Puerto Rico Vacation Recap & Travel Guide

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Hey, girlfriends! I feel like it’s been forever since my last post. I really appreciate you all keeping up with me on Instagram in my absence here. As you saw, I spent a week in Puerto Rico with my husband and parents. We got back on late Monday night, so the past few days I’ve spent catching up on work and getting my life together. You know how that goes!

So quick backstory for you. Both of my parents are of Puerto Rican descent. They were both born here, my dad being the first of his siblings to be born on US soil. Throughout their lives, they both moved back and forth between the US and PR. So, naturally, I’ve always wanted to explore the island with them and see all of their favorite spots. You know, just hear about the good old days. That was supposed to happen back when I was in high school, then my grandpa who lived there got sick and my parents had to take an emergency trip alone. After that, the opportunity to go together just never arose (I went with my husband’s family back in 2009). Finally, this year we just committed. I couldn’t be more thrilled that we made it happen.

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Posing with my parents in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

I got to see family members that I hadn’t seen since I was a child. I got to hug family members that I had heard about, but had never met. I walked the streets that my parents did, ate their favorite foods (and PLENTY of them – I was a fan of passion fruit drinks and all of the seafood), and even got to visit my 92 year old great aunt at her convent (well, it was more of a retirement home for nuns, but similar). I think my biggest highlight as far as walking down memory lane goes was visiting the church that my mom’s parents got married in back in 1948.

My Versatile Style Blog: Puerto Rico Vacation Recap & Travel Guide
A photo of my grandparents on their wedding day in front of the church they married in back in 1948.

Anyways, I did do a lot of “touristy” stuff since my parents hadn’t been to the island in quite a few years. That said, I figured I’d highlight some of the places we stayed, sites we saw and activities we did for all of you. If you have a specific question, please leave it in the comments! I’ll be sure to get back to you.

1. Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa

While we spent part of the trip staying with family, we got to enjoy a few days at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The accommodations were very comfortable, the room decor was especially adorable and we had views of El Yunque National Forest (a rainforest) from our balcony. The other room views were pool/ocean views, so it was honestly a win/win.Since the main restaurant on site was a Margaritaville, the front desk gave free margaritas upon checkin…and then whenever you wanted them. I didn’t hate that at all, haha! The food on site was pretty basic, but the room we stayed in had a full kitchen (Margaritaville blender included), so we bought some groceries and threw a few meals together. It was nice to not have to eat restaurant style food for a few meals, honestly. For our other meals, we ventured offsite. I know people get a little nervous about doing that, but we felt completely safe and it was the only way we could get real, authentic food (and more affordable food, for that matter).

The resort had several pools and beach access. The pools included a swim-up bar, water slide and there was even one dedicated for adults only. It also had a full service spa and fitness room. The property itself sat next to other resorts and a golf course, so we walked/ran outside, too, to get in some extra sun. I’m not one for being inside when it’s 85 and sunny, but I like getting in my workouts on vacation.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this resort if you want to spend some time by the pool, but also get offsite to see some attractions. There wasn’t much to do on the resort property itself, but it’s a quick drive from the rainforest, several nice beaches, good food and even some shopping.

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Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
A view of El Yunque National Forrest from our hotel balcony.
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Got lots of questions about this bathing suit top that I posted on Instagram! It’s from Hollister.

2. Bioluminescent Tour – Fajardo, Puerto Rico

If you haven’t heard of the bioluminescent phenomenon – look it up! You’ll find tons of pictures of glowing water, which occurs from disturbing these living organisms. I won’t get into the details, but you can only experience it at night, and in very few places around the world. There are three spots in PR you can see it, so we did the kayak tour in Fajardo. While I thought it was well worth the money, the “glowing” of the water was nothing like what was advertised. I was told what they advertise can actually be seen in Vieques, Puerto Rico, so next time I will definitely try to do the tour from there. Regardless, I still had a lot of fun, and the kayak ride was still very scenic. We went through a long canal to a big lagoon and back. I would have paid the money just to do that, so the bioluminescent aspect was just an added bonus.

3. The Old City of San Juan

The city of Old San Juan is colorful and enchanting. There are a ton of little shops and restaurants to pop in an out of as well as historical spots like El Morro – a huge fort that was used to protect the city from intruders. If you’re in Puerto Rico, it’s one of those places you just have to spend a few hours walking around. The vibrant colors and brick streets are just so picturesque and unlike any place I’ve ever been. It’s also a great spot to get unique, affordable souvenirs, as people set up little kiosks to sell their goods in addition to all of the shops. In walking around we noticed a ton of lock boxes on houses, which made it seem like there were a lot of Airbnb properties (or something similar). If that’s the case, next time we will definitely be spending a few nights in Old San Juan so we can have more time to explore it. With all of the vivid colors and scenic views, it’s a bloggers/photographers dream, haha!

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Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation reviewPuerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review

4. Luquillo Beach

My mom was dying to go to Luquillo Beach because she had frequented it as a child, and I’m glad we made it happen just because it brought her so much joy. The beach itself is beautiful, but it’s also great place to visit if you want some amazing, ethnic food! They have these kiosks that stretch a good portion of the beach, with grab-and-go food options in addition to sit down. There are also a few souvenir shops.
I highly recommend Edelweiss Grill Restaurant!! We all tried something different and every single thing was fantastic! I told the sever that the chef needed to make a cookbook. It was that good! I specifically loved the arepas de coco stuffed with mixed seafood. Essentially they make a breading with flour and coconut, then stuff it with protein – I had mine stuffed with shrimp, octopus and squid. I could eat seafood every day of my life, and on this trip I pretty much did.
Completely off topic, but do note that if you go to a beach in Puerto Rico in the evening, you need to cover yourself in bug spray!!! You will be eaten alive. Trust me.

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Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review

5. Dorado Beach

Dorado Beach was hands down the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The color of the water was so bright and vivid, and the sand was so soft it almost made it hard to walk on it. I could have sat there for hours just taking it all in. If I had to recommend a place to stay to any tourist, this would be it.
The property my family lives on allows them access to the Ritz Carlton Reserve Hotel on Dorado Beach. They share some amenities like restaurants, pools and beaches – which were AMAZING, BTW. While I can’t speak to the actual hotel rooms because I did not stay in one, I can say that we were thoroughly impressed by the parts of the property we experienced. And the service was fantastic! I’d give it 5/5 stars!

Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Puerto Rico travel tips, Puerto Rico travel guide, Old San Juan review, Dorado beach review, Puerto Rico vacation, Puerto Rico vacation review
Well, there you have it! I hope this post makes you want to book a trip to Puerto Rico STAT. There truly are so many amazing things to see and experience. Please, just do me a favor. If you do visit, don’t lock yourself away on resort property. Venture out, eat with the locals, if even just for a night. You’ll get a better sense of what the island is about, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how warm and loving the people are.
If you have more questions than what I answered here, just let me know in the comments. I promise to get back to you!PS – Stay tuned for a quick Instagram outfit roundup. It’ll go live towards the end of the week.

Xx, Meach

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