Help with first trip to Puerto Rico

Old Sep 8th, 2009, 04:36 PM
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Help with first trip to Puerto Rico

We're looking into going to Puerto Rico (from Philly) leaving here on 12/25/09 and returning on 12/30/09? Is this a good time to go or is it too busy there with holiday?

Being our first trip we're not sure where we should fly into and stay, and what a 5-night recommended trip should consist of. A little about us:

We're in our early 50s
A walk on the beach is fine but we don't sunbath or swim in the ocean
We like adventure like zip lining or hiking...
Like people watching and seeing the interesting towns/buildings
We like good food of course
Some shopping (more for me than him)

What isn't important to us is visiting museums, loud night life/partying or snorkeling.

We do like to go off the beaten path and explore on our own so I assume it's best we rent a car. We're not into crowds and places with lots of kids.

Your suggestions are welcome since we know nothing about Puerto Rico. So, tell us what your recommendations would be for a fun, yet relaxing 5 night stay to see the most we can in that time period. Recommended hotels would be helpful as well.

We don't have a budget for this trip but would like to keep it as reasonable as possible.

Thanks in advance. If you need more info, please let me know.

D
djkkk is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2009, 05:14 AM
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Puerto Rico is pretty expensive at the holidays, so expect sticker shock. I find that hotel prices in San Juan are a little too high for the quality you get in most hotels, but if you like to get off the beaten path, I would suggest staying in a hotel outside of San Juan, perhaps in the Embassy Suites in Rio Mar. It's on the beach but west of town and is generally reasonably priced. You could easily get back into San Juan for shopping and dining. Or you could find a hotel east of San Juan, closer to El Yunque where the island's best hiking is.

Be aware that many hotels in San Juan charge resort fees on top of high rates, and almost all hotels in and around San Juan charge for parking (even the beach resorts along the northeast coast).

There are also hotels all across the island that will take you farther off the beaten path. There are some places to hike in the southwest as well. Parking is generally free once you get away from San Juan and the north coast.

The difficulty of traveling over the holidays is that most resorts have a minimum stay requirement. Hotels won't, but they do jack up their rates.

There aren't any zip lines in Puerto Rico, but St. Lucia would have more of what you're looking for. Would you ever consider going there? It's a little harder to go off on your own, but it's a beautiful island.
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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 05:19 AM
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For a nice hotel on a nice stretch of beach try the Intercontinental. Its a short cab ride to town of if you have a car then its fine really. There is nice shopping in old San Juan and that includes some outlet stores. Good place to people watch too. There is also a mall, the mall of the Americas for you to explore. I don't know about zip lining but there is a rain forest called El Yunque and that great to walk around in. PR has some nice restaurants too. In the IC hotel is an Italian place named after the man who created fettucini Alfredo which we found to be very good. In OSJ a popular place is Dragonfly and again we found this place to be quite good as well. We've been to PR twice and always liked it. Cheers, Larry
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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 05:21 AM
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I agree with Doug about the prices. The hotel taxes are already high and if there is a holiday surcharge then expect to pay quite a bit. Our two ningt stay at the IC in early summer of 2008 was about $550.00.
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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 06:01 AM
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I'm not sure if the San Juan area is right for you given that you do not want crowds, kids and are not interested in nightlife. The hotels in San Juan will be crowded and there will be quite a few children. Some of the hotels are particularly noted for nightlife and many have casinos. A smaller hotel or inn away from San Juan might be more suitable to your needs. You may want to start by looking at the website: http://www.puertoricosmallhotels.com/. It is a good source of information about small hotels/inns throughout the island.

If you want to stay in the metro area, then you may be better off in Old San Juan. El Convento is a very nice hotel.
tom42 is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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You are traveling at the most crowded and expensive time of the year (to go anywhere--not just PR).
for some great zip lines and exploring, look into Costa Rica or Mexico.
schmerl is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2009, 11:39 AM
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Thanks everyone. Unfortunately or fortunately (however you look at it), this is the time my husband's place of business has a mandatory close-down and we always wanted to go away for the holidays and escape to a warmer climate.

We're not set on PR so I may look into other options as well.
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Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:03 AM
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Re-reading your original post, I really do think Old San Juan has a lot of what you are looking for. There will be less children at the hotel (since the hotels in Old San Juan are not on a beach and are smaller than the resort hotels). It is definitely an interesting city with a lot of history, it would be good for people watching,it has a lot of good restaurants and it has some shopping. You will need to rent a car to get out to other parts of the island for some hiking and exploring.
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Old Sep 14th, 2009, 06:30 AM
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I agree with Tom's comments. I'd also consider splitting your stay between Old San Juan and another hotel/resort/B&B near El Yunque.

Old San Juan is lovely, check out El Morro
http://www.nps.gov/saju/index.htm

Hiking in El Yunque
http://www.elyunque.com/about.html

You might also consider the biobay in Fajardo
http://www.elyunque.com/biolbay.html

Split your stay according to your flights (arrive late stay in OSJ to begin with ..especially if you have an later flight home as travel time from El Yunque to airport is about an hour.
Also look at hotel prices over your dates as the holiday dates may cost significantly more.
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 10:58 AM
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When booking your lodging make sure what tax and other fees may be charged. The oficial lodging tax for Puerto Rico is 7% for small properties, 9% and 11% for resorts with casino. Anything above this will be a resort fee imposed by the property. I agree with the previous posting on spending a few days in San Juan and the rest of your stay outside the city.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 06:24 AM
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I would also agree about splitting the stay between San Juan and somewhere outside the city except for the fact that it looks like it is a relatively short trip - they are flying out on Dec 25 and returning on Dec 30 so they only have 5 days. WIth that amount of time, I think they might be better off situating themselves in Old San Juan and renting a car for a couple of days to explore some of the island.
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