Topic Wiki

Info for the jewish traveler

Hotels   (feel free to add suggestions)
   Before booking any hotel check the Chabad website they have very good rates for the popular hotels that are close to them

   Ritz Carlton
        DDF'r Hotel Review
   St. Regis
       DDF'r Hotel Review
   El San Juan
   Gran Melia
         DDF'r Hotel Review

Preferred Car Rental

Kosher food
  Old San Juan
   Kosher in Paradise, Israeli style. With panini, falafel and more.  They can deliver to your hotel for a fee
   261 Fortaleza Street.
   Chabad (next to The Ritz and El San Juan)   (please someone add info regarding this)

Things to do

   Bioluminescent Bay
   El Yunque rainforest

   ATV/Horseback Riding

   Casa Bacardi Distillery Tour- Rum Factory

   Explore Old San Juan-
   Castillo de San Cristobal- Old Forts in Old San Juan

   Vieques and Culebra
    2 small islands with fabulous beaches that, IMHO are more interesting than the main island. (and Vieques has its own biobay)

  Mini Boat Adventure

Trip Reports:
« Last edited by yelped on August 02, 2022, 04:21:34 PM »

Author Topic: Puerto Rico Master Thread  (Read 181082 times)

Offline biobook

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Re: Puerto Rico Master Thread
« Reply #780 on: August 02, 2022, 04:01:36 PM »
@cgr This was a long time ago.  AFAIK Chabad wasn't offering food then.

We flew to San Juan on Monday, rented a car at the airport, and drove west to Arecibo for the night.  It was about a 2 hour drive, but the whole island is only 100 miles long, so we got pretty far west.  We slept overnight in a nice hotel on the side of  the road. 

Tuesday morning, we went to the local supermarket -- huge! -- to see what kinds of kosher foods they had. Since the island is so small, the people there import most stuff from the states, and they had Thomas' English muffins, Pepperidge Farms stuff, Dannon yogurt, and other good stuff. 

We stocked up on a few things and headed for the Camuy Caverns in the area.  These are underground caves that formed in a sinkhole.  All around the area is a forest with lush vegetation.  A trolley car takes you down a narrow path through this forest - you can feel the temperature drop as you drive along - until you reach the entrance to the cave.  After walking past the stalactites and stalagmites, we headed for the Caguana Indian Ball Courts. Archaeologists had found remnants of ball-playing fields used by these Indians.  Unfortunately, the little museum had information only in Spanish, and we didn't understand it. 

From there we took a lot of wrong turns (most of the little country roads are not marked, and you keep driving without seeing anyone till you realize you're not on the right road) and came to the Arecibo Observatory.  This is a huge radiotelescope operated by Cornell University.  You can get a view of it, but not much more.  As we were leaving, we asked the guard for directions to Ponce, the second biggest city on the island.  He screwed up his face, and said, "Ponce?  Now?"  It was 3 in the afternoon, and he didn't think we'd make it.  He was right.  The central part of Puerto Rico is a mountain range, and this road goes through the mountains.  The nice part is that they didn't blast the mountains to make the road, but rather built it to follow the curves of the mountains.  As a result, there is beautiful scenery wherever you look: trees up and down the hillsides, with occasional interruptions for small villages or even just single houses. The down side is:  they didn't blast the mountains to make the road.  This narrow road is just barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, and truck drivers know each curve and drive rather quickly along, knowing, I suppose, that they're the biggest ones on the road.  As you pull over to let the truck pass you sometimes see just a narrow wire marker between the road and the steeply sloping hillside.  We drove about 20 mph the whole way.  We reached the town of Adjuntas at a little after 5, and didn't think we'd make it to Ponce before dark, so we stayed at a small hotel. Our balcony overlooked one of the neighborhoods of the town, with its small houses all on top of each other.  It was kind of noisy when we got there - talking, radios blaring, etc, but I guess when people live in such close proximity they develop customs about when it's okay to make noise, and after 10 pm all we heard were crickets - lots of them! - and in the morning, an occasional rooster crowing every now and then. 

Early Wednesday morning we continued to Ponce. Just outside of town is the Tibes Ceremonial Center, another Indian archaeological site.  The Taino Indians used the site for some kind of game that's thought to be like soccer, and may have had some religious significance.  We enjoyed this more than the Caguana site, because there was a very knowledgeable guide who explained everything in English.  The local university had planted trees there that were used by the indigenous people, and when the guide said that the soursop tree's leaves were used to combat insomnia, C-- looked at me and said "I could use that!" (after having been up all night with crowing roosters.) and the guide broke off a few leaves to give us.  "Steep them in hot water" he said, "and drink the tea."  I'll try them one of these days.  There were also some huts to show the type of longhouses that the Indians used to built, and a museum with some of the artifacts found there.  The museum had also recently run a contest for children who visit the museum - the kids made models or paintings of the Indians,playing ball or doing other things, and they were going to give a prize to the best one.  Fortunately, while there, we met a couple on vacation who told us that the route we were planning for the next day, which we thought would take 3 hours maximum, would be about 10 mph all the way, and that we should take a different route. 

After the Indian Mounds, we drove to Hacienda Buena Vista, a 100 year old estate that was recreated by the local Conservation Trust.  The estate was owned by a wealthy family from the town of Ponce, who got permission from the government to divert a natural stream through a series of canals to power a water wheel.  Originally this was to grind corn, later they turned to growing coffee.  We then walked through the woods, passing by some of the coffee trees planted on the hillsides, till we arrived at the stream and waterfall.  Back in the town of Ponce, we got to see the local museum of history and art, which was challenging (i.e., everything was in Spanish). I liked the exhibit of local flora and fauna, and the collection of postcards showing the same local sites at different time periods.  There was also a marble bathtub produced by Samuel Morse, who invented a process for producing them.  His daughter lived in PR for a while, and he came to visit her (bringing his own bathtub?). 

We then went to take a free trolley ride around the city.  There's a high mountain on the outskirt of town where a man lived as a hermit during colonial times.  His job was to scan the seas for incoming ships, and hang a different flag to designate friend or foe, so that the townspeople near the shore could prepare.  He had a donkey that was trained to go by itself to the food market.  Once there, the townspeople would load it up with food, and it would bring the provisions back to the hermit.  From the top of the mountain, we could see the whole city of Ponce, as well as some of the surrounding areas.  Back in town, the trolley took us to see some of the museums (already closed), statues, and other landmarks. 

Thursday morning we drove out east.  We happened across a nature reserve, and took a short walk to a lagoon where several endangered species of birds find a resting place.  We stopped to eat lunch near a beach, but sat back a little ways from the sand.  Within a minute I was yelping!  I had sat on an ant hill, and the ants were all over me, and biting.  From there we drove to a beautiful beach, where I didn't sit down, and then to the Las Cabezas reserve, another protected area.  Rangers took us on a trolley ride through the reserve, including a walk through a mangrove swamp (we walked on a boardwalk) and a tour of El Faro, the lighthouse built on this spitz of land.  From the top floor observatory we could see St. Thomas, some 40 miles away. 

That night we spent at Le Petit Chalet, built like a swiss chalet but without any windows or screens, just open to the outside (except the bedrooms) which was up in the El Yunque rainforest.  All night the coqui (native tree frog) sang, and C-- said that a fierce rain came down, but I slept through it all.  The woman who runs the place uses it for a summer camp, where she teaches the kids about conservation, and how to ride a horse - there was a barn with horses in the back.  She also offers meals, and invited us to come for dinner Friday night, when she had reservations from "someone who makes movies.  Maybe you heard of him.  His name is Mr. Spielberg." We passed on that.

Friday morning we went to the visitor's center which describes the flora and fauna of the rainforest. A sudden rainstorm was followed by the appearance of an incredible rainbow.  We then drove to see La Coca Falls, a water fall right off the road. Another ride took us to a trail which we followed for about 20 minutes to a stream.  The leaves on these trees are huge, everything is so green and beautiful and birds chirp and coquis co-kee (the sound they make) the whole time.  Unfortunately, these were the only parts of the forest we could see.  Most of the roads were washed out during the last hurricane, and it will be several months before they allow people into the rest of the rainforest. 

We drove to Old San Juan and checked into Galleria San Juan, a guest house in a 300 year old home from the Spanish colonists.  a series of high-ceilinged rooms surround little courtyards, all filled with tropical plants and antique chests, chairs, and toys.  We walked to El Morro, the fort that the Spaniards built, and climbed up and down.  We ate our Shabbos meals on the terrace overlooking the fort and the ocean.  Or is it the sea? 

Shabbos we walked around the old city, looking at the quaint architecture and the museums, most of them free. 

Sunday morning we went to the Museum of the Americas, with folk art and objects from the many countries in North and South America.  In the afternoon, we walked around the botanical gardens run by the University of PR, with over 200 species of palm trees, an orchid garden (not in bloom) and a lovely lagoon with ducks.  There was also a Monet garden, modeled after the garden in France where Claud Monet painted, to provide inspiration for local art students.  Afterwards we sat by the beach for a while. 

Monday morning we drove to the nearby Bacardi rum factory for a tour (and free sample - We brought little containers of chocolate pudding, and made ourselves chocolate-rum pudding.)  Back in Old San Juan we wandered around the art galleries, toured a visiting sailing vessel used by the Spanish army for officer training, saw the inauguration of the mayor of San Juan, and then took a taxi back to the airport.  Three hours later, still wearing sandals, we stepped onto the snow at JFK. 

Offline cgr

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Re: Puerto Rico Master Thread
« Reply #781 on: August 02, 2022, 04:17:17 PM »
Amazing!! Thanks so much for posting this:)

Offline Kobe Bryant

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Re: Puerto Rico Master Thread
« Reply #782 on: September 18, 2022, 02:46:32 PM »
Power has gone out across all of the US territory of Puerto Rico on Sunday, according to, as Hurricane Fiona bears down on the islands, which are already grappling with the threat of flooding and mudslides stemming from the Category 1 storm.

“Puerto Rico is 100% without power due to a transmission grid failure from Hurricane Fiona,” the website said.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi confirmed the outage in a tweet, noting the entire electric system was out of service and officials have activated the proper protocols to work to restore power.

The blackout – which followed hours of progressively worsening power outages – comes five years after Puerto Rico’s power grid was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, leaving many residents without electricity for months.