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5 Perfect Days in Puerto Rico

Prepare to touch down in paradise. Get ready for an unforgettable week in Puerto Rico where vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, delicious food, energizing coffee and some of the warmest hospitality await. The excitement and fatigue blend as you step on to Puerto Rican soil.


Being part Puerto Rican, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to my family's homeland and take in all of the beauty and adventure that this island holds. For such a small place (it's only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide), there is so much fun packed into it.


I have prepared the perfect one-week itinerary for those of you who enjoy an action-packed itinerary. I recommend a rental car from Enterprise at the SJU airport (it's easy to access and open 24/7!).


NOTE: This itinerary does not include Vieques, Culebra or Flamenco Bech/Island. These are places I recommend if you have a few extra days!


DAY ONE: Explore Old San Juan


First and most importantly, make your home base somewhere along the beach in Parque/Ocean Park (here you are more guaranteed a parking spot, walking distance to the beach and lower prices).


For your first travel day, it's time to immerse yourself in the colorful cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, the oldest city in the entire United States.


Where to park: Multipiso Doña Fela


I recommend getting into Old San Juan before 10am to guarantee a parking spot and beat the crowds. Old San Juan is best experienced on foot. However, having to decide where to even begin can be a challenge.


Eating mofongo at "La Garita"

MORNING

It's always a good idea to start off your adventure with a tour lead by a local guide. I really enjoyed this Old San Juan Best Kept Secrets walking tour with a local architect, but if you are more interested in the actual history and hot spots of Old San Juan, I recommend kicking off your day with Old San Juan City Tour.


AFTERNOON

After a morning learning about San Juan, it's time for lunch. A little north of the city is a town called La Perla (it is in walking distance). While a decade ago this area was deemed unsafe and not recommended for visitors, the town is constantly evolving. One of my favorite restaurants during my travel was La Garita. The view of this seaside town was breathtaking as I munched on some of the best Mofongo I've ever had.


Now it's time to relax and enjoy Old San Juan at your own pace. Here are some things I recommend:


Castillo San Felipe El Morro
  1. Visit the famous Castillo San Felipe El Morro, the most visited attraction in Puerto Rico. This 600-year-old fortress overlooks the ocean and has sentry boxes (AKA "garitas") that offer a perfect photo spot. NOTE: You can purchase tickets for entry in advance or purchase them at the entrance.

  2. From the fortress, walk down the Paseo de La Princesa. Along this walk, you may notice a large congregation of cats on your right hand side. This is part of the "Save a Gato" feline protection sanctuary. Show the cats a little loving as they wait for their furrever home.

"Save a Gato" cat sanctuary

3. From here, continue walking until you pass by Puerta de San Juan, a large circa-1635 gate (which used to be the main entrance to the walled city during the Spanish colonial era). Continue as you pass by La Fortaleza and the towns many plazas, such as Plaza Colon, Plaza de Armas and Plazuela La Rogativa. Take a peak inside the Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista, the second oldest cathedral in the USA built in 1540.


4. Finally, indulge in some retail therapy. San Juan offers a mix of boutiques, artisanal shops, and bustling markets. You can find a unique treasure to remind you of the enchanting island.


EVENING

You can't visit Puerto Rico without practicing a bit of the islands favorite dance - Salsa! Don't worry, whether you are a beginner or expert, this Sunset Salsa Class is for absolutely anybody. And - what a great way to immerse yourself in the music culture!


If you are a night owl - enjoy a few of Condado's great night life spots and restaurants. The popular Ashford Avenue transforms into a hub of trendy nightlife after dark. You can enjoy some unparalleled sunset views from one of the rooftop bars such as AC Rooftop, Eter Rooftop Lounge, The Wave Hotel, or O:live Boutique Hotel. You can even go practice your salsa dancing with merengue music at Red Coral Lounge or club Fifty-Eight at La Concha Resort.



DAY TWO: Explore The Island's West Side


After a morning stroll on the beach near your hotel/AirBnB, it's time to make the one hour drive to Luquillo, a beautiful coastal gem.


Junglequi Zipline Park

MORNING

Stop for coffee/breakfast at Coffee at the View before you start your venture. The shop owners are so caring and hospitable that it's just totally worth it.


Time to get your adrenaline going! Here are two options for you to choose from to add a little adventure to your day: // OPTION ONE: At the foothills of the El Yunque Rainforest, go ziplining through the forest at Junglequi Zipline Park. They offer 11 carbon fiber ziplines and 1 rappel // OPTION TWO: Go on an ATV ride through the foothills at Carabalí Rainforest Park. I have tried both the ziplining and ATV adventures and admit that the ATV tour was rather underwhelming compared to ATV tours I've done in other parts of the world.



AFTERNOON

Grab lunch at the Kioskos de Luquillo. This place is an experience in itself. This beachfront line of food stalls sells the best Puerto Rican dishes and snacks including bacalaito, mofongo, alcapurrias, and more. There are over 60 stalls to choose from!


Now it's time to venture through El Yunque National Rainforest. In order to enter the park, check out the Forest Service website to see if entrance is on a first-come-first-served basis or if they are only allowing entry for people with reservations. This changes based on the time of year.


Yes, this is the entrance to "Limbers De Wilma". Just go up to the front door and order your flavor any time before 6pm.

EVENING

Now it's time to head towards Fajardo where you will endure an evening adventure. But, first, take a quick pause and enjoy one of the islands most incredible treats (called "Limbers") at Limbers de Wilma. I promise you this was my absolute favorite dessert I have ever had, made with love by the sweet Wilma who makes them every day. I even went back for seconds!


Perhaps you are being a little naughty having dessert before supper. But, now it's time to eat. It would not be a Puerto Rico trip without eating on the beach at least once. Enjoy dinner at El Bohio and ask for one of the tables near the beach.


Finally, it's time to enjoy the bioluminescent bay. This "bio bay" is a body of water where microscopic organisms (called dinoflagellates) grow in large enough quantities to produce a glow-in-the-dark effect. It truly is a natural phenomenon. During my travels, I experienced the one in Fajardo using Pure Adventure Bio Bay. However, I would not recommend this activity for those who do not like crowds (like myself). There are literally hundreds of kayakers in the water from all different kayaking companies.


I have heard great things about the bio bay tour in Vieques (less crowds and more visible bioluminescent), but being a separate island only accessible by ferry, this would add another day to your travels.


DAY THREE: EXPLORE CENTRAL PUERTO RICO

It's time to check out of your AirBnB/hotel and head towards central Puerto Rico. The less visited, true beauty of the island is in the central region of Puerto Rico. I do want to make an important note - driving to this area consists of many winding roads up and down mountains.











When I visited, I stayed in this shipping container AirBnB near Orocovis. The views were absolutely STUNNING! However, this is best for a traveler who doesn't mind the 30 minute drive to humanity.


MORNING

On your way down, stop at the beautiful Hacienda Muñoz coffee plantation. At 10am, they offer a tour of the grounds in English. If you don't make it for the tour, you still have the opportunity to enjoy an excellent cup of joe while taking in the relaxing vibes of the property.




AFTERNOON & EVENING

You can't go to Puerto Rico without trying at least something along the famous pork highway. Stop by Lechonera Los Amigos for some true Puerto Rican lunch. Here, you can enjoy the most incredible roast pork (AKA Lechón Asado) cut right from the pig. Or, if you are not a pork eater (like myself), they also offer fresh roasted chicken.


Now it's time to stop with the planned out "itinerary" stuff.


If you have chosen to stay in/near Orocovis, go enjoy the views and relax at your beautiful AirBnB aand enjoy dinner in Villalba or Jayuya. I also enjoyed tasting local beer at Alba Biergarten.


If you have chosen to stay elsewhere (such as near Utuado, where tomorrow's adventures take place), enjoy local waterfalls or indigenous ceremonial grounds like the Caguana Ceremonial Indigenous Heritage Center.



DAY FOUR: HIKING ADVENTURE IN UTUADO

Now that you've had your relaxation time, it's time to get up early and go on the coolest hike in Utuado.


MORNING

On your way to the hike, get in a good breakfast at Utuado Bakery. They have some AMAZING breakfast sandwiches.


I have hiked with two different companies: Tanama River Adventures and Batey Adventures. Both were fantastic and you can not go wrong with either. I really enjoyed how Tanama would take you to different swimming holes and allowed some free time to relax in the scenery. Batey was a lot more rigorous hiking wise, but unlike Tanama it offered a kayaking experience in an underground river cave.


No matter which tour you pick, prepare to be in complete awe when you marvel at the breathtaking scenery, like Cueva Del Arco and the many other natural rainforest landscapes you will be exposed to.


Just so you know... this was my favorite part of the trip!


AFTERNOON

The views at Hacienda Tres Angeles over the coffee field

After your adventurous hike, you deserve the best meal of your life. I promise I am not overexaggerating this one. Make your way down to Hacienda Tres Angeles for the most INCREDIBLE Puerto Rican food I had on my trip. There are only a few items on the menu, but you can't go wrong with any of the options.


What's even better is that this is another coffee plantation stop. Talk to the owner about her amazing story from living in the Bronx to purchasing a plantation for growing coffee and enjoy the stunning view over the plantation!


EVENING

It's been a long day. Enjoy the evening at your own leisure and clean up after that long hike.



DAY FIVE: CASA BACARDI AND THE SPA


It's time to head back towards humanity. Depending on your flight times, I recommend booking your final night back near San Juan to be closer to the airport.


MORNING

After all of the adventure, it's time to indulge in some true rest and relaxation for your final day in Puerto Rico.


I had one of the most unforgettable full body massages at Well & Being Spa at Fairmont. My friend and I both agreed it was the best massages we had gotten to date.


After your massage, there are some pools and beach access for you to enjoy. As soon as I walked on to the beach, there was even a man selling fresh coconut juice. So yummy!




AFTERNOON

After enjoying some lunch (I recommend Molinis for some amazing corned beef and rice or Barrachina for the birthplace of the Pina Colada) make your way to Casa Bacardi, the world's largest rum distillery.


Keep in mind you can only enter Casa Bacardi with a reservation. They offer multiple types of tours, but I highly recommend the Mixology Class. Not only do you get a tour of the grounds, but they also provide you with an interactive class where you learn some bartending tricks and get to make a couple specialty cocktails.


EVENING

If your flight hasn't departed yet, it's time to end your trip enjoying the sunset at one of the many local beaches and dining at the delicious Casita Miramar (dress up for this one and make a reservation).









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