Living like a Puerto Rican Princess: finding the roots to island culture in a tropical paradise
We got our tickets from Sky scanner and flew via Jetblue for $185 for tickets purchased in January with travel dates of March 29-31st. We booked our hotel via my employer's working advantage benefits were we received an additional discount. The hotel we chose was the Gran Melia Golf Resort in Rio Grande because it was close to the daily activities we intended to partake in. The total hotel stay was $109.08 per night totally to $438.56 total cost for 4 days and 3 nights with taxes include. So here's a quick briefing of what we did as soon as we got to Puerto:
Day 1: Rented a car via Thrifty care rentals totaling $140 for 3 days and went to the Bacardi Factory. At the Bacardi factory we purchased the mixology tour for about $50 per person. The tour lasted about an hour and a half. We started off with a complimentary drink and ended up making 4 drinks in the mixology class. This left us with quite the buzz, the Bacardi tour was educational yet fun and highly recommended.
We than took the hour drive from the Bacardi factory to our hotel, where we visited Mi Vida cafe prior to arriving in Rio Grande. The food was authentic and fresh, customer service was warm and friendly. Once you drive away from the city and towards the country there will be a lot of mom and pop shops serving authentic food and fresh fruits.
We checked into the hotel, which was beautiful and right on the beach. We hung out at the pool, had a drink and called it a night. The Gran Melia Golf Resort was absolutely beautiful and had scenic views all through out. The only complaint would be that the WiFi on the hotel wasn't stellar and parking is an additional $20 per night to the tab.
Day 2: We tried out the bar and grill restaurant at the hotel and took a trip to a popular tourist beach in the area, Luquillo Beach. To park at the beach was a $5 fee but totally worth it. The views there were spectacular. The mountains were in the distance and the water was a bright warm blue. There was also a food shack there where we ordered pineapple/ strawberry frozen daiquiri's that were served in a pineapple. Great food, beautiful scenery, and umbrella/chair rentals made this beach a calm oasis.
After spending the day at the beach we got dressed and drove the 30 minutes back to the city of San Juan for the night life. We decided on club Brava that's inside the San Juan hotel. The club was a $20 admission fee and was open until 5AM from Thursday to Sunday. There were two floors and the DJ played a mixture of pop, reggaeton, and hip hop.
Day 3: After a power nap, we trekked our way to the Carabali estates where we rode on ATV's for one hour and toured the outskirts of El Yunque rain forest. The tour guide was awesome, friendly, and let us stop to take pictures during some of the views. The estates also house a highly rated restaurant called Its 5' O Clock Somewhere. The food was delicious even though the pricing was a bit on the high end.
After relaxing for about 30 minutes we jumped in the car and decided to tour El Yunque rainforest by ourselves. The tour guide for the ATV let us record her with which stops to make, what to avoid, and how to get to the waterfalls. Let me tell you, driving up and thru the rainforest is FRIGHTENING. The roads are small, two-way, and winded but we made it safe to the waterfalls, sight seeing spots, and were able to park for a 30 minute hike without dying! The hike to their main waterfall is exhausting and not for the faint of heart, i.e. those that don't work out or walk up steep slopes like me). The views and the experience are amazing however and totally worth every drop of sweat. Have a water bottle! The best part of this part of the trip was that it was FREE with the exception of the blood, sweat, and tears.
Phew! What an adventure! But are day was not done yet! After the rainforest we took a 20 minute drive to Fajaro Bay to see the translucent bio bay. I didn't include pictures because none were allowed on the boat tour. Fajaro is a smaller town in Puerto Rico and is basically a fishermen's paradise. You can take boat tours through the mangos like we did or be adventurous and kayak. We than went to the hotel and took a quick shower to head out for a night on the town. Yes, you heard me. We had the nerve to go out that night... and boy am I glad we did! We went to an area in San Juan called La Placita.... basically blocks of open bars and all you can drink. The atmosphere was exciting, the music was hip hop, mixed with salsa, reggae, and reggaeton. The people were as diverse as the different cultural musics and we danced until the cracks of dawn. All the bars we went in were free to get in and everyone just kept going in between different ones.... ok now we are DONE with Day 3.
Day 4: The last day, the final stretch, the base.... since the airport was in San Juan we took this last day to enjoy the history and culture of San Juan. The city was packed and parking was difficult but we managed to squeeze in. The city views were as incredible as the country views in Rio Grande. The historical site, El Morro, was only $5 to enter and the pictures I took were absolutely breath taking. No... I won't post the 1000+ taken, its one of those "you have to see it for yourself" moments. Afterwards, we took a walk around the city, tourist shops, and headed towards the airport.
That is it. That was the trip. In just four days we tasted authentic food, visited the Bacardi factory, enjoyed the resort life, the beach with mountain views, the ritzy clubs, rode ATV's, explored the rainforest, took a boat thru the mangos, vibrated within the nightlife, took a historical tour, and checked out the history behind San Juan. Was the trip worth it? Yes! Yes it was.