Tell me about Puerto Rico

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I'll be vacationing in Puerto Rico for a week at the beginning of November. I'll be staying around Dorado, about 1/2 hour to the west of San Juan. What should I do? Where should I go? Any recommendations appreciated. I will have a car so I'll be pretty mobile. Am interested in local music/contemporary art galleries or museums showing Puerto Rican art/natural wonders/scuba/snorkeling/pretty much anything if it's interesting... Any recommendations or tips would be appreciated!

ianinportland (ianinportland), Thursday, 26 October 2006 14:37 (twelve years ago) link

I thought this would be a Gareth thread. I figured it's about time for him to hit the territories.

Sam rides the beat like a bicycle (Molly Jones), Thursday, 26 October 2006 15:29 (twelve years ago) link

Whatever you do, don't wear nylon stockings underneath your jeans.

Pleasant Plains /// (Pleasant Plains ///), Thursday, 26 October 2006 16:21 (twelve years ago) link

no im going to chile instead, i think

-- (688), Thursday, 26 October 2006 16:28 (twelve years ago) link

Go to Vieques!

aimurchie (aimurchie), Thursday, 26 October 2006 16:53 (twelve years ago) link

omg! please read rum diary first and report back everything that happens down there w/ photos.

sunny successor (katharine), Thursday, 26 October 2006 17:05 (twelve years ago) link


(9ò_ó)-o Q(^.^Q) (Adrian Langston), Thursday, 26 October 2006 17:10 (twelve years ago) link

So it's a pretty lame place to visit, huh?

ianinportland (ianinportland), Thursday, 26 October 2006 20:37 (twelve years ago) link

While vacationing in Puerto Rico 12 yrs ago, our rental vehicle had a blow - out on our way back to our hotel. It was around 2:30 in the morning on a pitch black two lane road. A pick-up truck with 3 men stopped to see if we needed assistance. My husband was trying to lower the spare from the underside of the vehicle and said no. They started getting out of the truck anyway when my husband said that assistance was on it's way already. One of the men cane around to the back of our vehicle and shined his flashlight on my husband under the back bumper and I became petrified when the light shined on my husbands trouser hem and stopped, I knew the guy had realized what he saw and started laughing and calling his friends. My husbands pant leg hem was half way up his calf and the light from the flashlight was glissening off his nylons, (my husband is a crossdresser in private but a wonderful, heterosexual and strong man). When Don got out from under the car he was immediately hit in the back of the neck and knocked out cold. Within minutes Don and I were on opposite sides of the vehicle with our heads inside the car with the windows rolled tight to our necks. We were both repeatedly raped by these three drunken men. The sight of my husband bent over wearing panties, garter and hose being animalistically raped and the tears and sweat rushing down his face and the look on his face was too much to bear. I tried to make my movements as pleasurable as possible to hopefully exhaust their stamina but I was petrified. They were slapping our bottoms and screaming obscenities as they continued to pound us. I was then analy raped like my husband and to add to the horror they started loudly comparing how our bodies responded to the rape, bragging how their prowess made even my husband ejaculate in the panties he was wearing. It was close to daybreak before they left us. Fortunately we were able to free ourselves, put our clothes on and drive to the beach and clean ourselves up before returning to the hotel. We never reported this to the authorities for the obvious reasons. Although I have completely recovered physically and mentally, my husband and father of our 4 children has never been the same. I can see the humiliation in his eyes. No matter how I try to comfort him and reassure him that he is a man, my man, and that what happened was a normal physical reaction to what was happening to his body, he feels like it was all his fault for being a crossdresser.

-- Marianna Domingos (wddr200...) (webmail), August 13th, 2003 8:19 PM. (link)

roc u like a § (ex machina), Thursday, 26 October 2006 20:48 (twelve years ago) link

So what you're saying is no blow-out, no problem then?

ianinportland (ianinportland), Thursday, 26 October 2006 21:24 (twelve years ago) link

Puerto Ricas be Trippin!

researching ur life (grady), Thursday, 26 October 2006 21:33 (twelve years ago) link

Sunday New York Times to the rescue:

36 Hours
San Juan

SAN JUAN is known for its clichés: big, gaudy casinos, honeymooners sipping rum punch on the beach and salsa bands at every turn. But avoid the tourist haunts, and you’re likely to find a more authentically pulsing Latin culture — a city of faded Art Deco neighborhoods, a growing contemporary art scene and emo reggaetón stars hiding out in dark corners of bars in Old San Juan.


6 p.m.

No man should be caught after dark in the tropics without a proper guayabera, the loose fitting dress shirt that originated in Cuba and Mexico. And Clubman in the Santurce neighborhood (Avenida Ponce de León, 1116; 787-725-3680), which opened in the 1940’s, is the place to score one that’s both well crafted and rico-suave tailored. Antonio Navado, a knowledgeable salesman who has worked in the boutique since the beginning, will guide you through the in-house label offerings of long and short sleeves, linen and cotton and hues like pastel lime, canary yellow and cloud blue ($60 to $150).

9 p.m.

O.K. Now you’re ready to strut your stuff at the hot, new restaurant of the moment. But don’t worry: the recently opened Boceto (Avenida Isla Verde, 7480; 787-268-2627) in the Isla Verde district is thankfully not another trendy lounge with wanna-be South Beach décor and blaring hip-hop. There are small gothic-chamberlike rooms with velvet couches, mosaics and carved wooden chairs that make perfect thrones for sampling the Spanish-skewed menu that includes tapas like zippy stripped bass ceviche ($14) and tropical root vegetable chips with tomato cancassé and mango sauce ($9).

11:30 p.m.

Bronzed Las Vegas types and women with a lot of leg and cleavage converge on Friday nights at the island’s most turned-out gambling palace, El San Juan Resort & Casino (Avenida Isla Verde, 6063; 787-791-1000; There are other casinos in many of the big hotels lining the beach in the Isla Verde district, like the InterContinental and the Ritz-Carlton, but none pack quite the same dolled-up punch. Having undergone a semirecent renovation El San Juan doesn’t skimp on sweeping cinematic gestures like gold cupolas, mirrored ceilings and a lot of carved mahogany and red marble. The blackjack tables, submerged in a smoke and alcohol haze, are all the more authentic with a salsa band performing nearby.



Why not? Beeline it to Tasca el Pescador in Santurce (Calle Dos Hermanos, 178; 787-7210995) among the brightly painted hole-in-the-wall restaurants surrounding the Plaza del Mercado, a traditional farmers’ market where vendors sell everything from tamarindo to yuca to sides of beef. Inside the hyper air-conditioned, florescent-lighted dining room (two mainstays of the Puerto Rico culinary experience) is a fully stocked old wooden bar and an array of colorful, fresh fish on ice. The owners, Antonio Nuñez, a retired matador, and his wife, Asunción Martínez, bring in fish daily from around the island. Standouts include a thick salmon fillet in guava sauce ($17.50) and a whole, sautéed local yellowtail ($18).

3 p.m.

Five years ago San Juan’s contemporary art scene was practically nonexistent. That’s changing thanks to a handful of new galleries and collectors like César and Mima Reyes, who frequently play host to visiting artists like Jorge Pardo, Martin Creed and Cecily Brown. The galleries are mostly concentrated in the commercial stretches of Santurce, including Espacio 1414 (Avenida Fernández Juncos, 1414; 787-725-3899), which opened a year ago in a former Royal Tire warehouse with works by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla(the Puerto Rico-based artists nominated for this year’s Hugo Boss Prize), Piotr Uklanski and Peter Halley. Desto (Calle Américo Salas, 1400; 787-633-3381; is an artist-run space, and a few minutes into the Hato Rey area is TagRom (Calle Guayama, 13; 787-403-6603). But the most hive-like of the batch is Galería Comercial, (Avenida Fernández Juncos, 1412; 787-217-5848; When it’s not touring on the Art Basel circuit, it’s open in a weathered pink concrete building that doubles as an air-conditioned refuge for a new generation of the avant-garde handpicked from the local Escuela de Artes Plásticas by the young gallery owner Tito Rovira-Rullán.

5 p.m.

As in Havana and Miami, Art Deco flourished in San Juan in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. But unlike South Beach, there’s no quaint district with perky, pastel restorations. Avenida Ponce de León in Santurce is the best place to glimpse these dilapidated gems with their old paint and funky, machine-age shapes. Many of the retro buildings are derelict, while others have been drafted into service as beauty schools and office buildings. Park at the top of Ponce de León at the corner of Avenida Jose de Deigo and peer into the lobbies of the faded beauties at close range, including the sun-bleached pink Paramount Theater and the old Telegraph Building in all its streamline splendor.

9:30 p.m.

Old San Juan, built in the 1500’s by conquistadors, was once the turf of gangsters and drug dealers. Now, its colonial buildings and narrow cobblestone streets are popping with trendy restaurants, boutique hotels and bars that serve watermelon sangria. In SoFo (South of Fortaleza), there are dozens of painfully chic restaurants, like the bordello-themed Dragonfly (Calle Fortaleza, 364; 787-977-3886), which serves nouvelle Latino fusion fare, and Aguaviva (also at Calle Fortaleza, 364; 787-722-0665), which specializes in Latino seafood dishes. For a more laid-back experience, try the 40-seat Panza in the lobby of the new Chateau Cervantes (Calle Recinto Sur, 329; 787-724-7722), or 311 Trois Cent Onze, (Calle Fortaleza, 311; 787-725-7959; Owned by Christophe Gourdain, a former bar manager at Jean-Georges in New York, and Sylma Pérez, 311 has French-tropical dishes like mango and crab salad ($11) and Caribbean lobster tail with Champagne beurre blanc ($35). The décor of its 300-year-old building is noncliché tropical with a dark wood bar and banana leaves.

11:30 p.m.

Bar hoping in Old San Juan can feel a bit like pre-Katrina Bourbon Street, especially along Calle San Sebastián where on humid weekend nights it’s wall-to-wall with young women in microminis and reggaetón acolytes in baggy athletic jerseys. Barú (Calle San Sebastián, 150; 787-977-7107) and El Café Seda (Calle San Sebastián, 157; 787-724-7720) are among the most populated of the dozens of bars. But the in-crowd hides out behind the crumbling colonial facade of Marrero (Calle Sol, 270; 787-406-7205), where there is a jukebox in front and a pool table in back, the latter presided over by bleary-eyed regulars. If you can last till the wee hours, you might glimpse Residente Calle 13, an art school graduate who has become the island’s first intellectual-styled reggaetón star. He wears tattoos of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Matisse on his arms.


10 a.m

Where isn’t there a beach in San Juan? For soft sand sunbathing and easy, wave-free swimming, nothing beats Isla Verde. There’s a reason many of the luxury resorts, including the Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental and the Water Club, were built there. Sure the shoreline is built up with high-rise hotels and condos à la Miami Beach and the crowd tends to be on the pasty tourist side, but if you look out to sea you will hardly notice.


Culture buffs should skip the museums — why travel all the way to Puerto Rico to spend the day indoors? Instead, drive to Puerta de Tierra and explore some of the great midcentury hotels. The Normandie (Avenida Muñoz Rivera Oeste 499; 787-729-2929; is an Art Deco extravaganza built in 1942 in the shape of the old French luxury liner. It has porthole windows and a tiled lounge that spills out onto a front deck. In the 1950’s, Toro Ferrer Arquitectos, a venerable Puerto Rican firm, designed the El Caribe Hilton (Calle Rosales, San Gerónimo Grounds; 787-721-0303; in a tropical International style with flirty curves and brightly painted concrete blocks that scream retro vacation. Unfortunately, the Hilton recently renovated away much of its original charm, but the bones and intention are still there.

2 p.m.

Need a little pick me up before dealing with the airport? Puerto Rico takes its coffee seriously. Its arabica beans from the wet, mountainous regions are said to have a special richness. Connoisseurs abound at Panadería España Repostería in Isla Verde (Centro Comercial Villamar, Marginal Baldorioty de Castro;787-727-3860), an old-school, florescent-lighted cafeteria and bakery in a strip mall. Some of the most intoxicating café con leche ($1) is whipped up behind a metal counter there. Locals know it tastes even better with a thick slice of flan ($1.50) in coconut, vanilla or cheese.

The Basics

San Juan is just under four hours on a nonstop flight from New York and is served by the major airlines. Public transportation is scant, so you will need to rent a car or take cabs, which are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

With its classic midcentury facade the InterContinental San Juan Resort & Casino (Avenida Isla Verde 5961; 787-791-6100; is the best-looking hotel on the beach. The interior, however, is generic hotel chain with floral comforters and nondescript semiantique furniture. Still a room on an upper floor with an ocean view that seems to go on forever can’t be beat. Rooms start at $239.

The Normandie (Avenida Munoz Rivera Oeste 499; 787-729-2929; has survived multiple renovations and still retains its original over-the-top charm. Rooms start at $137.

Among the latest boutique hotels to open in Old San Juan’s SoFo district, the Chateau Cervantes (Calle Recinto Sur 329, 787-724-7722; is in a 16th-century building. The 12 rooms are cozy, with Art Deco-modern interiors and cast iron balconies that overlook the narrow streets below. Rooms start at $500.

ianinportland (ianinportland), Monday, 30 October 2006 16:29 (twelve years ago) link

If you go down to the docks in San Juan and then turn right and walk along the waterline, you'll get to a plaza where there are these great foot carts (the pork on a stick was fantastic) and then if you walk a little farther, there's a little cafe/bar that's right up against the outside wall of the old city and is really pretty.

It was worth it to go to the docks just to see the cruise ships and go "holy crap!"

Eppy (Eppy), Monday, 30 October 2006 16:59 (twelve years ago) link

That's the kind of information I was looking for. Thanks, Eppy...

The only time I have been to Puerto Rico was for a long layover. We rented a taxi for two hours and just had him drive us around and give us a tour. We stopped at one of the old forts near old san juan and had fun when we noticed that a few of the cannons were perfectly aimed at some of those monstrously huge cruise ships.

ianinportland (ianinportland), Monday, 30 October 2006 18:30 (twelve years ago) link

The big tourist spots in the old city are actually mostly worth it, which was surprising, but the big fort at the northeastern point (too lazy right now to google the name) is really super cool. We were surprised how expensive it was but I guess it is a tourist destination.

The other good place was an Arepa place called Arepas y Mucho Mas in the southeastern corner, sorta just as you come into the old city. $2 for shrimp or pork arepas and totally delicious.

Eppy (Eppy), Monday, 30 October 2006 22:39 (twelve years ago) link

Oops, the fort at the northwestern point, I mean. Too lazy to think of compass points right now too, apparently.

Eppy (Eppy), Monday, 30 October 2006 22:39 (twelve years ago) link

six months pass...

Anyone familiar with Puerto Rico's profile for people with allergies? Does the humidity create an environment where the pollen and, more important (for me), mold levels, are high? Or does the salt sea air tend to moderate those things?

Rockist Scientist, Sunday, 27 May 2007 17:18 (twelve years ago) link

five years pass...

Bump. Getting ready to take a walk to old San Juan to see the fort and the cannons and such. Not really sure what else is in store but after reading this I feel like it could be quite awesome. If anyone sees this and has suggestions that are more up to date than 6-7 years ago, lemme hear them.

a monolithic testament to shiftlessness and lost productivity (dan m), Tuesday, 30 April 2013 13:36 (six years ago) link

Whatever you do, don't wear nylon stockings underneath your jeans.

pplains, Tuesday, 30 April 2013 17:04 (six years ago) link

It's too hot for that anyway.

a monolithic testament to shiftlessness and lost productivity (dan m), Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:08 (six years ago) link

Update: Mesa Verde in old San Juan has fanfuckingtastic vegetarian and pescatarian food.


a monolithic testament to shiftlessness and lost productivity (dan m), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:37 (six years ago) link

Bumping 'cause I'm back home now. PR is amazing and slightly mad, but completely worth visiting. I have many suggestions if you do go.

The Normandie (Avenida Munoz Rivera Oeste 499; 787-729-2929; has survived multiple renovations and still retains its original over-the-top charm. Rooms start at $137.

^^^this place is boarded up and for sale now, we walked past it

one year passes...

i'm going there in a week, to spend two weeks there.

It's pretty sweet.

dan m, Saturday, 2 August 2014 05:08 (four years ago) link

ok, i had to push the vacation back a week but it's definitely on beginning next Friday till Labor Day.

any recommendations, dan? i vaguely remember from one of the WDYLL's that you went to Arecibo (which is also on my itinerary).

Yeah, definitely go to Arecibo if you're at all a science/tech fan.

We stayed at these places: - Villa Herrencia in Old San Juan (This place was fucking fantastic but slightly pricy, worth it though.) ... _Rico.html - San Juan Park Hotel (This was probably the best value for the money.) - Resort outside of Guanica. - Bed & breakfast outside of El Yunque. Really, really cool, friendly owners, beautiful views, loud as fuck tree frogs all night long.

Bear in mind it was my wife and I on honeymoon so ymmv as far as some of these places. There are lots and lots of options, of course.

I'd leave a day or two for San Juan itself, though you could easily do more. We wanted to get out and see the rest of the island so we rented a car and did the circuit all the way around. El Yunque is worth visiting, for sure, as is the dry forest near Guanica. I found the east coast of the island the most inviting, though we didn't make it to Vieques or the bioluminescent bays. If you go near Fajardo my suggestion is get some food and drinks here:, it was fantastic. The pinxtos stands in some of the beach communities are amazing as well.

If you make it to Ponce the tour of the Serralles family home is worth taking, they're the originators of Don Q and Captain Morgan rum. A lot of Ponce was pretty depressing when I was there, though.

Also, if you're renting a car, be sure to get a really good map, because if you venture off the main roads shit gets confusing really fast.

That's all that springs to mind at the moment, I've been traveling the past few days and my mind is frazzled.

dan m, Tuesday, 12 August 2014 12:37 (four years ago) link

Follow up: be sure to get to some of the small towns and poke around a bit. This is probably obvious but you can stay in the places-that-cater-to-English-speaking-tourists and be fine, but the real fun is elsewhere imho.

dan m, Tuesday, 12 August 2014 12:42 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

going here in a few wks but only for like 2.5 days

johnny crunch, Saturday, 21 November 2015 00:10 (three years ago) link

you're missing the hoops

mookieproof, Saturday, 21 November 2015 01:08 (three years ago) link

non hoop travel

johnny crunch, Saturday, 21 November 2015 01:48 (three years ago) link

two weeks pass...

this was nice cept the rainforest was kinda garb or idk we did it rong poss

johnny crunch, Sunday, 6 December 2015 00:59 (three years ago) link

Can anyone tell me about the island of Culebra? Really want to go sometime early next year.

Josefa, Sunday, 6 December 2015 03:52 (three years ago) link

six months pass...

here on business this week. the word "beautiful" doesn't even begin to do it justice.

sadly will be indoors for majority of trip (it *is* business) but got to enjoy the beach today.

Neanderthal, Tuesday, 5 July 2016 00:40 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

Still resilient as fuck. Even despite a President who decided to take a shit on them.

Going to Old San Juan tonight hopefully.

fuck the NRA (Neanderthal), Sunday, 10 February 2019 16:22 (five months ago) link

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