With ever-changing airline restrictions and countries closing their borders due to Covid, we decided to play it safe and travel mostly domestically for the time being. For our winter holiday, we chose to fly to Puerto Rico, which, being technically part of the United States, meant that we wouldn’t have to worry about finding and taking a Covid test to arrive or to return back to the US.
Old San Juan
We spent the first few days in Old San Juan, enjoying colonial-style architecture, rich history, and delicious food. Between a walking tour of the small old-town area, and the two remaining fortresses, we learned a lot about the explorers, pirates, traders, and soldiers who have made San Juan their home over the past five centuries.
Favorite dish in old San Juan: the Puerto Rican Sampler at Deaverdura
Where we stayed: Hotel Casablanca (which features 4 stone bath tubs on the roof terrace)
From Old San Juan, we took an Uber to the outskirts of Fajardo, a smallish town on the east coast of the island. We stayed at a high rise condo just beside a marina, and attempted to do something we rarely do: nothing. Our condo was a mile away from the nearest restaurant or small market, and two miles from the nearest grocery store. We loaded up on some provisions, had a delicious mofongo dinner out the first night, and then hunkered down for a few days. We did wind up booking a scuba diving excursion for Christmas Day, but other than that, we stayed put and watched the sea birds, the boats, and the water from our 9th-floor balcony.
Favorite dish in Fajardo: Mofongo relleno de Camarones en Crema de Cilantro at Sal y Pimienta
Where we stayed: A studio condo listed on AirBnb in the Dos Marinas Tower
Luquillo is a laid-back beach town in the north of Puerto Rico, a perfect place for swimming, surfing, and drinking rum. We took a taxi from Fajardo to Luquillo, and arrived at our AirBnB apartment just a half block from Playa Azul. On our first evening in town, we walked over to the famed Luquillo Kioskos, a row of 30 or so bars and restaurants stretched out along the curve of a shallow bay. We drank beer and ate fried seafood and enjoyed the warm evening. For the rest of our time in the town, we tried out each of the other restaurants and cafes- Luquillo has just enough to try out two a day and not have to repeat, all without having to walk more than a mile. With views of the El Yunque Rainforest behind us, and the ocean in front of us, we were content to stay there and rest, relax, and toast the end of 2021.
Favorite food in Luquillo: Drinking a cold, creamy coquito. Here’s the recipe. I’ve already made two batches since we’ve been home.
Where we stayed: possibly my favorite Airbnb apartment. This one’s a gem, and under $100 a night
Of course this is only one small corner of Puerto Rico- there’s still so much to explore on this beautiful island (and the smaller barely-populated islands near it). Have you been to Puerto Rico? What was your favorite city or area?