three towns in puerto rico
October 19, 2010 8:58 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are going to Puerto Rico for nine nights ( 11/21 to 11/30 ). We are thinking of doing a drive around the island, stopping at three different towns for three nights. Does anyone have any suggestions about which towns to visit? Presumably the first one would be San Juan or somewhere near San Juan since that's where our plane lands. Other than that we are just looking for a pleasant vacation experience and the chance to get a feel for Puerto Rico. This is a pretty wide open question. If anyone has suggestions/recommendations/ideas for lodging/activities/meals, that would be welcome too. Our first priority though is getting our route planned out. Thank You!
posted by metadave to Travel & Transportation around Puerto Rico (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Drive to Fajardo and take the ferry to Culebra. Playa Flamenco is beautiful, and walking around the island is a blast. It's like going back in time. The mountainous center of the island is something that most tourists miss. In Camuy near Piedra Gorda there are incredible caves. The Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy is not to be missed. Then you can drive through the mountains to quaint little towns like Jayuya and Orocovis. The Bahia Fosforescente near Parguera is amazing on clear nights, and Parguera is a fun little town. On the west coast, the waves are always impressive at Mayaguez.
posted by Crotalus at 9:52 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

rincon is beautiful. good surfing town, too, if you're into that.
posted by sabh at 9:59 AM on October 19, 2010

Go to Rincon for a beach experience, and the Casa Grande in Utuado for an awesome mountain experience.
posted by willbaude at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2010

I don't know if you'll have the time, but if you can swing itVieques is wonderful. Great beaches, good snorkeling and the otherworldly amazing Bioluminescent Bay. I've travelled a fair amount, and swimming in that bay at night is the coolest and most magical thing I've ever done.

We went about ten years ago, and while it's an island off the main island of Puerto Rico, I don't recall it taking that long to get there--it's about ten miles out, I think. I think you can even go on a day trip from one of the resorts, but I would highly recommend even staying one night so you can do the Bioluminescent Bay.
posted by stellaluna at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just keep in mind that the highway is metered with a million red lights, it can be a pretty frustrating drive.
posted by mewmewmew at 10:26 AM on October 19, 2010

We were just there, at a resort in Fajardo. The town itself was disappointing, but we enjoyed El Yunque National Park nearby, and there's the ferry to Culebra. One thing we discovered is that most public facilities are closed on Mondays, so you'll want to account for that on your trip. Have fun!
posted by Chris4d at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2010

If you can afford it, the El Conquistador resort in Fajardo is fantastic. Seconding Vieques, it was primarily a military base until about ten years ago, but now is very charming -- it has a real 1960's feel. But the only dependable way to get there is by plane (I understand there is a car ferry, but have heard it is unreliable).
posted by rtimmel at 11:19 AM on October 19, 2010

+1 to Vieques and Culebra. I was with locals on Vieques and it was an amazing 9 days.

Look out for "beach glass". Basically it's bottles from dumps that has been pulverized into cool stones.

I don't know how hard it would be to rent a car on Vieques but if you have the chance go to the old military establishments on the western side of the island (the ones on the eastern side are still closed (or were) due to unexploded ordinance from years of military abuse of the bombing range). The old bunkers have reliefs painted on them from the anti-military protesters that are really moving and beautiful in their simplicity. Link that doesn't do them justice here. That's a dragonfly erupting from an artillery piece.

Anyway, the beaches are great, people are nice and the tone is very low key/chill. Culebra seemed the same but even smaller.

The Bio-bay is not what it used to be (from what my local family connections tell me). So much light pollution from encroaching development makes it much harder to appreciate the bio-luminescence from the water.

Enjoy and try the conch fritters!
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:49 AM on October 19, 2010

The commentor above me mentioned the only way to Vieques being by plane or car ferry. From what I experienced that is incorrect. There is a high speed people ferry that runs multiple times a day. Some kids live on Vieques and go to school on the big island.

A plane hop is about 30 bucks, the high speed ferry about 3 bucks a person iirc. No idea how much to take a car but don't plan on taking a rental from the 'big island' to Vieques, that's really not an option.

Ferry travel from Vieques to Culebra is seasonal and/or was closed when I went but I think it runs year round from Culebra to the big island.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2010

Fajardo would be my pick as well. Definitely do the bio-bay - there is quite nothing like it. you can get the catamaran (more $$ than ferry). that gets you back the same day ( or take the ferry which runs twice a day but you have to stay over in vieques in order to do the bio-bay tour because the ferries don't come back after dark. i would take the catamaran unless you are planning to send multiple days in the island (no reason not to, its pretty) because the ferries are iffy in bad weather and cancellations could well throw a wrench in your plans. Enjoy !
posted by cusecase at 12:33 PM on October 19, 2010

+1 for vieques
one of the best times of my life..... rent a jeep on the island

Eat, Drink, Swim, be merry!
posted by Studiogeek at 1:05 PM on October 19, 2010

We were just there in April. We stayed on the western side of the island, which is less touristy (more the "real" PR). I liked Ponce a lot - lots to see and do around that area. Hacienda Buena Vista was really cool, as was El Museo Castillo Serralles. We also really enjoyed Arecibo - very cool observatory, Camuy Cave, and a really neat national forest at Bosque Estatal de Rio Abajo.
posted by acridrabbit at 7:28 PM on October 19, 2010

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