Puerto Rico 2006
October 5, 2006 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Hey remember me? (http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/46595) I finally got our trip set up! We are going to San Juan, PR Oct 18-21st. Travel tips and hotel suggestions?

Me and my ladyfriend (23 and 22 years old, young dumb and adventurous) are going to be there from weds to Saturday afternoon. I am pretty damn excited. We've got a rental car for the trip, so the entire island is open to us. After reading previous Askme's about San Juan, I think I've got some great plans (but let me know if i'm missing anything). i've still got questions! Most importantly, hotels!

Where should we stay?
We want a cheap hotel room we can come back to after exploring the island for the day. We'd really really like this hotel to be within walking distance (or a cheap bus ride?) of the night life i've heard such good things about. Also, are there any inexpensive hotels on Vieques?

Any tips for our itinerary?

- Exploring Old San Juan (http://www.topuertorico.org/city/sanjuan.shtml)
- Enjoying the beach
- Out on the town that night

- Caribbean Rain forest (http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/caribbean/)
- Camuy Caves Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camuy%2C_Puerto_Rico#Tourism)
- Beach (any awesome secluded beaches we should drive to see?)
- Out on the town

- Drive to Fajardo
- Take ferry to Vieques
- Lay on the beach
- explore Viques (http://www.vieques-island.com/)
- visit Bio Bay (any suggestions about kayak tours?)
- Camp? Hotel? (seems like the only way to see the Bio Bay at night since ferries wont run at night)

- Enjoy our last day at the beach
- Fly out at 4pm

Are there any good adventures we should go on that I haven't thought of? I'd love to go kayaking in vieques, etc if its not too expensive.

(if you cant tell, i'm really excited about this trip. didn't expect to be able to go!)
posted by ZackTM to Travel & Transportation around San Juan, PR (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Last day that you are there, go to ocean park as your beach. It's near the airport, but not nearly as crowded as others. Very relaxing. I was there a month ago and it was fabulous

As a hotel, check out holiday inn express or tres palmas. I almost stayed at tres palmas, but ended up at holiday inn express in condado. Nice beach with heavy waves there too, and just a touch of charming urban decay. Reminded me of brooklyn.

On thursday go to playa loquillo as your beach (just north of fajardo).

Have a great trip. Wish I was going back with you!!!
posted by milarepa at 1:19 PM on October 5, 2006

I just finished a year in San Juan, so I have plenty of suggestions and I have offered some in the past.

I would probably recommend staying in Old San Juan for the city portion of your trip, as it gives you walking access to all the nightlife you could ask for, and, whereas Condado and Isla Verde feel like parts of South Florida to me, Old San Juan actually feels like you are somewhere outside the U.S. The main drawback to old san juan is that parking can be a bit of a pain, and you will have to drive to whatever beaches you want to access during the days. I think the
es.htm">Hotel Milano
is centrally located and has reasonable rates. You can also try Craigslist. My friend rents out his apartment in Old San Juan frequently, so if you're interested in taking someone's place, contact me at the email in my profile and I can put you in touch with him.

As far as beaches in San Juan are concerned, Ocean Park was my favorite as it definitely is less touristy and there is much more of a neighborhood vibe there (as opposed to Condado or Isla Verde which are the more popular areas). Escambron beach near Old San Juan is also a decent choice. However, the really beautiful beaches are outside the city.

Getting out to the west coast is probably too long for a day trip (two hours plus dependent on traffic), but Rincon is amazing; especially Steps Beach. I also love Guanica, PR, which is in the Southwest corner of the island.

As far as Vieques goes, I assume you have either booked the ferry that will allow you to take your car rental to vieques, or you are renting another car once you get there. Jeeps are basically a necessity due to the rough road conditions you encounter to get to the more remote beaches, so if you are bringing your San Juan rental over to the island, make sure it can take a beating. If you are renting a jeep once you get there, make sure you reserve in advance, as the well maintained cars get gobbled up quickly.

I have stayed at the Casa Alta Vista, which offers reasonably clean rooms at very affordable prices ($70 a night or less). The draw of Casa Alta Vista is that its right by Esperanza (one of the two main strips in Vieques), and its customer service is excellent. They will put you in contact with biobay kayak tour operators, car rental agents, give you maps, tell you about restaurants, etc...

The biobay tour I went on (two months ago) was about $30 per person, and was, without question, one of the coolest things I have ever done in my entire life. I think most operators will give you the same treatment - hook you up with kayaks, have you paddle out to the center, tie everything together, talk to you about the biobay and how it works, and then let you jump off and go swimming in the sparkling goodness. I hope the weekend you are going is supposed to be a dark night - i went on a moonless night and the effect was incredible.

feel free to contact me with any more questions. After my year there, I am fairly ambivalent about
posted by buddha9090 at 2:51 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]

Here's a fun article on Vieques from Food & Wine describing both the island and my recommendation for your dinner spot, Chez Shack. Although it's funky and serves surprisingly sophisticated food, it's not particularly Viequan (or Boricuan, for that matter), so make sure you chat up the locals during the rest of your all-too-short stay.
posted by rob511 at 2:56 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]

Woops - somehow my comment got cut off a bit --

After my year in San Juan, I am fairly ambivalent about the city but a huge huge fan of basically every other part of Puerto Rico. Enjoy yourself, you're going to have a great time!
posted by buddha9090 at 9:56 PM on October 5, 2006

Response by poster: Hey, buddha9090 can you shoot me an email? zackmedford at gmail. i'd love to hear more about this apartment.

these ideas are making me even more excited, this is going the be an awesome trip.
posted by ZackTM at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2006

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