Spending 6 wonderful nights in San Juan was definitely a memorable highlight for the Summer of 2012, being next to my husband's deployment homecoming, and I can't sing enough praises about the people of San Juan and Puerto Rico. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect from our stay, save for the fact that I was going to be eating a whole lot of good food, and I really enjoyed not having to go with a strict family itinerary. If we were a large brood, it'd probably be best to do so, but I found that talking to the locals, the knowledgeable hotel concierge, and other tourists provided a great way to find things to do in the city that isn't mentioned in travel brochures or books. We really loved exploring and enjoying the sights with our young son, and I did originally have reservations about taking a 3-year old to Puerto Rico, but I changed my mind soon after. Our son, it seems, has become something of a connoisseur of hotels and absolutely loves to travel. I'm betting he'll never outgrow that love when he does get older.
Pictured above is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, San Juan's main hub for arriving and departing flights. Most tourists, coming from Canada and the U.S. will probably make a stop at this airport to catch a different connecting flight to the other islands in the Caribbean and another reason why the airport seems a little busy for its size. Prior to choosing Puerto Rico for a vacation, we were considering taking our vacation at Cancun, Mexico, Aruba, Costa Rica, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Budget-wise, Mexico and Costa Rica would have been much easier on our wallet, but we also figured in the flight time and things to do. San Juan had an excellent blend of things to do for adults looking into relaxation and fun for children. As an avid photographer, there were endless things to capture on camera in Puerto Rico and I still haven't been able to go through all the shots I took during our stay. Even though I now own a smartphone, I still cringe a little when I see people taking "family" photographs in front of world renowned monuments with their cell phone. "Different strokes for different folks," is what the saying goes, and if all you brought with you on your vacation is your phone, then so be it. Because most people I saw quickly reached for their phones during photo-ops, I nearly wanted to clap when I saw someone use an actual camera (disposable, high end SLR's, point-and-shoots, etc.). Personally, I prefer the photos off my cameras, although my cell phone virtually rivals one of my point-and-shoots.
Above is a picture from our seating area about Jet Blue Airline's cabin. Since the flight is just a quick 2 hours away from Jacksonville, Florida, we're placed in one of their mid-sized jets, which is comfortable and roomy enough for the quick trip back home. I don't recall seeing a first-class or business section, but it could be the first few rows up front. It's our first time riding on Jet Blue, but I enjoyed the experience (and prices) so we'll definitely book flights with them in the future. Depending on the season, a roundtrip flight from Jacksonville to San Juan can cost as low as $130 USD for 1 adult. Not bad, but since we travel as a family, we prefer to book vacation packages, which can net some incredible discounts if you have the right coupons, codes, or catch them during a promotional period. We got lucky and were able to combine a discount with coupons, so we saved a good 35% off our trip. I love great deals.
What's my final verdict on Puerto Rico? It's an astounding YES, of course, and my husband and I are planning to go back someday. Would we take our son with us? Perhaps when he's a little older and I can't say for sure if he's going to remember his memories in San Juan from the age of 3. He may be able to, along with the thousands of pictures I took, but it'll be fun to take him back to re-experience the sights and sounds he may have forgotten while he was young. Maybe we'll head back and catch one of the cruise ships and sail into the various Caribbean islands littered around the area or just explore another part of Puerto Rico.
Until then, we'll definitely see you later, Puerto Rico!