Peuerto Rico

Sep 21st, 2010, 02:39 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 48
Peuerto Rico

We are stumped! Going to spend a Saturday to Saturday vacation in Puerto Rico in February. Had planned on flying into San Juan on a Saturday, finding inexpensive lodging in San Juan Old Town - staying a day or so then returning to the airport and picking up a car and driving to what we thought would be a good home base in Ponce. No cheap lodgings apparently available in San Juan Old Town - apparently not many lodgings available at all in Ponce. Our guide books are of little help. If we want to spend a day or so in the Old Town In San Juan then establish a "home base" to see the rest of Puerto Rico - what is the best way of doing this? We are experienced European travelers but, I am afraid, rather "clueless" when it comes to the Caribbean/Puerto Rico. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.
Richarda is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 07:23 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 154
Hi

You could spend first few days staying around San Juan - look at accommodation in the Condado / Isla Verde areas

From here you can take a taxi or even the bus into Old San Juan and spend a day exploring the forts, plazas, churches, museums, restaurants etc...

Then outside of San Juan (with a car) you can check out El YUnque rainforest, Luquillo beach (+ the roadside kiosks) and a Bio bay trip at Fajardo (or evening boat trip to the Vieques one)

Guavate is an interesting town to visit on a weekend - very popular with local families & tourists for lunch - the area is famous for roast pig - it gets very busy so plan on getting there before noon

If you want to see more of the island, then spend a few days on the west coast - somewhere like Rincon, Cabo Rojo. I have read good reviews for the English Rose B&B and Lemon Tree both in Rincon.

West side has quieter beaches, small towns, lighthouses etc.

Check out http://www.visit-the-coqui.com for more daytrip ideas etc..

Hope that helps
coqui_07 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 08:20 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 4,009
Ponce is not your best destination town, frankly.

coqui provided great hints for the Fajardo area and you can certainly stay there.

However, our vote is (hands down) either Isabela or Rincon. Rincon places you half way between Isabela and Cabo Rojo, which is certainly worth the trip.

We have been to Puerto Rico many times and return to the West coast most often.
Continental_Drifter is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 07:00 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 2
We just planned and booked a Saturday to Saturday Puerto Rico Vacation for this fall.

We got a really great airfare/hotel deal on www.CheapCaribbean.com and are staying for 4 nights (checking out Wednesday) at one of the big oceanfront resorts in San Juan -- we are staying at the Caribe Hilton, but others look equally nice like the Intercontinental, Marriott Stella Maris (sp), Wyndham, etc.

We are renting a car (very reasonable on Orbitz) to explore the rainforest, the caves, old San Juan, and the island in general and so we can get out of the resort and have more dining options and enjoy the "local vibe". We will probably do morning excursions, stop for lunch, and relax by the private beach or pool at the resort in the afternoons.

On Wednesday we are turning our rental car in, taking a short cab ride to Isla Grande Airport and taking the 30 minute inexpensive flight to Vieques with Seaborne Airlines.

Vieques is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous, have gorgeous beaches, and be one of the last unspoiled places in the Caribbean (due to the US Navy occupying most of the island until 2003). So tourism is now picking up and the island has been rated as a top destination by Travel & Leisure and other renowned travel magazines, etc. We have been reading about Vieques and wanting to go for the past 10 years. Oh and Vieques has the bioluminescent bay which, is supposed to be the best in the world and going on a tour and swimming at night is supposed to be one of those "most memorable lifetime experiences" . I am hoping to add it right next to the sunrise balloon ride we did in Cappadocia, Turkey on our honeymoon as one of the best experiences while traveling

We will rent a jeep on Vieques and explore all of the gorgeous beaches, do the biobay tour and just enjoy the beautiful laid back island and the 2 towns of Esperanza and Isabel Segunda.

On Saturday morning we will take the 9AM short flight from Vieques back to the Puerto Rico main island (back to the Isla Grande airport because flying in and out of here is half the price as SJU)and take the 15 minute $15 taxi ride to the main airport for our flight home.

Note: There is also a $4 round trip ferry to Vieques but we decided that it would take alot longer and weren't sure where we were going to drop off our car near there -- so the flight from Isla Grande made more sense to us. We did consider the ferry going and the flight back - but decided to spend the extra few dollars and have less hassle on our vacation.

It is our first time going to Puerto Rico - we hear it is a beautiful place -- I hope our research helps with your travel plans!
mystic77 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 08:13 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
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mystic, sounds like a great trip, can I come too?

Please write a trip report especially on the Vieques beaches.
sassy_cat is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 08:32 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Great plan - One cautionary item is that you should not underestimate the driving time and time to wait at Las Cuevas Camuy.

The Camuy Caves are terrific, but consider these items:
1. They have an odd "will call" process once you arrive and there was a randomness about the order in which you get to enter.
2. If it rains - and I mean at all - the caves flood and you will not be permitted to enter. Check the weather and try for an early morning after a day or two without rain.

Also - the bays don't bioluminesce as well on full-moon moonlit nights, so it's better if it's overcast or just a sliver of moon for that night.

Other than that, your plans look great. Have fun!

BTW - The ferry at Fajardo is a reasonable option and you can take the car if you decide to. However, it's first come first served on the car ferry, so best to fly or go without. You've made a wise choice, time-wise.

Don't forget to write!
Continental_Drifter is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 08:46 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 2
Thanks so much for the insider tips about the caves! -- I've only looked into them briefly, just to know that it may be something to see.

We checked to moon schedule and it looks like we are going to be there right after a new moon so it will be a great time for the biobay tour

Can I ask an opinion -- it sounds like we definitely need a jeep on Vieques to get to the beaches -- but how about the main island if we are touring around -- should we get more than a compact car? Thanks!!
mystic77 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 05:53 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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You probably will want a Jeep on Vieques, just because it's fun. Keep in mind that there will not be anywhere in a Jeep to lock valuables, not that I'd recommend trusting valuables in a car anyway. Vieques has great snorkeling, so if you're beach/snorkel people, ensure that you have a really great drypack for your cell phone, wallet and passports if you take them. Vieques is very safe and I can't recall hearing of any incidents, but I don't recommend leaving stuff on the beach while snorkeling anywhere.

As to the compact on the main island, you'll be fine in a compact. No worries there! The only thing to consider is the number of squirrels you might need in hilly/mountainous areas. You will encounter some hills on the way to Camuy, but it's not bad and four squirrels will make it.
Continental_Drifter is offline  
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