Bienvenido’s, to a city filled with an abundance of history, color and life. This month I had the incredible opportunity to wander through the old cobblestone streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico and what I found was truly breath taking. This is my story:
I have always wanted to visit Puerto Rico. The land of my family origins and history. My grand parents and great grandparents (from my mothers side) all came from this beautiful island rich in culture, cuisine and adventure. I knew one day I would make it there to see where my roots came from. Little did I know that this trip I’ve been day dreaming of would soon come true. My boyfriend surprised me for my birthday and made it all a reality.
I was thrilled and excited, overjoyed and shocked but a little voice inside of me felt guilty. How could I go on an vacation somewhere that was just hit by devastating hurricanes and so many people were still struggling?
As you all know, in September of 2017 Puerto Rico was hit by two catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Millions without power, buildings destroyed and flooding everywhere… it was a horrific scene that was plastered on every news channel in America. It broke my heart to see this once beautiful island be ripped apart. However, as I began my research I found that in December of 2017 Puerto Rico officially announced that it was ready and back open for tourism. But even more so, that they needed tourism. Jose Izquierdo, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company stated “Don’t feel guilty. As a matter of fact, feel like you’re doing your part in helping our recovery.”
Puerto Rico thrives off their tourists. More tourism to the area helps them grow their economy so that they can keep rebuilding fallen structures and bring this beautiful Island back to life. While the rest of the Island is still undergoing serious repairs, the city of San Juan (Puerto Rico’s capitol) was full of life and wander. San Juan is back on its feet and more lively than ever. Continue reading to help you get the most out of your trip and see all that San Juan, Puerto Rico has to offer.
Reasons to visit San Juan, Puerto Rico:
- Currently flights to Puerto Rico within the U.S. are insanely affordable. Ranging between $200-$300.
- No passport required if you’re traveling from within the U.S. (No need to expedite those passports just yet haha).
- They use U.S. currency so there is no need to go through the hassle of currency exchange.
- By visiting and showing support to their tourism you are helping give back to their economy and rebuild.
- The locals are very welcoming and kind.
- So many beautiful beaches to choose from.
- The colorful streets alone will make you fall in love.
- Salsa dancing every night!
What to See and Do:
- Forts – San Juan has three main forts that you can tour, learn about the history and run around on; Fort San Cristóbal, Castillo Fort and Fort San Felipe . The cool thing about these forts is that they each have so many different nooks and hiding spaces its so fun to roam around. Also, the views of the city and ocean from way up here are breath taking. We felt like we were on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean haha. *entrance fee is only $20 for one fort and you can tour the other two for free as long as you show receipt.
- Town – I fell in love with Old San Juan. Every building was a different color, texture and style. I found myself wanting to take a picture of everything haha. Just walking in and out of each little cobblestone street you will find something new and different at each corner.
- Fishing – We heard that the fish game in Puerto Rico is pretty wild so we booked a boat tour fishing day trip (with Blue Rush) and to our surprise we caught Tarpon! Our fishing trip is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard so we were in good hands and highly recommend it. Our Captain Ricardo Velilla was the sweetest and helped us catch some pretty big fish.
- Bacardi Factory – Located just 20 min away from the city of San Juan, the Bacardi Distillery Factory (aka Casa Bacardi) tour was pretty awesome. If you want to have some real fun I suggest booking your tour with the mixology package. This allows you to not only get a tour of the distillery but also learn how to mix three of Bacardi’s speciality cocktails in your own little bartending set up. Bacardi really wowed me! It was so much fun and now I know how to make Bacardi signature mojitos, Cuba libre’s, and daiquiri’s.
- Casino & Dancing – If its a night of fun and gambling you’re after Casino Metro was the place to be. From poker, to black jack and slots they had tons of games and I even found myself winning a couple hands at Black Jack. I made $30 haha.
- Beach – We spent an entire day at the Santurce Condado beach. Beach side lounge chairs were provided by the Vanderbilt Condado Resort along with food made to order. I even found myself falling asleep to the waves. It was beautiful!
- Shopping – Strolling the market which is in the center of old San Juan is where all the locals display their hand crafted jewelry and other unique pieces to sell. I found some of the most unique souvenirs to bring home to my family. This is a perfect place to take in what the locals have to offer.
- Parrots – bucket list check! Not only did we come across parrots I got to take pictures with all four birds haha. It was hilarious and definitely put a big smile on my face.
Where to Eat:
Among many places we stopped to grab a bite, my favorite was Raices. It was right around our hotel, walking distance and next to all the market shops. Other places we ate at and loved were: La Bodega, Mojito, Texas de Brazil, and Cafe Puerto Rico. We stuck with the traditional Puerto Rican food the entire trip so we ate local and tasted the cuisine. It was mucho gusto! haha
Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Old San Juan Sheraton Resort located right next to the piers and walking distance from Viejo San Juan Square. The views from our hotel were amazing and waking up every morning to see a new cruise ship docked was spectacular (watch here). This hotel is complete with an elegant welcoming lobby, restaurant “The Palio” and a rooftop pool with endless views of the city. Our time here was well spent and we give a big thanks to the Sheraton for making our stay feel like home.
It was the perfect trip and I encourage everyone to head on down to Puerto Rico for your upcoming summer vacate. By visiting and showing support to their tourism you are helping give back to their economy and rebuild. it means so much to the locals and the island to see all the tourists falling in love with their beautiful and colorful city.
Thank you to the Old San Juan Sheraton Resort for the welcoming stay. Also, a big thank you to the Bacardi Factory (Casa Bacardi) for making our time there so much fun and memorable. Lastly, thank you to the Blue Rush fishing boat tour for putting huge smiles on our faces when we caught big game.
*All thoughts are my own, not paid for or sponsored in anyway.*
Thanks for reading!
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