I had the opportunity to visit San Juan Puerto Rico before the horrific hurricane Maria. I pray for Puerto Rico’s recovery and strength. San Juan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. This was my 29th birthday vacation. I researched Puerto Rico tons before I picked my destination. My passport was not going to arrive in time for me to travel international (poor planning on my end). I knew I wanted a carefree vacation with blue ocean and soft sand. I narrowed it down to a few locations and started looking for travel and accommodations. I finally set my eyes on San Juan Puerto Rico. I spent days looking at Pinterest for where to stay, what to do, and where to go.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Where to stay!
I was so eager to see San Juan Puerto Rico and knew that I only had 5 days for my vacation. My main goal was to relax as much as possible and enjoy the hotel pool and beaches. I searched around first and found that Expedia had the best bundle deal for my vacation. I started looking at the different hotel options and noted their locations. I decided to stay in the main Isla Verde beach area. it is close to Old San Juan which is the historical part of San Juan.
I searched for the best hotels around Isla Verde and then found a great deal within my price range (see travel search tips below). I choose to stay at The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino. It was in a great location just a couple minute walk to the beach, restaurants, and shopping. The room was excellent with a great view of the pool, ocean, and cruise ships. The room was clean and modern. The hotel was beautiful with a casino, spa, and restaurants.
Travel Search Tips!
Whenever I’m looking for a short trip or vacation I always do the following things :
- I first check flights from common sights like Expedia, Priceline, and Kayak.
- I then check the same sites for bundle deals (you would be amazed at how cheap you can travel with bundle deals).
- I then look at maps of the place I am thinking about traveling to. Look to see how big the state/country is. This is important when choosing where to stay in relation to places like the airport and activities.
- I search for flights and hotels in bundles as well as separately to see which is cheaper.
- Make sure you think about your budget when you are looking at dates. Sometimes tweaking the dates of travel by a day and two can help you save money.
- Set your browser to private when searching because sites will increase prices for recent past searches. (I have heard and witnessed this many times)
- Search for flights and accommodations on different days of the week. Some sites have discounted prices on certain days of the week.
- Check Airbnb to see if they have any options that might meet your needs. Choosing this option can save you tons of money.
- Depending on what kind of trip you are planning look at the activities and sites in the area. Make sure these are within your budget. There is nothing worse then planning a trip and arriving at your destination just to find out you cannot afford to enjoy yourself.
- Make sure to pick a location where there are restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. This cuts down on your “getting around costs”.
How To Get Around!
I arrived in Puerto Rico around 2pm local time. 3 hours later then my local time (pst). We took a taxi bus from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to our hotel. It was just us in the taxi and our driver was pleasant. He asked us where we were from and what we had planned. he gave us a tip to make sure we see Old San Juan which was already on our to do list. The ride to the hotel was about 15 minutes. We rode on the freeway and went past a lot of apartments and houses. We past by a view of Condado beach. It was the most beautiful water I’d ever seen. I have never seen bluer water in my life. I am from Portland Oregon and we have the Pacific Coast which is beautiful but the water is dark, cold, and cloudy. I instantly got very excited to be there and to spend time on the beach. We took a taxi when we went to visit Old San Juan but besides that we walked most places because they were close. The taxi rides seemed to be $20 usd no matter where you were going in San Juan.
The Pool @ The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino
The view from the infinity pool at the hotel was amazing!
Evening sunset from the pool. The hotel has a great view of the cruise ships harbor and skyscrapers.
The pool was beyond beautiful and accommodating. We had barely checked in before we hit the pool. LITERALLY! Our room wasn’t ready yet so the hotel held our bags for us and we changed into our swim clothes. The weather was in the mid 80’s and the sun was beaming. The pool area was big with lots of seating and lounging chairs. The infinity pool is amazing and had great views. We grabbed a drink from the pool bar and headed for pool chairs. The pool was not crowded and very relaxing. We spent a lot of time on our vacation at the pool. It was one of the most important things on my to do list. Working on my tan duhhh!
This is a clip taken from a Snapchat video kind of blurry but great view of the pool. My phone deleted a few of my pictures at first so I did not have many of the pool.
My first Margarita in Puerto Rico at the hotel pool! It was very tasty!!
La Placita De Santurce!
I was very interested in the nightlife in San Juan so we asked a few people our age where to go at night. We heard from almost everyone go to La Placita De Santurce meaning marketplace. Especially that night because it was the Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela world baseball classics 2017 game. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was like a little downtown to me where the bars and restaurants are open to the outside. There were so many people outside and all around the streets. Eating, drinking, and dancing the night away. There were huge outside TV screens like you see in New York or Los Angeles. Every screen was tuned into the game. Huge crowds of people locals and tourists were cheering and watching the game. I could tell that during the day it turns into a goods market.
Condado (Santurce) Beach!
These local kids were jumping off of the Dos Hermanos Bridge. They were having fun and I could tell this is something they do daily.
Named the trendiest beach in Puerto Rico Condado beach was a must visit for me. It was absolutely beautiful and the water was so clear and blue. This is where the celebrities stay and visit. We visited this on our second day in San Juan after we spent the morning/afternoon in Old San Juan. It was around 2pm local time. We walked about 5 minutes from our hotel to the beach. There was a man selling homemade ice cream and I grabbed a cone of Pineapple. So refreshing! The beach had two sides to it split between a bridge called Dos Hermanos Bridge. The bridge is long and narrow. We walked across this bridge to the ocean front side of Condado. This is where the expensive ocean front properties and hotels are. The beach had beach chairs to use with umbrellas and towels. It was a very fun and exciting atmosphere with food carts and drink vendors. We stayed until sun down and walked back to our hotel.
The weather was warm and sunny with a slight overcast. Watching the sun go down was amazing.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico!
Old San Juan is the historic part of San Juan. It is full of beautiful cobblestone roads with colorful houses and restaurants. The streets were full of tourists but not overly crowded. There was a lot of souvenir stores and food options. I saw a cool looking oyster bar that looked amazing but did not open until 5pm. I wanted to wait but we were starving! We decided to eat at a little local bar and restaurant. I did not get the name of it and I cannot find it now :(. I chose fish tacos off of the happy hour menu and a special drink from the menu. The food was amazing and the bar was hip and fun.
Pictures in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The fish tacos and blended margarita that was so delicious.
Isla Verde Beach, Puerto Rico!
Isla Verde was the last beach we visited in Puerto Rico. On our last day we had a late flight so we woke up early and took a taxi to the beach. It is east of Santurce so we did not want to walk there. When we arrived they had beach lounge chairs to use. The sand was tanner then at Condado but just as soft. The water had waves that were great for surfing and wave running. This reminded me of the Oregon Coast that we have at home. The difference was the water was warm and salty. Which is a huge difference! I have not been in the Oregon Coast since I was a child and this brought back many memories. We had fun playing in the waves and enjoying each other. Knowing this was the last time we would be in the water made it bitter sweet. We finish with a fresh coconut from a vendor on the beach. We also discovered that this is where all the fast food restaurants are. Wish we knew that for those late night munchies!
Video from Isla Verde Beach, Puerto Rico.
Delicious fresh coconut on Isla Verde Beach.
We then took a taxi back to our room to check out. We quickly showered and checked out for the airport. We packed our bags the night before and set our clothes out. Our flight back was pleasant with no complaints. We actually slept most of the time.
Additional pictures and videos from our trip!
We spent my birthday dinner at Texas De Brazil Puerto Rico . It was reservation only and was delicious. Plus it was next to our hotel so that was a plus!
The view from our room.
The view from between Condado and Isla Verde Beach.
The Liquor store in the airport.
This was our favorite trip so far hands down. We loved learning about a new culture and to see how Puerto Ricans live. If we had more time we would of done more of the activities there. My main focus was relaxing and experiencing the beaches. Which we accomplished our goal. Next time I would like to experience the other side of the island and do some of the cruises and water activities. I will defiantly be back again.
Any questions or comments please leave them below, thanks!