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vbx000 San Juan - A travel report by Veronica
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San Juan,  Puerto Rico - flag Puerto Rico
4842 readers

vbx000's travel reports

A Romantic Getaway to Puerto Rico

  6 votes
Page: 1 2
My fantastic boyfriend and I took a little romantic getaway to Puerto Rico while he was on leave from Iraq. We spent five days exploring the island. We did not stay in San Juan, but Mayaguez (not offered on Globo) which is on the west side of the island.


Isabella
Isabella
Instead of staying in the infamous San Juan, we made ourselves a little adventure and stayed on the west coast of Puerto Rico. We booked a hotel in Mayaguez, rented a car, arrived in San Juan and started our journey.

It was a rough start, since neither of us speak Spanish. We had a poor map and had to get to the other end of the island. This 1.5 hour journey took us closer to 3. But, once we got our bearings (and acquired a better map) we navigated the island pretty well.

The entire trip was a very large learning curve of trial and error. Like Justin said (every half hour) there is no dull moment when traveling with Veronica. (both a compliment and borderline insult I'm sure lol) The great thing about traveling with a soldier (for me) is that every time I got us into a silly situation he was always able to successfully get us out!

I managed to get us lost (he got us unlost), lock the keys in the rental car in the middle of no-where (he broke into the car through the trunk and rescued the keys), hold up an entire line on a pay toll because I didn't have any change (he secured change by leaving the car to the main station) and left my wallet in the car we parked very far away in the middle of small town full of lets of people (he ran to the car, rescued the wallet and we were able to pay for our meal!) Amazingly, he still loves me! (I told him I was just making sure his man skills were up to par)

This trip was wonderful, but we wish we had more time and had done more research about the island before we left. We would have completely altered the way we tackled P.R. so hopefully this will be able to help someone else plan a trip.

The goal of this trip was to enjoy the sun, bask in love, walk in sand and play in the Atlantic. We rocked our mission!

This report is not about San Juan, but more like a snapshot of the island. We visited Mayaguez, Ponce, Isabella, Rincon, El Yunque Rainforest, Farjardo and a very brief drive-thru of San Juan.

Favourite spots:
Isabella - I'm standing on the coral reef from the picture above.
Isabella - I'm standing on the coral reef from the picture above.
Our hands down favorite towns were Rincon and Isabella. A vendor at the zoo in Mayaguez recommended both places to us. These two towns are beautiful - picture perfect when you think of white sand and blue water. We spent half a day in Rincon and a whole day in Isabella.

If we could do the trip over, we would have stayed at a hotel in Isabella (or Rincon) and spent our entire vacation there. That is how beautiful and relaxing both towns were. I think we both preferred Isabella to Rincon, but Rincon was better for swimming. If you love to surf, Isabella is the place to go.

Both Rincon and Isabella are on the northwest side of the island. Mayaguez is south of the towns. The great thing about P.R. is that the island is not very big and even though these towns looked like a hike on the map, they were both between 30 min - 1 hr from Mayaguez.

They aren't very large - just a strip of beach with restaurants, bed/breakfasts, surf shops and more beach. But perfect if you want to relax.

What's really great:
Playing Lions
Playing Lions
Other than falling in love with Isabella, my favorite activities were the Mayaguez Zoo, the El Yunque Rainforest and horseback riding on the ocean.

If we had more time we would have went scuba diving and went on a glass bottom boat but we took this trip at a very relaxing pace.

The Mayaguez Zoo is the only zoo in P.R. It is kind of dirty and a little sad, but all of the animals were very very active. The zebra and elephant approached us. We watched the tigers eat and the lions wrestle over a tree log! I have never been so close to such big cats (or zebra!)

The rain forest was beautiful. It was my first time seeing a rain forest and although I did not see any monkeys I was impressed with the view from a tower and the plant life. We weren't that prepared to hike through the forest and it was pouring down rain most of the time so we didn't explore quite as much as we would have liked (I bet I would have found monkeys if we went hiking!)

Sights:
Tiger!
Tiger!
horse back riding by the ocean was a lot of fun. If you've read my other reports, you know that I always - absolutely always - have to find horseback riding wherever I go.

We found horseback riding in Isabella. Two different places in Isabella offer riding, Tropical Trail Rides and Villa del Mar Hau horseback riding. Villa del Mar looked more appealing in magazines but they only have three horses (one is the guides). When we showed up one of the horses was sick, so she wanted to take us one at a time (two hour ride each). This was hardly our idea of horseback riding in the ocean so we went to the second. the Que Pasa magazine said reservations were needed but we showed up and hoped for the best. Tropical Trail Rides goes out twice a day 9am and 3pm. It's $40 pp for two hours or $70 pp for a private ride.

The ride was beautiful, but we shared our experience with 4 other riders. 3 had no clue how to ride. We recommend the private ride.

Accommodations:
Rainforest
Rainforest
We stayed in the Howard Johnson Inn in Mayaguez. The hotel is only 2 *'s but the reviews from previous guests is what convinced me to book. I was looking for an inexpensive hotel in a more remote location than San Juan. We were a little disappointed because I was expecting it to be closer to the ocean, instead it was in-land (in the heart of Mayaguez). But, it served as a good homebase. The staff was very friendly and responsive to requests. Justin was convinced we were the only guests there. The rooms were clean, with big red tile floors. The AC worked really well (the cleaning people turned it on every day) and we turned it off as soon as we got in the room.

We went in Jan (a few weeks ago) and the weather was perfect. It was in the 80's all week and nights were brisk. I'm not a sun bunny but P.R. quickly charmed me into living in my bikini.

If we were to re-do the trip we would either: a) stay in Isabella the entire time or b) spend every night in a diff. town/city

Nightlife:
Tower in rain forest
Tower in rain forest
Howard Johnson must be in the night club district because when we arrived spanish (or puetro rican) music was blasting from every nook and crany. There were droves of people all dressed up and ready to go clubbin.



It's odd because both of us like a good night of drinking and dancing, but we did not go out at night. By the time we arrived back in Mayaguez at the end of our long days we pretty much went to our rooms and created our own form of entertainment (lol wink wink). Really though, we were really exhausted at the end of our days.



We woke up around 6:30/7 am every morning. The hotel provided breakfast at the bakery across the street. We had yummy little ham and cheese sandwiches with juice (Sunny D standard but I always paid extra for whatever juice I really wanted). The bakery was very cute, had amazingly looking pastries and served lunch/dinner too. Except for one afternoon, we generally crawled back into our hotel room around 11pm. (I know, I'm getting old!)

Hangouts:
Isabella Again
Isabella Again
As I mentioned earlier, we could have easily spent our day lounging in Isabella or Rincon walking up and down the coast and dipping in the ocean. Eating and sipping on cocktails inbetween. I loved both places. In Rincon we went to this hotel (next to Rincon of the Seas-Grand Caribbean Hotel) and ate lunch, drank and played in the ocean. The bar served food as well and we had these skewer chicken chunks with a sweet/sour like bbq sauce on them. Their french fries were delicious. Justin had a strict blended margarita, no salt diet while I ventured out an had this Pirate's special. It was in a coconut with rum, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and another kind of liquor. It was very strong and quite tasty (and like $8).



There is a magazine called "Que Pasa" and it is all about things to do in Puerto Rico. This magazine paired with a map we found at the hotel was our vacation bible.

Restaurants:
Your Guides
Your Guides
We tried a few different restaurants while we were there. In Mayaguez we ate a restaurant called Don Quixote's. This is where we had our try at authentic Puerto Rican food. It was fried pork pieces and mashed green plantains. It was served with two sauces, one a light red one (mayo and ketchup maybe?) and the other was chicken broth. You were supposed to use the first one for the pork and the second for the plantains but we used the chicken broth for both.

Justin liked the pork but I wasn't a fan of either. Plantains must be an acquired taste because neither of us could really stomach them. But, our waitress was so darn cute and excited to serve us that I ate as much as I could, I really didn't want to disrespect her. It was our first and last try at Puerto Rican food.

In Isabella we ate at two places. One was called Happy Belly's and it has the most hamburgers, we left very happy. Then, we ate at an ocean side restaurant down the street. I had the most amazing mahi-mahi! Yummy!

Other recommendations:
Riding on the Ocean
Riding on the Ocean
Fajardo and Ponce did not impress us at all. I wish we would have had an extra day to explore San Juan, instead of a drive-thru. We went through Old San Juan and spent a good two hours stuck in traffic in San Juan. We saw a good portion of the city getting lost trying to get out of San Juan only to find more traffic to get stuck in. We stopped briefly for a starbucks (the only city we found one in) so I could get my city mug and an iced caramel macchiato.

Ponce seemed mostly industrial and we could not really find a good open beach.

Fajardo was really disappointing because Que Pasa made it sound like the King of Beach cities. Perhaps all of the big resorts had beautiful private beaches but the public ones (about 3 or 4) we found were dirty, smelly and not very nice.

We also ate at a Mexican restaurant across the way from the entrance to the rain forest that was really yummy. We had massive burritos and margartias.

Published on Saturday January 26th, 2008


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Sat, Feb 02 2008 - 06:02 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Romantic report!

Sun, Jan 27 2008 - 07:50 PM rating by mistybleu

Nice report! Good to see you around again.

Sun, Jan 27 2008 - 05:57 PM rating by rangutan

Wonderful adventurous and romantic experiences, very well described and presented. A pity the report is not loaded to "Mayaguez", takes on a few days to add to the GLOBOdatabank via the button "suggest a new place"?

Sun, Jan 27 2008 - 08:40 AM rating by davidx

A fine and more than welcome return and you have lost nothing of the style that symbolises your reports. Welcome back.

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