Puerto Rico Trip Report

Jan 29th, 2006, 06:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 40
Puerto Rico Trip Report

My husband and I went to Puerto Rico for a week around christmas, and I finally got around to posting a report on our impression of the island.

What surprised both of us about PR was how much like the United States it was. This was good in the sense that we felt extremely safe, the roads were great, water and food is safe to consume etc, but the downside was the endless fast food restaurants and the strip malls that we saw everywhere.

We traveled around too much during our week there, and in retrospect I think it would have been better if we had spent a litte more time in San Juan and the rest of our time visiting Vieques and Culebra (Culebra we unfortunately didn't get a chance to see).

We flew via Jetblue into the San Juan, and stayed at the Marriott Isla Verde. The hotel had decent rooms, but the lobby was frankly tacky, and the casino wasn't very impressive either. Isla Verde itself had absolutely no character whatsoever. And again there was too much traffic and too many fast food restaurants here. The beaches here were nice though, and quite clean and unpopulated.

Old San Juan, which is a 10-15 drive away from Isla Verde is where we spent what little time we had in San Juan. The architecture is very nicely preserved, and the restaurants here were much better than in the Isla Verde area. If my husband and I were to visit San Juan again, we would probably stay at the hotel El Convento. We had lunch there and were impressed by how nicely they have updated it into a hotel.

The next day we drove west to the El Yunque national forest to go hiking. There were lots of people at the visitor information center below, learning about the eco-system of tropical rainforests etc., but hardly any people on the trails. The trails were well maintained, but muddy. That night we stayed in Fajardo at the Fajardo Inn so we could take the first ferry into Vieques. We were planning on taking our rental car on the ferry into Fajardo, but since we didn't have reservations for this, we had to leave our car in a lot by the ferry terminal.

In Vieques we ended up renting a scooter, since all the cars on the island were rented out. We did take the scooter onto several unpaved roads, but luckily didn't end up with a flat tire, probably in part because my husband has a motorcycle at home. We met another tourist who skid on sand while on his scooter, and ended up with a nasty cut. In Vieques we stayed at the Martineau which we were not very impressed by. The staff was a little too pushy and the resort itself had a very country club, golf course look and feel that contrasted with the rustic feel of the island. The food here was also ridiculously expensive and not particularly good. I think we would have preferred to stay somewhere smaller. We were only in Vieques for 3 days, but at least 4 days would have been better. The beaches in Vieques weren't fabulous in my opinion, but many are gentle enough to swim in, and largely unpopulated. Getting to the beaches via unmarked paved roads was in some ways more fun than the beaches themselves. The natural beauty of Vieques was impressive and most of the island is still quite untouched.

After Vieques we took the ferry back to the main island and drove to Ponce. Neither my husband or I were very impressed with the town. There really aren't that many historic buildings, and things are a little run-down. The next day we drove further west to Guanica State Park. The forest ranger there instructed us to only take a brief walk around, but we went on this long trail that leads down to the ocean, and I ended up almost passing out from the strong sun, despite the fact that we had a lot of water with us, and are avid hikers. It was really pretty nonetheless.

That night we stayed in La Parguera which is a seaside town that mostly locals vacation in. There were lots of people here, and everything had a carnival atmosphere. But it wasn't anything special.

The next day we drove back towards San Juan and stopped to visit the caves that are northwest of the city. The main caves were closed because there were too many people, so we were sent to a smaller one. I think if you do visit the caves, it is best to get there early. But even the smaller caves were pretty impressive.

I hope this is helpful. Also keep in mind that this was our first time in the Caribbean, so unfortunately we don't have other islands to compare it to.
z_n_d is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 04:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,018
WE spent a New Year's Eve in La Parguera many years ago. We loved the night time boat ride in the luminescent bay there. There were SO many stars in the clear sky above and then it looked like there were stars in the water.
schmerl is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 03:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 949
Glad you had a good time and thanks for the tips. We'll be there for one night in late February. Any restaurant recommendations? We're staying at the Marriott (free on points) but we're planning to eat in Old San Juan.

ccrosner is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 03:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 28

There are so many great restaurants in Old San Juan it's had to choose. We ate at Sofia's last week and it was fantastic. It is owned by the same people at the Parrot Club. Enjoy.
das is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 436
In Vieques, I think you may have been happier in one of the guesthouses around the island, for more of the island feel.
We stayed in a room at the Tradewinds, no TV, no phone, friendly staff, just wlak out into the open air restaurant in the morning and help yourself to coffee, sit and gaze out into the bay!

As with every island, not every beach is beautiful. We felt that Blue Beach very much compared to beaches on St. John.

Restaurants in Old San Juan...The Parrot Club! They have this appetizer that is a variety of fried native veggies with a mango salsa!
mahobaygirl is offline  
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