Puerto Rico Adventure
After my finals, I took some time off with friends to Puerto Rico. It was a worthwhile trip even just for their Piña Colada (their rum is probably more authentic? I don’t know.) But of course, we had done so much more than just drinking Piña Colada on the beach. It was an unforgettable experience, and as my friends described:” a trip that we could’ve continued to be alive, or died, together.”
What to Pack
Umbrella – We all thought it was going to rain throughout the whole trip, according to “Accu”weather, but it ended up being just the tropical weather – the kinda sunny-rain you get once or twice a day in tropical islands. It didn’t ruin our trip at all.
Sunscreen – A good SPF 100 sunscreen for your body and a mild one for your face is essential.
A nice swimsuit, bikini, or swim trunks – you will be taking tons of photos.
GoPro – A GoPro is awesome because you can take pictures under the water.
Cash – some places in Vieques Island do not accept cards, so be prepared.
The stay at the W Hotel on Vieques Island was phenomenal. It was also our first stop at San Juan. Composed of water resorts and a room with queen size bed, this Pool Oasis room was a really great deal for $500 a night.
Compared to the W Hotels in any other big cities, the W Hotel in Puerto Rico has got its nice private beach that you can kayak, swim, or canoe.
We have booked a villa for a night. But tourists should really pay attention to the rules of these villas. We were warned for a few times for: 1. Being too loud near the pool 11 o’clock at night. 2. Leaving our dishes and appliances uncleaned after our BBQ fête. Also, please pay attention and communicate well with your host so they can provide you with the full service. But overall, it was a really pleasant villa to stay with your friends on the first day or so in order to bond with each other. I would strongly suggest taking advantage of the grill stoves and the pool. You can have a night in these villa with the Caribbean life style you cannot find staying in hotels.
We went horseback riding the second day to enjoy the beautiful nature of Puerto Rico. Along the way, the horse walked us through the beach, up to a hill top, and the countryside. Seeing the nature of the Caribbean by riding a horse is the most relaxing way. However, on Vieques Island, if you do not have a car and want to travel by Taxi, book your Taxi hours in advance. Vieques Island is small and less populated, so they do not have Taxi services available running through the island 24/7. Because we were too late in finding a Taxi, we were late to our horseback riding for half an hour.
We are here all for the beaches, right? The Flamenco Beach is one of the most highly rated beach in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico, and it is one of the top beaches in the world. It is famous for fishing, snorkeling and sea turtle spotting! When I saw my first sea turtle, it was shocking how close we were and how friendly these creatures were. I tried grabbing a sea turtle by the shell and swim with them, but he kicked his feet and escape my hands. I took many many selfies with them using my GoPro. Though ocean waves and minor water pressure were getting in my way, it was fun seeing the underwater world and spotting sea turtles, sea urchins, and fish that I cannot name.
We stayed at La Concha hotel for a total of three nights. I have to say, the resort facilities, the beaches, and the weather were on point! My favorite spot in La Concha were the two infinity pools. Though small, the pool provides another option if you do not like salt water. Their fresh water is controlled in a constant temperature. It is also an awesome photo spot – when the sky aligns with the ocean and the ocean aligns with the pool. Who is it that had the brilliant idea of infinity pool? It’s marvelous! We also noticed that the wind on the beaches in Puerto Rico is not as strong as it is on other beaches we visited. The mild wind would not blow up all the sand and the ocean does not create excessive humidity that makes your skin feel sticky and salty and sandy at all times *eww.
Across the street from La Concha is a sandwich, coffee and tea shop called Pinky’s which opens from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is recommended by one of my Puerto Rican friends Paola Aguayo. It’s become our favorite breakfast and brunch restaurant during our three-day stay at La Concha for its amazing sandwiches and smoothies worth beyond what you pay. I bought a breakfast sandwich called the “The Bandage Sandwich,” which has scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese in a soft flat bread thin like a bandaid. Their smoothies provides the option of milk, juice, or just ice as the base.
One cannot claim to have been to San Juan without going on a caving adventure with Aventuras Tierra Adentro. It was an unforgettable experience with my friends. I recommend only those who had gone caving before to sign up this adventure with Aventuas, because their adventure is much more advanced and requires good physical condition.The adventure started very early in the morning. We had to meet up with the rest of the team and our leader, Rosano, next to our hotel by 5 a.m. The drove to the trail and the caving site was around an hour, but under Rosano’s “entertainment” and his instructions, it passed much faster. I have to say, the Aventuras team tried very hard to make this caving experience dramatic and entertaining as if all the participants have supernatural powers. During the adventure, we ran along the trail, climbed up and down the cliff, explored this terrifying cave where bugs, scorpios, bats, and other unknown creatures inhabit. We had to run through deep mud, climb on rocks, and jump into the water from a cliff in the deep cave. It was the closest thing to Man vs. Wild I have ever done in my life.
Old San Juan
The old town of San Juan remains the footprint from the spanish colonial period and many historical events. You can see Castillo San Felipe del Morro Lighthouse in the old town of San Juan. Though it was rebuilt after the first and the second light houses were demolished by war, this third lighthouse was rebuilt during 1908 on the castle of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, exhibiting the Moorish Revival style of “a square tower on castle.” The three flags waving behind this lighthouse were the American, Puerto Rican, and Spanish Empire flags.
Old San Juan is a well maintained neighborhood with houses built in the Spanish Style. In fact, Old San Juan is not old at all; the houses are often renovated and repainted with well-built stone roads. Though only a few miles away from “new” San Juan, the old town of San Juan is drastically different world; It has got no casino, no resort facilities, and no groups of tourists. In old San Juan, all you can see are narrow streets crisscrossing houses where the Caribbean live and seagulls stop by, and all you can hear is mild wind mixed with the sound of the ocean waves. It possesses a nostalgic feeling of the childhood life in one’s grandparents home. We walked through old San Juan from East to West, chasing the enervated afternoon sun along our way. We did not make a sound, afraid that we would ruin the tranquility of this beautiful town.
This trip to Puerto Rico was my first time traveling with friends instead of family members. I think Puerto Rico is more suitable to travel with friends, because it is all about enjoying the nature and the scenics, and going on extreme adventures that you would not go on with your parents. Traveling with friends is a different experience, because you would be doing all the wild and reckless things with them. A trip like this had definitely strengthened our friendship, and I am just so glad that I have all these awesome friends around me.