Planning and Traveling: Puerto Rico

Planning and Traveling: Puerto Rico

A couple of weeks ago Camron and I took off to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a few days. I think the most asked question I have gotten for some reason, is why Puerto Rico? I think there are still people who are considering the hurricane that occurred about a year and a half ago and are worried what the island is currently like. Some people maybe just haven’t given much thought as to what Puerto Rico may have to offer. So, Puerto Rico is a great place to travel for anyone and it seems often overlooked.

I’m going to tell you why we decided to go to Puerto Rico, what we did, what I would do next time and just basic tips for anyone else who may want to travel there as well.

San Juan-Playa Ocean Park

You Don’t Need a Passport

Puerto Rico is a United States’ territory so if you are an American citizen, you don’t need a passport to travel there. This makes it an easy destination for anyone, especially someone new to travel. The beaches are gorgeous, the weather in early May was perfect (mid 80’s) with pretty low humidity (around 25% most days). Rainy season starts in May but we got lucky with light rain on only one out of the six days we were there. Great weather, beaches and food make it an easy choice.

Hurricane Maria

While some areas are still recovering from the hurricane, most areas, especially in San Juan are completely fine and equipped for visiting. Hotels, restaurants, activities and tours are up and running.

A big contributing factor to our decision to travel to Puerto Rico was also to help boost the economy. Tourism significantly decreased and slowed down on the Island after the hurricane. Spending money there helps their economy and helps to repair the damages on the island.

Finding Flights

I also have to include that flights are very affordable. From Salt Lake City where I live, I found flights for $340 per person round trip to San Juan. To find Flights I compared on Hopper, Kayak and Skyscanner. Hopper and Skyscanner are usually my go-tos to find flights. Once I found a good flight, I bought directly from the airline (for the same price as listed on the apps).

Airbnb in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Finding Accommodations and Booking Tours

We Booked all nights at an airbnb except for our last, we chose to book a hotel. Both have pros and cons. Boutique hotels are also a fun middle ground between hotels and airbnbs. The Airbnb was cute and in a less touristy location called Santurce. This area has a great coffee shop called
Café con Cé.

The hotel we booked was in Condado, which has a lot of resorts, hotels and restaurants. This is also a fun area though as there is more access to boat and kayak rentals, activities, tours and even if you prefer not being touristy or want to live like a local, I still recommend booking at least one tour. You can book through your hotel or even on Airbnb. There is a seemingly pretty cool coffee farm one on Airbnb. Tours make it easier to see and do more while visiting. It also is a great way to explore areas you might otherwise miss since you wouldn’t know about it.

Getting Around

Get a car.

It is easy to get around San Juan with Uber, but if you really want to explore the Island, go to the other islands (thus get to the ferry), go to El Yunque Rainforest, etc. you need your own car. Uber isn’t used in other places on the Island and can’t go to certain areas. Even if you can get an Uber to take you somewhere, like El Yunque, you won’t be able to get one to take you back. Another note, you can take an Uber to the airport but not from the airport. There are taxis to take you from the airport to your hotel, hostel or airbnb.

Food

My top recommendations for food and drinks to try:

Barrachina – They supposedly invented the Pina Colada, and I tried a lot of different pina coladas, Barrachina’s was easily the best.

Punto de Vista Rooftop Restaurant – Great happy hour, mofongo, and the mojitos are a must!

CAFÉ CON CÉ – coffee shop, coffee was so good and we went here twice.

Rare Candy Creations Ice Cream Shop & Bar – Alcohol and Ice cream meet here…and you can create your own milkshake, I’m talking flavor, alcohol, toppings, etc.

Si No Corro Me Pizza – AMAZING, strong and well priced sangria (I think it was like $6 each)

Rumchata Milkshake

Food overall is pricey, especially at more touristy places. The average cost of food in San Juan was $10 to $15 per plate. The average cost of drinks was around $7 per drink. Look out for happy hours, it is a great way to try a lot of different food, appetizers and drink while saving money.

Don’t forget to eat local food- Empanadas, Mofongo, Plantains, etc. I’m Dominican and Ecuadorian so some food is similar, especially to Dominican food and I was LIVING.

Viejo San Juan

What I would do Differently

I’m going to keep it real. The trip was a lot of fun but I also had a lot more I wanted to do and I felt like I just didn’t have enough time. There are also things I would have done differently. This is partially because I prefer to do and see as much as I can when traveling, I have a hard time being still because it can feel like I am wasting time. I know I may sound crazy but I can’t lie on a beach for hours. Here is what I would do next time so you can learn from me!

Again, GET A CAR. Every blog post I read or YouTube video I found, recommended renting a car. I didn’t and I regret it. You’ll have to be cautious but it isn’t that sketchy, or rather if you are an experienced driver and have driven in major cities you will probably be okay. It’s the best way to get around so you kind of just have to drive if you want to see the island.

I plan on checking out Vieques and Culebra Islands on my next trip. I want to see and recommend going to the bio-luminescent bay and hiking through El Yunque Rainforest. I also plan on checking out other cities like, Rincon, a chill surfer town.

Okay and I already mentioned this earlier, but book tours and do so in advance. The ones I wanted to do, a coffee farm tour and El Yunque were booked. I didn’t look until we were already in Puerto Rico and if I found any tours open, they were significantly pricier than the one’s I wanted to do originally. Plan ahead a bit, know what you want to do and see, and of course stay flexible as well.

Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico- We saw manatees here!

This trip, depending on how you travel, eat and stay can be very affordable. If anything it could get cheaper the longer you stay, if you grocery shop and cook, if you rent a place for a longer period of time, if you stay in less touristy cities, if you stay in hostels, etc. You don’t need to speak Spanish, most people speak English, especially in San Juan. Of course knowing a few words or phrases in Spanish is always nice and shows you are trying.

That’s it, if you have any questions about planning, eating, etc. leave them below in the comments or shoot me a DM on Instagram!

I have video footage that I am currently editing, so trip video is coming soon!

-Ashley

P.S. I was narrowing down where I wanted to travel this year and was looking for a place to go this Summer when I watched this interview with Gina Rodriguez. It’s what gave me the idea of going to Puerto Rico!

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