PUERTO RICO – First trip in 2012 over Memorial weekend (May).
NOTE: Please check out the pictures at the end of this page. Thanks!
We were so excited about this trip as we were going to have fun in warm waters un like here in New England water it’s like freaking cold all year round. Couldn’t resist soaking ourselves in salty warm water of Caribbean.
Did bit research definitely wanted to explore more of Caribbean. So I compared few places like Bahamas (unsafe, overcrowded and especially for cruise), Virgin Islands/ British Virgin Islands (more for honey mooners) and Puerto Rico. On comparing these places we selected Puerto Rico because of its uniqueness it’s like all-inclusive package deal, lots to do and explore on big island. They have history, culture, Bioluminescent Bay and various excursion activities. Planning was easier as we also got some helpful tip from our friends who have already been to PR.
First thing that got me clicked to Puerto Rico was Bioluminescent Bay reason that on web it was somewhere mentioned that you never know for how long would this natural wonder exist. So I definitely jumped into it thinking something I wanna see before it disappears one day. As it said by Captain Sharon Grasso – “Hidden along the Caribbean coast is one of the most spectacular Bioluminescent Bays in the world. The mysterious blue-green light is created by micro-organisms which thrive in an environment uniquely suited to their needs. A trip into the bay on a balmy night is a magical experience.”
Our key to trip is to spend least on flight and hotel accommodations. We found great deal at Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort got partial ocean view room booked which had small balcony and still amazing overlook to ocean.
We definitely had some excursions to do on our list. So we decided to list on following excursions
1) Zip lining
3) Sea Kayaking
4) Rain Forest Trekking
We booked all excursion before two weeks of our trip through “EcoQuest Adventures and Tours” http://www.ecoquestpr.com/ecoh.html. We would highly recommend this company for any excursion in Puerto Rico they were awesome, well-organized and responsible.
We opted for two excursions
1) SAN SALVADOR RAINFOREST ZIPLINING & RAPPELLING (DAY 1 – whole day)
2) BIOLUMINESCENT BAY AT FAJADRO (DAY 2 Evening)
EXPLORE THE AREA:
1) Old San Juan City
2) El Morro National Monument (Castillo San Felipe del Morro)
3) Barrachina – Birthplace of the Original Piña Colada
4) El Yunque Rain Forest (We skipped it as we did San Salvador Rain Forest)
5) Luquillo Beach ( We skipped because our hotel beach was awesome)
6) Streets – Calle Fortaleza (nice restaurants), San Francisco (nice restaurants), Calle Del Cristo (branded shopping area)
7) La Fortaleza (office and residence of Governor of Puerto Rico)
We got up early in morning had buffet breakfast at hotel and we were ready to get picked up at 8am by Eco Quest Tour Guys. Van came sharp on time in fact they were early. We met Hector, Huero and Mojito they were our tour guide for entire day excursions. Please do follow the instruction what they have given on their website on what to prepare for excursion. Make sure you have one extra pair of dry clothes back in van to change at end of excursion as you will get wet in Rainforest. It would be not advisable to carry back pack with you along while you trekking or doing any excursion also make sure you have tiny camera or water proof camera.
Our Excursion started with long river water stream up in rain forest. It was scary and fun at same time. It was way slippery so make sure you have water-resistant shoes we bought “Teva” for our trip. After hour and 2 hour worth of trekking we reached point where we had to do Rappelling under 80feet of water fall it’s an amazing experience. Check out pictures. After Rappelling they offered some fresh fruits and then we were off for zip lining. We did 3 seta of zip lining awesome view and feeling. After zip lining we were offered home cooked Puertorican meal. Being a vegetarian they were nice enough to cook us awesome vegetarian Puerto Rican meal. Picture says it all. It was great to learn that many Puerto Ricans are vegetarian but some do eat Seafood too but very rare population that eats red meat. At around 4pm they dropped us back to our hotel.
We took some rest and got freshened up and headed to Old San Juan city for dinner. We took taxi from our hotel worth $20 each one way trip. But it was worth it with no tension of driving and parking especially. We got dropped at Plaza Colón, thats were mainly cab driver will drop you and from there we stroll around the old city. Streets to explore “Calle Fortaleza” and “CAlle San Francisco” has some nice restaurants. Calle Fortaleza leads to La Fortaleza which is office and residence of governor of Puerto Rico.
We stopped by “Barrachina – The Birth Place of Pinacoladas” how can we miss on that one. http://barrachina.com/. Best ever Pinacoladas!!!!! After that we had dinner at “Café Berlin” if you are vegetarian this place is must to try. We had “Argentina Meat Loaf” it was yummy. After dinner we headed back to our hotel. Night life at our hotel is one of the most happening live music entertainments in town called “Picante”. We enjoyed till late night moving on SALSA beats.
Next day we got up and headed back to Old San Juan City to tour the great history and culture El Morro Fort “El Morro National Monument (Castillo San Felipe del Morro)”.
We had breakfast just next door to Café Berlin they had awesome breakfast we had vegetable wrap, Coconut-milk French toast with pineapple sauce and Puertorican coffee mmmm awesome breakfast. We headed than towards El Morro, you can walk through scenic ocean facing sidewalks or cut through city exploring. We took random streets as we wanted to see some city beautiful houses it’s so colorful.
For history check out the website http://www.nps.gov/elmo/index.htm
Don’t forget to try some slush, popsicle of different tropical fruit flavor and of course how can you miss on PinaColada flavor. Puertorican are known for Pinacoladas….
Around 3pm we headed back to hotel as we had evening scheduled for BIOLUMINESCENT BAY at FAJADRO which is like quite an hour or two worth drive. Tour guide picked us up from hotel around 4pm. We reached Fajadro around 6pm. We were given direction how to follow each other in dark night and kayak in sea through mangroves and some instructions once we reach lagoon. We were excited for the fun.
Kayaking through sea and mangroves was thrilling experience couldn’t capture any picture as we didn’t carry along camera. All pictures are during day time the sun was already set by the time we started kayaking and it was pitch dark. There were in total 16 kayaks and each kayak held 2 people. I and G struggled a bit at fist to maneuver our kayak and of course me freaking out as I am kayaking in sea and worried more what if kayak flips. Luckily throughout going in and coming out of mangroves we were all good and safely reached back on shore after 3 hours of kayaking (almost 45 mins to one hour paddling each way). We had to follow the guide into the ocean, and then into a small stream lined with mangrove trees to reach the lagoon. The way in was extremely stressful! Multiple groups led tours into the Bio Bay, and there is only one route in and out. There were parts that the stream was about 20 feet wide and there were groups passing each other, it was also totally dark, the only light was from the small glow sticks on the front and back of the kayaks. Multiple times we ended up in the mangrove trees and then had to find a way to pull ourselves out. It was scary at same time as it was pitch dark didn’t wanted to lose track where all other group mates are as we have to follow them throughout mangroves otherwise it’s said that you will never find way out in dark if you get lost. Some people try to be funny and they bump into you but that drive me insane as its pitch dark and very tiring to maneuver. We finally made it to the Bay, and it was absolutely amazing! There are microorganisms in the water that, when disturbed, glow a bright blue. You could run your hand or paddle through the water and the shape would stay. Heading out of the lagoon bay was easier as we had an idea also had some rest and since we were quiet in front number 3 out of 16 kayaks so we could see the light of the guide in front of us and just had to paddle straight. Sea kayaking in dark under mangroves itself is great adventure. We got back to our hotel around midnight.
We had flight back in evening. So we just relaxed at hotel beach resort. As G says that was a perfect vacation with a bit of everything.
Hope you enjoyed trip pictures. (Includes rainforest, Beach resort, Old San Juan , El Morro and other pictures)