This time last year, two blended families meet on the Isla del Encanto: one an extended family of Pennsylvanian Puerto Ricans, the other a trio of Californian North Carolinians. Through a series of staggered flights, each arrived on a Thursday in July (some so early they slept on the beach and burned by the time the next crew arrived). Guided by an in-house navigator, for six days we playa hopped the island, soaking in the sun on each coast of PR, stopping to eat (a crew favorite were pinchos) and sight-see along the way.
A cultural mash with nature, this series of interconnected coastal caves, carved by the Taíno and eroded by the Atlantic, were a stunning (and oh so slippery) site to see. The winds sent constant sprayings across the coast, so the wet limestone and beastly sun warrant cation, proper shoes, and fitness to hike safely, but the worth’s in your subsequent chance to marvel at the crashing waves below your feet and the smashing horizon below the sky: the blue on blue on aquamarine on cloudy crashed wave against textured neutral stone hit hard. Situated on the coast in the city of Arecibo the archeological site is both a natural and marine reserve and worth exploring should you visit the island. Post hike (no one in our camp desended into the caves) we found several palms trees to rest under before regrouping to visit Auguadilla and swim at Crash Boat Beach.
Getting to Puerto Rico was a breeze and renting a car thereafter similar: we rented a car at the airport and an AirBnB in advance for our weeklong trip.
Pack Light. It’s an island and thereby circumscribed in coasts so while some stuff seems obvious to pack—a bunch of bathing suits to match the length of your stay—the best tip would be to pack comfortable shoes, as any trip into the island’s mountainous interior will likely require a hike of some sort. Consider color coordinating a mini travel wardrobe for added simplicity.
TSA Checkpoint. As a US territory, while you need not have a passport to travel to Puerto Rico now, beware that the Real ID Act, extended until May 7, 2025, will require all adult travelers to present a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, identification card, or other TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security for domestic air travel. So you may soon have to present a passport if your state guidelines aren’t READ ID compliant: check with homeland security here to see (but why travel through an airport without a passport, especially if you have one).
Traveling with a dog? We did and it was smooth; here are some tips:
During the flight check-in your dog may be visually inspected; during the TSA check-in your pet does not have to go in a bin at the x-ray scanner, so be ready to take yours out and send the empty crate along while you carry or walk your dog through the screening machine. Thereafter, wait for a TSA officer to swab for hands for explosive residue (and a possible pat down) before claiming your belongings. After checking in find a Pet Relief Area to clear your dog’s bladder before getting on the plane, as they will have to stay in the crate at your feet for the entire flight.
Hate lines? Consider becoming a trusted traveler by applying and paying for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for expedited clearance.
For our trip we basked in the slow nothingness of the island: morning walks with the dog, afternoon trips to the beach, topped with evenings meals on a rooftop with family and friends.
Visit the island yourself and carve an ideal mesh of the festiveness and tranquility Puerto Rico has to offer (oh and should you happen to visit San Juan know that La Perla is the hood hungry for a come up, so please beware and only enter if you dare).
On an island rooted in coffee cultivation and the resurgence of its prestigiousness amid the underhanded grasps of the man & mother nature, each morning after catering to the kids the grown folks searched for our morning serving of filtered bean juice at a local café. While most days our travels took us in a different direction, one slow morning we stole way for lattes con leche de almendra at Cremo Latte: the spot had a hipster vibe with couches and food for lounging. We took ours to go though: had to meet up with the crew to swing on a mountain.
A pan of the mountainous interior of Puerto Rico
La Manada Ribs V8 The Place Km 0.3, PR-3131, 00656, Puerto Rico 18.0618° N, 66.7690° W
We found a pit master on a mountain side so we had to make reservations and drove on a Saturday to indulge in some smoked meat (and just so happened to get the pit master himself to bring out two of his pitorros for two rounds of shots with the crew). They're only open on Saturdays through the afternoon,so you'll want to set a reservation and your food order early.
Why walk when you can kick, push, and coast instead? We embraced skate culture one again as adults in Philly one summer afternoon following a trip to the Jersey shore that would flourish into six years of tandem cruises through the mean streets of Philly/ through the streets of brotherly love with a bulldog named Rufus, so we visited Tres Palams in San Juan—a surf shop with gear for water and concrete waves alike—and though though we wouldn’t get any boards this trip, we did cop some merch and talked shop with the manager.
We only drove through be were drawn by the town’s art and stopped to marvel on the way to see a coastal cave.
A colorful escape alongside a mountain.
Art adjacent to a coast set of caves.
A block of color-blocked collages on home after home after home.
A passionate spraying along the back of a beach.
Hood culture at its finest.