"We had a splendid trip. The Sheraton Old San Juan was clean and centrally located. I enjoyed having the historic district to walk around in the morning and evening [Have to agree with Allen here; my favorite thing to do in Puerto Rico is walk the streets of Old San Juan]. My only gripe was being far away from any decent beach. But then again, staying in Old San Juan is a different kind of vacation than staying at a resort and never leaving (and this is important for visitors to know: Old San Juan isn't walking distance from a great beach, but it is indeed a different type of holiday). Our favorite restaurant was actually a bakery and breakfast spot, I think it was called La Bombonera [one of my favorite breakfast spots in San Juan]. It's on Calle San Francisco with lots of baked goodies in their window. We also ate at Cafe Berlin (good prices, good food, good service), Aguaviva (very expensive but gourmet food, and crowded; should have made reservations), and the Italian restaurant at the Sheraton Old San Juan (again, good different kinds of food).
"My wife and I weren't head-over-heals for Puerto Rican food, but the coffee and cocktails were amazing. The other thing we found out is: Don't go out to eat when you're hungry, go before you get hungry! We found out that time is relative in Puerto Rico. It is good to slow down from our American lifestyle though! [Again, very sage advice here. Remember, you're on island time in Puerto Rico!]
"We taxied to Isla Verde beach in front of the El San Juan Hotel & Casino on Sunday. It was beautiful and sunny. We walked to Escambrón Beach on Monday; it was nice but definitely a public beach. We didn't mind, though. Tuesday, we took East Island Excursions to Culebra. They picked us up on time (which seems to be a rarity for excursions after talking to a few other families), we went to Fajardo and took off on a Catamaran. The people with East Island were so laid back and so much fun! We had perpetual rum drinks for the entire eight-hour excursion, lunch on the boat, and we snorkeled and of course, saw the famed Flamenco Beach! It was definitely worth our time and money.
"Wednesday, we rented a Jeep Wrangler and drove up to the El Yunque rainforest. That was awesome! I know you mentioned we could go to Luquillo Beach afterward, and I wish we did. Instead we gunned it to Seven Seas Beach, but it took too long to get there in the middle of the afternoon and it was after 4 by the time we arrived. So we invaded the El Conquistador and swam at their pools and enjoyed the view! Things seem to work out that way. We were too exhausted to stay in Fajardo for the kayaking in the biobay but we did stop at that row of kiosks on the way back to San Juan.
"Thursday, we left the Sheraton and moved over to the DoubleTree by Hilton in Condado. The DoubleTree was spectacular for its contemporary design, cleanliness, and friendliness! We were delighted. In fact, as guests of the DoubleTree, we were able to go to La Concha, a Renaissance Resort and use their pools and private beach! That was a perfect thing to do since the surf was quite rough at the beaches. That Renaissance was so cool!
"I have to say that the one thing that made this trip especially delightful (besides it being our honeymoon) was the Puerto Ricans. They were so helpful, warm, inviting, friendly, and fun. Most other places I've vacationed at, people are cordial but you can tell that they are simply working in the tourism business, and they're burnt out. The people of Puerto Rico, however, are so friendly and nonjudgmental. Every restaurant we went to, the people were so conversational and friendly. Everyone wanted to help us, too.
"One thing I wish I researched more was beaches. I would have liked to stay at a beautiful, calm, clean beach for a few days. Oh well, we can't all retreat to Culebra or Vieques for a few days. We had a spectacular time. I hope our insight can add to your collective knowledge, if only to know how first-time visitors fare on the Island of Enchantment!"
Now that's what I call a Puerto Rico vacation done right! It's ambitious to cover so much ground in one week, but as you can see, it can be done, and done well. Allen was kind enough to give me permission to publish his story, and for that I'm very grateful. I wish him all the best, and hope his story gives you a few ideas and insights about the wonders of visiting Puerto Rico!