La Familia: Puerto Rico

June 1, 2015
Puerto Rican flag

It’s been seven years since we last visited Puerto Rico to see Noel’s extended family. This trip was a long awaited homecoming. Taking advantage of Spring Break, and Jet Blue frequent flyer miles, we took a red eye flight and arrived in San Juan via Ft. Lauderdale in the morning. A short shuttle ride to pick up our rental car, we were on our way to Aguadilla, two hours on the west side of the island. The drive along the Highway 2 was scenic especially when you can catch a glimpse of the ocean. A favorite moment, about a half hour outside of Aguadilla, was turning the corner and seeing this:

driving Puerto Rico_Travel ElixirNot the greatest photo, but you get the idea. Of course a stop was in order to take in the awesome scenery.

Ocean View

Coastal ViewContinuing on we arrived in the town of Isabela. You can’t miss Isabela as a stunning face, Cara del Indo de Isabela, carved into the side of a rock jumps out at you. This incredible carving is a homage to the Taino Indians (natives of Puerto Rico). A perfect photo op stop, as well as a place to pick up a souvenir carving, or grab a snack and drink. When was the last time you had a pina colada in a cave?

La Cara del Indio

Cave Restaurant Isabela

Inside Cave Restaurant Isabela

Drinking a pina colada

Noel enjoying a cold one.

Local Vendors Isabela

Local vendors selling jewelry and carvings


Carving of Taino sun.

Aguadilla was home base during the week, but we took time to visit with family in Cabo Rojo and Corozal. I was disappointed in not having the chance to visit Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla, known for its surfing and clear water, but there is so much to see and explore on the island that you can’t possibly do it all. Plus, this trip was all about connecting with family. It was important for our daughter to engage with relatives who she hasn’t seen since a toddler. Plus to have the opportunity to practice Spanish.

I think one of the best family moments was when Noel reunited with his Godmother who he hadn’t seen since he was a little boy. At 87 years old, she knew exactly who he was the instant she saw him. Words can’t describe the emotion and grace that took place. This is one of my favorite pics of Noel walking his Godmother back to her home. It illustrates their special time together.

IMG_3042Halfway through the trip, we did a day trip expedition to Old San Juan. Although it was fun to revisit, Good Friday is not a good day to explore. Most of the shops were closed, but we still got a chance to walk around the city and take in all the exuberant colored homes and historical sites.Fountain in Old San Juan

Old San Juan homes

Puerto Rico Flag

Old San Juan Building

Streets of Old San JuanIf you have the time to visit, plan to spend the day at The Forts of Old San Juan. The San Juan National Historic Site is comprised of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Morro. It involves a lot of walking so be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes.

El Morro Fort wall

Fort wall

Old San Juan Tower

San Castillo

Cemetery next to El Morro

Cemetery next to El Morro

Visiting family was wonderful, but we took the last night for ourselves before heading back to the LA grind. We wanted to stay some place close to the airport and ultimately agreed on the Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort. This would not be my first choice for a week-long stay, but definitely for an overnight or two. This resort had everything needed for a day of detox: private beach, lounge chiars w/umbrella; swimming pool w/swim-up bar; restaurants; casino; and a balcony with a spectacular view. The staff was friendly and accommodating and the room was spacious and clean. The next day before heading home, we stopped at a great little spot up the road called Piu Bello. The service was a little on the slow side (in their defense it was busy), but it was worth the wait. The breakfast was delicious!

Balcony view

View from our balcony

View of pool

Pool view w/swim-up bar

Enjoying a margarita


Looking forward to returning to Puerto Rico again and next time planning a longer visit so we can explore even more of the island. Do you have family that live in an interesting part of the world that you’ve visited? If so, where?

Visit the PHOTO GALLERY to see more pics!

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  • Reply Andrea Singleton June 2, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Wow! Thanks for that great tour. I’m not big on traveling but I enjoyed every second of your journey. I especially loved the picture of your husband walking his Godmother home. Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to enjoying more of hour travels!

  • Reply Travel Elixir June 4, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for the love Andrea!

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