San Juan's Paseo de La Princesa at Sunset

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Puerto Rico is a wonderful get away destination with so many options from relaxation to high adventure that it left us wanting more after our 10-day visit from  January 29 to February 8, 2022. Many have asked about our itinerary and activities so here is an overview of what we did and how things went. With so much culture, amazing natural beauty, friendly people, and options for relaxing, romance, or fun, we highly recommend it for anyone! After leaving from snowy Southwestern Pennsylvania, we were so excited to see the beaches and sunshine as we arrived and could not wait to experience as much as we could pack into our time there. Additional, more detailed blogs about specific locations will be added and linked as they become available.

Though Puerto Rico is a domestic flight from the United States, there are still some additional requirements upon arrival, especially during Covid. Please make sure you check all requirements ahead of time when travelling to any U.S. Territory. It is not a big deal as long as you are prepared and The Travelsafe Puerto Rico Site provides what you need to know. The robust  culture and history of Puerto Rico offer  great opportunities for new experiences, as is the case when traveling to any different region of the United States. We highly advise you lean into appreciating the colors, flavors, and culture of the island to maximize your experience. Spanish and English are both spoken but in the more rural areas, it will really be handy to have some Spanish.

A word of warning about rental cars. Make sure that you find out in advance if you can use a debit card or not. We ran into an unpleasant surprise at the Hertz counter which almost caused a serious issue. This leads to our second tip...always have a non-debit Credit Card with you when traveling anywhere. We landed in the afternoon and headed towards the timeshare in Humacao that would serve as our home base for the first 7 days. 

Our Home Base for the First 7 Days

Sunset from private patio on first night

We were very pleased with the resort and surrounding beaches. It is worthy of its own post so keep your eyes open for a future blog about the resort and the area. Here is a sneak peek of the Park Royal Homestay at Club Cala. It is nestled within a safe residential condo/resort area with nice amenities and walks to the residential beaches. It was a great base of operations for us.

Rainbow and reflection from our patio

Day 1 - Adventures to the Caves of the North

Our Cave Route - PC: Google Maps

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Inside Cueva del Viento

After an early breakfast in our condo, we set out on an all day adventure to see some caves. Our first stop of the day was about 3 hours out to our furthest destination  to the  Cueva del Viento (Wind Cave), we then drove past the Rio Camuy Cave Park but did not have a reservation so we continued on to Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave). There will be individual blogs with details but I will say that this made for an incredible Day 1! The driving allowed us to see some of the backroads and experience exciting (re: blind curves, winding roads, and  giant potholes) driving, nice hiking, and high adventure (the path into the Wind Cave is seriously a hazard and we were surprised it was open). 

The Cueva del Indio and beachfront town of Arecibo gave us a real glimpse of how the locals play on a lovely Sunday. There were many Jeeps showing off their colorful outfitting, music blaring, beachfront gatherings, and children playing. This was clearly the place to be and it was so fun to see people out enjoying themselves in the fresh ocean air. Please see future blogs for more detail on both caves.

Cueva del Indio

Day 2 - Exploring the Southern Route and Our First Biobay

Our Southern Route - PC: Google Maps

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We headed north out of Humacao in order to be able to catch the highway south. We made a quick stop in Ponce  to see the infamous Casa de Las Bomberos(House/Museum of Firefighters), have an amazing ice cream (helados) at King's Cream, and feed the pigeons by the fountain in the park. We then went west to the coast for some beach and biobay fun. Future blogs will be posted with more location details.

Casa de Las Bomberos (Firefighter's House/Museum) and Park Fountain in Ponce

The relaxing beaches of Cabo Rojo had many trees under which we could relax and have a picnic lunch for a few hours mid-day.

As the late afternoon arrived, we made our way towards the waterfront town of  Lajas  where we shared a delicious and reasonably priced early dinner of Paella at Puerto Parguera before meeting for our first Bioluminescent Bay experience.

We were so excited to board the Hook'd on Adventure Sunset and Bio Bay Parguera Tour boat for our first Bioluminescent experience. The natural phenomenon happens in few places in the world but Puerto Rico has multiple bioluminescent bays year round. La Parguera is the only place in Puerto Rico which allows for swimming with them. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!!! If you can get past being in deep water in the dark, it is like swimming in fairy dust. It is an experience we will never forget. Photography and video is extremely difficult so I chose to simply enjoy the moment. It was priceless!

Day 3 - Journey into El Yunque Rain Forest

El Yunque National Rainforest is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. There are multiple places to hike for all abilities, enjoy natural waters, view incredible vistas, and more. We spent the day doing all of those things and even had time to spend some time relaxing in our own private paradises. Please do not miss the opportunity to see this amazing place! Stay tuned for a future blog with more detail.

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A view from the roadside in El Yunque

Bano Grande (Big Bath)

Private lunch spot on path to Juan Diego Falls

A "heart" along a hiking path

Day 4 - Enjoying a Day Around the Resort

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As mentioned in the intro above, we very much enjoyed our stay at Park Royal Homestay Club Cala. The condo style of accommodations with patio and boats in the backyard (photos at top of blog) met all of our needs and we very much enjoyed the swim up bar and pool area...even when an iguana dropped out of a tree onto my head. More on that surprise in a future blog, but neither I, nor my little green friend (shown to the right), were injured in the commotion. On this day of rest, we stayed close to the resort but decided to check out a couple of the beautiful, quiet beaches within walking distance shown on the map to the left. Photos included below.

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One of the perks of staying at our resort was also having access to the facilities at the Wyndham Palmas Beach & Golf Resort next door. The Palmas del Mar Beach (at top of map) is behind that property so we had to check in at the gate. On foot, it was about 2.5 meandering km through the paths on the properties and then back down the beach. This beach was not as secluded and it is near facilities so there were more people but it was certainly not crowded and provided a very nice walk back to our resort. A huge plus is that you can see Vieques Island in the distance.

The "Secret Beach" below, as it is labeled on Google Maps (bottom of map above) was a less than 3 km walk from our room. You have to pass through a neighborhood to get there so it is important to be very respectful as you make your way there. There is no parking lot, just a dirt path at the dead end of a road. Be sure not to wander onto anyone's private property. We researched it online and could not find any rules or no trespassing signs but be sure to always keep up to date when exploring. We were the only ones there and there are no facilities, but it is a great place to share a quiet moment in the sun.

Day 5 - Cycling Vieques Island and Biobay Kayaking

On Thursday, the weather was a bit dodgy leading up to our short Ferry Ride to Vieques but the weather held out for our Biking Adventure with rentals from Vieques Cycles across the mountain to Playa Negra (black sand beach) and our Bioluminescent Clear Kayak ride on the Mosquito Bay with Aqua Sunset Tours. We stayed at a fantastic boutique hotel called the Seagate Hotel which we recommend for a very authentic island experience. We had great experiences with all of these vendors. Please see future blogs for details.

We thought the rainbow over the Ferry was a great sign!

Our very strenuous bike ride to Playa Negra was worth every bit of effort!

Day 6 - Viewing Vieques by Horse and Taxi

Waking up on Friday to the sounds of the peepers and roosters and a gorgeous sunrise from the deck of our room at The Seagate Hotel was a fantastic start to my husband's birthday! We enjoyed the complimentary breakfast and coffee and then booked our private horseback tour of the island using the hotel's own rescue horses. It was incredible!

Since we had a few hours before the Ferry back to the main island, we hired our favorite cab driver/tour guide "Baby" Rodriguez to show us his favorite spots and he even treated us to stories of the culture and history of the island. If you ask at the hotel, they will know how to reach him!

Waking up in Vieques (video with sounds below)

Horseback Riding Video

Morning Sounds in Vieques Video

Days 7 - 9 The Sights of San Juan

On Saturday, it was time to move our home base from Humacao to San Juan. We made the hour or so drive to the airport to drop off the car since driving and/or parking in Old San Juan is really not a great option. We grabbed an Uber to our hotel and were able to check in early to start seeing Old San Juan on foot.

We highly recommend staying in Old San Juan since it is very walkable as long as you have comfortable shoes and can do some hills. We stayed at S.J. Suites Hotel. The location was fantastic and the price was one of the most reasonable. The staff was nice and the accommodations were adequate but we would probably look for something a bit newer next time.

More details on San Juan will be provided in a future post, but here are some highlights.

Day 10 - Peace Out Puerto Rico!

This was by far our most active vacation in our almost thirty years of traveling together. Our Fit Bits were very happy with us and we each even lost a few pounds.

We really did fall in love with Puerto Rico and as much as we saw, we left wanting more. We never felt unsafe except for the rickety cave stairs and the language was usually not a barrier. We did our best to speak (terrible) Spanish when needed and  we did not expect everyone to speak English in order accommodate us. We have found that respecting local cultures, be they in different states, territories, or countries goes a long way towards enjoying our travels. The people, food, activities, and sites were all fantastic. So if you are looking for a tropical getaway with something for everyone to love, Puerto Rico is a great choice! Stay tuned for more detailed blogs but if you have any questions or requests, please feel free to reach out to Please remember to always look for the beauty ;)

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