Everytime I travel to Puerto Rico I fall in love with it a little bit more. There is something absolutely enchanting about this island and the fact that my husband was born there has nothing to do with it. Well maybe a little 😉
This year I wanted to share my trip with you and tell you all about this beautiful island! I will provide tips, suggestions and hopefully inspire you to visit. So let me begin.
We stay at the San Juan Marriott Stellaris and Casino, in the heart of San Juan, fifteen minutes away from the airport and another ten from the Old San Juan. Location of this hotel is absolute perfection. You cannot ask for a better combination as you find yourself right in the middle of all of the restaurants, shops and other resorts. All within walking distance!
Hotel itself is located right on the beach, with two pools, swim up bar and private beach access. The rooms are comfortable and you have a few views to choose from. My favorite by far is the “pool view” because you in adversely get some beach in there as well. At night, you can enjoy the sounds of the ocean from your room if you can stand to leave the balcony door open long enough, before you need some major AC again. On weekends, there is a live salsa band in the hotel lobby, and believe it or not the place gets packed with locals and visitors alike! The dance floor is dominated by anyone who is brave enough to give salsa a try!
Another hotel that is on my “To Do” list is the infamous La Concha! If it is good enough for JLo, then it is definitely good enough for me. Located a mere five minute walk from San Juan Marriott, this hotel is on a whole other level! Mostly known for its beautiful sea shell that sits right on the water, this resort is a host to a number of well known restaurants (i.e. Serafina), a casino and an infinity pool overlooking the beach. This hotel is right in the heart of all of the restaurants, entertainment and shops. And not just gift shops, if you have a taste for some high end fashion while on vacation then be ready to drop some serious money on Gucci, Cartier, Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton.
There are certainly other hotels that you can choose from, but above two are my favorites starting from their ambiance, location, service and of course amenities.
Here is my thing with food in Puerto Rico. First thing is first, I do not eat anything, but Puerto Rican food while there. I find it to be a waste of time to eat anything but…… So, we found a small spot that makes absolute best, authentic, Puerto Rican food. Orozco’s is a mere two minute walk from the hotel and serves up the yummiest dishes out there. My all time favorite is by far mofongo with pulpo! An absolute delight! Hubs consistently goes for steak and onions along with rice and beans. However, personally I will always prefer rice with pigeon peas over anything else. Another dish to try at Orozco’s are the alcapurrias. Made from green bananas and yautia and stuffed with seasoned meat, this little appetizer is very hard to resist!
I will also rave about the sangria at Orozco’s. They have both, red and white, and I must say that white takes the cake. What makes it so yummy is the splash of coconut infusion, or milk or I am not sure exactly what, but it doesn’t matter anyway because it makes it taste absolutely delicious! But be careful, because it tastes so good, you won’t notice how fast you are sipping it and before you know it, you are in trouble!
Now if you are looking for other types of food, do not worry! There are plenty of other restaurants as well, starting from burgers, to sushi, to seafood, to steaks. Oceano Condado is a great little spot that serves the freshest seafood around! Best part, you can be seated outside, overlooking the magnificent blue ocean all while enjoying your delicious meal and of course the drinks!
In the mood for something a little more modern? No worries, Serafina is conveniently located right outside La Concha, in the middle of all of the action! I am yet to visit this spot, however if I was to judge it based on Serafina’s other locations, it must only be good.
Here is the thing….. Living in NYC, I am never in deficit of shopping… However, there are certain things that we cannot get in NYC. So what do I stock up on when in PR? Mostly Coquito! This time we made out with three one liter bottles, and with Christmas and New Years they are all already gone. As much research as I have done, I cannot find this coquito online! FYI, the brand name is Alemany. You can only purchase this in Puerto Rico or the duty free shops of the airports. Also, I am a fan of the Puerto Rican rum, specifically Ron del Barrilito, so I bring back a bottle or two. This one you can actually purchase online. My other faves that are always on the list are the Puerto Rican rum cake in a jar and pique or Puerto Rican hot sauce. These are always devoured in about two weeks after our return.
Old San Juan
Always, always, always visit when we are in Puerto Rico. I can never get enough. The tiny cobble stone streets, the colorful buildings, it is the closest that you will get to traveling back in time.
Always go to Castillo de San Cristobal too! The views are amazing, the pics come out phenomenal and I always enjoy learning about the history of these amazing castles. It reeks history and old times.
Aside from the castles, there is plenty to do in Old San Juan. There are lots of restaurants especially on Calle Fortaleza, souvenir shops, historical landmarks and just roaming the narrow, colorful streets are a pleasure in it own. Do visit the home of Ponce de Leon or Casa Blanca, La Fortaleza and the La Rogativa. Just a little history to make your trip educational. To get the most out of your visit to the Old San Juan, check out this link for all of the information!
Other Things To Do
If above wasn’t enough for you, there are other activities that should be seriously considered when visiting San Juan. Case Bacardi is of course one of the top destinations for tourists, so do not forget to bring an extra suitcase, because you will need it.
El Yunque Rainforest hiking is another great outdoor activity that you can partake in. If you are the nature kind, I highly recommend this. Not only will you get some good cardio in, but the scenery is breathtaking. Waterfalls galore and views are to die as per usual.
However, if you want to beach bum your entire stay in Puerto Rico – I do not blame you! This will be the best “beach bumming” you will ever do.
I hope that you pay this island a visit and I promise, you will not regret it!
What are your favorite things to do in Puerto Rico? Leave your comments below!