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txtravelgirl Apr 22nd, 2013 10:27 AM

Need some guidance with my Puerto Rican vacation!
Hi Everyone! I am planning my first weeklong trip to PR this upcoming fall and need some guidance from locals and/or experienced PR travelers.

My husband and I will be traveling to celebrate his return from a year overseas and a renewal of our wedding vows. We have very different travel tastes which is why this will be our first vacation together without children. He is the consummate beach bum, and I tend to hate the water unless its a nice clean pool. We both love the nightlife, dancing and bar scene and would like to incorporate that into our trip. Im an avid photobug and want to walk away with tons of pictures. Im also a history buff, so a little of the touristy scene is a must. We are planning to hit Vieques at the end of our week to visit the Bio Bay ( it coincides nicelt with the right moon phase) and I figure this will be the best place to accommodate my husband's love of the beach ( and where I can conquer some of my water issues). This is also where I thought we should renew our vows.

Here are some questions:

While on the island of PR, we want to what the locals where is a good place to stay? WE would also like to head inland and see the rainforest and hike, but again, we want the version that takes us off the beaten track. We don't mind driving, our Spanish is decent and we like adventure. we are not opposed to spend several nights in different locations Suggest away!

Once we get to Vieques, Id like recommendations on what little towns are best to stay in...we want to walk to place, eat local, shop local. Of course we would love secluded, but aren't opposed to city center.

The biggest goal is to have fun, experience the local flavor and be together. Any help or suggestions would be wonderful!

coqui_07 Apr 30th, 2013 06:52 AM

If you are looking for nightlife, bars etc. then San Juan will be the place to stay. Look at the Condado area.

San Juan is also a decent base to see the rest of the island by car plus it has Old San Juan for the history :o)

If you want a more local type spot to stay, then maybe Rincon on the west cost but this is way more laid back than San Juan

Check out this article on the Regions of Puerto Rico

Some mosts:
Old San Juan - 2 forts, cathedral, plenty of cool plazas and places to walk

Old San Juan, Condado - great restaurants

El Yunque if you get there early (7am) then you will miss most of the tourist buses - Big Tree Tail takes you to La MIna Falls and then you could trek Mt Britton Trail after

Also could check out Luquillo beach and the roadside kiosks just further east of El Yunque

Guavate - south of San Juan is a great spot for lunch on a weekend - specialty Lechon (whole roasted pig). Lechoneras are also open midweek but it is more lively on weekends and holidays - plan to get there before noon to avoid traffic jams

Vieques / Culevra for awesone beaches Vieques as the bonus of the biobay

Adventure - there are now plenty of tour companies offering ziplines, river tubing, caving etc.. Toroverde is a popular zipline tour

West coast has some quieter towns and great coastal views with Cabo Rojo lighthouse and Rincon Lighthouse

Hope that helps

gailw May 2nd, 2013 01:35 PM

We're researching a possible trip to Puerto Rico this coming winter (late Jan/early Feb). I've looked at the PR tourist website. We're thinking of a few days in old San Juan, then moving to another town. San German looks interesting. We like staying in-town and being able to walk around architecturally interesting neighborhoods, walk to cafes/restaurants, local grocerias, etc. Does San German have enough to offer to stay there for a few days? I also wonder if we stay in Old SJ, will we be inundated by cruise ship hordes no matter where we stay?

amer_can May 2nd, 2013 02:26 PM

We weren't inundated and we were right across the street from the tour ship docks at the Old San Juan Best Western..Great location for walking and going to eat..Wanted El Convento but it was booked and so we only had lunch there..Wine and Gaspacho(sp) good had 2 bowls.Wasn't sorry at all with out accom.Shuttles run around OSJ if you get tired and Berlin Restaurant is very nice..up by the Fort..

coqui_07 May 3rd, 2013 08:25 AM


Rather than San German what about Rincon and use that as a base on the west coast. Then travel to places like San German, Cabo Rojo, Guanica etc

coqui_07 May 3rd, 2013 08:27 AM

Forgot to say,

I have never felt overwhelmed in OSJ when ships are in port, plus they have the added advantage that more local artisans will probly be displaying their work.

You can also google 'San Juan ships in port calendar; to find sites that will list how many ships will be docked on a particular day

gailw May 3rd, 2013 09:46 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I don't really enjoy crowds so it's helpful to know that, for whatever reason, the net result of a docked cruise ship isn't shoulder-to-shoulder tourists. I wouldn't have checked out the Best Western site without your suggestion, Amercan, so thanks for the tip. I'll look later today. My first inclination was to find a small hotel or inn and I was initially interested in El Convento also. Since we're just starting our research, all suggestions on places to stay will be followed up.
Since my first trip to Spain, I've enjoyed Spanish architecture, culture and the language. I took a couple of years of Spanish (as a late-middle-aged adult) at a local college and one of the teaching tools was a video series which included a trip to a young girl's grandmother in San German, which looked very picturesque in the video, hence my interest. I'll look up Rincon and see what that offers, thanks, Coqui. I wonder why you suggest Rincon in particular -- do you think it has more in the way of restaurants, interesting architecture, etc.?
We're open to all suggestions. Thanks very much.

DebitNM May 12th, 2013 07:22 AM


feetsinmotion May 18th, 2013 09:21 PM

We just got back from a week in SJ and a few days in Vieques.
We ended up liking it all - from what you say about your tastes, i think that you'll love El Convento in SJ - it's a little pricey, but if you can afford it, go for it! It's very romantic, quaint, and since you've been to Spain, it'll remind you of it. In fact I thought that SJ reminded me a little of Madrid or Valencia. Good night life, people we encountered were invariably friendly, as long as you started with a 'hola' rather than ' do you speak english?'. :) Check out the Nuyorican for salsa (go late, or early and get a crash crouse) or some of the beach hotels - which actually had some pretty darn good cover bands and DJs. We stayed at the SJ Marriot which had a cool night club - with lots of locals...
Vieques is now second on my list of places to retire to. It's a neat island, VERY caribbean - only one big hotel (the W) no stop lights. Only two gas stations. Wild horses running around. Iguanas. Awesome beaches, (check out Blue and Secret and Red beaches). Good outdoor stuff like diving, good places to snorkel. However, It would be uncomfortable for novice/unadventurous tourists at night. But if you were intrepid, some Super Local Flavor can be found in the bars at Isabella Segunda at night, when the local salsa bands crank up their amps and you can hear them a few blocks way. Hang out at Esperanza in the afternoon into evening either Duffys or Bananas and sip frosty blended drinks and watch the sunset at the waterfront, look for Jimmy Buffer smile at the local kids who blast music from their hoochie mobiles. If you stay long enough, the DJ will start up across the street in the beachshack over the water where real locals will show up to dance. Hey - that's Local.
BioBay was the most memorable, unique thing of the trip, and is one of the coolest things I've ever done in any trip. Go with VAC, clear kayaks - book the 9pm trip - it'll be uncrowded. The dinoflagellates are bright! much brighter than the one in Fajardo. And it's not mobbed like Fajardo, since there are no day trippers.
If you have a chance though, go to Culebra. Only about 2500 people live there. You can easily do a daytrip with puddlejumpers (AIrFlamencoDOTnet) check out Culebra Island Adventures and see Flamenco beach (wow!) and snorkel Safely and see turtles. Culebra is now #1 on my list of places to retire. Check out tripadv!sorDOTcom for reviews.

eastenderusvi May 19th, 2013 08:18 AM

I am with feets. El Convento is a very cool destination. Resting in the roof top pool at the end of the day is wonderful. And Old San Juan does remind you of Spain rather than the Caribbean. Great restaurants from Puerto Rican to French, lively to staid. Lots of history and culture.

gailw May 20th, 2013 06:02 PM

I'm interested in the Gallery Inn and think we'd be happy staying there for about 4-5 days. But I'm having a lot of trouble finding another town/small inn to go to for another 4-5 days. Each hotel/b&b/inn/parador I've checked out does not look very appealing. We're not drinkers and do not want to stay at a large hotel or an all-inclusive resort type of place. We'd like something with a little character but no mold. I hope I don't sound arrogant, but there must be a place to stay outside San Juan that would be interesting and well-kept. About $200 per night would be about my upper limit. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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