Best Restaurants, Hotels & Things to Do in Puerto Rico
Alexa Mollicchi Casanova
I’m lucky to call Puerto Rico my home for half of the year. Otherwise know as “La Isla del Encanto”, Puerto Rico is a must-experience destination. Its rich history, incredible natural scenery, diverse and vibrant culture, collection of islands (yes, it’s not just one island!), charm, lively music, and local foods and customs will make you more than thankful to have picked this destination for your next trip.
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Where to stay in Puerto Rico
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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Things to do in Puerto Rico
- Sunset Drinks at El Morro (Viejo San Juan): Pack a nice bottle of wine and head to El Morro for sunset hour. You will have ample space to setup on the vast patch of perfectly mowed grass, next to this nearly 500 years old citadel, to admire the historic landmark with an incredible view. Pro tip: Mosquito spray and a little jacket for the breeze are recommended! Head to diner in one of my recommended restaurants in charming Viejo San Juan!
- Happy hour & dancing at La Placita: On this two tier market square plaza, known as the Placita de Santurce, you can buy your fruits and veggies in daytime and drink your rum and passion fruit juice (and plenty of other drinks) in the evenings as you watch the night scene unfold. There are also plenty of restaurants (some I recommend below) and kiosks to taste local fried foods such as alcapurrias, empanadillas, and bacalaitos.
- La Penúltima: Prior to arriving at La Placita, check out this fun cocktail bar that also provides food options.
- Hike to Waterfalls in Rainforest: For the very adventurous, undertaking the infinity pool hike is one of the most rewarding physical challenges I’ve experienced on the island yet. You should truly be in great physical condition, not afraid of heights and ready to experience magical scenery. There are of course easier hiking paths across El Yunque rainforest - beware of reserving a spot in advance to visit el Yunque rainforest!
- Book a Water Taxi From Ceiba to Icacos or Palomino Island: Looking for just one full and more affordable beach day? Although Vieques & Culebra can also be visited for one day - we’ve got a cheaper option for you. Water taxis will take you to smaller islands for $50 roundtrip per person. The water taxis must be booked in advance. I recommend the 10 o’clock slot which will require you to be in the meeting point in ceiba at 9:45am. There are multiple slots for pickup too.
- Bioluminescent Night Kayaking: Book ahead and head to Fajardo to explore one of nature’s most enchanting phenomenons. Experienced guides will take you through the mangrove channels where you will experience paddling in sparkling bioluminescent water. First time kayakers are welcome! My advice is to be extremely respectful and listen closely to your guides in navigating this delicate and enchanting environment.
- Food Tour in Viejo San Juan: The most effective way to fully immerse yourself in the culinary culture of this island. Let your guide walk you through the history of Puerto Rico, while having pitstops in family-owned establishments and hidden gems where you will taste and drink what this island is all about.
- Visit a Coffee Hacienda: This one’s for you, coffee lover. Back in the 1800’s, coffee was one of the island’s most important agricultural products. Being of Corsican descent (island south of France), I’m proud to say that many agricultural Corsican families moved to Puerto Rico in that time to develop coffee and significantly contribute to the economic development of Puerto Rico. There are many haciendas are the island where you will learn about coffee production, visit the fields in which coffee grows, discover the bean roasting process and most importantly: taste a wonderful cup of coffee!
- Weekend trip to Vieques & Culebra: Being from an island, I do not take it lightly when I say Vieques and Culebra have the most fantastic beaches I have ever set foot on - and unapologetically spent entire days on. My fiancé asked for my hand on Playa Flamenco (Culebra), and have I got a special beach tour lined up in Vieques for you! From Sun Bay Beach, to Playa Negra and my personal favorite - Caracas beach - you’ll experience different depths of blue and tranquility. Although a day trip is possible, I truly recommend staying 1-2 nights on these islands to explore them fully. Both flight and ferry options are available. Either way, you will need to rent a golf cart to get around! Contact me for my go-to golf cart rental spot and my personal contact for air taxis!
Places to eat & drink in Puerto Rico
- La Madre: Mexican & Asian fusion in Old San Juan with friendly pricing. Incredible margaritas!
- La Estación: A old gas station turned into a sleek restaurant: wood smoke & barbecue at the forefront. I recommend a sharing platter to try a bit of everything!
- Asere Cubano: Come discover fine Puerto Rican & Cuban cuisine with Spaniard Colonial house feels mixed with a modern twist. Great people watching scene as it’s placed on La Placita (bar/dancing district). The Tropical Tuna Tartare appetizer is my favorite to kick start the meal - make sure to ask for the yuca chips to accompany it!
- Santaella: An upscale Puerto Rican cuisine experience. Chic and industrial decor with a mix of local and international ingredients. Great for tapas and cocktails, as well as a full dining experience.
- Marmalade: This wine bar and restaurant located in the Old Town only offer tasting menus. Starting at $129 per person for five courses and & 60 for wine pairing, allow all your tastebuds an exquisite experience.
- Boronía: Local cuisine located at La Placita, Santurce. I recommend the arroz con jueyes y mofongo relleno de churrasco.
- Marisquería Atlántica de Isla Verde: Come devour a paella in this local traditional gem that is also a fish market and tapas bar!
- El Metropol (Cuban): Feeling like a mix of cultures? With local, cuban and international feels, this place is for you. I recommend to try a classic: La Gallinita Rellena, which is essentially stuffed chicken.
- El Platanal: Located in Carolina, is an easy family spot to try local food and receive wonderful service!
Need to Know
For more Puerto Rico travel tips, check out this guide by Fora Advisor Jackie Garraffa: Rich History & Incredible Nightlife of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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