Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring Break: Puerto Rico

A year ago, I took a week long vacation to St. Kitts. One thing I took away from that trip was that I really enjoyed nature raw with just a touch of commercialization. A small bar on the beach side perhaps. For me, a vacation on an island is all about the beach with an afternoon of snorkeling or horseback riding dabbled here and there. It wasn't the kind of vacation where I'd schedule full days of activities. Relaxation was the focus.

Before I get into more detail, let's go through what I did:

1. Old San Juan
2. Fort El Morro
3. Aguadillas's Crash Boat Beach (supposedly famous)
4. El Yunque Rain Forest
5. Brief stint at the "2nd best beach in the world" Flameco beach on the island of Culebra
6. Kayak and Snorkeling at Culebra
7. Bio bay at Fajardo
8. Casinos
9. Beach resort at Ritz Carlton

This is in 4 days. If you do a vaca on an island this is most possibly the worst angle to approach it. I'm not sure why I agreed to go with this schedule, but it should only be done on trip to a more culture centric country like France or Italy. My most enjoyable day at PR was spending the afternoon on the beach resort at the Ritz Carlton hotel and then going with a group of my brothers friends to a nice dinner and some drinking/clubbing afterwards. That's what we should have done. Take it easy.

Aside from Old San Juan and the Flamenco beach on Culebra, the rest of the activities we did I was very unimpressed with. You want a rain forest with a real water fall? Go to Taiwan. You want to go snorkeling? Go to the Bali islands. Bio bay? I'd rather watch it on discovery channel. Way over hyped.

Flamenco beach was very awesome though. Clearest waters with the whitest of sands. Unfortunately we only spent a mere 30minutes as a pit stop before snorkeling. If I could do this over again I'd just spend the whole day at there. The scenery was truly paradise-like.

Old San Juan reminded me a lot about Europe. Small stone alley ways with a bunch of small shops dabbled all over the place, it was really nice to just walk around and look around shops. Too many run of the mill souvenir stores though. Forts are ok, but if you've seen them before they aren't very different.

Caribbean food is mostly overpriced and tastes lame. PR is definitely overpriced for food. It tastes decent though. Probably one of the better islands for food I've been to. Mofongos (local thing, basically mashed up plantains) was alright, but other than that there isn't much that is local to PR. If anything, you can always fall back on a whopper.

For me, PR was a place where there was no shortage of activities, but most of them were mediocre and unimpressive. If you've traveled a decent amount as I have there's nothing PR can offer that really gets me excited, other than Flamenco beach of course. The biggest downside of it all was that you waste an insane amount of time travelling. I put 450miles on my rental car in a matter of 3 days. That's easily 8 hours of driving. Seeing a large amount of American corporate infestation of fast food restaurants (tons of burger king for some reason) and Walmarts certainly didn't help. I felt like I barely got away.

Would I recommend Puerto Rico as your next vacation destination? No. Unless you are easily amused like most American reviewers on yelp. I rate PR a C+. The only activities you should engage in there is drinking, night life, and the beach. Miami is a better alternative to this. I'm thinking Brazil next.

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