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First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

Lindenhurst, New...
Level Contributor
42 posts
14 reviews
First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

Hi all,

My dh's mom and all siblings were born in PR, he was the only one who was not and has never been back in 40 years. I have never been as well.

We are really considering going in August for about 5 nights. Would like to stay, from what i can tell on Isla Verde on the main "strip" and must be a resort on the beach. We are fine we having a large hotel.

Now, i dont even know the "feel of Puerto Rico"; I always thought of it as very tropical but from some quick research, it seems more like Vegas; is that true? We are not huge fans of Vegas; we dont mind some partying and nightlife at all and definately great cuisine but we want to feel like we are on a resort and total relaxation as well; and want to be around other couples, not all spring breakers or huge groups.

Sorry, i know these are very broad questions.

Basically, Ive read the reviews on the best hotels, etc. so i know which ones are good for what they are but where do you guys rec. for two first time travelers, just recently got married, im in my late 20s and dh is 39 and with the other criteria above?

about 2 days sightseeing to some can not miss spots and we are more than happy spending the other days at the resort.

any help is much appreciated!!!


Edited: 9:17 pm, June 03, 2010
Rio Grande, PR
Destination Expert
for San Juan
Level Contributor
3,965 posts
1. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

You won't get the "feel of Puerto Rico" by staying in Isla Verde, Condado or any of the big resorts. What you will get by staying there is the "feel of staying in a resort in a city".

Get out into the country side for a more "authentic" experience.

King of Prussia...
Destination Expert
for San Juan, Ponce
Level Contributor
9,449 posts
49 reviews
2. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

"...it seems more like Vegas; is that true?"

Not at all!! I lived in PR for 25 years, and I've been in Vegas many times. PR and Las Vegas could not be more different. There are casinos in PR, yes. But the island "feel" just can't be missed. San Juan, however is a big metropolitan city so the real island feel is best experienced in other parts of the island.

"...we want to feel like we are on a resort and total relaxation as well; and want to be around other couples, not all spring breakers or huge groups."

You won't see crazy young adults running around and getting drunk. PR is not a spring break destination probably because PR is very family oriented. Children are welcome at most establishments.

The Water & Beach Club hotel in Isla Verde caters -mostly- to the adult crowd. However, for a first-timer, because of the location, I would recommend staying in Isla Verde. Both the El San Juan hotel and the Intercontinental are right on the main street, and on the nicest beach in San Juan, only 5 minutes from both the airport and Condado, and 15 minutes from the Old San Juan.

Condado also has very good hotels but the Condado beach is not that great.

If you're not much of a beach person, then I would recommend Hotel El Convento in the Old San Juan. It's a fantastic hotel in a great location. It's great for couples. http://www.elconvento.com/

If money is not an issue, Rincon, PR has the perfect hotel for couples: Horned Dorset. Very private and romantic. http://www.horneddorset.com/home.html

As far as must visits, the Old San Juan should not be missed. El Yunque is another popular attraction. Below are some day trips ideas and tours, as well as other useful information.





I hope that this helps!

Edited: 8:00 am, June 04, 2010
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
2,657 posts
2 reviews
3. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

Hi Lorin, I think San Juan will certainly give you a sense of Puerto Rico, whether or not its the total island feel I don't know, but its something you won't find on the mainland. I agree with Paris that San Juan is not like Vegas. What you might have heard is that San Juan nightlife is more fun than Vegas, for grown ups anyway. I also agree that The Intercontinental and the El San Juan are preferable to the Water Club. You should also consider a Condado hotel such as La Concha or the Conrad because the Condado is a more walkable neighborhood and is a more central location. My personal favorite is the El San Juan and to me its pure PR. which turns a lot of tourists expecting "royal" treatment off. Anyway, wherever you stay you are likely to have a great time. Once the San Juaneros learn that your husband is coming home for the first time, they will surely extend a very warm welcome. For nightlife, plan to dress up more than you would anywhere in the States except maybe NYC and be prepared to salsa merengue, bachata etc.

Lindenhurst, New...
Level Contributor
42 posts
14 reviews
4. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

Thank you so much everyone! This information is really helpful.

I think we are trying to decide now between the Intercontinental and the MArriot Stellaris (in the same pricerange). MAybe we will take a day trip to one of the islands like Culebra which I read about for a great beach and a real tropical feel. And will be sure to check out a few more places which were mentioned.

Thanks again!!!

Cleveland, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Puerto Rico, Carolina
Level Contributor
8,636 posts
36 reviews
5. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

The IC is on Isla Verde beach which IMO is a better beach than the Condado (Marriott). Check out East Island excursions. They have a day snorkelling trip out to Culebra with a stop at Flamenco Beach and they will pick up at San Juan hotels. They also have a trip to Vieques in the evening for the Bio-Bay. I've done them both and will do them again.

Lindenhurst, New...
Level Contributor
42 posts
14 reviews
6. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

PR Bob- that sounds PERFECT for us and gets a lot in!!! im so happy you told me about it; will check it out in a moment.

in any case- totally changed ideas for hotels and weve decided to stay at the Ritz...only 22 dollars more pp than the intercontinental and i was reading less than stellar (no pun intended) about Marriot Stellaris and the area and beach it was in..

very excited- booking tomorrow morning.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
36 posts
18 reviews
7. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

Hi! thanks for your very helpful comments. I am also going to PR first time in April 2011. I looked at the ElConvento and it seems booked out totally between now and then... Is this possible? I also looked at the Milano and only a few rooms left ? that far ahead. We thought we had all the time in the world but the place seems over busy. Could it be right? Maybe that's why the prices are so high. anything budget at all ? We will come from Australia so will just want a couple of days to get rid of jet lag before the cruise... but after the cruise, we want to spend another few days in P.R. we will rent a car and do want to explore away from S.J. Any recommendations for B & B or more budget conscious people. We love meeting people and don't want the big resort feel. We'll have that on the cruise. More personal is what we like.

Your advice /comments are very appreciated. Cheers.

Vancouver, Canada
2 posts
8. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

I'm replying to the Aussies in post 7. For a budget but great place in old San Juan, I recommend "Da House", a "bohemian" hotel above a jazz and salsa bar called "Nuyorican". My sister and I (in our 50s) stayed there in February for $110 for a room with two beds. Although some rooms may be noisy, the interior rooms are not so bad. It is really fun and funky place, and the house band in the bar was also fun. Check it out on the 'net.

Also for your driving tour, if you go to the Fajardo area, I recommend the Passion Fruit B and B, which is actually a small and friendly Inn. We saw a few other places around Fajardo, and this is definitely the best reasonably priced place in my opinion, and opportunity to meet others around the pool at breakfast and evenings.

Have fun!

Albany, New York
Destination Expert
for Albany
Level Contributor
2,452 posts
72 reviews
9. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

My wife and I went to PR for the first time a couple of years ago and we went back and forth between the La Concha and Marriott.

We ended up at La Concha and I was very glad when we took a walk to the Marriott, it looked like a day care center with the number of children running around!

10. Re: First Time to Puerto Rico!!!!

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