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Arbor Gold

Help me enjoy Puerto Rico

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Posted (edited)

Hi board! I've had previous success with you helping me with a trip, so I turn to you again. I am flying into San Juan July 3, leaving July 7.  I will be renting a car. 

Where shall I stay? I'm open to a two hour drive from San Juan. I'm looking for solitude and peace. It would be cool if there is a town nearby that I could walk/Uber. Ideally I would have a balcony with a view of the ocean or a rain forest. My main interests are relaxation and food. I don't care about adventure.

I'm a solo female traveler who just wants to chill and eat. Any suggestions?

Edited by Arbor Gold

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Two hours drive from San Juan theoretically includes anywhere on the entire island, unless you hit traffic.  It will depend on what time of day you drive.

Standard warning: Puerto Rico does pose some safety risks for tourists outside of the resorts.  Not as dangerous as Mexico, but enough to be a serious consideration for a solo female traveler.

Most resorts and hotels have undergone repairs/restoration after the hurricane in 2017, and I gather there are still great discounts available.  Some neighborhoods are probably still struggling to rebuild, which makes the disparity between tourists and locals more like other Caribbean islands now. 

North shore beaches are open to the Atlantic and have bigger waves and a brisker breeze, and a greater risk of sand lost temporarily after storms.  South shore beaches are open to the Caribbean with more sheltered/placid feel.  There’s a huge array of public and private beaches, varying from busy & developed to quiet and relatively secluded.  The interior is generally underdeveloped rugged, forested hills.

The one time we went to PR, we stayed at a brand-name resort (cannot recall if it was Marriott or Hilton or something else) that was OK but not great.  I would not recommend it.  Most resorts are all-inclusive — partially because the local dining options aren’t always great, and can feel unsafe to visit — but that also means that many guests are drinking all day and acting accordingly.  Sorry that’s not a specific recommendation but it sounds like you would prefer a small hotel or Airbnb to a full-on resort.

A good friend of ours grew up in PR, and he and his wife go back all the time to visit his family in San Juan   They like to spend most of their time around old San Juan, and perhaps an occasional day trip to a quieter beach spot or to the Yunque park.

From your description, you might like spend most of your time around old San Juan and only drive if you want to see the rainforest.  But I expect you’ll get some more detailed recs than this.

Have a great trip.

 

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Posted (edited)

I can only second Isk's recommendation for Old Town San Juan.  Granted, I was there many years ago, but it was a fascinating and beautiful  place.  Pablo Casals Museum is right in Old Town, and there used to be an open air restaurant (as most of them are) right next door that served the best Green Shrimp I've ever had in my life.  (The "green" comes from the sauce, which IIRC, was olive oil, parsley? and garlic.)  I would love to reproduce this now!

El Morro, the c.500 yr. old fort is on the western coast and is definitely worth a look.  It seems to be forever windy there, so don't wear any hats you'd hate to lose.

I'd go back there in a hot minute.  We stayed, though, at a resort that was definitely top-tier and had armed guards at the gates.  I think it was called Dorado Beach.  It's a Ritz Carlton now.  I don't know if they owned it back in the day.  My husband had won this trip through his company, and I shudder to think how much it must have cost to ferry a group there and pay all expenses, thank you very much.  On the shuttle buses out to Dorado Beach, little kids in cars alongside us would stick their tongues out at us.  Heh.   The armed guards leant an undercurrent of Yankee Go Home flavor.

Old Town San Juan was worth it, though!  

Edit:  We did get to the rain forest, which was fascinating for what little I saw of it.  My husband took one look and promptly acquired a poison ivy rash that covered his hands that only swimming in salt water seemed to heal.  

I hope you can avoid an area where the cruise ships come in.  When they disembark, everything is chaotic, overcrowded, and filled with street vendors trying to push their wares on you, which are exact duplicates of what the next guy and the next guy and . . . tries to push on you.  

Hope you get some more up-to-date info from someone who's been there more recently.  Enjoy!

Edited by Tears of Lys
Thought of more stuff

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23 minutes ago, Tears of Lys said:

(The "green" comes from the sauce, which IIRC, was olive oil, parsley? and garlic.)  I would love to reproduce this now!

Chimichurri?

Wikipedia says it's Argentinian but I've been served chimichurri in all sorts of Latin-ish restaurants.

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Hey, I know you!   :waves: 

Yeah, something similar, minus the red wine vinegar or hot pepper flakes.  It didn't have the spiciness that Chimichurri has.

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Posted (edited)

Oh farts. Thank you all for your input! I got logged out of the Board and couldn't remember my password, so it took me this long to get back to the thread.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) in the meantime I booked my lodging. The plus side is that I am staying in a beachside-facing villa with a private pool. The downside is that I booked it before I looked at a map. So I am staying in Rincon, about 2.5 hours drive west from San Juan. Initially I didn't think it was a big deal but now everyone is saying to stay in San Juan, so now I'm a bit concerned. 

Edit: Hi Isk, Tears, and DG!

 

Edited by Arbor Gold

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Although I've never been there exactly, Rincon sounds like a great place.  I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.

If you don't have the time to get out much, do try to schedule a trip to Old Town San Juan.  It's well worth it.

Buen viaje!

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I lived in Puerto Rico for three years from 1998-2001. 

Old San Juan is nice. There was a bar there called Douglas Pub that we would go to regularly. I would only spend an afternoon here if I were you. 

In Isla Verde, the Old San Juan Hotel and Casino is nice for gambling and Salsa/Meringue dancing and makes for a great night out. 

Getting out of the metro, make sure you go see the El Yunque rain forest. I would spend day trips there regularly. I heard the canopy blew away pretty good from the last hurricane, but it has had a chance to grow back for a while now. Make sure you do hike there. 

If you are looking for beaches, Luquillo beach is east of the metro, after El Yunque. There was a row of shacks that served food and cold beers and are tourist and local friendly. 

On the south side of the Island is the city of Ponce and the La Guancha boardwalk, which is tourist friendly, and will have a band playing on the boardwalk for dancing and drinking and what have you. 

West of Ponce on the south side of the island is the the bi luminescent bay  in La Parguera. this was one of my favorite places on the island. There was a small hotel that sat right on the beach and we stayed there several times. Go see the bi-luminescent bay at night. locals will take tourists out in their small boats at night for like 40 bucks. 

West of La Parguera is Cabo Rojo. Cabo Rojo has pink cliffs, salt flats and a nice beach called Sucia I think. Cabo Rojo is nice for an afternoon, but not as nice as La Parguera. 

On the northwest corner of the island is Rincon, which has cliffs as well. We went whale watching there in December, but since you are going in July, I guess you can skip Rincon, unless you wanted to see crashboat beach which is there as well. 

East of Rincon is Agusdilla. I used to rent a house on long weekends in Aguadilla on the cliffs. Would fish in the surf. Beautiful. I loved that place. I would go back to Puerto Rico on vacation and just go back to that house for a week. 

So my recommendation: July 3: Your flight lands in Isla Verde, go see Old San Juan in the afternoon, stay away from the junkies, and then spend a night in Isla Verde in one of the hotel casinos and see the nightife. July 4: In the morning head east and see El Yunque and Luquillo. get a room near Luquillo. Visit the shack row for some cold beers and flirty locals. July 5: In the morning drive south to Ponce. Spend the day in Ponce and spend the night In La Pargguerra. Do the bi-luminescent bay at night. July 6: have a lazy morning in La Parguerra, go see Cabo Rojo and drive up the coast. See crashboat, have a beer. Spend the night in Aguadilla. July 7: wake up and drive back to the metro and your flight home. 

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Waves at Arbor Gold :D

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Have a wonderful trip! My brother, sister-in-law and sometimes other friends, would take cruises out of PR, and then spent a couple of days in San Juan to soak up the sun and drink mojitos before heading back north.

The people, we found, are full of joy. We also found most mainland Americans, at least the ones who cruise, loathed them. If PR ever gets statehood I don’t know how the hell they’ll be treated, though if Trump is any evidence, it won’t be anything good. 

There is definitely an element of danger, though, that you need to keep in mind. Poverty sucks. We never made it to the rain forest, I understand it’s wonderful. We did go see caves, though, and while they were cool to see,  if you’ve ever been to to any of the biggies on the mainland they are kind of small.

Make sure you drink mojitos. Lots of mojitos.

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On 6/24/2019 at 5:49 PM, Frog Eater said:

*skip Rincon*

 

 

Whoops! But thank you for your details!

On 6/24/2019 at 10:43 PM, Stubby said:

Waves at Arbor Gold :D

HI!! I'm sorry I didn't reach out when I was in Perth last August. :(

5 hours ago, DireWolfSpirit said:

Best thing to enjoy, bask in the knowledge that you didn't pick Dominican Republic.

LOL seriously, when I told my sister she asked "Is that where everyone is dying?" 

Ok, since my itinerary is set and I'm feeling pretty good, I'm down to turn this into a book rec thread! I need something that I can read all day for a few days. I'm a slow reader, so I'm thinking a one-volume, 700-pageish thing that is engaging, not too thoughtful but not dumb, a little trashy? Doesn't have to be fantasy but I'm open to it. I haven't read any "new" fantasy. How's Black Leopard, Red Wolf? I've got The Priory of the Orange Tree but I had a hard time getting into it but I'm willing to try again. Otherwise I'm thinking of something vaguely along the lines of The Other Boelyn Girl or The Crimson Petal and the White. I've checked out the reading threads in Lit but if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to drop them here.

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I recently read "Educated" by Tara Westover (non-fiction) and really enjoyed it.  It's a fairly quick read, but quite engrossing.   It's basically a memoir of her life so far growing up in a survivalist-type family that didn't believe in education, modern medicine, government entities - you name it.  

I strongly recommend it.  It was one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to go back to the beginning and reread it.

 

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21 hours ago, Tears of Lys said:

I recently read "Educated" by Tara Westover (non-fiction) and really enjoyed it.  It's a fairly quick read, but quite engrossing.   It's basically a memoir of her life so far growing up in a survivalist-type family that didn't believe in education, modern medicine, government entities - you name it.  

I strongly recommend it.  It was one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to go back to the beginning and reread it.

 

I've heard of that! Sounds perfect. Thank you!

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