TFTR Top 10: Our Favorite Experiences in Puerto Rico

So if you’ve been keeping up with our blog at all lately you’ve no doubt been able to tell we had an amazing time during our Tripfilms vlogger assignment in Puerto Rico.

In all we spent just shy of 10 days on the island and we were able to experience so many things – but for those of you who are only going to be visiting for a few hours or a few days, we thought we’d distill our list of cool experiences into a “best of” list, featuring our top three experiences in each of three categories: Places to Visit, Things to Do and Places to Eat. We hope you find it helpful! And by all means if you need any help planning your trip, or would just like to get some more thoughts/ideas from us, feel free to drop us a line anytime. We’d love to hear from you!

Places to visit:

Old San Juan, Puerto RicoOld San Juan: This one’s a no-brainer, really, for anyone visiting Puerto Rico – but especially if you’ll be coming into  San Juan on a cruise. The cruise terminal is located right there on the south side of old town, making it easy easy easy to simply walk off the ship and spend hours exploring. The whole area is charming, colorful and steeped in Puerto Rico’s history and vibrant culture. You’ll find lots of great shops, galleries, restaurants and bars. And of course there are the old forts – San Cristobal and El Morro (with its incredible cemetery) – which are a must-see while you’re there.


Great eats in Guavate– Guavate: A short 45-minute drive south of San Juan you’ll find this little town, which is known throughout the island (and the world) for its delectable roast pork called lechon. Aside from a few souvenir shops there’s not much to see and do in terms of “tourist stuff,” but that’s all well and good. The lechon itself is the main reason to visit, especially on the weekends when the locals and their families come out to eat. Expect lots of music, dancing, friendly faces and of course phenomenal food. We loved our time at a lechonera called Los Pinos, and recommend it highly. A wonderful way to experience authentic Puerto Rico.


Camuy Caves Arecibo Puerto Rico– Camuy Caves: About an hour or so west of San Juan, the Camuy Caves are an incredible natural wonder and a definite must-see if you get the chance. Provided you’re able to escape the crowds (which we hear can be maddening) you’ll be treated to an amazing overall experience. The walking tour through the actual caves is very easy and lasts about 45 minutes or so, during which time you can learn tons on interesting information about the caves and of course take some incredible photos. And there are other attractions nearby – such as the  very cool Arecibo telescope – which planned together would make for an excellent day trip from San Juan.

Things to do:

– Kayaking the Biobay: What? You’re asking. We didn’t see you do any video of this. Sadly, that’s true – we didn’t. But that’s only because when you’re out there kayaking through the mangroves at night it’s pitch dark, and it’s absolutely impossible to capture good photos or video. Which on one hand is an absolute shame because the experience is nothing short of magical. But on the other hand, as they say, “pictures never do it justice.” And that’s certainly true here. There’s no way to capture just what an incredible thing it really is, and you just have to see it for yourself. Essentially you kayak into dark waters that are home to a rare bio-luminescent bacteria, and when the bacteria is disturbed – whether by your kayak paddle, or even your hand – the water glows a magical, Avatar-like blue color that will just blow your mind. We were ready to be vastly disappointed by this experience and instead it turned out to be one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen or done. So, yeah. We recommend it. We went with Island Kayaking Adventures  and had a great time.


Ziplining at Toroverde Nature Park Puerto Rico– Toroverde Nature Park: Again, this is another one of those things we weren’t excited about at first, but absolutely loved in the end. About 45 or so minutes southwest of San Juan, Toroverde offers rappelling, a hanging bridges tour, and a zipline canopy tour. And if you’re feeling uber-adventurous, Toroverde just happens to be home to the highest and second-longest zipline anywhere in the world, called “La Bestia,” or The Beast. And believe us it’s one hell of a ride. Even if you’re an experienced “zip-liner” Toroverde is sure to please. Plus, its a great way to experience some of the incredible natural beauty that Puerto Rico has to offer.


Vertical Solutions Helicopter Tour San Juan Puerto Rico– Vertical Solutions Helicopter Tour: We love, love, love getting up in the air to get a better perspective on things, no matter where we go. But we were absolutely blown away by all of the surprising scenery and beautiful sights we saw on our tour with Vertical Solutions, that are pretty much impossible to see from the ground. We took what they call the “Mountain Tour,” which begins with a flyover of San Juan (and Old San Juan) and takes you inland to gaze over the lush mountains and canyons and waterfalls of Puerto Rico’s interior. And it was fantastic. Greg (the owner) and the rest of the gang at Vertical Solutions were just awesome, and they’re eager to show off this beautiful island. Best of all, they fly out of an airport that’s just a very short drive from Old San Juan, so you can take a tour and still have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your day.

 

Places to eat:
Mango's Ocean Park Puerto Rico– Mango’s Ocean Park: We had lots and lots of great food during our visit to PR, but none better than the amazing culinnary experience that awaited us at Mango’s. Mango’s is in a great little neighborhood of San Juan called Ocean Park, and it’s all-in-all just a very cool place. The atmosphere is casual and comfy and very laid back (they’re even pet friendly), but don’t let the casual vibe fool you. The food is serious business here. Our friend Adria from condadoinsider.com took us to Mango’s one night and introduced us to the chef Johnathan, who then proceeded to dazzle us with stunning creation after creation, each more delicious than the last. While we’re not “luxury” travelers and we tend to shy away from most of what you’d consider “upscale” dining experiences, Mango’s was upscale without being pretentious. And for us it fit the bill perfectly.

– Guavate: Yep. We know this place is on the list twice, but that just goes to show how much we enjoyed it. The overall experience Guavate offers is just terrific – but the food is absolutely out of this world. You can certainly get lechon just about anywhere you go around Puerto Rico – and we did actually try the lechon in several places – and while it’s mostly all very good, the lechon in Guavate truly is different. Maybe it is the authentic Puerto Rican vibe that helps heighten the culinary experience, and maybe its just the lechon itself, but there’s something special about this place that makes it a must-visit destination. Again, we visited a lechonera called Los Pinos and had an amazing time. So even if you only have a couple of hours to get away for lunch, Guavate is certainly worth checking out.

– El Jibarito: When wondering around Old San Juan you’ll come across a multitude of places where you can grab a good local meal, which is great until you go about trying to settle on one for lunch. As we walked from block to block we looked up a few places online (we’re big Yelpers) and noticed that this place, El Jibarito, was known for its local fare and got particularly good reviews. So we went in to check it out, and were not disappointed. The atmosphere is low-key and welcoming (the menu was even hand-written) and the mofongo here was especially good. It’s a few blocks away from what you might consider the main “tourist” area of old town but certainly worth the walk. And yes, they have ice-cold Medalla there waiting to cool you off. 🙂

So there you have it!

Suffice it to say we had an incredible time during our 10-day visit, and we did, saw, and ate more than we ever expected. Thanks again to Tripfilms and Diamond Public Relations for giving us the opportunity, to Adria Estrada from condadoinsider.com for being an amazing guide,  and to all the friendly people of Puerto Rico who helped make this adventure one of our all-time favorites.

Gracias por todo, amigos! Nos vemos muy pronto!

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And be sure to check out all of our Puerto Rico blogs and videos:

Exploring Old San Juan

Crazy Cool Condado

A Day at the Cockfights

Conquering The Beast at Toroverde

Into the Camuy Caves

Great Eats in Guavate

An Island Sky Ride

Surf’s Up in Isabela

 

 

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