For the past three years, each May, my boyfriend and I have taken a trip somewhere to celebrate our anniversary. This year, we decided to go somewhere tropical. Unfortunately, our initial plan of venturing off to Jamaica were ruined due to some traveler horror stories in the news about gang wars leading into the local resorts - yea, no thanks. So our next best option was Puerto Rico, although it had just suffered a devastating blow from the hurricane, we thought it our best choice for a getaway and a chance to help the country out financially, even if we chose to travel on a budget.
For 5 days, we trekked across this amazing island together, trying new foods, hitting local clubs and bars and of course getting in on the culture and history of the island. Overall, it was a huge success, and for a pretty sweet price too. I’ll lay out the top 5 things I suggest anyone venturing off to Puerto Rico to do/see as well as map out our expenses during our trip. So, let’s dive on in…
Dine at Barrachina
This was the BEST decision we EVER made. Thanks to some helpful blogs and Pins, we were able to find some awesome recommendations as to where we should dine to celebrate our anniversary. Barrachina is the finding restaurant of the Pina Colada, and boy could we tell. I don’t think I’ve ever ate more delicious food - it literally made me want to get up and dance. I recommend the plantains with the grilled shrimp. For your appetizer, consider splitting the sausage in the creole sauce - a gift from the gods, I’m telling you. We barely even noticed we were humming with every bite!
Need I even tell you to order a Pina Colada?! Hello! They’re the inventors of the drink - buy two with shots of rum, you won’t be sorry. If I could do it over again, I would get the Paella dish - I had MAjOR food envy when I looked across the room but the dish was easily for 4 people - I saw three men that couldn’t even finish it! Anthony hates seafood, so you can see why I decided to skip the leftovers lol. For the two of us, for two main dishes, an appetizer and 4 Pina Coladas we spent about $100, I think $120 with the tip - truly worth it for such a special occasion.
Dance the Night Away on La Fortaleza
Looking for the best bachata or salsa spot? Trying to party with the locals? Then this is the spot for you, just scurry on over to Old San Juan and park wherever you can find a spot and walk until you find somewhere that “tickles your fancy”. Don’t worry about pricing either, for local wells and shots your looking at the same price you would otherwise pay at any bar in the continental US ($5-8USD).
If you’re really want to dance with the locals to some of the best latin music - then I suggest Morenos. La Factoria was impossible for us to find, but Anthony had heard such amazing reviews on the drinks and nightlife, so i would definitely get a local to help you find this one - better luck next time for me though.
Indulge in the Art and History of Old San Juan
I really don’t even know where to start here, there really is so much to do in Old San Juan I feel like I need to do an entirely different blog on just that city. But my favorite things about this part of Puerto Rico was definitely the street art and brightly painted buildings - It truly makes you feel like your in another world; you could hear music up and down the streets, smell the kitchens whipping up something you thought only your grandmother could make and there is just this “mood” of the entire city that really makes you want to take it all in. Although this may be a tourist-heavy spot, I didn’t feel like it was (if that makes any sense).
Keep a sharp eye out, one head swivel and you’ll miss a work of art like the one above AND below. We were just driving along trying to find a place to park and I just so happened to be looking the opposite direction of the ocean when I saw this bright orange wall with the largest Puerto Rican flag you’ve even seen plastered up and down it. My favorite part about this location? All of the history that is scattered throughout the city, but more on the in my blog Top Attractions to See in Old San Juan.
Take a Boat Out to the Luminous Lagoons
Man, I wish we could’ve gotten the chance to experience this. The timing was just SO off and honestly, we didn’t budget for it because we didn’t even know it existed - we had heard about something similar in Jamaica, but as it turns out - Puerto Rico has a Luminous Lagoon as well. I would recommend a tour boat for those of you who don’t want to just wing it yourself, just know that this is about $100+ per person! If you want to try to venture out to the lagoons on your own your looking at renting a car (at least $20/day) and driving to Fajaro (about 3-4 hrs), then looking for either a boat tour that you can jump in on last minute, or you can simply rent out your own boat (might be cheaper) and paddle out to the bays (it’s not far don’t worry). Depends on your preference. I’ll definitely have to go back soon though and see it for myself.
Learn the Secret Behind the Bacardi Bat Logo
So, I usually don’t recommend tours when traveling due to the fact that they have a habit of filtering out the ability to truly indulge in the local culture, but this was the most memorable part of my trip. Now, you have a few different options here; you can either JUST get the tour of the grounds and inside La Casa de Bacardi (Historical Tour) for $15/person, the Rum Tasting Tour (which includes a tasting of 5 different rums along with several other additions) for $50/person or the Mixology Tour (which includes your own bar set up and a class on making 3 classic Bacardi cocktails along with several other perks) for $60/person. Each tours comes with a complimentary token which can be redeemed for one cocktail drink before or after your tour.
We found it more cost-productive if we just did the historical tour, had our cocktail throughout the tour and chose to engrave our own bottle! We got a certificate with our bottle year, number and our names along with a custom engraved bottle (that you can’t get anywhere other than La Casa de Bacardi btw). It was amazing! You can bottle your own bottle if you like but that is way more expensive, I think around $180.
Anyways, I suggest the tour - it’s very informative, fun and you ven learn the secret behind the infamous Bacardi “bat” logo.
All in all, this was by far the best anniversary trip yet. We ate amazing food, met the coolest locals and took the most amazing pictures. Want to see 15 pictures that will make you fall in love with Puerto Rico? Click here. Or, if you want to check out my GoPro footage of our entire trip, simply click here!
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