The Stay: Doubletree, San Juan Duration: 4 days
When: first week in March, spring break Good For: romantic get-aways/ relaxation/nature
So the first time I went to Puerto Rico was for spring break, (yes I said first time, I know I’m guilty for being a Repeat Trip Offender, but I’ll explain why that was okay in PR part 2). I like Puerto Rico because it’s inexpensive and beautiful. They have a little bit of everything there for every interest. My personal opinion it’s not much of a “party” or “turn-up” vacation spot so if that’s your goal then go else where. But they do have some fun bars and clubs, they have a wonderful rain-forest, orgasmic food, pretty beaches, ANDDDDD you don’t need a passport because it’s a US territory.
Now both this trip and my second trip I stress were completely different, so for a overall picture of the place, I suggest reading both.
We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton in San Juan. This hotel was located in what is considered “new San Juan” or “Condado”. The hotel was nice, had a pool and hot tub which was great for our nightly swims, hanging out with the other young guest, etc. The room was normal hotel size and accommodated for the 4 of us well. We were a short walk from the Parque Del Indio, which was a very calm, very quiet beach with a small park for children (of all sizes). The neighborhood was very quiet, and didn’t have many tourist places within walking distance. This was great and bad, Pros: we got time to roam the non-tourist areas, find real local bars, real local restaurants, roam local shops and markets. Cons: cabs, cabs, cabs. It got very costly to go to any other part of Puerto Rico, so that included Old San Juan, Isla Verde, and anyplace that we had been suggested to go to. Since our hotel wasn’t located within walking distance to really anything we HAD to cab it everywhere. From what we were told buses (public transit) were an option, but we didn’t utilize them.
One things Puerto Rican’s have down, is cooking. We ate so much. I wish I could provide a list but there’s so much to include and too much to remember. There are a few strips down in Old San Juan that are completed with restaurants up and
down the strip. One of those restaurants that we went to was Genesis Resturant. We also went to Barrachina, which supposedly is known for being the originator of Pina Coladas (if wondering, yes the pina coladas there were great and the mofongo). Also a notable place we tried was Raices which literally means roots. It’s a very authentic experience, from what the waitress’s wear to the way it’s built and decorated to their food. Last but not least, we went to Dragonfly, a romantic and orgasmic Asian-Latin restaurant. They serve everything family-style, so for us we all ordered and as shown below they would put the plates in the middle for everyone to share. It’s probably my number one recommendation of where you must eat one of your nights. Next thing you’ll learn is that they love rum, as do all Caribbean territories. I, like many others, assumed Bacardi was obviously their rum of choice but any local will quickly correct you and tell you they prefer Don Q. (Don Q is cheap there just get it)
So I’m not sure if you consider this a good or bad thing, but in the San Juan/Isla Verde area, there’s only one “club” and thats Brava. Because of that, both locals and tourists are there typically on all of its “poppin” nights. I can see people liking this because theres no competition, so it’s not like you have to debate between going to this club or that club, it’s one and done. Others might not like that because they want options and a different nighclub to go to daily. Well in it’s defense, Brava is very fun and very big. There’s a stage area, that I’m sure they use for shows, but otherwise they allow women on stage. They do have a VIP area upstairs which is like a glass lounge, and drinks are regularly price (from what I remember). Dress code, like most tourist spots, varies. You have the people who typically do clubs and wear the dresses and heels > and those who are just on vacation and wear shorts a blouse and flats. Whatever floats your boat, let it sail.
Besides Brava, we did find a few local bars around our way. One in particular that we heard was good was Pa’l Cielo, Yelp says they’re closed, idk but it was fun, good music, strong drinks and local to the area we were staying at.
So the main attraction next to El Morro, which we didn’t get to visit this trip (but I did in Part 2), is Casa De Bacardi (which we did visit). In 2012 when we went it was a free tour now the tour is I believe $45. The tour includes a souvenir Bacardi cup, a “Welcome” cocktail with recipes, a distillery tour which I personally really enjoyed, and rum tastings which I personally loved. It sucks that they charge for the tour now, but as all great things end, I’m just glad i got to go when it was free. Is it worth the $45 ehh might as well, if you’re there. We also toured old San Juan ourselves.