It has been over a month since I got back from Puerto Rico. I can’t believe that I didn’t do a post about my trip yet! It was a great time. I met up with Tiffany Cade, a friend from college that I haven’t seen in a long time.
I flew from Marquette to Traverse City and had a 6 hour lay over, so I took a bus to the mall and hung out there for a while. Public transportation is quite interesting….
When I arrived at San Juan late at night, Tif picked me up in the rental car and I was surprisingly energized. We got to our hostel (super ghetto. we slept in sleeping bags on top of the bed) and then walked around the streets at night. We left San Juan pretty early the next morning. We were anxious to start the trip.
The first day, we drove to a beach at Las Croabas (we basically just looked on the map and saw a road that dead ended at the water, and drove to it). It was so secluded and amazing. Blue water with sandy beach and coral. That night we stayed at this amazing guest house (Casa Libre) in Playa De Naguabo. If you ever go to P.R., you must go here. It was a sleepy little fishing village and we were the only tourists. We wandered the streets and had a great dinner on the harbor.
The next day, we drove up this crazy-steep-one way road with directions from the owner of the guest house. We arrived at heaven. El Hippy swimming hole. A cascading waterfall dropped into a natural pool where the locals come to swim. It is at the Southern end of El Yunque park.
After El Hippy, we drove North to the entrance to El Yunque rainforest. We hiked about 7 miles through the forest and saw beautiful views of the whole island from the top of the mountain. We wanted to camp here but it wasn’t allowed due to the landslide that they had a year ago. So we camped at the beach in Luquillo. We were one of two tents there and had the whole place to ourselves. I was impressed at how clean the campground was.
When we packed up to leave in the morning, we locked our keys in the car (oops)! We waited for about an hour and someone came from the rental company to unlock us. After that, we drove back to San Juan to pick up Ernesto, Tif’s local friend. Then we proceeded to drive through the middle of the island and arrived on the South side. We went to Gilligan’s Island. Which is a little island covered by mangroves, white sand and clear water. I think we spent about 4 hours just basking in the sun and swimming. The water was so warm.
That night, we stayed at Mimi’s Guesthouse. It was a pleasant local place, secluded from everything. We also went into Parguera to see the bioluminescent bay. We took a boat through the mangroves at night and saw the water light up with millions of glowing plankton. It was quite disappointing in Parguera, but I hear that the island of Culebra is much better.
The next day, we drove to Playa Sucia (another place to not miss if you go to P.R.). We spent all day on the beach. My skin was coated in salt for the rest of the day. After that, we drove up the West coast to Rincon, a surfing village. We chartered a sailboat trip with Katarina Tours. This was my favorite part of my trip to Puerto Rico. We sailed out into the sunset, watching flying fish and dolphins. I drank a few too many Pina Coladas The sailing was so spectacular though. I wish I was on that boat right now….
The last day in Puerto Rico, Tif and I went back to San Juan and dropped Ernesto off. We stayed at a hostel on the beach in town and walked the beach. We also visited a little food festival and had some local treats. The beaches in San Juan were very different from the beaches on the rest of our trip. So incredibly crowded, but still beautiful.
When I flew home, I had a few difficulties. I missed my flight in Chicago and was stuck in O’hare for 7 hours. It was awful….But I was so happy to be home to my dogs and boyfriend at the end of the night.
Some things I learned while in Puerto Rico:
- When the sign for an exit comes up, EXIT NOW! They do not have warnings for upcoming exits like the U.S. does. We missed plenty of exits.
- Make sure you get in the right toll lane. We missed a toll once, by not correctly reading the signs. We ended up paying over $40 for missing a 75 cent toll….
- Police drive around with their lights on 24/7. This is confusing when they are driving behind you. I guess that if they want to pull you over, they run the siren.
- Mofungo (a mashed plantain dish) is about the only thing that vegetarians can eat. It is usually served with pork or fish stuffed in it. We asked for nothing in it and all of our servers thought we were nuts.
- Puerto Rico is very uneducated about recycling and picking up trash. Trash is everywhere. It really ruins the landscape sometimes.
- No one in Puerto Rico camps. When we told locals that we were camping, they thought we were crazy!!!
- Wear lots and lots of sunscreen. The sun down there is incredibly strong.
- There are iguanas EVERYWHERE, but they are not native to P.R. they are considered a pest.
- Puerto Rico is really small (1/5 the size of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!) but it has the most diverse landscape that I have ever seen: beach, mountains, farmland, wetlands, salt flats, deserts, rain forest, rocky hills.