling trip, Sun Bay and Esperanza. Are there usually publicas around Esperanza or could we possibly catch one the next morning to to to and visit Isabel Segunda, rent a car and explore around? The question is really how difficult is it to get to Isabel Segunda from Esperanza with taxis or publicos?
burry is offline  
Jun 5th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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burry, If you can find a little house you're happy with then I'd choose that option especially if it's cheaper

We enjoyed the pool at Hectors and we didn't have one when we rented a house but for us space was the key issue. The choice between a two- bedroomed house versus a basically one room casita at Hector's was easy.

Publicos are easy to find in Isabel Segunda near the ferry terminal but we didn't see any in Esperanza.
I think you'd either need to rent a car OR make prior arrangements with a taxi.
If you're staying in a house in Esperanza some car rentals will arrange to bring the car to your house when you want it. I think we used Alan last time and that was our arrangement. we just signed the paperwork at the house. Then we met with the agent near the ferry to drop the car off.

Both times we've been we had a car for our entire stay.
sassy_cat is offline  

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