Once upon a time I found myself with no passport and a huge urge to visit the Caribbean. In comes Puerto Rico to save the day. There are beautiful beaches, picturesque pastel houses, delicious food, no currency exchange, and did I mention NOT NEEDING A PASSPORT; what else could you ask for?
The tickets for this trip were purchased on a Wednesday with intents to fly that same Saturday (YOLO moment, amiright?) so I can’t say that airfare was cheap. Although if you book ahead of time, I’ve read many stories of people who refer to P.R. flights as “budget travel.”
While searching for things to do in Puerto Rico one thing that I quickly realized is that there are so many things to do. Our trip was only two days. See the problem?
Trip Goals: See as much as I possibly could in only 2 days.
Our plane landed around 8:30am on a Saturday morning, we quickly went to the car rental center and picked up our car. We had plans to venture out of San Juan so a car would be essential.
Side Story: The days leading up to our arrival, we decided to try Airbnb for the first time and were lucky enough to find a host that was willing to work with our hectic travel plans. His name was Moises and he was nice enough to let us check in (extremely) early, around 9:30am.
We arrived at our Airbnb, dropped off our bags, and hit the road.
Las Cuevas del Indio (translation: Indian Caves)
This gem is located in a town called Arencibo. It’s about an hour drive from the airport but the views along the way make the trip a breeze.
Once you arrive you will be charged $5 per person to visit the rock formations and it is absolutely worth the price! Truth is, this was my favorite part of the trip and I would definitely go again.
Tips: -Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with good grip because there is lots of rugged terrain.
-Don’t be scared! Some of the reviews online say the “hike is not for the faint of heart” but as someone with 0 hiking experience, I’m here to tell you it was doable
-Bring water because you WILL get thirsty
-You are directly under the scorching sun- put on sunscreen.
-Bring a bathing suit!
Camuy River Cave Park
If you’ve never visited an underground cave, this is the place to do so. The drive alone makes it a memorable experience. Once you arrive, you will be transported to the caves via a cute little trolley. In the caves a tour guide will walk you around where you will see erosions, calcified deposits that look like witches (see below), and an area where you can see (and smell) a bunch of bats. The tour is only about an hour long so the entrance price of $20ish per adult seems really steep to me.
Tips: -Wear shoes with grip because the floors are slippery
-If you plan on taking pictures keep in mind that the lighting is very dim.
By this time we decided to head back to San Juan to explore the streets and prepare for dinner.
Los Yeyos Restaurant
Almost directly across our AirBnB we walked into this restaurant which definitely felt like an adventure all in its own. Basically every square inch is covered in permanent marker with people leaving their mark in the world. The marker was given to us along with refreshments and the owner himself urged us to have fun with it and write wherever we pleased; nowhere was off limits.
As for service I will give it 5 stars because we were immediately seated and the attention given to us was superb.
For food we decided to try Mofongo, which is a typical Puerto Rican dish. Mofongo is mashed plantain with an unlimited amount of fillings that include: seafood, steak, pork…whatever your heart desires, chances are you can get a mofongo. Puerto Ricans pride themselves in cooking this dish to specialty so it is a main entrée in virtually every restaurant. This one did not disappoint.
After a pretty heavy-duty dinner, we spent the rest of the night wandering the streets of Old San Juan. There was some sort of block party that night and there were many food trucks parked, artisanal vendors, music & dancing, and plain old people watching.
El Yunque Rainforest
This destination would spike any traveller’s interest once they hear the phrase “only rainforest in the U.S territory.” We woke up at 5am to beat the crowds. It is a beautiful forest with miles and miles of lush scenery and an abundance of hiking trails.
Due to our lack of time, we explored most of the forest by car, stopping at the lookouts and so on.
Click here if you’re interested in exploring El Yunque by car. Truthfully, I don’t feel like I missed out on much. I saw all the “must-see” spots minus the sweat and exhaustion. Win win 🙂
Tips: -Listen out for the unique sounds of the famous Coqui Frog. It is known for its famous bird-like calls “co-keey, co-keeey”
-Tour buses tend to arrive at the same time and crowds get rather large. Avoid this and get here EARLY.
-Bring a bathing suit.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
This UNESCO Heritage site is a must-see when visiting Puerto Rico. The fort is huge, there is lots of space to walk around, and the views are beautiful.
Old San Juan
After the fort, opt to walk back to San Juan instead of taking a car. You will be rewarded with cobblestone streets and cute pastel colored buildings that are begging to be photographed.
Our trip was so hectic that we almost didn’t have time to visit the beach, but after lunch we made a quick stop at Isla Verde Beach. We took the time to relax and unwind after all the hiking and walking so I completely forgot to take pictures. Settle for a shot provided by google images?
You cant go to San Juan without making a pit stop in this joint that advertises themselves as “the drink where the Pina Colada was created.” We made a quick stop, grabbed our drinks to go, and headed for the airport.
Remember my trip goals to see as much as I could in only two days– how do you think we did? Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? Comment below!
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