We chose Fajardo as our vacation spot.
Fajardo is a small city of the east coast of Puerto Rico. It is very close to the bioluminescent bay, the marina (if you plan on taking the ferry or a private charter to one of the neighboring islands), and is situated between
gorgeous beaches and inland rainforests. The crime rate is much lower than that of San Juan, and it’s also less commercialized, for those that want a real Puerto Rican experience (complete with chickens roaming the streets and dogs lounging on roofs).
Where to Stay: Suenos del Mar.
The property consists of two bedroom, full kitchen apartments – all overlooking the bay. The accommodations
were clean with air conditioning. There is even a rooftop terrace that we LOVED taking advanage of at night to gaze at the stars and listen to the reggaeton and salsa music, that rang out from car windows as people drove by. The owners are so kind and helpful and they have lawn chairs, beach towels, and coolers you can borrow for the beach. (Tip: Ask for a room on the third floor. The view of the bay is best there.)
What to Do:
– On your first day, make your way from the San Juan airport to Fajardo (about an hour drive). Stop at the Walmart once in town to pick up some groceries and local produce. We bought breakfast foods (eggs, bacon, and orange juice), tropical candies, plantains, Puerto Rican rum, and fresh cake from the bakery. Make your way to Suenos del Mar, to check in. Walk down to the Parque La Juventud (a three minute walk) to look at all the sailboats and booths the local merchants have set up. Eat at one of the many restaurants by the bay. And when you are done, enjoy the rest of the evening from the Suenos’ rooftop terrace, while sipping a rum drink.
– Sleep in the next morning (after all that rum, you could really use the extra sleep). Once you get up and around, make breakfast and enjoy the view from your apartment patio. Choose from one of the many beaches
along the eastern side of the island to spend your afternoon. We chose Liquillo Beach. It was just off the road (yet secluded thanks to palm trees and tropical bushes). And while there were a few pieces of trash on the beach from prior visitors, it was still such a beautiful spot. Our favorite part was that there were hardly any people there, so it was like we had the beach to ourselves.
– In the evening, take a sunset tour of the bioluminescent bay. The Bio Bay is essentially a lagoon that is filled with a rare plankton. These plankton generate a blueish illumination when they are disrupted (like when you
move your hands through the water). We chose to take our tour with Pure Adventure because each trip is guided by a marine biologist. The tour consists of a group of about 25-30 people, all in two person sea kayaks. You start in the bay and venture through the narrow passage of the nature reserve to the lagoon. Along the way, you are likely to see an iguana basking on a tree branch or crabs clinging to the mangroves. Just as the sun is setting, you reach the Laguna Grande (at which time, your guide allows you some alone time to relax, explore, and enjoy the sun disappearing behind the mountains). When the sun is gone, your fun and passionate guide will gather you all up (using a conch shell to call you all back) and go over what makes these fascinating organisms glow. Then he will release you to experience this phenomenon for yourself. As you move your hands through the water, you will hear shrieks of delight from other people in your group… because the water is GLOWING. Make sure
you splash sea water into the air to see what appear to be sparkles falling from the sky! The hour goes quickly, and it will already be time to make your way back to the bay area in complete darkness (you will only have the glow stick light from the kayak in front of you leading the way). You’ll bump into things, lots of things, and it will be hilarious and fun. (Tip: Don’t forget your bug spray!! Mosquitoes love the lagoon.)
– The next morning, get up earlier and leave the house by 9:00am. Your full-day Culebra excursion awaits. Today consists of only sea and sun, as you take a privately owned catamaran to Culebra Island (via East Island Excursions). The rum drinks start pouring as soon as your boat takes to the water and don’t stop until they run out of the two giant handles on board. First stop: snorkeling on the reef of Carlos Rosario beach. Explore the bright underwater wildlife for the next hour
and a half. And when you get hungry, make your way back to the boat through the hoards of moon jellyfish (which rarely sting humans) to enjoy a deliciously prepared lunch of salads, sandwiches, cookies, and… More rum! Next, you will head to Flamenco beach, which was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world by the Discovery Channel. Grab a piña colada and hang out on the beach, swim around in the bright turquoise salt water, or go see the abandoned Sherman tank left along the shore. (The Navy used to use the island as a bombing range but
vacated the island in 1975.) When it’s time to go, the ride back to the main island is relaxing and almost therapeutic after a long fun-filled day.
– For your last day in Puerto Rico, you head to the El Yunque National Forest for some hiking. The Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in US National Forest System. There are many trails,
ranging in difficulty level – all with waterfalls, towering palm trees, mushrooms, snails, and lizards.
Other Things to Do in Puerto Rico:
– Explore old historic San Juan
– Go caving at Cueva Ventana or Camuy Caves on the west side of the island
What is your favorite thing about Puerto Rico?