Introduction to Fajardo:
Puerto Rico's boating capital, Fajardo is known both for its variety of boating activities and as a gateway to Vieques and Culebra Islands. But this place is more than just the sum of its marinas. A day trip to Fajardo will show you a picturesque national park, a breathtaking beach, terrific local food, and a magical nighttime excursion into a glow-in-the-dark biobay.
When to Head Out From San Juan:
Try to leave the city in the morning to make the most of the day. Budget at least an hour for traffic and food stops. Fajardo is only about 40 miles away from San Juan's main airport.
What to See During the Day:
Start with the Cabezas de San Juan National Park, located on the eastern tip of the island and home of a 19th Century Lighthouse. The park has stunning views of the Caribbean, El Yunque, and a variety of ecological environments.
Then, travel along Route 987 until you get to Seven Seas Beach, a beautiful public beach with full amenities and facilities. The beach is so named because aerial views show seven different shades of blue-green in the water.
Where to Eat:
If you want a change of pace from Puerto Rican cuisine, try Blue Iguana (787-860-6000), widely considered to be one of the best Mexican restaurants on the island. But if you're after local fare, run, don't walk to Pasión por el Fogón. You won't regret it.
How to Spend the Afternoon:
There's a two-part answer to this question. As the sun winds down, check out the view at Seven Seas Beach, or head to the El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa for gambling, spa treatments, or a round of golf.
You can't leave Fajardo without visiting its natural gem: the biobay. True, it doesn't quite compare with the Vieques Biobay, but it's still worth a visit.
Yokahú Kayak Trips (787-604-7375) runs kayak tours out to the biobay. Visitors can no longer jump into the water and paddle around, watching the water around them glowing bright green. But they can dip their hands in, and watch the neon effect of their oars in the water. The glowing phenomenon, incidentally, is the result of millions of tiny single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates, which release energy in the form of light.
On the Way Back:
As you head back to San Juan along Route 3, stop by the Kiosks along Route 3. This is a continuous string of roughly 75 kiosks that sell all manner of crispy snacks, fritters, and turnovers, along with cheap drinks and other foods. The kiosks stay open late, and you can't miss them.