visited Puerto Rico in mid-August of 2012. The trip was taken
to celebrate our 25th anniversary, allow us to
survey PR for retirement potential and have fun at a beach.
The trip started with a US Airways red-eye set of flights
that had us
leaving Denver at 1:00 AM, changing planes in Charlotte at around
sunrise and getting into San Juan, PR at around 11:00 AM. We had
scheduled the San Juan Doubletree hotel for that first night (Sunday).
The only "bad" part of the trip was finding our way from the
airport to the hotel. What should have been a 10 or 15 minute
drive took us about 1 1/2 hours. We could not get our GPS to
locate the hotel's name or address so we were stuck with following the
- which did not work well. Anyway once we finally
found it, the Doubletree was very nice. Nice place and
convenient to Old San Juan which was our goal for our
first day in PR (Sunday). Instead of driving and having to deal
with parking we
simply took a taxi back and forth to Old San Juan. Very cool
awesome old Spanish forts - one at each end of the old city with neat
shops, restaurants, hotels and old gov buildings in between. A
of Spanish history here. We visited the older fort, El Morro.
This is the older of the two and was built to defend the city
from the sea - which it had to do many times over 400 years or so.
The fort was very impressive with its massive walls and little guard
houses. We left visiting the other fort, which was built to
protect the city from land attack, for our next trip to PR - it also
looked very impressive.
Anyway, we did a little shopping and had a great Puerto Rican
dinner in the old city. Tried mofongo with shrimp which was
The next morning we headed to the east end
island and visited El Yunque National Forest (part of the U S's national
system). We checked out the viewing tower and took a nice hike
to La Mina Falls and swimming hole. This was cool. It
is a tropical rain
similarities to those in Costa Rica but with many more palms of
various types. But, without the monkeys. After leaving the
national forest we
as far as Fajardo and then turned around and headed west. There
are toll highways as well as free ones on PR and we used a few of both
to get to the NW corner of the island where the Villas are.
Having a toll transponder
in the rental car worked very well since we zipped right through
the toll stations. Our TomTom GPS worked just fine getting us
from town to town and later back to the airport - it just had problems
with street addresses. People in PR drive either really slow
(commonly in the
fast lane) or aggressively. But, my driving style fit
in pretty well with the later and we made good time driving back to
and through San Juan and then along the mountains to to our beach villa
NW of Isabela.
We stayed 5 nights at the Villa Tropical on
Shacks Beach. This was a great place to stay and it met its top
in the island TripAdvisor rating (here).
We stayed in the M4 Villa
which gave us the whole third floor of a beach front building. It
had a nice balcony overlooking the beach, full kitchen, living room,
etc. Shacks Beach is known for surfing, snorkeling and diving.
Coral reefs are all over off shore which was great for
snorkeling. There was a good swimming area at the
villas but had to be careful crossing reefs barefoot in
due to sea urchins. The water was exceptionally clear and
colorful coral and fish
were everywhere. The "blue hole", a sink hole not far off
the beach, was
great to check out. Wednesday we took a side trip down the east
coast to Mayaquez and
visited a nice zoo. On the way back to Isabela we drove along the
coast through Rincon, went up into a mountainous area and then dropped
back down into
the Isabela area. We enjoyed very nice dinners at
restaurants in the
general area of the Villas but had our
breakfasts and lunches in the villa. Our trip back to the airport
was pretty non-eventful. Just hated to have to leave the island.
Trip Images - Click on them to see larger versions