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Old 10-30-2019, 03:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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San Juan, PR, Hotels/sights to see

Just booked flights for Nov 17, flying to San Juan getting in Sunday night and leaving Wednesday mid day. Anyone have anything I must see? Wife isn't a big hiker, I'd like to see a waterfall/rainforest type thing. Other sights to see? Stuff I need to eat? Places not to go?
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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El Yunque was a great rain forest but I think it got hit hard by the hurricane. They do have a web page you can check out.
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old Town in San Juan is pretty neat. We got down there a few times when I was deployed for Maria/Irma. We stayed at the Double Tree and that's where I would probably stay again just cause they were awesome. Some of the other got booked in a few hotels on the beach but they lost power several items and had a fire on one of the floors.

Barrachina 104 C. Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico was a good local restaurant we went to a couple times.

Piola Pizzería Artesanal was close to the double tree and we went there pretty often.

Bebo's Café is another place that was a popular local spot close to the Double Tree

Last 2 were walking distance, although you can easily walk from the Double Tree to the beach.

The only thing I got to do outside of San Juan was go on a Bio-Luminescence kayak tour. It was fun but it was a work out coming back. Laguna Grande was the location.

Driving there is a trip, I enjoyed it but I don't think anyone else did. Most of the stop lights do not work, cops drive around with their lights on all the time, having someone that is good at running google maps as a navigator. Knowing some Spanish helps reads the exit's.

The rain forest was bouncing back pretty good last time I looked.

San Juan was interesting as there are ghetto buildings and then super rich right next to each other. It was the result of some failed idea to spread the wealth at some point in time.

AT&T was the most prevalent for cell service there. Others should work fine but they have the largest part of the market.
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Old 10-30-2019, 04:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There is a horseback trip that you can take through a rain forest, if hiking is out. Wife and I did it about 5yrs ago when we vacationed there. It was pretty awesome!
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Old 10-31-2019, 08:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. Kind of impromptu, companion pass expiring, points to burn, she wants to get away. The rub is she wants to go where theres no signal and sit on a beach and not really drink, I want to climb a mountain and see some ruins and party at night. Hopefully we can find a mix of each.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Piñones beach is pretty to look at and enjoy local beers and food off the side of the road, but it's not good for swimming.

Plaza Las Americas is a pretty big mall she might enjoy shopping at. It's 3 stories and has several stores in it more than once due to size.

El Toro Verde is way in the middle of the island and has a Guiness record holder zipline called the Beast. It's 1200' high and like 8 football fields long.

Several people go to the Bicardi factory and say it's a nice tour.

It's $5 a person for the Forts and admission to one is good for them both. They are within walking distance of each other, depending on how good of shape you're in.

El Yunque is beautiful and a definite need to. It was $4 a person last time I went, but a tour may be worth the extra if you're unsure where you're going.

We did a sunset sail and ride jetskis in Old San Juan bay near the cruise ship ports. You can get some really great pictures of the Forts from the water that way.

My personal advice would be don't rent a car. You have to pay for parking everywhere which gets expensive. We used Uber everywhere and enjoyed it. You don't have to worry about finding a parking spot, and if you get tired of walking one will pick you up wherever you are. Unfortunately they do not go to El Yunque, so renting a car that day may be nice.

I'm told both Fajardo and Vieques islands have the bioluminescent bays. Vieques also has a beach with black sand. I ran out of time and wasn't able to see either of them.

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Old 10-31-2019, 12:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. Kind of impromptu, companion pass expiring, points to burn, she wants to get away. The rub is she wants to go where theres no signal and sit on a beach and not really drink, I want to climb a mountain and see some ruins and party at night. Hopefully we can find a mix of each.
it's a bit of a drive to get there, but off the south side in Ponce there is a small ferry boat that takes ~75-100 people to an island free to roam. It's got a nice beach, good hike to the top, and other than a couple locals with boats nobody but the ferry people are there. Beautiful place. Pretty cheap trip - we had a rental car at something like $40 a day. Found the place https://islandsofpuertorico.com/isla-caja-de-muertos/

If you didn't book already, airB&B was super cheap for a nice small place in a decent area. Again think it was $40-50 a night.

edit: some great scenery in El Yunque, make it happen for at least a half day.

overall we had a great time mixing in finding random local eateries, hitting beaches, rain forest hiking, bars at night, etc. We'll be back for sure
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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We used Uber everywhere and enjoyed it.
Other then the Airport. Only could get taxi's at the airport when I was there. After that no problem with Uber.
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Other then the Airport. Only could get taxi's at the airport when I was there. After that no problem with Uber.
Correct, it was $25 for a taxi from the airport to the Intercontinental Hotel but only $4 to Uber back. They can drop you off at the airport but can't pick you up due to agreements with the airport and taxis. They can't pick you up inside the hotel either, so we had to walk to the street. Still way cheaper than the cab service. Also was great to meet locals and ask different places to eat Monfongo or places to go only locals know about.
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Old 11-20-2019, 08:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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There were ride share signs at the airport and they can pull right up into your hotel to get you now, we have been picked up at the front door of the double tree every time. About to do the Forts and Bacardi before we get on the airplane. The rain forest was worth renting a car and that is pretty hassle free and not daunting at all to rent a car and cruise around. Depending on your physical shape walking up to the Britton tower or to the peak is a really good work out and a couple thousand foot climb, the main waterfall was closed from the hurricane so we had to hike up to the smaller one (Juan Diego creek) and got some cool pictures. The top waterfall is a challenge to get to in flip flops.
After you are already all the way out at the rain forest might as well go to Luquillo and get some local food and drinks at a kick ass beach.
The Doubletree was nice but I really think next time we will stay closer to the airport where there is a beautiful beach, and microbrewery and cockfights, or at the east edge of old downtown San Juan where there is tons of stuff to walk around and do if you like shops and bars and restaurants and history. The Doubletree is right in the middle of those two locations. As said though it is a very nice hotel with great service
Ocean Labory was great we really enjoyed it. As for the restaurants I don’t think we found a single one we were disappointed with so it’s kind of hard to go wrong with your 5000 choices. Barrachina in old downtown was good and the drinks were very smooth for how strong they were.
I expected local drinks to be cheaper. Some street vendors were, restaurants and bars they are 6-12$ each.
I recommend PR and will bring my kids back.
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:14 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Didn't they just get hit by a hurricane? Don't know PR but I've been to plenty of tropical islands after a storm and it's not very pretty for a couple of years.

Edit: But, I don't really love or hate the PR, but they are sort-of American and they need the money so.... whatever I don't know what to say. Spend money so they can stop begging it off of Mainlanders by calling us racist.

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Old 11-20-2019, 10:18 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Don't bring anything you will miss when it gets stolen. Seriously.
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Don't bring anything you will miss when it gets stolen. Seriously.
Yeah there's that, too. You know, on other Carib islands, the people don't fuck with the tourists because they're a money cow. You should definitely stay out of the warning areas, but in the tourist area you are pretty safe.

The downside of PR being a colony is that they don't really see tourists as hands off.

Kinda forgot about that. In Jamaica, they don't let anyone near you who will stealfrom/harm a tourist. Yeah it happens but they make an effort. PR, not so much.

Anyway that was my Liberty briefing circa 1990-something.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:45 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I keep my head on a swivel, my belongings close and back to the corner and never felt like anyone was looking for a shot at my stuff. We didn’t do a ton of exploring. An Uber driver recommended a restaurant down a street that looked suspect, I said thanks then went to a well lit one in a better part of town. Just use your head and I felt pretty good about security.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:11 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I said thanks then went to a well lit one in a better part of town. Just use your head and I felt pretty good about security.
Pussy I like the suspect places as they usually are very good.

As for the double tree yeah it's sorta in the middle but they were the only ones with a working generator during the hurricane, kept staff on site to feed us, and had working facility. Others that were on the beach didn't have anything.

So I guess if your gonna ride out a hurricane in a hotel that's the one to pick. I'm sure they all are pretty up and up now though.

Hurricane (Maria) was 2 years ago I think?

I never felt unsafe in the tourist areas. We got into some rough areas but that's outside of the normal tourist destinations. I guess it's no worse then any other place in the US as for using common sense.

Did you check out the WalMart? It's a interesting place. That area of town is interesting.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Saw wal mart signs, never went to one. Wife and I were wondering if it attracted all the trash or if it were upscale for PR
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Old 11-20-2019, 01:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Saw wal mart signs, never went to one. Wife and I were wondering if it attracted all the trash or if it were upscale for PR
worst Walmart I've ever been in. Has an escalator, multi stories. No reason to go really just some time you need to stop at one.

Coqui drive ya nuts? I didn't mind them as it's about the same as crickets for me.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We only spent a day in san juan but the fort is pretty cool and the down town area near the cruise ship port has lots of cool shops.

Everyone there is trying to screw you over, just accept it. Random people will try to charge you for parking, guided tours, whatever. They're just hustling the dumb gringo 90% of the time and don't actually work there.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:35 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Also, the little roadside meat stands are pretty awesome and are great for a cheap quick bite.
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