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Trip Report May 1-8

Lansing, Michigan
Level Contributor
18 posts
Trip Report May 1-8
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Had a wonderful trip and just wanted to share some highlights and tips!

Tip #1- wear sunscreen and constantly reapply! Puerto Rico sun is no joke and we got burned badly by day 2! I’m back now and still peeling. Just be aware and be careful because it’s no fun to change plans because you’re in pain !

Tip #2- everything is slow in PR. Your sense of urgency does not matter to anyone else. It will take 2 hours to pick up your reserved rental car. It will take another 2 hours just to drop it off. Because the workers just May decide to close shop and take a break without telling anyone while there are 10 people waiting to catch a plane. No joke!

Tip #3- San Juan is relatively fancy - people dress up a bit. The other towns are casual.

Here was our overall itinerary and if you have any questions on specifics, please let me know. I learned a lot from reading this forum before the trip and hope I can do the same for those in the planning stage.

3 days before trip- took IDnow COVID test from Walgreens (reserved our spot 3 days in advance online). Got results in less than 2 hours. Filled out the travel forms (difficult website, only chrome browser worked) and took a pic of the QR code (did not print anything).

13 replies to this topic
King of Prussia...
Destination Expert
for San Juan, Ponce
Level Contributor
11,351 posts
49 reviews
61 helpful votes
1. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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#2 depends on which agency you use. I have never waited not even an hour to check in at Charlie’s and Avis (even with a relatively long check-in line).

This last time I rented a car, the total time I spent from the moment I walked into the building to walking out was about 10 minutes. This was with Avis, and it’s usually the case every time I rent with them.

Edited: May 13, 2021, 6:25 am
Lansing, Michigan
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18 posts
2. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Day 1- arrived at SJU and had a seamless exit from the airport just had to show QR code & ID. Line was not bad. Lines to get transportation out of the airport, however, were insane. It was a Saturday and there was traffic due to a protest downtown. Eventually caught a taxi (missed the bus and could not get an Uber) and got a ride to our hotel in OSJ. We stayed at the Sheraton OSJ (excellent location and comfortable hotel). We met up with our tour - Flavors of OSJ AT 4 for a 3 hour walking & eating tour. It was a great intro to the city and foods! Highly recommend. Afterwards we went to La Factoria for a couple drinks. Wish they were open later& had live music - but it was still great.

Day 2- did a “free” walking tour of OSJ from 10-12 that really focused on the history and current political climate. From there we did some shopping and exploring of the city on our own before our dinner reservation at Marmalade at 5pm. We did the full 6 courses with wine pairing and closed the place down at 9pm. We had a lot of good food this trip but this was our favorite!

Day 3- we walked to playa capitolio and spent some time on the beach. Very private and scenic but a little rocky. I highly recommend this beach if you want something walkable from OSJ. We then got an Uber from our hotel to Ron Del Barrilito for a rum tasting tour. I’m so glad that Bacardi was sold out because this was an amazing tour with premium rum! From there we got an Uber to Cocina Abierta for dinner. It was excellent. We chose to make the long walk back after dinner.

Day 4- we took a tour called off the beaten path combo yunque & biobay kayaking in Fajardo. It was a 12 hour tour with transportation provided. We picked up several people throughout San Juan and then headed to a roadside stand to get fresh fruit and snacks. About an hour drive from there to Yunque. We did a bit of hiking but the tour was mostly focused on water slides on the falls, cliff jumping, rope swinging, etc. Definitely for the adventurous! We had a fresh fruit snack and then traveled to a local seafood restaurant for dinner and a chance to change. From there headed to Fajardo for kayaking in the biobay at dusk. I actually enjoyed that the most but the whole da was fun. Got back to the hotel around 9:30 pm.

Day 5- wanted to go to the beach but too badly sunburned! We took the bus to Santurce. Ate lunch at Lote 23 (this is a must!) and walked around to find the street art. Lots of walking but it was a unique area. Walked all the way back and then went to 1919 for dinner (took an Uber) in Condado. Prepare for a lengthy experience but the food is amazing!

Day 6- we picked up our reserved rental at the airport and drove to El Charco Azul about an hour away in the hilly region. It’s a park with a blue swimming hole and waterfalls. I loved this! Took a little effort to find but worth it. From there we drove to Ponce and checked in at our hotel. Met up with Isle Caribe tours for a walking tour at 4. This was a great introduction to the town. There has been a lot of hurricane and earthquake damage there but interesting to see a different city from San Juan. Lots of interesting things to discover throughout the town. We ate at Rincon Argentino that night.

Day 7- drove north to Tanaka River Adventures for a half day tour river trekking and tubing through caves. This was a very unique adventure. Treacherous on the rocks at times and we got a little bruised and scraped up but can’t do anything quite like it back home! Later we drove back to Ponce and walked around town - Fox Hotel is pretty cool and there’s also some interesting street art in town. We ate at El Negocio Del Panchi, which was fabulous.

Day 8- we drove to Arecibo to see Cueva Ventana (stunning views!) and then back to SJ to eat again at Lote 23 before returning the car and boarding the plane at 6pm.

Such a wonderful time! Would love to go again someday with no COVID restrictions :-)

New York
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970 posts
3 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Janis I was there 2-8! I was in Miramar and on my last day a friend took me around the island. The sun is no joke you are right I'm peeling didn't use sun screen. Went to Rincon caught a gorgeous sunset

Edited: May 13, 2021, 8:07 am
LS
New York City, New...
13 posts
4. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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I waited an hour at Charlie's in March (not including almost an hour wait for the shuttle) and more than an hour at Popular in April (no shuttle--walked from Charlie to Popular). We'll see what my May rental from Charlie brings me. Hopefully better luck. I had some truly terrible car rental experiences in the USVI though. Compared to those, PR car rental has been extremely pleasant.

I think a good deal of the delay at car rentals is people not reading their paperwork and bringing printouts of both their LIABILITY & DAMAGE/CAR ITSELF coverages. I have always zipped through once I got to the front with zero surprise insurance fees with those printed out and have seen a lot of people in front of me fighting about it.

Saint Louis...
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20 posts
5 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Re: The bus.

You took the city bus?

How easy was that to figure out? I've seen a route map, but I've not seen any type of schedule.

Fremont, California
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62,602 posts
8,639 reviews
4,008 helpful votes
6. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Awesome trip. Thanks for your trip report.

Framingham...
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437 posts
5 reviews
3 helpful votes
7. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Great trip report! You certainly packed a lot of variety into one week and it was fun to read about. Thanks for writing it up and for the tips.

Livermore...
2 posts
1 review
8. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Thanks for taking the time to share your itinerary. Sounds like a wonderful time. We're going this summer and will keep your recommendations top of mind.

Lansing, Michigan
Level Contributor
18 posts
9. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Not that difficult. It’s 75 cents a person and you need exact change. There is a website and the busses come regularly. If you’re not in a huge rush, it’s a great option!

New Hampshire
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123 posts
2 reviews
10. Re: Trip Report May 1-8
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Could you tell me a little more about the walking tour? Where did you start? How did you make contact with the tour guide?

Thanks!

Reply to: Trip Report May 1-8
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