Puerto Rico- a hidden gem of the Caribbean

It’s been awhile since I have posted on my travel adventures. I wish I could find the time to write more but sometimes my couch and Netflix trump spending more time staring at my phone and computer.

This blog is just to talk about a hidden Caribbean gem that most people would never think to travel to- Puerto Rico!

Let me start by saying that although this is an American province, the culture is everything but American – and that’s a good thing!

First, let’s start with the language- I was thinking I would arrive and everyone would be speaking wonderful English as they ventured on their own day to day activities. I was very wrong. More times than not during our trip, there was a communication barrier. Many of the adults we met at restaurants or checking in to hotel or in our Uber rides did not speak English at all. Over a dozen times I had to open up google to do some translating magic!

Next, my favorite part of travel: food! The food on the island did not disappoint – especially because I love plantains. Mofongo is the traditional island dish and every time I am here I search for this local treat of mashed up plaintains topped with your choice or protein or vegetables, served with beans and rice! I have yet to have a bad experience with this local treat. Other traditional foods include delicious Meat turnovers (empanadas), avocado salad, fresh ceviche, ham croquettes, and fried chicken and pork. If you are dieting during your stay in PR, your best bet would be to hit up the grocery store.

The men and women of the Island are all very nice and welcoming to tourists! Ladies (or gents) if you are headed to Puerto Rico to find a man, and tall is your taste- you may come up empty handed. The tallest man I saw was pushing 5’10. If you like tattoos, this is your spot. I have never seen more inked men and women. Gents (or ladies) looking for a Puerto Rican girl, this is a wonderland. The women are beautiful and love to show off their curves in skin tight outfits. If you like blondes- this is not your island – unless you fancy an American tourist.

Beach life in Puerto Rico- confidence is key on the public beaches. I saw more buns split by a small piece of fabric than any other Caribbean place I have been to. I almost felt out of place because I didn’t have a speedo or thong and personal speaker blaring house music. I honestly didn’t know that man thongs were such a thing and they come in ALL sizes (except small apparently). The actual beaches in the San Juan area are not the most beautiful of the Caribbean. But the blue and sun filled sky made up for it! Water is a little rough and I would not recommend for little kids. I watched numerous people get slammed by good size waves in the rough water.

Where to stay- I can only speak for myself and the 3 times I have been – but I loved the Condado area. It’s a touristy area but full of local vibes! The hotels are not your normal 3-4 star places you would normally stay in. Most hotels are small – local owned – and typical from what you find anywhere outside the US.

I stayed in Isla Verde area on one trip but this area seemed to be in the not so friendly beach area and the beaches are very plain.

Must do things in Puerto Rico:

1. Old San Juan Fort: I love learning about how islands and cultures came to be- and this fulfills all of that! The fort is very well kept and one of the top spots for scenic pictures! Plan to spend a few hours there to take it all in!

2. El Yunque Rainforest: this was a neat little adventure if you like to hike. You descend down a wet and slippery trail to a beautiful waterfall you can swim in. It’s a rainforest so expect to get wet! But it is well worth the hike!

3. La Placita: this is the bar district in San Juan where you will find all the local hot spots! So many different places to choose from- all wrapped around a little block. Our group had a blast hanging with the locals dancing the drinking night away!

4. BioLuminescent Bay: one of the coolest things I have ever done. It’s about a 45 min trip outside of San Juan and worth the drive. Here you Kayak through a little forested area that opens to a large bay- with moonlight as the only source of light. But wave your hand around in the water to experience the bioluminescent kelp that glows upon touching it. I felt like I was in the scene from The Little Mermaid. It’s an amazing experience!

5. Catamaran Snorkel Trip: looking for amazing beaches? Take a snorkel trip to Flamingo Island and a few spots where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed! The Jolly Pirate was the group we booked with and highly recommend- great captain, great drinks the entire time you are on board, and a nice lunch and snacks. The snorkeling was some of the best I have ever seen- but the beautiful beaches you visit make this a must do excursion.

I am sure there is a lot more to do in Puerto Rico but these are my experiences and I would do them all over again the next adventure I have there! The Island is still in recovery mode from the Hurricanes that slammed the Island a few years ago- but things are looking up for those who call PR home! Can’t wait for my next visit….

#PuertoRico #SanJuan #HistoricOldSanJuan #Fort #Condado #ElYunqueRainforest #BioluminescentBay #Mofongo

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