Discover the treasures of Puerto Rico at the birthplace of the Piña Colada.
Considered the heart of Puerto Rico, San Juan sits on the Atlantic coast of the history-steeped island.
When heading to Puerto Rico, the rum capital of the world, there are a few things you should keep in mind; your Piña Colada can never be empty, wear plenty of sunscreen, and plan to enjoy a wide variety of food options. Looking for accommodations? The Caribe Hilton, famous for being the birthplace of the Piña Colada, sits on 17 fascinating acres and offers multiple poolside bars, ocean views, and delightful hammock gardens. The resort is flooded with activities ranging from “snuba”, a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, to relaxing beachside massages at the serene Zen Spa Oceano.
Caribe Hilton was the first international Hilton hotel. In 2019, the resort underwent a $150 million restoration, adding to the size and luxury of the property. There is no shortage of history or rum when visiting the Caribe Hilton. In 1954, the original Piña Colada was created on the premises by the hotel’s bartender, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. The cocktail was made by combining local ingredients, rum, pineapple juice, pressed coconut, and heavy cream. The early concoction, a perfect balance of coconut and pineapple flavors, became the official drink of Puerto Rico in 1978. Caribar, the resort’s lobby bar, keeps the tradition alive by blending up Piña Coladas, sometimes with a new twist on the classic, for guests everyday.Their modern version of the Piña Colada is coined the “Sparkling Colada” and contains coconut tequila, pineapple syrup, rosemary simple syrup, and bitters, topped with prosecco. It serves as an untraditional, yet very tasty (and strong) variation.
If you are a rum-lover looking for even more authentic flavors and cocktails, Flavors of Old San Juan offers a rum tour that takes you around the beautiful history and architecture of Old San Juan, while allowing you to taste cocktails from multiple establishments. The first stop on the Old San Juan Rum Tour takes you to Antiguo 26. Filled with nostalgic notes and vintage flair, Antiguo 26 boasts house-blended rums, fresh juices, and homemade sodas to create an authentic and distinctive experience. The next stop is Scryer Rum where you will taste multiple premium small-batch sipping rums, aged on the premises. The last stop, La Cubanita, gives you a taste of local living with its eclectic dive-bar ambience and scrumptious craft cocktails. While in Old San Juan, be sure to check out La Factoria. Ranked in “The World’s 50 Best Bars” for five years in a row, La Factoria flaunts secret passageways leading to six separate bars, great music, and even better cocktails.
If drinking your way through San Juan is what brought you to Puerto Rico, Ocean Lab Brewing Co. is a must-visit. Sitting on the gorgeous Isla Verde coast, this brewery offers incredible views of the lively area, multiple pools, cabanas, and live performances. Their wide selection of craft beer is responsible for 30% of Puerto Rico’s craft beer sales and when you taste their beer, you will know why. Ranging from grapefruit and blueberry flavored ales, to IPA’s and coffee stouts. Ocean Lab Brewing Co is the perfect place to start off a day in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is an adventurer’s dream. Filled with nautical pleasures and natural beauty, the options are endless when it comes to outdoor activities. Puerto Rico is one of the few places where the natural phenomenon of bioluminescence can be found. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction where light is produced when touched by a living organism. Set out to Fajardo on a kayak tour to experience the phenomenon of bioluminescence at the Laguna Grande Nature Reserve. Pictures cannot fully capture this magical site, so be sure to visit in person.
After a long day of drinking and adventuring, you will probably be hungry. Luckily, Puerto Rico is home to a cuisine composed of delicious flavors and a wide variety of dishes. Caribe Hilton offers a chef-led class to teach guests the art of making Mofongo. The dish is made from mashing fried plantains with garlic and broth to form a ball of the plantains that is topped with the vegetables and proteins of your liking. Delicious and filling, Mofongo is the perfect way to end a day of activities.
For small bites and snacking, head to Kioskos de Piñones. Grab a coconut to sip on while you enjoy the endless array of authentic street food. Between the empanadas, tostones, amarillos, and alcapurrias, it is impossible to choose a favorite. For a sit-down dinner, Santaella in Old San Juan captures the essence of the island by blending traditional Puerto Rican cuisine with ingredients from around the world to create a seemingly endless list of tapas and dishes to enjoy. Their goat cheese, white truffle, and honey quesadilla is so good be prepared to order seconds.
If you are looking to dip your toes back into traveling outside of the states, Puerto Rico is the perfect start. There is no need for a passport, the flights are quick, and precautions are in place to ensure the cleanliness and safety of guests visiting the island. Between the plethora of bars and restaurants, and the beauty of the beaches and island as a whole, San Juan is an excellent place to escape and soak in the pleasures Puerto Rico has to offer.