The majority of visitors that visit El Yunque go through the entrance on the North side of the park, because that is where all the attractions are, but I recommend visiting the rarely visited South Side of the rainforest, where you may a catch a glimpse of the rare Puerto Rican Parrot and actually feel like you are the first person in the world to trod your path. The North side is nice as well, but their are a lot of people there and not as much wildlife.
Ohhhh Fajardo. Be positive, Katey...there has to be something nice about this place....
I've got it! The square in Fajardo is nice.
I digress. I don't know why I dislike this place so much. It could be that the signs for the ferry are about 3 inches big with a picture of a car floating on water. This is not what I was looking for, so I ended up driving through Fajardo about 5 times, through the town where apparently everyone has the same job: to stand out on the street drinking a beer at noon.
Or maybe it's because we went to a place called "Golden Bagel Factory" to get a bagel and asked the woman behind the counter if she spoke English. She said she didn't, so we tried as hard as we could to order a bagel with cream cheese. She claimed she didn't understand and went to the back to get someone else. Guess what the words are in Puerto Rico for bagel with cream cheese? Amazingly, it's bagel with cream cheese.
Or maybe it could be that my friend called the car rental place and had a car reserved for 11am on Saturday but when we got there, it was locked. So we went to other branch at the airport. We inquired as to why this location was open and yet there was no one there. We found out that she was on lunch and would return in not 1, not 2, but THREE hours. From lunch. And they remained open. With one employee.
Fajardo isn't even all that pretty. Except that square and I think like 2 buildings.
I don't know why you'd need to go here unless you were trying to get away from here.
Definitely hike El Yunque! The cloud forest is AWESOME! You can drive up most of the mountain if you are not the hardcore hiking-type. Be sure to stop at the Visitor's Center to pick up a map and some information beforehand. This is one of the best Visitor's Centers I have been to - the staff was very knowledgeable and helpful. You can park your car on the side of the road when the paved road ends. There is a small "entrance" (you can't miss it) to the hiking trail. The beginning of the hike is easy and short (the staff said it would take an hour, but it only took us about 30 minutes) and takes you to the first . The trail is sort of paved (see the photo), however it gets SUPER slippery when it gets wet, so be careful! If you are a more ambitious hiker, check out our post entitled "El Yunque - Part Two."
When the easy trail dead ends into a paved road. After following the paved road up the mountain, the next part of the hike appears to be simple. After an hour or so the trail begins narrow and nearly disappear in the rocks. It is completely washed out in several places and it takes awhile to find out where it continues. At the very top of the cloud forest is a small tower. The tower is worth the more difficult hike! You can see for miles! It is AWESOME! FYI - If you follow the paved road (accessible by park vehicles only) down the mountain, you don't have to worry about spraining your ankle on a slippery rock! ;-)
The waterfalls of El Yunque are SUPER crowded - unless you wait for the very end of the day. It began to rain as we hiked down from the cloud forest and nearly all of the tourists cleared out due to the rain. We walked down to the waterfall in the rain and enjoyed the waterfall without any crowds! It was VERY refreshing after a half-day hike!
Nearly all of the beaches on Culebra (except Flamenco) are isolated and quiet. The snorkeling is good nearly wherever you go. However, we found particularly good snorkeling off a side road near Flamenco. You will need a 4x4 vehicle to get there (unless you want really muddy shoes). It is a very bumpy ride, however it is worth it. When you get to Flamenco, you will see a "staff" building to your immediate left as you enter the parking lot. Stop there and request access to the dirt road that is roped off next to the building. Access to this road is FREE, however it is first-come, first-served, and you will need to "check in" on a clipboard with the staff. Go down the winding, bumpy, rocky, muddy road until you reach the very end (it dead ends at the beach). Park your vehicle (hopefully 4x4!) on the side of the road. The snorkeling in this area is VERY good. Some people pay boat charters to bring them to this spot, however you can spend the entire day (FREE!) if you drive there yourself.
We took a drive from San Juan to Fajardo one day. It was amazing!!! The scenery is beautiful.
We wore out bathing suits underneath our clothes and when we got too hot, we would pull over and jump in the water.
Take advantage of all the little bars and vendors along the shoreline. Stop and take in the scenery while you have a Medalla with a snack of Arepa, Bocadilla, Aso Pao or Mofongo. Try a Tiburon hamburger if you're into different foods. These vendors often sell fun stuff that you can take back as souvenirs.
Make sure to bring a camera, you will find plenty of things to take pictures of along the way.
this is the best activity in puerto rico! we drove to fajardo, where we joined an eco group and kayaked out into a bioluminescent bay ! the trip was awesome, it was alittl scary at first because that was my first time kayaking at nite in the ocean, but its very safe. the boats all have a glow-in the dark light to make sure no one gets lost. the water was sooo warm, about 85 deg at night! we kayaked past some mangrove trees, and eventually reached the lagoon. here, we tied the kayaks together and jumped into the water, which is amazing! because of the phyto-planktons inthe water, the water sets off a glowing light with motion! when you swim, you leave behind streaks of blue light! its completely visable, if u jump into the water and kick you legs, you'll set off waves and waves of glowing blue water! it was by far one of my best trips! very worth going to. i only wish i had a good night-time waterproof camera at the time!
the site below has info about puerto rican biobays in general (there are 3 in pr). the one i went to is in fajardo, closer to san juan then vieques is.
I suggest renting a car, if you can, to drive through the mountains of the interior. The place is less densely populated but you'll get a sense of the beauty of the island. You'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the island and should even have an ocean breeze up there. Make sure you gas up because there are few filling stations. Almost all roads are paved but sometimes they get narrow, and people drive pretty fast. You can get to Ponce and back from any end of the island in a day.
Mr Bigg's Friend, Ernie hoooooooked us UP! (Technically, Ernie's MOM hooked us up. Thank you Mrs. R!!!!!!) We stayed in a one bedroom condo RIGHT on the Beach in Isla Verde, near the Airport. We were so close to the airport, and our visit was so short, renting a car made little sense. I took an $8.00 cab ride from the Airport to the Condo (The Racquet Club on Calle Tartak near the Hotel Intercontinental).
We just sunned and swam. It was a "4 S" vacation... Sea, Sun, Sand &
Best for Singles (Straight & Gay): Sandwiched between the Condado and Isla Verde beaches along San Juan's beachfront, Ocean Park Beach attracts more adults and less of the family trade. Only Isla Verde beach to the east matches Ocean Park for its broad beach and good swimming. The people watching here is nothing compared to the well-stuffed bikinis (both male and female) found on South Miami Beach or Rio de Janeiro. However, for the Caribbean, Ocean Park is as good as it gets. Because many gay boarding houses lie in Ocean Park, a lot of the beach here is frequented by gay young men, mainly from New York. However, straight people looking to meet someone while wearing swimwear will find plenty of lookers (and perhaps takers).
This is the view from our room. I can't believe it was so pretty. Water so Blue. Kinda like Hawaii! Less crowded, however! Just missed moutains in the background, but I had Mr Bigg to look up to. That was all I needed. (AWWWWWW! I hope you are lapping up all this Adoration, Mr Bigg!)
Best Beach for Families: Winning without contest, Luquillo Beach, 30 miles (48km) east of San Juan, attracts both local families, mainly from San Juan, and visitors from Condado and Isla Verde beaches in San Juan. Beach buffs heading for Luquillo know they will get better sands and clearer waters there than in San Juan. The vast sandy beach opens onto a crescent-shaped bay edged by a coconut grove. Coral reefs protect the crystal-clear lagoon from the often rough Atlantic waters that can buffet the northern coast, making Luquillo a good place for young children to swim. Much-photographed because of its white sands, Luquillo also has tent sites and other facilities, including picnic areas with changing rooms, lockers, and showers.
This was amazing... just taking all these pictures right from either the Bedroom or the Living Room! Breathtaking views! And should you be interested in the best beaches for teens: Best for Teenagers: More families with teenagers check into the Hyatt resorts west of San Juan-the Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort & Country Club and the Hyatt Regency Cerromar Beach Hotel-than into any other competitor in Puerto Rico, including the resorts along the San Juan beach strip.
Six beaches border the Hyatt resorts, each a strip of white sand fronting the north coast. Because the Dorado features many activities for kids of all ages, its beaches over the years have become family favorites. The Hyatt beaches originally opened onto a grapefruit-and-coconut plantation, but today these 1,000 landscaped acres are devoted to fun, ranging from jogging and biking trails to swimming in the longest pool on the island. Young people find it easy to meet other teenagers here, not only on the beach but while participating in the resorts' myriad of activities.
I found the water temperature JUST right. You should swim... Lots of seaweed in the morning, but by the afternoon, it was gone! Not too many people swam that much too. So you were not bumping into one another... But if you are a swimmer, you should consult this> Best for Swimming: Whereas on much of the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, rough Atlantic waters often deter bathers but attract surfers, the south coast waters are calmer.
On the south coast, Playa de Ponce, outside Ponce, Puerto Rico's second-largest city, consists of a long strip of beautiful white sand that opens onto the tranquil waters of the Caribbean. Less crowded than Condado and Luquillo, Playa de Ponce is an ideal place to swim year-round in clearer, less polluted waters than those along the more heavily populated northern coastline.
Can you imagaine a beach that is never too crowded? EVen on Saturday's? Sunday it started to pick up some. But I was impressed, for the most part. People were VERY nice too! We even met a Beach Psychic! You like your beaches PRETTY?! Like Me? (As in, I like my beaches Pretty... not as in... You like your beaches pretty? Like I am Pretty? Wouldn't that be funny?!)
Best for Scenery: In the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico, Boquerón Beach lies in a section of the island called the Cape Cod of Puerto Rico. The beach town of Boquerón itself, filled with colorful scenery, stands at the heart of a 3-mile (5km) bay, with palm-fringed white sand curving away on both sides.
Yes, the nights were VERY sultry. Just imagine the Sound of the Surf right off your bedroom window all night long, pounding the surf.... It went on, and on, and on.... The Water Rising, Lowering, In and Out. Quite Amazing Pounding going on and you could hear it from our bedroom. I would do anything to hear those rythmic sounds just once more... I will have to return. It is as simple as that...