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julies Aug 13th, 2008 07:37 AM

Has anyone been unhappy about making a choice to visit Puerto Rico?
It's a place I am contemplating visiting this winter. We're middle-aged, low key nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts who also enjoy the flavor and ambience of historical places. We'd be planning visits to parts of the island with unique flora and fauna and/or with opportunities for active outdoor pusuits. Historic areas would also be on our agenda.

I'm just wondering if anyone who is similar to us was less than thrilled with a visit to the island. Thanks.

RoamsAround Aug 13th, 2008 08:30 AM

Puerto Rico is a unique island that is often overlooked by many visitors to the Caribbean, in part, because, it is a major airline hub and used as a gateway to the smaller island.

The truth is Puerto Rico has just about eveything on your short list and then some. The island has rainforests, hiking, lots of flora and fauna, some wonderful beaches, lots of historical places including old fortresses, buildings and towns. There's every type of outdoor activity imaginable (except snow sports) such as sailing, glof, water skiing, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, deep sea fishing, etc.

Because of the island's size you can stay at hotels and/or resorts in the midst of San Juan where you have access to all of the above activities as well as the glitz and glitter of city life or you can stay in outlying areas and have the same peace and tranquility that you find on some of the remotest islands in the Caribbean or you can find areas that have any combination of the above.

In short Puerto Rico is one of the very few islands that "may have it all".

If you took a survey I'm sure you'll find people who visited PR but didn't like it but you'll probably find a whole lot more who thoroughly enjoyed their visit. That holds true for every destination. No place is perfect for everyone.

Reisender Aug 13th, 2008 10:54 AM

After using PR as a transit point several times we decided to spend a couple of days pre-cruise there and see what else there was besides old San Juan (which is great by the way). Well we had a great time and both agree that we must return and explore more on an extended holiday. It is very nice.

highflyer Aug 13th, 2008 12:58 PM

I think you'd like PR based on your interests and also consider taking the ferry onto Vieques and or Culebra.

We're making a return visit this winter and have similar tastes to yours.

girlonthego Aug 13th, 2008 04:15 PM

I have been to PR 4 times. 3 times in the 1980's and just last spring 2007.
Puerto Rico has historical places to visit, the Rain Forest, and also the islands of Vieques and Cuelbra.
On our last visit, our daughter (teen)had been bit by a spider here in Virginia before we left. She had an infection and was on antibiotics. Her leg had some swelling while we were there and so we took it easy and did not do all the sightseeing we had planned. We stayed close to our hotel, The Caribe Hilton which was a very pleasant stay. We have always stayed here and like the private beach, and also the close proximity (short cab rides) to San Juan and the Condado area. The Condado has more action, but the water is very rough for swimming. We had dinner at the Marriott on the Condado and it was very nice. We also had dinner at the El San Juan in Isle Verde and it looked very nice.

Puerto Rico is not my favorite island. I was not crazy about it, but we were sort of stuck at the hotel and I have a sister in law there who is not that friendly. So, that may have tainted our view of the island in general. That being said, you can do many things there like go to Old San Juan and sightsee, go to the Condado and have dinner, go to the Rain Forest, etc... All places have their good and bad. Most people we encountered were very friendly and nice.

caribtraveler Aug 13th, 2008 05:11 PM

Julies: Overall, we didn't love PR but we enjoyed ourselves. 2 of the things we did love were Old San Juan and the Fort (el Morro) and our dinners (great restaurants). Why didn't we love it? Probably because we went high season and stayed in busy San Juan.

julies Aug 13th, 2008 06:21 PM

Thanks. Your replies have been interesting and varied. It's interesting how different people have different perceptions about the same locale, but that's logical because we all have different tastes and likes. You've given me food for thought.

Callaloo Aug 14th, 2008 03:40 AM

My only regret about visiting Puerto Rico is that I waited so long to do anything but pass through SJU enroute to other locales. We will be making our third planned visit early next year (other visits were unplanned, courtesy of airline delays...).

While PR is not my favorite Caribbean island, we enjoy it a great deal and have only begun to scratch the surface. We've stayed in San Juan proper (a real, busy, congested city but with tons of beautiful historic buildings and sites, great restaurants, and pretty beaches to boot), Fajardo (a jumping off point to El Yunque, bioluminescent bays, and Culebra and Vieques) and will be in Rincon this coming winter.

As Caribbean islands go, Puerto Rico does have it all ... which can be too much if you're not prepared.

JD5874 Aug 14th, 2008 04:28 PM

We just got back from Puerto Rico last Monday after a 12 stay. It was our first trip to PR. We stayed in Condado for half the trip and Rincon for the second half. Rincon was definitely our favorite because it was more rural and less "hustle and bustle". Snorkeling is excellent at Tres Palms beach also known as "steps" beach. The people are very pleasant and helpful everywhere we went. We traveled all over the island by car which is the way to go if you will be there for any length of time.

There is a lot to do there if you are adventurous. You can go hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, gambling, and lots of other things.

If you decide to go, you should visit the forts in old town San Juan and at least see the old town area. I'm glad we stayed in San Juan but would probably not stay there again on another trip just because of the crowds. We prefer to see parts of areas that most visitors don't go to and stay in quieter areas like Rincon. I can't say enough about how pleasant the Rincon area was.

I'm sure you will enjoy the trip if you decide to go.

RayInPR Aug 14th, 2008 05:17 PM

Puerto Rico offers all kinds of activities no matter what your interests are. Hiking, snorkeling, scuba, fishing, beaches, shopping, art, history, restaurants, ziplines, boating, just to name a few.

Take a look at our travel blog -- -- for more ideas of how to spend your time on the island.

jacketwatch Aug 15th, 2008 10:55 AM

I would recommend it and in fact have in the past. We spent a week there some yrs. ago and three days recently. You have the rainforest for natural beauty and hiking, lots of beaches and alot of history as well. You will love the shops and restaurants in Old San Juan and recently the people were rated 2nd. happiest of any country. Denmark was 1st I think. :-)

SAnParis2 Aug 15th, 2008 03:49 PM

PR is one of my favorite, seemingly overlooked destinations.

ishkribbl Aug 15th, 2008 05:08 PM

We are similar to you in age and vacation style and enjoyed a trip to PR in Feb.'07 of two days in SJ (forts, Old Town) and a week in Culebra- snorkeling, exploring, hiking and relaxing. It was a great trip- go, you'll like it!

Juldie Aug 16th, 2008 06:30 PM

We were in PR 3 years ago and enjoyed the variety if offered and the people. We drove and saw a a lot, went to Vieques to see the bioluminescent Bay and a highlight was the high speed ferry to Culebra snorkeling.

We are going back in January for a short stay because I have a free ticket on Air Tran. We are planning on spending a couple of nights this time on Culebra.

ishkribbl, where did you stay on Culebra?

ishkribbl Aug 17th, 2008 06:32 AM

We stayed at Villa Boheme which was very conveniently located right on the harbour within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and a bakery. Although not fancy, it was very comfortable, had a kitchenette and a little balcony with a very nice view since it hung out over the water. We really liked it. The unit we had was upstairs and I think it was #11. Take a look at their website. Other tips: we used Flamenco Air and would recommend them, we rented a jeep from Carlos and were pleased and took a great snorkel trip with Taz Hamrick. Our favorite beach was Zoni and there is good "walk in" snorkeling at Melones. Our favorite places to eat were Juanita Bananas, Mamacita's and White Sands at Club Seaborne. We got a lot of advice and information from the (think that is right) website and forum. Happy travels!

Juldie Aug 17th, 2008 06:28 PM

ishkribbl: I am sorry to highjack julies' post here. I do appreciate your suggestions and will check it out. I ideally would prefer to stay directly on a beach as opposed to in town but I haven't discovered too many options.

I think we are planning on taking the ferry. Hopefully the hight speed one still exists. Melones for walk in snorkeling sounds like a great tip. Thanks so much.

mahobaygirl Aug 18th, 2008 02:14 AM

The high speed ferry has not operated for a couple of years now!! Can fly pretty cheaply from Fajardo, if you do not want the 1 1/2 hour ferry ride!

prmaestra Aug 18th, 2008 10:48 AM

I just returned from Puerto Rico and if you really truly want to do and see an exceptional site that many tourist bypass for a number of reasons please read on. The Rio Camuy Cave Park. The expedition takes about and hour and a half, try to do the 2:00 tour since this is the only time they take visitors to the Spiral Sinkhole – wear comfortable shoes and take plenty of film – I personally took close to 150 shots and was disappointed that I didn’t take my video camera, although the experience alone is one you will not forget. Also the Arecibo Lighthouse has been renovated, last time I was there it was a work in progress but now, it houses a historical timeline of the history of Puerto Rico. Another Town with tremendous history is Ponce and horseback riding in Yauco. Of course the Yunque Rain Forest is a natural wonder an the Luquillo beach is magnificent. Other than the rain forest and the Luquillo beach, these sites are a few hours away from San Juan so very few visitors trek out that far. I go every five years, I was born there and I am still amazed at the taste, smells and sounds of the island. Don’t hesitate to buy from the roadside stands, it is the locals equivalent of a fast food establishment but oh, the taste. If you are unable to further than San Juan then visit the Museums – especially th Museum of the Americas - Museo de las Americas, Cuartel de Ballaja-Viejo San Juan – 787-5052. The building itself is historical which is why they can’t legally change the name – they feature a special gallery and then they have the year round galleries in the upper floor, then plan on having lunch or dinner at Café El Punto, I happened to run across this restaurant while shoppin and it’s behind the store – almost like a pipers alley of stores on both sides that leads you to some great food and I know I’ll get slack for recommending the Mojito for a refreshing alcoholic drink over the Pina Colado but hey I always have a Pina and was ready for a change – it was reeeeeeeelly great. I had to reply to your request because I wanted to share with you what I experienced first hand and at the age of 57 and a teacher it is in my nature to share the positive because I can truly say (not because I am Puerto Rican) my only displeasure was that I didn’t have enough time to do everything I had planned but I hope to return and finish my pilgrimage – please enjoy your visit and if you are driving, just be patient when you get directions – I got lost several times but even that journey proved to be exciting. Adios – Vaya con Dios - [email protected]

ejcrowe Aug 18th, 2008 12:14 PM

PR really is that rare island that offers a little of everything: history, culture, nightlife, beaches, rain forest, bio bay, casinos, glitzy resorts, charming B&Bs, get-away-from-everything places as well as see-and-be-seen crowds.

Consider spending at least one night in Old San Juan to see the forts, museums, and stunning architecture. To give you a real sense of place, you can't beat El Convento hotel, located in a great spot to walk all around Old San Juan.

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