If you’re like me and like to maximize your travel experiences while minimizing the number of PTO days you request, a weekend trip to Puerto Rico is the perfect short getaway.
As soon as I found out that I had Good Friday off, I started looking for my next destination. Since I live in Florida, I knew that I had to somewhere I could get to quickly and cheap. After narrowing down a few locations, I settled on Puerto Rico. I missed the opportunity to go there for my birthday last year and then Hurricane Maria hit, so I guess it wasn’t a missed opportunity after all.
Six months after this natural disaster, I was curious about what Puerto Rico was like. Was it as bad as the media said? No. Could I help? Absolutely.
Here’s how I spent a weekend in Puerto Rico with a friend.
You are going to want to book a flight that arrives late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
Once you land, pick up your rental car at the airport or a nearby location. We used Charlie Car Rental and they’ll pick you up from the airport.
Once you pick up your car, head to the beach for breakfast at El Alambique. It is a cute beachfront restaurant with banging breakfast. They have guava and passion fruit mimosas. Enough said.
Hotel and Airbnb check-in is usually in between 2 and 3 PM. After filling up, head across the street to kill some time at Isla Verde Beach before you check in. We stayed at this Airbnb. If you’ve never used the website before, use this link to sign up and save $40 off of your first booking.
In the afternoon, get in the car and drive east to Luquillo where you’ll find Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park. There you can ATV, horseback ride, and more. We rode the ATVs for 1 hour but there’s also a 2-hour tour. The property is located in the foothills of El Yunque Rainforest. The ATV tour is all about the views; they’re breathtaking! I wish someone told me to wear a bandana over my face because it gets DUSTY; consider this your heads up!
Our plan was to visit El Yunque National Forest after Carabalí, but since our ATV tour had a late start, we weren’t able to make it. As of March 2018, El Yunque only has a few trails open and closes at 5 PM.
Once you’ve had your adventure fix, head back to San Juan and grab dinner and hit the town!
Wake up bright and early to drive 45 minutes east to the marina in the town of Fajardo. After a late night and not enough sleep, we had to stop to get our caffeine fix at Starbucks. We could have found a local shop but we were running behind and didn’t have time to do the research. I am happy that we didn’t because we go to see this beautiful wall next to the Funky Buddha.
The drive on the way to Fajardo is beautiful and scenic with lush green forests and mountains. We went on a day trip to the island of Icacos via catamaran with Castillo Tours. The tour includes unlimited drinks, lunch, and snorkeling gear. If you’re a picky eater, you may want to pack your own snacks because lunch was very #basic. Icacos is an uninhabited island that is small, but not small enough to walk around. The sand is fine and the water is a gorgeous blue. The visibility was not very good so we didn’t snorkel, but regardless, we had great time swimming and sunbathing. We were instructed to be at the marina at 8:15 AM but we didn’t leave until around 9:00. We made it back to Fajardo by 2:30 PM and back to San Juan by 3:30 PM.
After returning to San Juan, you’ll have just enough time to shower and rest before heading to Old San Juan for a Flavors of San Juan’s rum tour. Do not drive to Old San Juan. Parking is a nightmare so take an Uber. If you’ve never used Uber before, use this link and you’ll get $5 off your first four rides. The rum tour is a great way to learn about and drink Puerto Rico’s most famous export. We stopped at 3 bars in Old San Juan, tasting specially crafted rum cocktails at locally owned businesses while learning a bit of history along the way. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes!
After the tour was over, we stayed at Old San Juan to grab dinner. A local recommended an amazing restaurant called El J to us but it was near closing by the time we found it. We ate at Ajo del Pais and were not really impressed; they used a cream-based sauce although it wasn’t on the menu and did not devein their shrimp. Thankfully, I had LACTAID pills. If you’re not tired, stay in Old San Juan to enjoy the local nightlife. We were exhausted so we went back home.
Assuming your flight leaves in the afternoon or evening, wake up early to eat Sunday brunch at Abracadabra. It was directly across the street from our Airbnb. For $18 + tax you can choose from any entree, fruit juice or fruit platter, and coffee. I had the scrambled eggs with salmon, spinach, and goat cheese. I also had a shot of espresso and the ginger/lemon juice. The menu is in Spanish but it was pretty easy to understand. They serve huge portions and the food was delicious.
After eating, head back to Isla Verde beach. Get there as early as you can because it gets crowded and parking is hard to find. You can park in the garage next to this CVS. We only spent 30 minutes there because I had a flight to catch, but it was well worth it.
After being #blessed by the Atlantic Ocean, I made it to the airport 35 minutes before my flight departure time and skated right through TSA with Pre-Check. Note: I didn’t check a bag so I could do that.
My short weekend getaway to Puerto Rico was lovely! I cannot wait to come back and explore other parts of the beautiful island.