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San Juan is a city of contrasts. You’ll find Gucci and Cartier stores alongside waterfront kiosks. The beach is pristine, the food spicy and plentiful, the people, warm. Nearby there is hiking in El Yunque National Forest, ziplining, paddleboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, horseback riding, and kayaking on Bioluminescent Bay. A three-day getaway can be relaxing, romantic, full of adventure, or all three if you get lucky.

Related: 7 incredibly romantic, all-inclusive Caribbean resorts.


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Day 1: Explore El Yunque National Forest

This 28,000-acre tropical rainforest, the only one in the U.S., is home to 240 species of plants and trees, wildlife like the rare Puerto Rican parrot and the colorful coqui, a frog that can be yellow, brown or green and also tiny—only 1-2 inches long and about 2-4 ounces. Not only will you get a good workout hiking through the rainforest, but a lasting memory. If you dare, take a liberating jump into the waterfalls.


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Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, forget about fancy. Do like the locals and head over to the Liquillo Kiosks, where a row of shacks/food stands await near the beach. Kiosk number 60 is a favorite. You’ll get down home cooking – mofongo, ceviche, bacalaitos, pastelittos, empanadillas and much more. Wash it down with Puerto Rico’s Medalla beer. Later, check out the Red Coral Lounge in the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. There’s always something happening, whether you’re looking for live music or to see if Lady Luck is your friend. Try the signature Dragonberry Mojitos.

Day 2: Hit the beach

Soak up the sun on miles of unspoiled beach. Bike around town, spend the day shopping at The Mall of San Juan, where you’ve find the likes of Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Jimmy Choo. Whatever you do, don’t tire yourself out, there’s a big night planned.Flamenco Culebra2.700
As evening approaches it’s time to head over to Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo for night time kayaking. Prepare to paddle through the eerily dark canals as you work your way to the Laguna Grande where you’re in a for a treat—more than 720,000 tiny organisms that emit a flash of bluish light when the water is agitated. It is a sight to behold.
Vieques Bio Bay700

Day 3: Old San Juan

You might think you will spend an hour or two in Old San Juan, but don’t short-change yourself, spend an entire day. There is much to see in this quaint, historic town with its blue cobblestone streets, and pastel colored buildings inspired by Spanish and French architecture. There are famous landmarks like the Castillo San Cristóbal, the biggest European fortification in the Americas, museums, boutiques that specialize in the unique, churches, and an array of restaurants. One favorite is Raíces. The waitstaff is decked out to reflect Puerto Rico’s culture and folklore, recreating a 1940s feel. Try a mofongo, the house specialty. Also check out the tasty Tornado, a skirt steak stuffed with Raíces mash, topped with shrimp, mushrooms and onion sauce, or order the Muslitos Campestres, pork country-style drumsticks in fricasé sauce.

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Tagged: Caribbean, Destinations, Family time, Puerto Rico

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Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money,,,, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.

5 thoughts on “3 perfect days in San Juan, Puerto Rico”

  1. Happy to be invited to your list. Enjoying Puerto Rico article now. I hope a future article will address retired folks who’ve run out of savings and thus, or for other reasons, are deciding to move abroad to find comfy living on one thousand dollars a month. Thailand, even Bangkok, I’m well-acquainted with. I’m comfy with the Thai way of doing things, and oh! the food! So please advise?: Does the big benefit of MEDICARE (accepted in Puerto Rico I believe) offset the fact that I prefer Asia to Latin America? I’m strongly drawn to Thailand and somewhat to other places working to lure gringos to settle: Panama, Ecuador, Malaysia, etc.

    I’m 79 in September; and aside from a-fib, I’m healthy. But 79 is 79. My only fear is not having the wherewithal to pay for future possible hospital visits, without Medicare. Puerto Rico’s Medicare acceptance — might this benefit outweigh my preference for lower-cost, colorful Thailand? (You mention luck — it’s always been with me.)

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