Travel: Insider Guide to Puerto Rico II

Come explore like a true local with our Puerto Rico travel series! In this second installation of the series, I will be sharing some of my favorites in the east side. If you missed the first one, where I covered central San Juan area, click here.

Bahia

My visit to Bahia has always been short but so relaxing.  First time, we were wedding venue hunting and stumbled upon St. Regis Bahia Beach. This resort is unbelievable. It’s the first tripe AAA diamond resort in Puerto Rico – with 483-acres site at the foot of El Yunque. img_3632A vacation here is like your home away from home, on site there’s a restaurant for your every taste. Endless amount of beach, pool, tennis, there’s a recreation area just for kayaking and fishing. And one of the best golf courses on the island.

Our favorite chef, Jose Enrique, oversees one of the restaurant on site, you may remember me mentioning about his Santurce location here.img_3680But if there’s anything you NEED to do here is SPA. Remede Spa is H-E-A-V-E-N. We only got to enjoy a couple of hours here, my only regret is not being able to stay longer. You are greeted by excellent service, tea, champagne. The massage is tailored to your needs and so worth it.

Insider tip: book a spa service in the morning then come back whenever. You have access to the spa all day when you book a service!

When you are not spa-ing, explore the resort and hit the beach! img_3640-2img_3662img_3663-2

Fajardo

The first time I visited Puerto Rico, I was whisked away on a romantic getaway with my then boyfriend, now husband, to Fajardo! 🙂 Fajardo is about an hour drive from central San Juan, the drive there is beautiful, you will actually pass the El Yunque Rainforest on the way. 2014-10-17-13-40-04We stayed at the El Conquistador, which is absolutely insane! The resort is MASSIVE nested in the mountain and comprised of five miniature resorts and private access to Palomino Island, off the coast of Fajardo. There’s five different pools, a water park (what!), so many different restaurants! You will find something for everyone.2014-10-20-21-26-30-1My absolute favorite part of the resort is Palomino Island. If you are a guest at the hotel, just hop on their ferry and viola! The island is quaint and quiet. You can lounge around or partake in any water excursion activities. When you are lounging, order a bushwacker, it’s like a pina colada but 10x better.2014-10-17-16-14-29The resort concierge can also help you arrange excursions. We did the kayak through bio luminescent bay. These magical organisms are impossible to capture in pictures but they are beautiful. Imagine a whole ocean of glowing stars. It’s indescribable. Puerto Rico has two bio bays, one here and one in Vieques, more on that later!

One of my favorite meals in Fajardo was from Pasion por el Fogon. Authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Be bold and order the whole fried snapper. You won’t regret it. Everything here is delicious, I still think about that seafood soup I had three years ago… drools.2015-06-18 20.44.49.jpg

Also, off the marina of Fajardo, you can charter a boat to explore the island of Icacos. Only accessible by boat, but totally worth it. The water is SO blue it’s incredible. 2015-07-10-16-39-45

El Yunque

2015-07-08 13.40.25.jpgThis is probably one of the most talked about/popular sites for tourists visiting Puerto Rico. I have to be honest…this was not my favorite, mainly because I was not prepared enough. I was not mentally prepared to hike for 3 hours and I was starving. The view on top though, is breathtaking.

The weather is unpredictable, being a rainforest at all, so be prepared for sleek trails and mist only followed by sun rays seconds later!

One thing I do recommend is doing this yourself, I wouldn’t go as part of a tour group. Entrance is free and parking is easy. All it takes it’s a little research ahead of time and you are golden.

Insider tip: pack snacks and be prepared to hike!el-yunque-trails-map

During our hike, we made stops to Mt. Britton Tower and El Yunque peak. 
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Most trails are small and filled with lush greens, explore around and take your time!

 

Mt. Britton Tower is your midpoint to the peak, definitely stop here so you can catch a breathe and relax a bit.

Once you reach the top, either you will get very lucky and have clear views or somewhat misty like this.2015-07-08 12.45.18.jpg

Enjoy the breeze up top and soak in that fresh air, this was my favorite part!

On the way down, we found a shorter trail to the La Mina waterfall, it was only about an hour hike to and back.

2015-07-08 16.10.21.jpg
La Mina

This is one of the more popular waterfalls, it was SO packed and the water is cold. It’s a nice dip after hiking through the humid rain forest. I suggest going early to avoid traffic and wearing slick resistant shoes if you plan on taking a dip!

The east side of the island is filled with different vegetation and one of the best resort on the island. As always, plenty of beaches to explore and the most beautiful biobay. Stay tuned for upcoming Travel Series: Puerto Rico III – featuring Vieques!

Cheers,

Annie

 

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