Puerto Rico Weekend Getaways
Family Getaway to Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Families will do well traveling 45 minutes due east of San Juan to Fajardo, packed with great beaches and launch points for exploration.
Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve: Here you’ll find a 19th-century faro (lighthouse) from the Spanish era, mangroves, rocky-beach outcropping, and guide signs with full explanations of the flora and fauna of the island. Reservations recommended. Highway 987 at Las Croabas; $10 per person.
Serenity Sea Tours: This Fajardo-based tour company takes private groups ($600 for up to 6 people) on snorkeling trips by boat to places like the nearly deserted Icocos Island. vipsnorkeling.com.
Las Vistas Café: A local hangout known for its huge American-style breakfasts. Siete Mares Bay Inn, 2 Las Croabas.
Las Casitas Village Waldorf Astorias: Check in with the clan to this luxury resort with on-site water park, infinity pool, and all the Waldorf-style amenities. 1000 El Conquistador Avenue, (787) 863-1000; lascasitasvillage.com; doubles from $269.
Romantic Getaway on Vieques
Loll around with your loved on deserted white sand beaches and spend your nights exploring luminous waters on the island of Vieques—the one-time home of the American military and now a favorite get-away of those who like luxury and roughing it in equal parts.
Bioluminescent Bay Kayak Tour: Nighttime kayak tours through waters where glowing plankton make the boats appear to cast off stars. Try viequesadventures.com with its clear canoes; meets in front of the Green Store in Barrio Esperanza.
Black Beard Sports: This one-stop-shop offers bike maps, rentals for island exploration, as well as snorkeling, scuba, and hiking tours. 101 Calle Muñoz Rivera; blackbeardsports.com.
Little Boat Sailing: Hobie cat tours of the warm waters around Vieques leaving from La Playa Plata. $110 per person.
Blue Beach (Bahia de la Chivia): Explore this hidden beach beloved for its seclusion. On the south side of the island.
Orquideas: The nouveau global cuisine at Orquideas (tapas meets sushi) off the Malecon promenade consistently wins accolades for its light cuisine that uses fresh local ingredients. 61 Calle Orquideas.
W Vieques: Patricia Uriquola designed this high-end oasis, so luxurious many are tempted never to leave its grounds, spa, and personal beach. State Road 200, Km. 3.2; (787) 741-4100; wvieques.com; doubles from $380.
Adventure in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque Rainforest
There’s plenty to get your heart racing in the 28,000-acre El Yunque Rainforest, located within 45 minutes of San Juan. It’s the only such forest on U.S. soil.
Palo Colorado Station: Stop here—2,300 feet above sea level—for low-impact hiking tours led by U.S. Park Service Rangers.
Yunke Zipline Tours: Zipline tours of the forest include a hike, choice of five ziplines, and a rappelling experience. Speed-lovers depart from the North entrance to the national park. yzapr.com; $99 per person.
La Mina Falls: A winding hike takes the intrepid into these picturesque falls.
La Muralla: Grab a fortifying pre-or post-hike bite of traditional Puerto Rican fare—rice and beans, roasted chicken and pork, more. Rte. 191, Km. 7.4.
Luquillo Beach: Take a post-hike dip at this white soft-sand beach with reef-protected waters, which also make it a natural swimming pool, albeit one with changing rooms and parking.
El Yunque Rainforest Inn: This ecotourism lodge with rainforest views at the northeast entrance includes villa accommodations from $165 (with breakfast). rainforestinn.com.
Affordable Getaway on Culebra Island, Puerto Rico
Isla Culebra (“Snake Island”), 17 miles east of Puerto Rico’s mainland and reachable by Ferry from Fajardo, is a budget-friendly archipelago with nature reserves, a colonial downtown, and nearly deserted beaches, including the gorgeous Flamenco Beach with its crystalline waters and turtle-spotted sands.
Tour Culebrita: Take a water taxi (15 minutes) from Zoni beach to this tiny uninhabited island, a “mini” Culebra as its name suggests.
Culebra Island Adventures: Bahia Tamarindo offers snorkeling, diving, and kayaking tours around the island starting at $75. culebraislandadventures.com.
Zacos Tacos: Pork belly, mahi mahi, even vegetarian (tofu) taco options make this recent (and wallet-friendly) addition to the island a hit among locals and visitors alike. 21 Pedro Marquez.
Culebra Bike Shop: Hotel Kokomo (where the ferry from the mainland docks) has bike ($15), snorkel ($12) kayak ($50) rentals for self-touring types.
Culebra Beach Rentals: Sitting directly on picturesque Flamingo Beach, these basic studio and one-two bedroom apartments are some of the best accommodations on the island. Flamingo Beach; culebrabeachrental.com; doubles from $150.
City Tour of Old San Juan
San Juan is popping—from music, to food, to culture—this window into Latin America with an American passport is ripe for a few days.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico: Nestled in the Saturce neighborhood, this is Puerto Rican art from colonial times to the present in a sumptious setting, including a Monet inspired patio garden. 299 Avenue de Diego; mapr.com.
Pikayo: Chef Wilo Benet’s high-end nouveau Puerto Rican restaurant (featuring everything from African to Spanish influences) was once onsite at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico but moved recently to the Conrad Conado Hilton Hotel. wilobenet.com.
Rumba: A mainstay of Puerto Rico’s salsa, reggaton and Rumba scene, this San Juan club gets going around midnight with a mix of locals and music-loving out-of-towners. 152 San Sebastian.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro & Castillo San Cristóbal: The old Spanish fortifications of San Juan are part of the U.S. National Park Service and can be explored with or without a park ranger from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Hotel el Convento: A former Carmelite nunnery and now a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this convent, awash in color and history, consistently ranks among the best places to stay in the city. 100 Cristo St.; elconvento.com; doubles from $300.