Seeking San Juan recommendations
November 2, 2018 2:22 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I just booked flights for a 6-night vacation in Puerto Rico in early March. Now we need to figure out the rest of the logistics. We are flying in and out of San Juan so will likely look for hotels there, but it seems like there are a few distinct areas to choose from. Any recommendations?

We are open to splitting our time between two areas, 3-nights in each, if we feel like that will help us experience all that San Juan has to offer. We are also open to staying in either hotels or Airbnbs (relying on reviews to determine what is in good condition post-Maria).

We are looking forward to immersing in the Puerto Rican culture, enjoying great food, and relaxing some at the beaches. We generally favor walkability when we choose where to stay on vacations, but from our research it sounds like affordable Ubers will be an option.

We also will plan some excursions, like for snorkeling or to one of the bioluminescent bays, if anyone has recommendations. Thanks in advance!
posted by Katie8709 to Travel & Transportation around San Juan, PR (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I only spent three nights in SJ but I guess I would split the time between the old town and Condado. On the beach we stayed at Olive Hotel which was lovely with a great rooftop bar. Ubers are very affordable.
posted by sestaaak at 5:17 PM on November 2, 2018

We had a great Air BnB 3 bedroom house for only $125 a night - two blocks from beach and 10 min drive from Old Town San Juan. I remember seeing a lot of 1 bedroom or studio condos on AirBnB for less than $100 - and we were there peak season.

Also, my blog post from our visit two years ago has some restaurant recommendations and things to do.
posted by COD at 5:56 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Consider getting a flight over to Culebra for a couple nights, if you can handle air travel aboard tiny planes (you'll need to make hotel arrangements in advance, it's not a big enough place to just wing it)
posted by aramaic at 6:01 PM on November 2, 2018

I can't speak for the newer hotels in San Juan, but in Old San Juan, the Hotel El Convento was perfect for us when my wife and I spent our honeymoon there in 2013. There's a rooftop pool and hot tub, plus three separate restaurants. In the evenings, there's a complimentary wine and cheese hour for hotel guests. Apart from a day trip to do some snorkeling, we walked everywhere.
posted by emelenjr at 6:59 PM on November 2, 2018

You should stay in Ocean Park, which is very walkable to restaurants and bars, near Condado, and within Uber-distance of Old San Juan, but is much more chill and less touristy. Ocean Park beach is lovely. You should definitely stay at The Dreamcatcher, where I have not stayed but have always dreamed of staying.

Definitely go to El Yunque -- it's the only tropical rainforest national park. I love it so. There's some nice eco-lodges around there (the municipio (county equivalent) is called Rio Grande). A nice thing to do is to go to Lupillo and eat a lot of pork. I think it's on the way to El Yunque? I actually haven't been.

If you want to go to a bio bay, the only one worth doing is Vieques. I have done them all and would not recommend the others; they're fine but Vieques is so so so cool. If you want to go to Vieques / Culebra (two small islands off the NE tip of PR), you can either fly (not sure how that works) or get up at 4 am and drive to Fajardo to catch a ferry for like $5.

If you are at all interested in surfing, Rincon (NW tip of the island) is a very touristy but still nice hippie town. It's about a three hour drive from SJ.

Though its name is super SEO-y, Puerto Rico Day Trips is a great resource. They regularly update their pages on major attractions, so you can get good logistics info there.

Let me know what kind of food / drink you're interested in and I'm happy to recommend!
posted by quadrilaterals at 11:52 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was in PR a few months before the hurricane. We stayed at Coqui del Mar in Ocean Park. Looks like it is still going strong, with some nice improvements since I was there. It was great and is right by the beach. If I were going to do it again, I might do a few days in the more central area of San Juan and a few at Coqui. Ubers are readily accessible and reasonably priced.

I did a bioluminescent bay tour near Fajardo. It was fine. I am not an experienced kayaker, there is no instruction, and had a lot of trouble navigating in the dark. It looks like the company we used is no longer in business. I ended up being towed the entire time by a guide.

We also did a really fun horseback ride to the beach not far from San Juan, but Puerto Rico Day Trips (which I second as a fantastic resource) notes that their stables were destroyed in the hurricane. They have some other options for this, so may be worth a look.

We also had a good time with a walking food tour in old San Juan. I was there with my 14-year-old, and the rest of our tour was elderly people off of cruise ships, but I thought it was really valuable for us.
posted by jeoc at 7:47 AM on November 3, 2018

Google Caleta 64. It",s a rent by owner set of apartments 1/2 block from the cathedral & el covento up from San Juan gate that we stayed at in 2012
Loved it
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:53 AM on November 4, 2018

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