Tired of your daily routine? Looking for fun under the sun or impromptu romantic time? Visiting San Juan is a splendid idea for a weekend getaway. The beau and I decided to venture to Puerto Rico for just that.
Things to know pre-travel:
- Familiarize yourself with Puerto Ricans nickname: Boricua
- Currency: USD
- No passport needed – It is a US territory (If you are traveling from anywhere in the US)
- Phone + Wifi are a GO (It’s just like visiting another state)
- Do NOT trust Google Maps blindly
- Most people speak English
- Must try: Mofongo
Old San Juan
Visiting San Juan is like using a time travel machine back and forth. On the first day, we explored Old San Juan; so much charm exuded by colonial architecture in colorful pastel tones. Although very touristy, it is a fun place to snap some momentous photos. My recommendation is to go have lunch, explore the streets and shops before making your way to the Fort. – Yes, Fort!
Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, has a lot of history and as a military nerd, I loved learning about it. It was built by Spain to protect San Juan against attacks, also serving as a strategic point to guard access to the Caribbean islands. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site.
Aside from visiting San Juan and enjoying the historic flair, one can definitely enjoy outdoors activities as well. EL Yunque – an amazing rain forest nestled amid residential suburbs. We spent the day hiking (in flip flops) while massive amounts of H2O poured from the sky.
Pro tip: Never, ever hike in flip-flops…
It was my first time visiting San Juan and exploring El Yunque; indeed as beautiful as you can imagine. Driving from the city was a 45 minute drive. If you’re not planning on renting a car during your stay, I recommend renting one for a day to drive to the rain forest…especially since it will probably rain! Post rain, the weather was surprisingly nice and the vast vegetation crops allowed for us to enjoy crisp air. During our hike, we encountered waterfalls, rivers, and animals. You could hear the different birds chirping while flying around.
Tip: I do NOT recommend renting a car if you are planning to stay in San Juan. Google Maps is not your friend here and parking was very difficult to find. Roads in San Juan are constantly changing and Google Maps is not up to date. So when it tells you to exit at “name” Exit and you don’t see it, just exit anyway. Also, don’t listen when it indicates “one way only” and you are already heading the opposite way.
To end our weekend getaway, we spent the final day at pristine Icacos cruising on a catamaran. Our original plan was to visit Culebra but it was cancelled and we had to switch to Icacos. Local’s suggestion: If you go to Culebra, stay for at least one night at any Bed & Breakfasts available. The day was beautiful and I’m still dreaming of the catamaran we took from San Juan to Icacos. The beach was almost only ours, aside from two other catamarans. The water was crystal clear and impossibly blue.
There are many restaurants in Old San Juan. We ventured into Punto de Vista. All I have to say is…their Mofongo was the best I had in Puerto Rico. We also tried “Mexican” food in San Juan since it seemed so popular. El Vagon: I won’t judge on authenticity but the food sure was delicious!
If you have a chance, make sure to take a walk along the bioluminescent bay!