I fell in love with Puerto Rico 10 years ago during my first visit to the island. I’m not sure if it’s the delicious food, the reggaeton beats, the vibrant culture, or the beautiful people of Puerto Rico that has me continually coming back. Although this was my fifth time in Puerto Rico, it was my first time exploring the real Puerto Rico and not just the fancy resorts and beaches of San Juan. On this trip I rented a car and explored various parts of this beautiful island of enchantment (“La Isla del Encanto”).
During this visit, I did two popular day trips. I visited the El Yunque National Rainforest and the city of Ponce. Both of these places were amazing! Out of all the Caribbean islands I have visited, Puerto Rico is by far the one with the richest culture and friendliest people, not to mention, the local food here is incredibly delicious. San Juan is one of my favorite places in the world, and a place where I always feel at home. If you haven’t visited yet, you definitely should consider it. Here is my one week Puerto Rico Travel Diary. Enjoy!
Day 1: Condado
Arrived in San Juan and checked into the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.
I loved waking up in the morning and making myself a cup of Puerto Rican coffee using the hotel’s French Press Coffee Maker. This view from my bed never got old.
HOTEL REVIEW: Condado Vanderbilt Hotel San Juan
STAR RATING: *****
PROS: Swanky Hotel | Excellent Location | Luxury Rooms | Complimentary WiFi | Comfortable Beds | Rain Shower Head & Regular Shower | Excellent & Friendly Customer Service | Housekeeping Twice Daily | Multiple Complimentary Waters Daily | Complimentary Dessert Daily | Complimentary Snacks | French Press Coffee Maker + Premium Puerto Rican Coffee & Harney & Sons Teabags | Restaurants at Hotel | Weekend Entertainment at Hotel | Infinity Pool
CONS: Beach Access via local park | Extremely Windy
VERDICT: 4.75 / 5
Excellent location and one of the best hotels in San Juan. The restaurants and clubs on Ashford Avenue are easily accessible from the hotel. The staff here is super kind and friendly, I can’t stress enough how nice everyone at this property is. Although the Condado Vanderbilt is a beachfront hotel, there is no beach access directly from the hotel, but instead you need to go through a park in order to get to the beach.
Location: Excellent| Value: Pricey | Sleep Quality: Excellent | Rooms: Very Good | Service: Outstanding
1055 Ashford Ave, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Other Recommended Hotels
Renaissance La Concha Resort San Juan
Days 2-3: Old San Juan
The next day I headed to Old San Juan and walked around the beautiful city.
Beautiful and charming colorful buildings in Old San Juan.
The cobblestone streets have so much character.
Stopped by for Cafe con Leche and a Ham & Cheese Mallorca at the famous La Bombonera which was established in 1902, and once again reopened its doors in 2016.
Jewelry shopping at Eclectika. You’ll also find a lot of local art in the area.
Walked around Plaza de Colon, the main square in Old San Juan.
I had the BEST Chicken and Shrimp Mofongo prepared in a creamy garlic sauce at Punto de Vista.
Day 3: Beach Day at Playa Vacia Talega
Drove around the island and headed to Playa Vacia Talega in Loiza.
Beautiful beach with calm waters.
Watched an incredible Sunset here.
Day 4: El Yunque Rainforest
Headed to El Yunque National Rainforest.
On our way to El Yunque, we stopped at Mi Vida Cafe & Burger where I indulged in a mofongo sandwich, so instead of using buns, they improvised with plantains. Lots of healthy options here at this excellent cafe.
Beautiful view on our way up.
The trek to La Mina Falls.
La Mina Falls. I didn’t go in, the water was too cold for me.
Day 6: Ponce
The Puerto Rico Highway 52 takes you from San Juan to Ponce. The interesting thing about this drive is that the topography changes from a lush green landscape to an arid desert-like landscape.
The mountains here reminded me of San Jose, California.
Plaza las Delicias, the main square in Ponce.
Loved the architecture around the main town square.
Stopped by for a bite at Cafe Cafe where I had the BEST Cafe con Leche on the island.
Day 7: Breakfast, Last Beach Day & Checking Out.
Enjoyed a delicious Banana Papaya Smoothie at BaJuice, one of the best smoothies I’ve ever had.
Last beach day. Until next time, adios La Isla del Encanto.
More coming on budget dining and romantic dining in Puerto Rico.
Have you been to Puerto Rico? Did you love it? Where did you stay? What did you do?