After spending three days around the west side of Puerto Rico we traveled to Luquillo near San Juan. We stayed at an Airbnb across from La Pared Beach. We saw more damage from Hurricane Maria in this area compared to the west side of the island. This makes sense given the path that Maria took. While the entire island was affected, this area would have been on the Northeast side of the eye, which typically experiences the strongest winds and most intense thunderstorms. Even with the lingering damage there were plenty of stores and restaurants re opened and no shortage of beautiful beaches.
We were hoping to do some surfing but the weather didn’t cooperate. We easily could have rented a board but the waves weren’t ideal for beginner surfers. During our two days at La Pared we saw one person try to surf and it was a struggle. We were able to find plenty of other activities to keep us occupied.
We walked around the plaza area and saw many of the businesses had re opened.
We ended up eating breakfast at Lena’s Cafe. This restaurant offered a variety of food and beverages including specialty coffee, smoked meats and craft beer. Everything is made from scratch so it takes a bit of time, but the food is worth the wait. The French Toast Sandwich was my favorite. We didn’t make it back for dinner but heard the dinner options are delicious as well.
Since surfing was not an option for us we headed to Las Paylas, the natural waterslide in Luquillo. Google maps was pretty accurate, we just had to look for Las Paylas signs when close – as the entrance is through private property. I plan to write more about our visit to Las Paylas in a later blog.
When we arrived there were a few others taking the plunge. We watched them to identify the entry point for the slide before trying it for ourselves. It was fun, but a little more intense than expected. I definitely injured my tailbone going down! We did take video footage, including a point of view video going down the slide. You can watch it here on our YouTube Channel Explorcation.
One attempt down the slide was enough for my behind so we climbed on the rocks downstream and found some peace and quite. We could have spent more time relaxing on the rocks or swimming in the pool below but it started to rain so we decided to move along.
During our quick drive back to town the rain stopped so we went to check out a beach. We ended up at Playa Fortuna. This beach was beautiful, a perfect spot to soak up some rays. I plan to write more about our experiences at various beaches in Puerto Rico in a future blog. We did take video footage of all the beaches we visited that can be found here on our YouTube Channel Explorcation.
We walked east along the beach, past los kioskos or the kiosks, to Luquillo Beach. Here we were able to swim for a bit before having a snack and drinks at the kiosks. This beach had lifeguard stands and an dedicated swimming area.
After we had enough sun we walked over to the kiosks. Los kioskos is a row of buildings off Route 3 along the beach. We counted over 50 kiosks! Several kiosks had not yet re opened after Maria, but there were still plenty of options to choose from. The kiosks are casual and many have beach access. We started off at #33 Crio Mar because I was set on having a pina colada, in a pineapple, on the beach. It was open air with access to the beach and a wonderful bar tender.
One more item was crossed off my Puerto Rico bucket list! This was a delicious pina colada made from scratch.
For a snack we stopped at #20 Terruno. This was also open air with beach access.
We tried the Piononitos Artesanales de Camarones Y Churrasco – stuffed sweet plantains with shrimp and skirt steak. WOW – this was delicious – sweet and salty with a creamy sauce.
We headed back to our Airbnb to enjoy our view of La Pared. We ended up chatting with our neighbor James – who just happened to have too many coconuts. He was gracious enough to share so we could have some coconut rum drinks for dinner. He was staying in a second floor unit, preparing it to be a rental. If you are interested in the Luquillo area this location is perfect – across from the beach and close to bars and restaurants. We have nothing but good things to say about the unit we stayed in. It was well kept in a great location. The listing is located here and the second floor unit is located here.
After great drinks and conversation we walked a block or so to eat at Boardriders along the beach. In October they seemed to have a limited menu. Looking at their website now they appear to offer a wider variety of options. We ordered wings and enjoyed their karaoke night. We would highly recommend their Guava BBQ sauce, it was quite tasty. The staff were very friendly and overall it was a fun atmosphere.
The next morning we had to pack up to head back to Florida. We got up early to have breakfast at Pan Mas Rico a few blocks away. Their breakfast sandwiches were huge, very reasonably priced and delicious. I regret not taking a picture before I devoured my breakfast! We also tried a pastry here and mmmm was it good. It was a great meal before heading to the airport and saying good bye to Puerto Rico.
For not knowing what to expect out of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria we sure had a great time. The people of Puerto Rico were so welcoming and showed us nothing but love for their island. While we did see more damage around Luquillo, this did not negatively impact our stay. For example, there was a hotel next to our AirBnb that appeared to be working on some renovations. There was a building on the way to Boardriders where several balconies had not been cleaned up. Several restaurants had moved or had not yet re opened. Despite all of this, we had plenty of options to choose from and we do not regret visiting when we did. I am sure since October even more buildings have been cleaned up and businesses have re opened. We hope sharing our experience will inspire others to travel to Puerto Rico.
We ended up leaving with a long list of activities we would like to do when we return – not because these activities were not available, but because we didn’t have time to do them all. Some examples are: hike in El Yunque Rainforest, visit Guanica Dry Forest, visit Culebra, kayak in the Fajardo Bioluminescent Bay, visit the Cueva Ventana and Indian Cave, soak up the sun at Cabo Rojo, surf at Jobos Beach – I am sure I am forgetting even more options!
We did create a vacation video that includes our time on the west side around Rincon, and also our time around Luquillo. You can check it out below. I wrote more about our experience on the east side of Puerto Rico near Rincon and Aguadilla here.
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Thank you to Diane and Jerry for accompanying Skylar and I on this trip and helping us document the beauty of Puerto Rico.