Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about Puerto Rico. First it was Hurricane Irma that pummeled the island, then after barely catching their breath, here comes Hurricane Maria with a vengeance. Although somewhat accustomed to dealing with tropical storms and hurricanes, this was something on a completely different level.
We are now being told it could be months before electricity is fully restored. Let that sink in. MONTHS. Homes, businesses, schools and hospitals either having to run on generators or being completely in the dark for MONTHS.
Cell phone towers are down, making communication nearly impossible so we still don’t know the full extent of the damage caused by the hurricanes. But what we do know isn’t good.
I was lucky enough to visit Puerto Rico in the summer of 2016. This was at a particularly challenging time in my life and the peace and solace I was able to find during my time there is something I will always cherish.
My daughter had recently gotten married and I was experiencing a mini-midlife crisis and seeking some tranquility. My time in San Juan was healing. For a few days I was able to escape the troubles of everyday life and just breath. So needless to say, I will always have a very special place in my heart for Puerto Rico.
Like many islands in the Caribbean affected by the hurricanes, tourism is a major source of income for Puerto Rico. As I’ve been praying for the safety of all those dealing with the aftermath of the storms I have begun to realize how important it will be for their economy to have tourists return after the reconstruction and recovery occurs.
And I’ve also been struck with a strong desire the revisit the place that gave me so much. So I decided to make a list of some of my favorite things about our time in Puerto Rico to hopefully inspire others to want to visit as well.
So here it is,
5 Things I Love About Puerto Rico
Our hotel, La Concha, Spanish for the shell, was located directly on Condado Beach. Every morning I would wake up and be able to listen to the surf and feel the ocean breeze as I drank coffee on our oceanfront balcony. Ahhh. Just thinking about it takes me right back. And let me add, Puerto Rican coffee is the BEST hands down I’ve ever tasted.
Although the surf was rough while we visited making swimming not so much fun, the beach was so beautiful and relaxing. I highly recommend spending the extra money to stay at a beachfront hotel. It’s definitely worth it.
A little fun fact for you – did you know that San Juan is the birthplace of the Pina Colada? Although time constraints didn’t allow us to visit the specific restaurant which created the yummy delight for your taste-buds, I felt it was my duty to try one during our vacation. Or maybe 2 or 3 or well, you get the picture. Don’t judge.
I wish we would have had more time to explore but we still managed to take in some of the sights in this historic area. But there is much more to keep you busy. Museums, restaurants and shops of all types offer something for everyone. We ate lunch at a cute little restaurant not far from where the cruise ships come to port. The plantains we ate there were phenomenal and one of our favorite discoveries while in San Juan.
2 La Perla
We visited La Perla our final night while in San Juan. Our hotel, La Concha, had several restaurants on site that were all great but this one is special. Spanish for the pearl, La Perla is a floating restaurant shaped like a seashell. The interior sparkles in the lights and the views of the beach were spectacular.
The food and service were both phenomenal. But it’s one of those ‘you get what you pay for’ types of situation. Let’s just say, we spent more there in one night than we did for an entire months rent in our first house.
1 Castillo San Cristobal & Castillo del Morro
The views from the forts were amazing and that alone is totally worth the price of admission. But there is much more to do and see. We went on the 4th of July and whether that had anything to do with it I don’t know, but there were dozens of people flying kites on the grounds of Castillo San Cristobal. It was truly a sight to behold.
You can take tours of the forts but we opted to just explore and it was fascinating. If you are a history or military buff you will love it. But even if you aren’t, the photo opportunities are endless so get your camera ready!
My heart hurts when I imagine the damage caused to some of my favorite places by the hurricanes. It will take a long time before Puerto Rico is restored to its former glory but I have no doubt that it will come through these storms stronger and better than ever. Because what truly makes Puerto Rico so special isn’t a particular place or thing, it’s the people.
As much as I loved all of the sights and experiences I had in San Juan the thing that was most inspirational to me was the attitude of the people. I tend to be always busy getting from one place to another, not stopping to enjoy just being in the moment. All of the Puerto Rican’s I met were laid back and content. Contentment. That is something I continually strive toward as the hubby and I just keep collecting memories as we go.