Old & New San Juan: Semi Drive & Walking Tour
Monday through Sunday, Approximate duration: 4 to 5 hours
Note: Due to a new law passed recently in Puerto Rico – Tour Operators are now required to be fully certified tour guides to accompany guests in NPS (National Parks Services) attractions meaning that neither Carlitos nor I will not be able to escort guests inside the forts of Castillo San Cristobal or El Morro. Parking is at a premium in Old San Juan but if we get an early start we do manage to find parking in the Paseo de la Princesa ground parking lot and take a 45 to 60 minute walk about of Old San Juan…
Enjoy a trip back in time and back to the present at Old San Juan, the third oldest settlement in the western hemisphere. Visit Puerto Rico’s Capital Building with photo shoots along with eight presidential statues (at the Presidents’ Walk) all of which have paid Puerto Rico an official visit at some time in the past. Drive by Fort San Cristóbal and El Moro, cruise through Old San Juan to the Cathedral San Juan Baustista. Take a walk down cobblestone streets at Calle Cristo for a little window shopping and then drive down Paseo La Princesa to the Raíces water fountain. Take a drive to Piñones for a taste of Puerto Rican fast foods, refreshments and a brew. Cruise down Isla Verde Avenue, Mcleary Street in Ocean Park and Ashford Avenue in Condado.
Got something else in mind? Just say the word – we’re always happy to accommodate!
If this is your first time in Puerto Rico and your sole interest is Old San Juan with a limited amount of time, we would recommend to take in the Forts, particularly (Castillo San Cristobal). If you’re in good shape Old San Juan is actually very walk-able – grab a map and a pair of comfortable walking shoes and you are good to go!
Guavate Roast Pork Highway Pig-Out: Eat, Drink and Dance – Lechonera (roasted pig eateries).
Best on Saturday or Sunday, Approximate duration: 4 to 5 hours. Carite forest is right next door for an easy 15 minute trail to swimming hole add 60 minutes
We’re headed for the Sierra Cordillera mountain range of Cayey! How do you like the idea of mouth-watering Lechon Asado (roasted pig)? Not a pork lover? No problem the menu has plenty to choose from. Make sure your stomach is ready to growl because you will need the space. There will be no shortage of food, spirits, music and dancing. Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, Anthony Bourdain of No Reservation and Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods are no strangers to this area. We’ll sit down at one of the best establishments in the area by the riverside. Once the eating is over, you are free to explore the area.
Every weekend there’s a festival-like atmosphere with live music to dance your heart away. The area is inundated with Lechonera establishments whose specialty is seasoned slow roasted whole pig.
Traditionally the pig is roasted over locally made charcoal which has a distinct crackling popping sound or maybe an open flame whilst mounted on a spit called a varita. The pig is roasted slowly for about 6 – 8 hours which ensures that the pork is full of flavor, moist and tender. And this is not the only delicacy on the menu: as you will also find roast chicken, turkey, Morcillas (blood sausage) and numerous side dishes, including: rice and beans, rice with pigeon peas, Tostones, Mofongo, sweet potato and so much more.
Utuado/Arecibo: Hacienda Grand Batey coffee plantation, Caves Extraordinaire, Radio Telescope – too much for one day so choose your favorites!
Monday through Sunday, Approximate duration: 7 to 9 hours.
Hacienda Gran Batey is a small family run coffee plantation owned by Lotty. The aroma will knock you off your feet and the flavor is so wonderful you will be sure to buy to take home. Take part in free tours and taste with absolutely no obligation to buy.
Cueva Ventana (cave) Now under new management and charging $20.00 + tax = $21.40 or just $10 EACH if you can show proof of Puerto Rico residency. Children 5 years of age and under are free. The guided tour lasts for approximately 45 minutes and certain degree of fitness is required but the effort is so worthwhile as once you reach the window, your tiredness will disappear when the view surpasses any expectations you may have had.
Cueva del Indio (cave/coral reef) Located on the coast of Arecibo. The terrain is tricky and, sneakers are highly recommended. This is such a breathtaking spot that you will be lost for words. We’ll gaze at three of five natural arches along this beach. We absorb the fees for up to 4 passengers here at ($5.00 per/person.)
Camuy Caverns: If this is on the menu, we have to kick off early from San Juan at 7:30AM. See full details here: http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/rio-camuy-caves-park/
Arecibo Radio Telescope: See full details here: http://www.naic.edu/
Old San Juan, Piñones & Loiza: History, Culture and the Arts. A favorite for first timers with time limitations
Monday through Sunday, Approximate duration: 5 to 6 hours. Mini Yunque experience (no hiking) add 60 minutes.
Not necessary in this order:
• Visit renowned artists Samuel Lind (oil painter/sculptor) and Raul Ayala (Vejigante mask maker).
• Quick visit to a small cultural center in the middle of town where we will see artifacts unearthed by archaeologists that pre-date Christ.
• Stop at a small cave Historical Site where human remains were discovered, we now know that this cave was used by the Archaic Indianans, Taino Indians and African slaves as shelter from hurricanes, as well as being used as burial grounds, for ceremonies and as a hiding place from the Spanish Conquistadors. Today operated by a private contractor charging 5.00 per person CCTPR will absorb first 4 guests.
Coastal scenic route along the Piñones, famous for its wonderful beaches, its own version of Puerto Rican fast food and you can even sample some cold milk straight from the coconut.
Old San Juan, the Capital Building, Presidents walk (with bronze statues and photo opportunities), cruise by the forts of Castillo San Cristobal, El Morro and get bounced around along the cobblestone streets.
If you want to include anything else on the way, just let us know!
El Yunque Rain Forest – Wet and Wetter: Nature at its best.
Monday through Sunday, Approximate duration: 6 to 7 hours.
Before kicking off this trip make sure you have a hefty breakfast as there is not much to eat up here except for the creepy crawlies!
There’s an 85% chance we will get wet as over 200 inches of rainfall create an estimated billion gallons every year. Disposable ponchos are on the house and will keep you nice and dry. We also have binoculars, requiring just a promise to return them. If we’re lucky keeping dry you may still want to get wet as the waterfalls and natural swimming holes are abundant. El.Yunque forest encompasses 28 thousand acres so you don’t want to get lost in here or the CHUPACABRA might get you! (relax, it’s just a mythical but legendary little beast, made famous in this area…)
This is home to the Puerto Rican Parrot which is unfortunately on the endangered species list, endangered further after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 when less than five dozen survived. These birds used to number one-million and darkened the skies as they flew around the forest. The Park Rangers and other organizations are trying hard to bring them back although the current population number is less than 600 and has only reached this figure due to them being bred in captivity. It’s estimated that if we continue to have success with the breeding by 2020 they may come off the list – fingers crossed!
We’ll also make a quick stop at the Visitors Pavilion to see the exhibits and a 20-minute movie clip about the El Yunque rain-forest narrated by Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Torro. After this, its an enjoyable drive straight up to Baño Grande and then we’ll work our way back down. (Visitors Pavilion Entrance Fee is included)
Next comes the Camitillo trail with a hike of up to 30-minutes, or your choice of trail after which we will take a relaxing drive down to the Yokahu Tower before continue to la Coca Falls for some great pictures.
If we’re still dry but you’re determined not to leave without getting wet, there are swimming holes galore along the route.
I never tire of El Yunque, and Puerto Rico can also boast about the forests of Toro Negro, Toro Verde, Carite and Tanama – these are other forests that aren’t advertised as much but are just as beautiful.
If you are looking for a more challenging experience and don’t mind an early start, we recommend – Atabey Private Tours, Aventuras Tierra Adentro, Acampa Nature Adventures, Rocaliza Adventures or Eco Quest – They all have Great reviews!
Ponce City the Pearl of the South: Full Day Excursion
Thursday through Sunday, Approximate duration: 6 to 7 hours.
This enchanting city is filled with so many things to see and experience. Our sightseeing adventure will start via the Highway 52 Luis A. Ferré which is a major highway that cuts through the heart of San Juan and carves a route due south, up and over La Cordillera Mountain range. It reaches an ear-popping altitude of 2,200 feet above sea level. As we start downhill on the southern face of these mountains you’ll notice the difference in the terrain of the region and the beautiful Caribbean ocean coastline comes into view with, rolling hillsides and mushroom clouds above. Passing by fields you will see them still cultivated with plantains, corn and other agricultural produce.
Ponce is also known as La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South) and is the fourth most populated city in Puerto Rico, lying about 1 ½ hrs. drive from San Juan. Cruise in style and in the comfort of a limousine van that will make this commute seem effortless.
Rafael Cordero Santiago (Churumba), the passionate Mayor of Ponce from 1989 to 2004 stated during one of his speeches to the public “Ponce is Ponce …the rest of Puerto Rico is parking.”
Of his many accomplishments, one of his last as Mayor was erecting the Welcome Signature sign of PONCE under pressure of much controversy, which still stands today. The letters PONCE cross over this highway and it is really something to witness.
• Plaza de Ponce, Church, Fire House and Market Place are all within walking distance.
• Castillo Seralles – open Thursday through Sunday.(reservation required)
• Museo de Arte de Ponce is another option.
• La Guancha Board Walk to take in the sites and feed seagulls and protected fish.
Time permitting, additional stop requests are always welcomed!
Puerto Rico Ultimate Sightseeing Experience: Full Day Excursion.
Monday through Sunday, Approximate duration: 9 to 11 hours.
Inspired by Christina & Joey from Wisconsin, I could not have chosen better myself. Check out our TripAdvisor reviews here!
We’ll be crisscrossing Cordillera Mountain Range on two different fronts and taking in Plaza de Ponce, along with the church, firehouse, marketplace (for breakfast) and Guancha (boardwalk).
At Adjuntas we’ll experience the, Utuado mountain drive, stopping at a riverside eatery for lunch. You can then choose from the coffee Plantation Tour or opt for the Cueva Ventana (cave).
After this, you will view the Arecibo Lighthouse, beach pond and Cueva del Indio before the scenic coastal drive back to San Juan and a stop to sample the finest Puerto Rican fast food.
This is the one excursion where you will get to see two oceans in one day!