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My name is Coco and I am the founder and traveler behind nationalcocographic. I created this blog to have a place to keep my memories & share my experiences to people.

Puerto Rico in 9 Days

Puerto Rico in 9 Days

Alright everyone. It’s been a little while since I’ve really posted on my blog, things have kinda gotten away from me and haven’t fully felt the desire to write. Life kind got in the way and after this trip to Puerto Rico I finally feel a little more inspired to write and help engourage everyone to take a trip and maybe even check out Puerto Rico! So I traveled with two friends to San Juan and Vieques initially it was for a wedding which took place in Old San Juan of two friends of mine. Then since we’re already out here lets make a vacation out of it :). So hopefully you’ll find this post inspirational and informative on your next trip to Puerto Rico! One thing to keep in mind for your travels is it is literally a full travel day both going and returning if you’re coming from the west coast. Anyone from the east coast I’m extremely jealous how easy it is to get here haha.  

Day 1: San Juan

I got here about 3 pm so didn’t have a ton of time this day. But went to grab lunch with my friend at this well known pizza joint called Pirilo with a cute interior and pretty good pizza. It has some great ratings just not the best service and the pizza was a little greasy. 

We then wandered around the streets again before we got ready to head out to La Placita which is a cute square that gets crazy busy on  Fridays and Saturdays. Highly recommended the restaurant Asera Kitchen. Great drinks, fun little outdoor area and really good food. There are two sections, upstairs and down I’d recommend upstairs since you’ll have a great view of the square and good service. There are many other bars in this area that are probably also worth checking out. 

Day 2: El Yunque National Park

I love to be outdoors and I’ve heard so many amazing things about El Yunque National Park. We rented a car from Enterprise for the day which was pretty reasonably priced and super easy to get around and to El Yunque. Honestly one tip I would give to anyone wanting to explore more of Puerto Rico besides just Old San Juan I’d rent a car for a few more days but keep in mind if you stay in Old San Juan the traffic is TERRIBLE and parking is REALLY hard and limited.  Which was why we only rented for the day. 

We got to the rental car around 8:30/8:45 and prebooked our car the night before and the service was amazing when we picked it up from Enterprise Rentals. Grabbed starbucks which is right next door and headed on our way an hour and bit to El Yunque National Park. Since we didnt do much research on what was open we headed straight to the information center where they gave us a map and picked up a little snack. One thing we learnt is they take their time making food so if you can plan ahead and pre pack a lunch or snack that would be the best idea! Or expect to wait at least 45 mins-1 hr for lunch. 

Driving up into the forest was beautiful being surrounded by gorgeous tropical trees and fresh air. We headed all the way to the top to hike Mnt Britton Tower where we walked around for a bit and checked out the tower and view. Then continued on our way up to El Yunque Peak which in total from top to bottom was about 5 miles. We did get caught in some tropical rain but besides that it was a relatively easy hike. Make sure you’re wearing good shoes though, because it is very rocky. The view from the top is well worth it even with the fog rolling in and out. 

El Yunque National Park

On our way towards exciting the park we headed to one of the waterfalls that is open for a quick dip since it was so warm. The Juan Diego Creek fall is just a few minutes from the road but as a recommendation continue to walk all the way to the top and you’ll see a fall and a small path that looks a little sketchy and steep. Continue up that to another section of the falls where less people & no kids tend to venture here. Enjoy a dip in the falls and cool down before you head back down to leave the park.

Now for a well deserved dinner! I had made reservations to Cocina Abierta restaurant a super cute restaurant with amazing food and great service. Highly recommend getting the Tuna Appetizer and the ceviche to start and since the restaurant is all family style they recommend a few dishes between everyone to share. 

Day 3: San Juan

Get up and head over to Caficultura for breakfast. Highly recommend the French toast and some eggs! I even heard the coffee was great they also do fresh squeezed orange juice. 

Califcultura

Once you’re done head over in the direction of El Morro Fort while also wandering through the many colorful streets of Old San Juan. Don’t worry about getting lost it’s so small and really fun to just wander.  Plus never a bad idea to stop for a drink or something while you wander. 

When you get to El Morro Fort it’s $7 which actually gets you into both Forts. It was honestly so windy when we went and hot but we explored around most of the fort for about an hour you can obviously spend more of less time there since there are some great views and lots of places to see. 

After head on over to grab lunch or where the first pina colado was invented at Barrachina. Be warned the service is really slow but the food was pretty good. As you walk this way you’ll walk past lots of cute stores and  the street with the umbrellas over hanging. 

A few more hours of strolling around and I headed over to Senior Paleta to get some delicious ice cream/popsicles. Highly recommend!

For dinner head on over to Jose Enrique for dinner which a friend when to another day. We had a wedding to go to this evening so I sadly never made it to this restaurant but I really wanted to. 

Day 4: San Juan

In my case this was a very lazy morning and a slow start but we headed over to El Jibarito for lunch to enjoy a delicious Puerto Rican meal. Wander around the streets of Old San Juan again or call an Uber and head on over to the Santurce District which is covered with graffiti. While out in this area checking out Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico as well. [Again we didn’t make it that far but plan to visit there next time].

For dinner we headed over to get some Thai food at Mai Pen Rai which was some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had. We did family style of course so then we were able to try so many dishes. Seriously nothing disappointed us! Plus the best part was we didn’t need to make a reservation!

Day 5: San Juan to Vieques

Hope in an Uber and head over the Ceiba Ferry terminal. Make sure you buy your ferry tickets at porferry.com before you head over they limit how many tickets they sell online also you get one free bag to carry on and any other bags/stuff you have to pay extra for so also keep that in mind and buy that a head of time. The ferry takes about 30-45 minutes and you have to be there at least 30 minutes before your ferry leaves. They ask you to be an hour but we got there 30 mins before and were fine. 

Vieques Ferry Terminal

We booked an airbnb for the first few days and then as my friends left I moved to a Hotel, which I’ll list below. Regardless of where you stay you will want a way to get around the island. There is no Uber and taxis aren’t super frequent. We were super lucky because we didn’t book a car/golf cart in advance and luckily we met someone who when we arrived who recommended a golf cart company for us and it was truly a life saver! 

We headed to our Airbnb located on the Isabella side of the island to dropped our stuff off and then headed to breakfast at Buen Provecho. There we made a few calls and ended up booking a golf cart with Vieques UTV Rental [787-900-2535] since all other rental companies were closed or had no availability. UTV rental came and picked us up from our breakfast spot and took us to rent the car! Super easy! But, seriously though book ahead of time. It’s hot here and you don’t want to be walking around.

Once we got our car, our beach gear, snacks and beer and we headed to Playa Chiva to chill and enjoy some fresh water and beach time. As you’re driving around the island keep your eyes open for the wild horses that just roam around and even randomly cross the roads.

As we watched the sunset over the ocean we packed up and headed back to freshen up and go to dinner. We made our way to Coqui Fire Cafe be mindful they get very busy and aren’t open on the weekends. They make killer spicy margaritas at all different levels depending on your spice tolerance. They also make all their own salsas and they are AMAZING! Make sure you get the nachos and the tuna, shrimp and pork belly tacos, and to end the night get the cheese cake. It was honestly some of the best cheese cake I’ve EVER had. I didn’t even get to take a picture of it because we ate it so fast! 

We then spent the rest of our evening lounging on our balcony listening to nature and admiring the stars! Such a nice change from the busy every day life of San Francisco. 

Day 6: Vieques

Since we’re stayed in an airbnb we ended up just making breakfast at home packed up and headed out to the beach for another chill day. Making our drive along towards sun bay we stopped by black sand  beach for quick dip. Then off to settle in to Sun Bay Beach which is a gorgeous beach and thankfully not too touristy. The beach had a little bit of sea weed but besides that it was a great afternoon chilling in the shade and in the water. 

Since we were already on the the Esperanza side we went to Banana’s Restaurant for a few drinks and dinner before our Bio Bay Tour in the evening.

I recommend booking this in advance and we did with Viators but would actually recommend even doing this company because they have clear bottom kayaks.

Day 7: Vieques

Breakfast at D’Frozz and off to drive around the the island again in search of yet another beach and to check out the Light House. 

Grabbed a lunch at another restaurant in Esperanza called Duffy’s  which you’re able to look out into the distance.

Voodoo Restaurant for dinner and for some good karaoke night out. 

Day 8:  Culebra [day trip]

As my friends departed I decided to take myself to Culebra for the day. Hopped on a little 8 person plane from Vieques to Culebra for $40  with Vieques Air Link. Keep in mind there are limited flights and you might want to spend the night on Culebra and return the next day but I spend morning/early after noon lounging on Flamenco beach enjoying the crystal clear blue water. Around 3:00 I headed to the airport for my 4 PM flight to Ceiba for 10 minutes then waited for my next flight from Ceiba back to Vieques. As annoying as this was it was the only option I had since there was no flight back from Culebra to Vieques in the afternoon. If you don’t want to spend this then your other option is the Ferry which is between $2 - $2.75 and again there are no direct paths to and from Vieques to Culebra you have to head to Ceiba. (Book these tickets in advance as well)

Airport

As must as this day was I thoroughly loved exploring Flamenco beach. They have lots of little stores/stalls for food and drinks that you can purchase and enjoy on the beach. If you’re like me and didn’t have chairs or an umbrella etc. You’re actually able to rent them for $5 an item and that was the best decisions I could have done! When you order a taxi after you land make sure you speak with the driver to set a time to return to take you back to the airport/terminal.

Landing back in Vieques and checking into my hotel, Bravo Beach Hotel, I got ready and headed out for dinner. Highly recommend checking out Biekes Bistro and made friends with the bartender who recommended the cod with rice and beans. Seriously delicious and enjoyed a couple passion fruit margaritas. 

Day 9: Vieques

Final day in Vieques and another day at the beach! Drove the far end of the island passing the airport and the pier to Punta Arens beach. Set up camp did some reading, snorkeling and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Kinda the perfect way to spend my last day. I had every intention to go scuba diving but weeks leading up to coming I reached out to the scuba company and didn’t hear anything. When i arrived I called, texted and even stopped by and couldn’t get a hold of anyone so I settled for doing my own snorkel and beach time. I’ve listed a few other activities you can do below. 

Drone Shot of PR Beach

Came back to the hotel and watched the sunset then headed out to dinner at El Local 00765. Delicious cocktails and a great pork chop with rice and beans. 

El Local Restaurant

Hopefully this is helpful and inspirational for you to want to plan a trip to to Puerto Rico. Honestly this was the perfect end to a great vacation. I needed some me realization time just checking out and read a book and enjoying nature. Looking forward to my next beach vacation. 

Where to stay:

Restaurants:

Things to do:


VIEQUES 

Where to Stay:


Restaurants: 

  • Gili Restaurant

  • Duffy’s Restaurant


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Visiting the Emerald City

Visiting the Emerald City