I went to Puerto Rico for my brother’s 40th birthday. We spent five days and four nights in the island. We stayed at the Gran Melia Resort in Rio Piedras and rented a Jeep Wrangler to travel the island. It was a short trip, so we will most definitely go back to cover more territory.
Due to tourism regulations, Uber does not exist in Puerto Rico. Upon our Saturday arrival at the airport, we waited in line for a taxi. There was no taxi in sight, but shortly into our wait, they started arriving. The taxis have a waiting bay outside of the airport and are released periodically to pick up passengers, so no fear, they will come soon. Puerto Rico has flat rates for taxis, which goes against Uber’s rate adjustments during peak times. Our taxi driver was polite and helpful, taking us to Enterprise Car Rental in El Condado.
When we arrived at Enterprise, they informed us that they ran out of cars…but they had more on the way in about 45 minutes. We decided to head down the street and found a quaint little humble spot with a great view: Hacienda Don José. I had the shrimp ceviche over tostones which was super yummy and paid too much for a Medalla (Puerto Rican beer that usually is cheaper than a bottle of water).
Luckily, by the time we finished lunch and got back to Enterprise, our Jeep Wrangler was ready. It really was an ideal vehicle since we would later head up the mountains for some adventures. It took us about 40 minutes to get from El Condado to our resort in Rio Piedras. We checked in, freshened up and headed out to viejo San Juan for dinner, but not before catching some amazing shots of the sunset at the resort and hearing the passionate cheers of the Puerto Ricans at the bar as Monica took home the GOLD!!!
It took us about an hour to drive to viejo San Juan for the SoFo Culinary Festival. Due to the festival and Monica’s win, traffic was quite heavy and it took us about an hour to drive around and find a parking spot. It was definitely worth the wait; as we walked the streets there were great drinks, food and local bands playing throughout viejo San Juan, along with cobble stoned roads that quietly exhibit the historical beauty of the city.
The next day, we took an hour and a half road trip to Ponce. The views of the mountains were gorgeous! It rained a little at the beginning of the road trip, but like most tropical rains, it poured down, then was over.
In Ponce, we toured Castillo Serrallés, the home of the makers of Don Q Rum, la Cruceta del Vigía, la parque de Bombas, where we had pinchos (kabobs) and quenepas. We later ventured out to la Guancha en Ponce for drinks and 30 minute boat ride for $6.
The next day we toured El Morro in San Juan, then headed out for an hour drive to Arecibo to visit la Cueva de la Ventana. The caves offered a great view at the “window” but not before climbing several steps and venturing through caves with bats!!
We had dinner in San Juan, at Restaurante Raices. Home of the deliciously famous Chuleta Kan Kan, which did not disappoint!
The next morning, we left the resort at 6am for what we expected to be an hour and 45 minute drive to Orocovis. The morning commuters traffic made our trip take 3 hours – so be sure to plan for plenty of travel time during rush hours! Be prepared for a curvy experience as you drive up the mountain. I called Toro Verde to let them know of the delay and luckily, they were able to accommodate us. There we did the Wild Bull – a series of suspension bridges, a rappel from a bridge and a half mile zip line. We took a lunch break then suited up for “El Monstruo” a mile and a half zip line, super man style. So much FUN! The guides were knowledgable and patient, the location was clean, organized and prepared. Highly recommend this activity!
We were exhausted on the way back, so many steps and stair climbing, but it was totally worth the experience. To glide over the mountains and rivers on the zip line made for a very breathtaking experience. We got back to the resort in time for a little R&R on the beach before dinner.
We had our last dinner at Pasión, a restaurant at the resort. The food was great and they sang Happy Birthday to my brother, with Puerto Rican parranda style!
Overall, the trip was fabulous! The food was delicious, the people warm and friendly. The roads were full of potholes and traffic was wild, but it was totally worth it. I’m looking forward to returning to the island again to discover more!