Puerto Rico ooooh!
Puerto Rico Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
As a newbie boricua, I will try to describe this island from new eyes and give some helpful tips. First of all, one of my reasons for moving here was to learn Spanish. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most locals especially in the metropolitan area speaks English. If you find yourself in the smaller towns, you will need to bust out that spanish dictionary. Plus the Spanish here is spoken very fast. They don't cleary pronounce words, especially the letter s.
The traffic during the typical rush hour is horrible! stay away from roads between 7-9AM and 4-7PM, M-F. The typical drivers are crazy. A 3-lane road will turn into 5. At night, most people drive with their headlights on high. Annoys the crap out of me and trying to highbeam back doesn't work. However, 98% of the time, all drivers will yield to pedestrians. It kinda redeems their crazy driving.
Don't expect to ever get good directions from a local. They will tell you to turn left once you see a white cat next to 2 orange garbage cans. But it seems to work... Anyway, hotels are friendlier with directions. In fact, you have to get a Que Pasa as a guide which you will find in all hotels. It has great recommendations, a map and important phone numbers.
Enough whining, right? In all honesty, locals are friendly and very proud of their island. As they should be! The weather is sunny for the most part. When it rains during winter season, it lasts minutes. We rarely have a full day's worth of rain. It never gets cold. All you need is a light sweater if you're going for a night stroll at the beach or inside hotels..oh and movies.
Just as you would read on the internet, the must-see places in Puerto Rico are as follows:
1. El Yunque Rainforest - this is a must hike! There are several hiking trails. The most common one for tourists is the La Mina Falls. It's about a mile long hike..very easy. There are two hard trails I yet have to do. One takes you up to the clouds, to the highest point of the Rainforest. Another famous trail takes you to a Dwarf forest. Obviously with tiny small trees. There are others, but check in with the guide, they have great recommendations. It's an easy drive, but it's tricky finding that right turn from a busy highway.
2. Loquillo Beach - It's famous. The best thing to do is hike the rainforest and afterwards chill at the beach. The beach is only a 10 minute drive from the forest. There are rows of restaurants where you can order mofongos, churascos, coco frio (coconut), medalla light beer (world famous and very good!). Btw, most puerto rican food are fried. Typical dish would be pork, rice and beans and a side order of fried plantains. They're huge on bananas.
3. Old San Juan - Spend a day here. You'll be walking a lot, wear comfy shoes. Plus the cobblestones aren't heel friendly. The architecture is beautiful. The fortresses takes you back in time. There are 3 (I think) of these old formidable fortresses used to defend the city from invaders back in the 15th century. They still remain. Really neat. If you check one out, they all pretty much look the same. You have to take a walk at the Paseo de Princesa. Lots of joggers (u might find me there) too. Stay away from La Perla. It's a drug city. If you do want to go in, go in with a local. Turn off your phone if you do enter. This little city has its own system and they will find you suspicious if you talk on the phone. Places to eat in OSJ - Dragonfly, Marmalade, Cafe Puerto Rico...haven't tried much, but these restaurants are good. There is life at night as well. Just ask any locals and they will direct you.
4. Culebra and Viequies - 2 islands off the main island. I haven't been..soon...but i've heard, seen and been told to go. You can even spend just a day on one of these islands. Take the ferry from Fajardo (a 90 min drive from San Juan) or take a short plane ride from San Juan. If you're looking to relax, this is it.
5. Condado - I work in Condado with a view of the beach. sigh...i know..very lucky. This is a young area. Lots of joggers (again you might see me here). Good restaurants. I would recommend eating at the patio of Budatai. A new, hip restaurtant with good sushi and spectacular view of the beach. Great bar selection as well. This is also where you can find high end boutiques such as Gucci, Christian Dior, etc. If you want to go to a mall, then Plaza de America is the place to go. It's the biggest mall in Latin America. But really, forget shopping and hang out at the beach! you're in puerto rico for crying out loud!
6. Ponce - It's 2 hours away from SJ. Beautiful Drive. This is South of the island. You can spend a day or two here. Mostly museums and historical sight seeing. It's a quiet, quaint little town. Poncenians are proud of their city. They have a saying there, "Ponce is ponce, the rest is just a parking lot". If you do go, check out the rum museum (the name escapes me right now...something casa de castillo..) I also went to La Guancha, a boardwalk with a spectacular sunset.
7. Rincon and Isabella - Sigh. Surfer's paradise. A lot of surfer gringos live here. One of the most beautiful beach scene I've seen so far. oh, and the sunset...sigh..just check it out. stay a couple days...
There are more places that I dont' even know the names to even suggest to you...I've met locals who's taken me to exotic places here which i will never be able to find by myself. Feel free to contact me for suggestions. You can spend a week here and it will feel like it's not enough...so hence I moved =)~