I hope you’ve been enjoying my Puerto Rico Travel Guides! This is the last one and, to tell you the truth, I’m a bit sad. I’ve so enjoyed reliving our time there while recapping our trip. On our last morning in Old San Juan, we visited the Bacardí Factory and went on a historical tour before heading to Isabella to go horseback riding on the beach. This concluded the first portion of our trip. We spent the remainder of our vacation enjoying time spent with our families and checking out a few notable places on the west side of the island which I will touch on. 🙂
The Casa BACARDÍ is a definite must when in Old San Juan! When we arrived at the Bat Bar Pavilion, we had the most beautiful waterfront view and the ocean breeze was so refreshing. This is where you wait for a few minutes before your tour starts. You can have a drink, play some games, or take the opportunity to snap really cute selfies. Lol! There is a huge sign with the Bacardí name on these cool wooden rum barrels that makes for the perfect photo opportunity. Several different types of tours are offered: Historical Tour, Rum Tasting Tour, and the Mixology Class. We opted for the guided historical tour which was totally awesome. The tour was very informative and interactive and we learned a lot about Bacardí’s history and how their rum is made. Once the tour completed, we headed back to the Bat Bar Pavilion and enjoyed a refreshing tropical drink, yes with rum (Wepa!), in our very own Bacardí souvenir cup and relaxed a bit while enjoying that wonderful ocean breeze!
After our historical tour at the Bacardí Factory, we drove just over two hours west until we got to Isabella. We were so excited for our next adventure, horseback riding on the beach! I had previous experience with Tropical Trail Rides and had such a fun time when I went with my family. For this trip, we had booked our riding reservations probably a month or two before and when we arrived, 30 minutes prior to our actual ride time as requested, they were ready for us. None of us are experienced riders, so don’t think you have to know a thing about horseback riding to enjoy your time. 🙂
It’s a two-hour excursion through an open field, a forest, and of course the beach. Hurricane Maria actually did extensive damage to their trails, though you wouldn’t be able to really tell now that much of the foliage has grown back, so they’ve had to create new trails. Once you get to the beach, you become mesmerized by the view and the rhythmic pace set by the horses. They all know what they’re doing, so you really just get to sit back and relax… unless you get a horse that wants to snack, then your job is to get them to focus and catch up with the group. No worries though, no one is ever left behind. Lol! You actually have about 15-20 minutes to explore a specific beach area and are given the opportunity to take pictures of the breathtaking ocean view and the really cool caves. Before heading back to the stables, your guide will take a picture of your group with whatever camera/device you’d like so that you have that memory. 🙂 Our guide was great and you could tell he really enjoyed his job. Note: Gratuity is not included in the ticket price, so be sure to factor that into the overall cost of the experience.
As I mentioned earlier, the second part of our trip was dedicated to family and spending quality time with them – we loved every minute! We did do a few fun “touristy” things while on that side of the island though that I’ll mention. First, Rex Ice Cream. You MUST stop at this ice cream shop in Aguadilla because it is insanely good!! It’s nothing fancy, so no crazy topping options or anything, but it’s not necessary because the ice cream flavors are so vibrant and fresh. It’s quality ice cream, people. Lol! I always get half coconut and half corn with cinnamon sprinkled on top (coco y maiz). Yes, corn flavored ice cream is a thing and yes, it’s 100% addicting! With your ice cream in hand, you can take a short two-minute walk down the street where you will be greeted by the ocean and it’s beautiful breeze. Ice cream and a view of the ocean? Yes, please! 😉
Another nice visit is to the lighthouse in Cabo Rojo, Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, that’s actually still operational today. I wouldn’t say this place is necessarily a must unless you’re an avid lighthouse-lover. Personally though, I enjoy it because of the memories I have there. It’s one of my dad’s most favorite locations in Puerto Rico. The lighthouse, which was built by the Spanish government in 1881, is on top of and surrounded by huge limestone cliffs and a breathtaking view of the ocean. The massive waves that hit the jagged rocks 200-feet below and that spray up the side of the cliffs has a way of putting things in perspective – how small we really are and how powerful the wind and the waves are.
If you do make the trip down to the south-west tip of the island, be sure to go early (get there by 10AM) that way you can park in the makeshift parking lot. It fills up quickly because there’s a little gem that can be found below the lighthouse and away from the cliffs and it’s called Playa Sucia or “dirty beach.” Don’t be fooled by the name though. Lol! This white-sand beach is just beautiful. The water is calm (when you don’t venture out too far) and clean. Just a heads up, there are no bathrooms or food/vendor kiosks available, just an au natural beach. 😉
Another lighthouse that I happen to like is much closer to “home” in Rincón, a town that’s very popular for its epic waves which are ideal for surfing. This lighthouse is called El Faro de Punta Higuero. Another historical structure, this lighthouse is a really cool structure and its grounds are gorgeous! The little park surrounding the lighthouse has been beautifully refurbished. There’s now a great little snack bar with comfortable seating (even a couple of chair swings), it’s clean, there’s a nice public restroom, and there’s even a stage where I’m assuming there’s live music from time to time. The view from the lookout is unreal, especially during sunset hour. No matter what time of the day you visit, you’ll be sure to see iguanas and have the pleasure of listening to the pretty songs of the island birds. You’ll also have the vast ocean to admire. Be sure to look out for dolphins in the distance – that’s always a treat. It’s also fun to watch the surfers at the beach down below catching some “totally rad” waves!
For dinner one night we ventured off to Rincón again. We were told that the best view of the island sunset would be from The Beach House Restaraunt. We arrived at around 4:45PM, a little over an hour before sunset so that we would have no issues finding parking or getting a seat. We were given a table on the second-floor with a pretty incredible view of the ocean. We weren’t really hungry because of all the eating we had already done that day, but we did have some drinks and appetizers. I ordered the Beach Nachos platter and it was SO yummy! The service was great (however, their Internet wasn’t working that day for some reason so we could only pay in cash – they did let us know before we ordered though). It turns out that the restaurant is indeed a very popular place for that sunset view, and my goodness was it a beautiful sunset, even with some lingering clouds from the rain shower earlier in the day. We had a great experience here!
After dinner, my brother-in-law suggested that we have a frappe at Kahuna Frappe which was also in Rincón. Frappes are kind of like smoothies but offer basically zero health benefits. Haha! I combined flavors and went with half cookies ‘n cream and half snickers. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! I’m smiling just reminiscing about this. They had all sorts of flavors and the service was really great. I’ll definitely be going back the next time we visit. 🙂 Another frappe place that I used to visit is called Don Frappe and that’s in Añasco. However, this once little frappe establishment has since become like a mini town in and of itself. Lol! Unless you get there first thing when it opens, it’s packed. My family said the frappes don’t taste as fresh anymore as they have to freeze many of their ingredients because of how busy they are now. The grounds do have a lot to offer though (like zip lining and a restaurant called Don Maceta), so if you have time, check it out!
Last but certainly not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla! I seriously love this beach and grew up going there. Sadly, there was extensive damage done by Hurricane Maria, but the locals have really cleaned it up nicely. It’s still a work in progress but it’s absolutely worth a visit. Word to the wise though, don’t go on Sundays (unless you go early) because that’s when all the locals come and it gets crowded real fast. Anyways, the water here is just gorgeous – so blue and really clean. It’s clear enough to see schools of little fishes closer to shore and really colorful fishes out by the pier. This beach is great for snorkeling and scuba diving, it’s super family friendly and the beach itself is just lively. There’s always someone playing Latin music and people having a great time. There are little kiosks/vendors where you can get delicious pinchos (meat kabobs), yummy piña coladas, fresh coconut water, and there’s an ice cream guy that comes around too!
What an incredible trip we had! I already can’t wait to go back to what I consider to be my second home. 🙂 I love Puerto Rico. From the people and the culture, to the food and the island’s natural attractions, Puerto Rico truly is a little slice of paradise and holds a special place in my heart. The memories we made during this trip will last a lifetime. I just couldn’t be more thankful for all the fun experiences we had! If you’re wondering whether or not Puerto Rico should be your next vacation destination, I promise you, it’s absolutely worth the trip!
If you have any questions at all about my experience, lodging, transportation, the attractions, etc., please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I’ll get back to you. 🙂