I recently had the chance to travel to Puerto Rico for a project at work. Seizing the opportunity to see some more of the island, I extended my trip into the weekend. With only a short amount of time (one full day) for personal exploration, I wanted to make the most of it and see as much as possible.
During the work week I ventured out to a few Puerto Rican restaurants for dinner to try some of the local cuisine. This included Raices and Inaru in Old San Juan. Both have outside seating and excellent cocktails and food. I highly recommend the Mofongo con Camarones from Raices, and the Filete de Salmon from Inaru. This area is really fun to walk around at night and there are plenty of bars and restaurants.
I stayed a few nights at the San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino located right on Condado Beach in San Juan, close to both the airport and Old San Juan. This resort has multiple restaurants, the casino, pools, and a lovely beach.
My last evening in Puerto Rico, I spent at the Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort. While I was only here for one night, I did have plenty of time to explore the premises. This resort also has multiple onsite restaurants as well as plenty of local options nearby. I ate dinner at Sirena, a seafood and tapas restaurant with outside seating mere steps away from the sandy beach. The pools and beach here are gorgeous! Due to some rainy weather, I did not get a chance to jump in the water, but the setting was fantastic regardless.
My day of adventure was a Saturday and began bright and early with a coffee from room service out on my balcony.
I took an Uber into Old San Juan and made my way over to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, refered to by locals as El Morro. This is a fort built in the 1500s and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entry fee is $5 and credit cards are accepted. There are tours through the fort, but there is plenty of information to wander on your own. El Morro is beautifully preserved and offers outstanding views of San Juan and the surrounding ocean. It takes about 1-2 hours to explore El Morro.
After exploring El Morro, I wandered through the streets of Old San Juan past brightly colored homes, shops, and restaurants. Calle San Justo is known to be one of the most colorful streets and certainly more popular streets to wander along. It is a highly photographed area and there few a few professionals taking photographs as I wandered through.
I made my way over to Caficultura, a foodie staple in Old San Juan. They serve all-day breakfast and have some of the best coffee around.
Afternoon and Evening:
Later that afternoon, I took a drive out to Fajardo (about 1-1.5 hours from San Juan depending on traffic) and made my way to El Pescador. This is a local family run establishment with some of the best seafood on the island. The vibe is laid back, friendly, and authentic. Their seafood is caught fresh daily and is served up with Caribbean salad, mofongo, cilantro rice, arepas, among other delicious sides. I stayed with the Three Kings Shrimp and for my entree enjoyed a savory dish of their fresh catch of the day served creole style with cilantro rice and arepas. It was delicious!! El Pescador is also known for their sangria. They’ve many different flavors and will bring out a sangria flight for you to try all of them before deciding. My favorite was the guava mint. The restaurant is very popular and the portions are huge so come early and hungry!
After dinner, I strolled over the the boat launch, which is right across the street from El Pescador, for an evening bio luminescent kayak tour with Las Tortuga Adventures. There are many different tour companies that go out to the bio lagoon, including one that uses see through glass bottom boats. From my understanding, they are all pretty similar. The tour is at night and you are kayaking in the dark with and against ocean currents through narrow mangrove tree channels with many other kayaks and boats. It is quite the adventure! The traffic in the canals can be a bit frustrating, but ultimately the experience in the lagoon is worth it. Even at night, there is some light between the moon, stars, and lights reflecting off the nearby city. Our guide brought a large tarp which we all passed around and covered the kayaks with. This created a pitch black canvas to truly see the blue glow of the bio luminescent dinoflagellates. The organisms emit a blue glow when agitated. Any movement in the water from your hands splashing around to the kayak oar, will create a trail of blue light. It is truly a spectacular sight and experience.
There are three bio bays in Puerto Rico. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the brightest, the second brightest is Laguna Grande in Fajardo (this is the lagoon I kayaked), and the least bright is in La Parguera in the town of Lajas.