I’m reliving my 2008 trip to Puerto Rico today. My husband and I went for a fun relaxing vacation almost five years ago (whoa!). It was so easy to travel to Puerto Rico since it is part of the U.S. you don’t need your passport, your cell phone works, and car insurance isn’t extra (check yours but ours was fine), it was an easy trip to plan. After a lot of research and reading reviews on TripAdvisor I decided on La Concha. We got a great deal on our room and we loved the hotel. It’s right on the beach and has two pools — possibly more now. It was undergoing a large renovation and addition while we were there (which we hardly noticed) so I’m sure it has changed since we went. Note that these photos were taken off a point-and-shoot.
We also had fun celeb spotting at the hotel. At the time they were filming the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats and the cast just happened to be living at La Concha for the time (no I didn’t know that when I booked it) — so yes I saw George Clooney almost every day for a week! He is way skinnier and shorter than I thought he’d be, but definitely just as handsome as you’d expect. Also staying there was Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges (so tall!), and Ewan McGregor. They were always hanging around the pool and no one bothered them, which I’m sure they appreciated. Then Lindsay Lohan’s mom and sister Ali showed up. Everyone just kept to themselves, it was lovely.
When traveling to Puerto Rico, I would make sure to take some tennis shoes or really comfy sport sandals if you plan to hike through the El Yunque rainforest as it can be wet and slippery. In my research for the trip is said that the rainforest was, well rainy, and to bring a poncho. Which I did like a dummy. Unless you plan to hike all day, and don’t want to get wet, you really don’t need a poncho. We wore our bathing suits on the hike so we could get in the waterfall!
I’m a huge fan of the Kindle since you can download multiple books without adding the bulk to your bag, and you can see it in the sun. We brought our laptop so we could lookup restaurants while we were in town which proved helpful when trying to figure out who Ewan McGregor was. We also rented a car, which I suggest if you plan on leaving your hotel (which you should). Puerto Rico is small, so you can go all over the island, but you need to be on your driving game when you drive.
Puerto Rico Packing List:
1. Bikini Top & Bikini Bottom / 2. Multicolor earrings / 3. Fresh Moisturizing Face Cream with SPF 20 / 4. Kindle / 5. Nali Antique Hobo Bag / 6. Del Mar Leather Sandal (I really want these!) / 7. Silk Cargo Tank / 8. BCBG Fedora / 9. Appleton Sunglasses (can be prescription)
We walked around colorful downtown San Juan for an afternoon after eating breakfast at the famous La Bombonera (previous location: 259 Calle San Francisco, San Juan, 00901). It is temporarily closed due to (I believe) issues with the building and/or owners, but I’ve heard they are planning to reopen at some point. I don’t know if it will be in the same location or not.
For anyone traveling to San Juan, once La Bombonera reopens you HAVE to go there and get a café con leche and mallorca. The coffee is made from a giant Cafeteras Nacional espresso machine — Cafeteras Nacional originated in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century. In short, the coffee is amazing. The mallorca is like something I’ve never had — ham and cheese (maybe egg? can’t remember) served on sweet a mallorca bun (no, you cannot find anything comparable here) and is finished off with confectioners’ sugar. La Bombonera’s mallorca was so good we went back a second time during our trip.
Another day we went hiking in the El Yunque rainforest. There are a lot of different lengths of trails you can take through El Yunque. We did a 30-minute hike to a very cold waterfall called La Miña and then drove to top of the rainforest to see the view.
This view from the top of El Yunque.
Another one of our favorite Puerto Rican dishes was mofongo. We loved it so much we had it at least three times. The mofongo above was from a little restaurant in Old San Juan, but our favorite mofongo was from Café del Angel (1106 Ave Dr Ashford, San Juan, 00907) which is right across the street from La Concha. Now my mouth is watering for mofongo…
We broke our week-long trip up by doing something active every other day, and then chilling at the beach and pool in between the active days. It was perfect. Above was part of the beach at La Concha.
You can see a lot of San Juan from the top of La Concha.
I was a fan of the modern retro exterior elements of La Concha. They mixed it with actual modern interiors and furnishings.
Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? Where did you stay? What did you love?
Photos by Meg Biram