Here are some random thoughts I put together on:

Travel to Puerto Rico:

fort pic


The best places to stay in the San Juan area are:

El Condado is in the city of San Juan between Isla Verde and Old San Juan. There is a beach there but the water is rougher than in Isla Verde and not as nice to swim in. You can also find a hotel on the Condado Lagoon side. The Condado Plaza Hilton bridges the beach and lagoon sides). At the lagoon you will find water toy rentals (jet skis, kayaks, and such). El Condado is within a (longish) walk to Old San Juan.

Old San Juan (OSJ) is on an island bridged from El Condado. The only hotel with its own beach in OSJ is the Caribe Hilton. If it is within your budget, it is THE place to stay. The Normandie Hotel (currently closed) is next door to the Hilton and is only a 2 minute walk to a nice public beach. Other hotels in OSJ are nice because you are in the middle of the historic district/shopping and restaurants. On the downside (other than the Sheraton) they will not have on-site parking.

I’d recommend staying in the Isla Verde area. Isla Verde is technically in the town of Carolina. (Take this into consideration if doing web-searches for hotels.) The main advantages are:
  • Proximity to the airport
  • Located by best beach in San Juan area 
  • Great night clubs for live music and dancing
  • Short drive to Old San Juan.
  • Easy access to road to Luquillo/El Yunque
Reasonably priced hotel in Isla Verde:

Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan
6530 Isla Verde Avenue
Carolina, 00979 PR

Notes: The Hampton Inn is not on beach-side of avenue. You must cross the street to access the beach. This hotel is situated across the street from the Intercontinental Hotel. It is also within walking distance to El Metropol (great PR/Cuban food! At reasonable prices) and to the El San Juan Hotel.

For a more expensive hotel in Isla Verde look at:

Intercontinental Hotel
5961 Isla Verde Avenue
Carolina, 00979 PR

Note: It is much more expensive than above, but it has a great pool and beach bar.

In the same area and all expensive:
  • El San Juan Hotel
  • Ritz Carlton
  • Holiday Inn
  • Courtyard Beach Resort


If you want to hang out by the beach and not do much (power-lounging), perhaps a taxi from/to airport and another taxi ride to/from Old San Juan might be a cheap way to go.

If you need to rent a car, I suggest renting from one of the “big three” that have a presence at the airport.

Things to see and do:

Old San Juan

At the very least do a walking tour of Old San Juan (Ft. San Cristobal, El Morro, city wall, art galleries, shopping…) The best watering hole for a piña coladas is El Patio de Sam. Don’t miss it. Plan on spending at least a full day if not two. The whole of Old San Juan can bee seen on-foot. Just park at the public parking (locals call it El Parking de Feliza in honor of the major who built it) on the south side of OSJ.

The north-east beaches are beautiful but the corals have been killed over time. The best snorkeling on the mainland is under the piers at Crashboat beach in Aguadilla in the Northwest. Off the mainland, the island of Culebra (short air hop from Fajardo or cheap ferry) has great snorkeling. A cousin of mine owns/runs a hotel there.

The best place for hiking, exploring, and bird watching are the hiking trails in El Yunque National Rain Forrest (part of US National Park Service).

Old San Juan – see “Que Pasa” magazine. There is a Gallery night once a month. There is a good art museum in Ponce.

Hmm, where can I start… Here are some favorites:
  • El Metropol
  • Amadeus
  • La Cucina di Ivo

Local Culture and Arts
Old San Juan, Ponce, just drive around. See what’s playing at “Bellas Artes” (the national center for the performing arts). The Casals Festival might be going on if you like world-class classical music.

My favorites are:
  • Crashboat Beach in Aguadilla
  • Luquillo Beach in Luquillo
  • Flamenco Beach in Culebra
Other cool places to check out
  • Arecibo Radio Telescope (now closed after it collapsed)
  • Camuy Caverns
  • Bioluminescent bays

Other Random Thoughts:

  • It may rain in the afternoons - bring a light rain jacket.
  • Your mobile phone should just work in PR. There should be no roaming or long distance charges. Check with your cell phone provider.
  • Puerto Rico is more formal than Colorado. Jeans and a t-shirt will not get you in to the many local night clubs. A cocktail dress or slacks and a dress shirt will get you in.

crashboat pic
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