TRAVEL GUIDE: Puerto Rico
More than eight months after Hurricane Irma devastated Puerto Rico, the island's slow recovery has been marked by power outages, lack of water supply and a lack of essential services. The magnitude of this tragedy in Puerto Rico left many fatalities, and for some has terrorized them into ever planning to visit the island.
I will not say Puerto Rico is completely back on its feet because that may take years but I can say your visit there is utterly important to their economy and will ultimately change your views on Puerto Rico.
I did not see major destruction and I believe it's because the people of the country have worked diligently to try and restore it enough to not affect their tourism. Which again, is why our visits are very important.
I was just browsing through Google Flights (favorite site to look up flights) one day and after plugging in a few places I tried Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico. San Juan was about $180 RT and Aguadilla was $80! I quickly phoned a friend to get some info on the area, she gave me the thumbs up and I booked! Moral of that story, just because everyone usually travels to specific city doesn't mean you have to..
The catch.. because there's always a catch haha
The tickets were through Spirit Airlines . Everyone has some hate towards them but honestly I have/had no issues. I packed a backpack for the 3 days and I was on my way. I didn't plan on wearing much clothes anyways (serious but also not haha)
Do you need a car?
Yes! if you're flying into Aguadilla and not San Juan and have plans on venturing out, you will need a car. Public transportation is not up and running fully and probably won't be for a while. Plus, the perks of having your own transportation is you can come and go when you want.
I found a great deal on an economy car at Charlie Car Rental for $89 for the 3 days. I opted from getting a GPS because with Puerto Rico being apart of the US, your cellphone works just as in the states.
I did pay $10 for a toll pass to be added on to the car and whatever you accumulate in charges, will be added to your final bill. If you're traveling from west to east (like I did) and passing the center you'll need to pay toll. If, you're going to stay on the west side you will not.
Where to stay?
A-I-R-B-N-B ! I mean by now if you've read a few of my posts you'll know I love Airbnb and always go that route before I consider a hotel.
We stayed in the perfect 2 bedroom rustic cottage in Aguadilla . The house was about 10 minutes from the airport and very easy to find.
Our hosts, Fabio and his wife were amazing. They were there to welcome us on arrival and to offer farewells when we left. We kind of had our plan for the trip but Fabio helped us avoid the crowded beaches, traffic and gave us so many tips on where the locals hang out.
The power went out unexpectedly on our first night there for about 2 hours but Fabio was so responsive and helpful with supplies that we didn't really notice the power was gone.
For the love of beaches
This trip was solely for beach hopping and face stuffing!
I fell in love with all the beaches they were all unique in their own way.
Located on the northwestern side near Aguadilla, locals go here to avoid crowds at Crash Boat Beach. STRONG CURRENTS, it's great for surfers and has a beautiful rock formation you can climb. But you must wear proper shoes because the surface is jagged. I suggest keen water shoes , I have a pair and I love them!
Condado Beach- The west side, closer to San Juan is for swimming and is much more crowded. The waters on the east side are very rough and most definitely NOT for swimming.
La Posita de Piñones- this beach is near the "best food" town in Puerto Rico, Piñones.
Vacia Talega Beach- Located in Loíza near Piñones, nearly vacant, the sand was a beautiful golden color, and very soft.
Balneario de Boquerón- Absolute private beach vibes! I arrived at 9am in the morning and NO ONE was there. Warm, calm waters and coconuts everywhere! Perfect spot for a photo-op with a ton of palm trees.
La Playita Rosado- You know the saying, save the best for last? We had no idea what this beach was going to offer us as it was quite the drive, and very hidden. This was one of the coolest beaches I've ever been to. Theres a man-made pool directly in the middle of the sea water! The waters were warm, perfectly blue and a LITTLE rough but in the pool, you're safe to move around like normal.
These beaches are not your 'common" tourist beaches which is why I believe I loved them so much! I was able to enjoy and take in the views without having someone directly in my way! (I hate when I'm at the beach and all I see is booty and umbrellas!)
Someone married to a Puerto Rican told me that she visited Puerto Rico and the food was mediocre. Well thankfully I was raised to not always take the opinion of others as the truth.
Because, I'm not sure where she went but where I went?! THE FOOD WAS UUUHMMMAAAZZZING! Go ahead and spell check me!
Here's some of the places I went, I suggest you always remember to venture out because eating like the locals and not always like a tourist is where THE REAL fun and food is.
Sonido del Mar : On Jobos Beach in Isabela (west side of PR). Amazing views and delicious food!
El Meson Sandwiches in Old San Juan
Rancho Alegre de Piñones : Literally on the side of the road but the best food I had my whole trip! You must try their piña coladas, the mofongo (DO NOT GO TO PR and not have mofongo!) and their alcapurrias! Sooooo good!
El Crillito 3 : Located in Cabo Rojo a local put us on to this spot. This small breakfast place was insanely cheap and tasty. I had a full breakfast, fresh juice, and the best avena I've ever had all for $4! So tell me again why you don't hang with the locals?!
COCONUTS: They're everywhere and if you're like we were (from the caribbean), you'll have no trouble opening them with your hands.
Some cool, touristy things..
If you go to Old San Juan and you don't go to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro then you can never say you went to Puerto Rico. This Fortress played a major role in San Juan, it was built by Spain to protect the island against land based attacks. From the top you get a beautiful view of the Atlantic and the city.
So, funny story behind this big head carving in the mountain entering Isabela. I've seen a picture of this face somewhere online long before going to Puerto Rico but I never caught the name of it or even in what country it was. As I was driving back home on my last night in Puerto Rico, I noticed the face. I was so excited to finally see it, it was huge! I quickly pulled over and parked the car and ran back to it, in the rain just to take this picture. It's a carving of Cacique Mabodamaca , who once ruled Isabela, he was one of the island's most powerful Taíno chiefs.
Overall, I can say Puerto Rico is my second favorite place to visit besides Haiti (my homeland) so far. Puerto Rico even after the devastation, made us feel welcome and made us sad to leave. The land, the people, the history, the culture and of course the cuisine were all beyond what I had in mind. I strongly encourage you visit and when you do, take a moment to explore outside of the touristy sites because there's so much beauty in such a small island. Puerto Rico has definitely won my heart, I'll be returning VERY soon!