Sunrise from the rooms at San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
Forts, fun, and an endless flavor that emanates from both the food and the friendly faces around each corner; Puerto Rico is an island of endless possibilities for an adventurous traveler, who also appreciates a little down time. During a three-day adventure of our own, we set out to explore the Puerto Rico the best way a wellness traveler knows how, snacking and sweating our way through the island.
With over 500 well-appointed rooms, many with spectacular uninterrupted balcony views of the Condado Beach below, the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, is a great place to call home during your time in Puerto Rico. The resort is just a short drive from the airport and offers an ideal location for many of the must-see and have-to-do items on your travel checklist. You’ll be close, often walking distance, to fabulous shopping, delicious dining, and many historical sites, and for those destinations that are off the beaten path, you can simply set up an off-property excursion with the hotel’s concierge.
With a large strip of beach (be cautious of the strong current), a pool complete with a waterslide, hot tub, pool-side service, and lively music, and a late-night casino where you can try your luck at a variety of table games and slots, the expansive resort offers so much you’ll want to be sure to set aside a day or two just to enjoy your time there. While you enjoy your time on the resort be sure to order up a poolside pina colada, as the popular tropical cocktail originated on the island in 1963! And speaking of cocktails, the resort’s signature, the Dragonberry Mojito, is another must-order while enjoying some playtime during your travels. When hunger strikes, the resort offers fabulous dining options including La Vista Latin Grill & Bar, open for breakfast and dinner with both buffet and a la carte options. The catch of the day is always a great bet and the Tuna Tartar, with its tropical mango flavor, is a fantastic start to your meal. For dessert, or just a midday treat, stop by Gelato & Co. for a refreshing fresh-fruit sorbet or a mouth-watering gelato. Our personal favorite? The Ferrero Rocher flavor!
When you’re ready to explore the island let your first stop be the beautiful El Yunque rainforest where the coquí frogs and cascading waterfalls offer a peaceful soundtrack for your hike. Before heading into the lush rainforest stop by Yokahu Tower, where on a clear day you can enjoy panoramic views of the island. When you’re ready to begin your adventure into the forest consider taking its most popular trail, La Mina. This trail is perfect for beginners as it features a well-marked path with railings for any steps, so all ages and levels are welcome to enjoy. It follows the course of the La Mina River towards La Mina waterfall where you can take a dip in the natural pool beneath the falls.
After you’ve worked up an appetite during your hike through El Yunque, stop at the Luquillo Kiosks for an authentic Puerto Rican lunch. This rustic roadside destination offers up a row of 60 humble shops for souvenirs and food. We made our way to the last kiosk in the row, Roca Taina, for an array of Puerto Rican favorites. We loved the piononos, plantains filled with ground beef and spices, which we enjoyed with an ice cold Medalla, a refreshing and light local beer.
For a more upscale dining experience stop at Yantar, where the chef was named one of “The Caribbean’s Top 25 Chefs” this year by Caribbean Journal. With its trendy décor and art and lagoon views, Yantar serves up a fusion of Spanish and Mediterranean flavors in a sophisticated but playful way
Quick photo opp at Castillo San Cristóbal
Another must-see while in Puerto Rico is the city of Old San Juan. Marked by its rows of colorful homes in both Spanish and French architectural styles reminiscent of the island’s early settlers, the city is partly enclosed by forts like Castillo San Cristóbal built by the Spanish in the between the 16 and 1700s. After you tour through the fort’s dark tunnels and enjoy views of the entire city from above, take your explorations to the blue cobblestoned streets of the old town and stop for lunch at Raices. Here servers don outfits from yesteryear and serve traditional island favorites like mofongo, mashed plantains filled with your choice of beef, pork, fish, or shrimp cooked in one of three sauces.
Before you leave the island, book a night tour of one of the island’s magical bioluminescent bays. We set out for the last night kayaking adventure of the Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo, where you will kayak two miles back round trip (how’s that for an arm workout!?) to view more than 720,000 organisms that emit a blue light when they make contact with your kayak’s oars, your hands, or best of all, when the little fish in the bay swim through them! For this tour be sure to pack clothes you’re okay with getting dirty (use the hotel’s laundry service before heading home) and sneak on a small hand-held light as the path is pitch-black and you will often be separated from your tour and that light is going to come in handy for finding your way. When you’re done you’ve more than earned another Dragonberry Mojito at the hotel’s bar!
Whatever level of adventure you’re seeking you’ll find it on the island of Puerto Rico.
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