Friends, the word I have been using to describe our trip to Puerto Rico is… “magical.”
I don’t know if Declan is just getting old enough to handle things better, or we are just learning to do it better, or if we’re just lucky, but first Ireland, and now Puerto Rico – we’re on a roll.
Clearly the magic ingredient for us is mixing up exciting excursions + downtime. We had 4 major days where we did “exciting” things (for which you’ll get ALL the details, DON’T YOU WORRY) and the other days were relaxing by the beach and pool. We even had an evening that involved a few hours of kid TV that maybe not *all* of us appreciated as much as Declan – but, again, for us, the key word to harmony on vacation is BALANCE.
Declan was definitely overwhelmed at points. Heck, Bryan and I were overwhelmed. They don’t call Puerto Rico “The Island of Enchantment” for nothing.
Just a few overarching thoughts first…
Ease of Travel
Dudes. It was SO easy to get to Puerto Rico. Like I mentioned in my prep post, you do not need a passport. I have been so surprised how many people do not know this. YOU. DO. NOT. NEED. A. PASSPORT. TO. GO. TO. PUERTO. RICO. And we read that Declan needed his birth certificate, but they never once asked for it. No customs. The only minor inconvenience was a USDA scan on the way back for tropical poaching, same as you when return from Hawaii.
Currency was easy, seeing as it is US DOLLAR. ATM’s were plentiful – and here’s a great tip from friends who have been burned: Whenever traveling off the mainland, only get money from a *bank* ATM. Apparently this a real source of theft around the world right now… hooligans setting up real-looking, but crooked, ATMs.
Everyone spoke English. We traveled pretty much every tourist destination on the east side of the island, and 99% of the people we encountered spoke better English than I do. Sure, when we were more rural, we met a fisherman who didn’t speak English. But he let us play with his net, so I forgive him.
Puerto Rico is in transition. Up until recently, it has been a powerhouse in pharmaceutical manufacturing. For various reasons, they are shifting the economy, and tourism is emerging for sure. But they have a ways to go, and some parts of the countryside definitely needs a bit of cleaning up, much like what we have seen in other Caribbean trips. This can be a little off-putting, the clash of highs and lows – but in general, we felt very comfortable. In fact, many people went out of their way to be extremely friendly, to make us very welcome.
I also mentioned in my intro post that this was a partially sponsored trip for us. The Rio Mar Wyndham Beach Resort was kind enough to provide our accommodations while we were in Puerto Rico, and we thank them heartily. This relationship worked out perfectly for us, allowing us to stay at a resort we were very interested in to begin with, and have the freedom to control the rest of our vacation ourselves.
The Rio Mar Wyndham is located right on the beach, about 10 minutes west of Luquillo, and about 10 minutes north of El Yunque Rainforest. It is about 30 minutes west of Fajardo, the launching point for most snorkeling and Bioluminescent Bay adventures. To top it off, it is about 45 minutes east of the airport, a very easy drive. Speaking of, I suggest you rent a car when visiting Puerto Rico – the cost was about twice what a cab from the airport would be for the whole week and well worth it. Although we only visited the east side of the island, we were ALL over the east side.
The resort is HUGE. So, if you want a small bed and breakfast, Rio Mar is not for you. There is a golf course (we didn’t use), a casino (we didn’t use), a country club (we didn’t visit), a spa (I wish I would have visited)… but trust me – we made full use of the beach front, the pools (there is also an exclusively-adult pool available), the hot tub, and the multiple restaurants on site. Basically, we were still discovering little corners of the place up until the last day. I can say without a doubt I would consider visiting Rio Mar again.
Our first afternoon in Puerto Rico was about getting our bearings. We played on the beach, had churrasco for dinner, and watched my glasses fog up from the humidity. Our four main “big” excursions over the week were to the BioBay, El Yunque Rain Forest, snorkeling, and driving the southeastern Rt. 901 coastal scenic highway to Mauanbo. I can’t wait to share all our adventures with you.
To check out all the photos from our
first day in Puerto Rico, click here.
In the meantime, check out my filthy and hilarious son.