The Best of Puerto Rico: From El Yunque to Ponce
Puerto Rico has stunning beaches, nightlife, culture, historical landmarks, outdoor activities and amazing food. This destination deserves to be a stand-alone destination, not just one as a port for cruise ship passengers. Puerto Rico is the perfect place for the beach bum, nature lover, night owl, foodie and/or adventurist.
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Where to stay
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Art Deco beauty with a mix of heritage and modern rooms, most with Atlantic Ocean views.
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Full breakfast daily for two guests per bedroom in Ola Ocean Front Bistro
$100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit utilized during stay
Fairmont El San Juan Hotel
Set on idyllic Isla Verde Beach, the Fairmont El San Juan boasts modern rooms and resort amenities including a casino, nine restaurants, multiple bars and a nightclub.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Hotel El Convento
Long-time favorite in Old San Juan, with a traditional look and access to a sister beach club.
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Daily full breakfast for two guests
$100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit utilized during stay
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Day 1: Arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Settle in and explore the area around your hotel. Find the perfect place to relax with a drink and embrace the surroundings.
Day 2: Old San Juan
Head to Castillo San Cristobal, which is considered the largest fortress built in the Americas. Learn its history and imagine building this fort that took over 150 years to complete.
Them, walk around Old San Juan and stroll around the cobblestone streets. Grab some lunch, do some shopping, sample rum at Don Q Rum and explore! If you have time, take the ferry across the bay and take a tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory.
Day 3: El Yunque Rainforest
Take a day trip to El Yunque National Forest, which is about an hour's drive from San Juan (make sure to reserve your entry in advance online.) One of the most popular things to do at El Yunque is hiking to the natural pools. Take La Coca trail down to one of several ponds along the route to cool off with a swim. The El Angelito trail hike can end with a rope swing into the lagoon. There are some great waterfalls at the end of the Big Tree trail to La Mina Falls. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch and lots of water for your day exploring this National Forest.
Day 4: Day trip to Ponce
Spend the day in Ponce, which is on the southern coast. Ponce has beautiful architecture, known as Ponce Crelol, and several museums. Visit the Plaza Las Delicias (the town square), Cathedral of Our Lady Guadalupe, Fuente de Los Leones (stunning water fountains), Parque de Bombas (the once iconic fire station) and many shops, restaurants and coffee shops.
If you like museums, check out the Museo de Arte de Ponce, which has a collection of European and Puerto Rican art. The Serralles Castle is a must-do too, it overlooks the downtown area of Ponce and has amazing views of the Caribbean Ocean. If you still have time before you head back to San Juan, go to a baseball game in Ponce, it is an experience you will never forget.
Day 5: Vieques
Take a trip to Vieques Mosquito Bay, which is a bioluminescent bay that is a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. There are only five bioluminescent bays around the world, and the one on Vieques is the brightest and most magical. This trip does require an overnight in Vieques, but it is well worth it. The best way to arrive in Vieques is a flight over and spending one night in Vieques City Center. That evening you will embark on a late-night kayaking adventure. The kayaks have glass bottoms so you can see the glow all around and below you as you glide through the water.
Need to Know
For more island fun fit for the whole family, check out my Family-Friendly Travel Guide to Jamaica and Adventure in Aruba.
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