I traveled to San Juan on July 10, 2009 with my husband and two boys, 8 and 5. Our friends came along too with their girl and boy of the same ages. We had Marriott points to burn and decided to stay and the Marriott San Juan Stellaris Resort (Condado Beach).
During the week we made trips to Old San Juan and El Morro. The kids loved El Morro, even in the extreme HEAT. We enjoyed exploring the old fort and seeing the beautiful views. Finding the air-conditioned movie room was a treat (oh, and educational too)!
Sometimes, we took a cab and sometimes we took the bus depending on time restraints. The bus was actually great and I would highly recommend using the bus when traveling between Condado Beach and Old San Juan.
After much consideration, we opted for a catamaran trip to Icacos for snorkeling. In retrospect, I think we would have been better off taking the ferry to Culebra for the day. I had no idea the ride to Icacos would be so long. It would have saved us a lot of money to just do the Culebra trip, but live and learn! Icacos was beautiful. Maybe the clearest water I’ve ever seen. The boat anchored by a reef for a while, the snorkeling was just ok – didn’t see anything too fantastic. We would have enjoyed it a lot more, but a few of us had been hit with a virus that was starting to put a damper on the whole vacation.
Next on the agenda was the El Yunque Rainforest. I had been told numerous times that this was must-do. It was an easy ride from San Juan to El Yunque. In fact, we never got lost in our travels to Fajardo or El Yunque and despite hearing about “crazy” drivers in Puerto Rico…I didn’t find it to be any crazier than driving in Philadelphia or New York, so it really wasn’t a big deal. But, back to El Yunque….we had the kids with us and decided to attempt to hike down to La Mina Falls via Big Tree Trail. This was sort of ambitious with two 5 yrs olds in our party. I can’t say for sure that they really enjoyed it. The 8 yrs old were great and probably the strongest hikers out of all of us. So, I would recommend this trail for ages 7 and up. It was about a half-hour walk through beautiful lush ferns and trees and vines. We didn’t see much wildlife, except for a lot of snails. We could hear the croaking and chirping of the frogs and birds. La Mina Falls was packed with people. My husband and son slipped on the rocks and got pretty bruised up, so if you go…remember to be extra careful. El Yunque is a very magical beautiful place and even though it wasn’t the most thrilling thing I’ve ever done…I am very glad we went for a visit and got a chance to walk through a real rainforest.
The rest of the time we relaxed by the pool at the Marriott. The ocean at the resort made me too nervous with the kids. Even though the waves were no bigger than the Jersey shore…it was the currents I was worried about. We were all much happier poolside – the kids loved the slide of course. The staff was friendly at the Marriott, especially the young ones working the activity desk who were great with the kids. There was only one security guard at the pool who liked to give people a hard time. We saw him telling people they couldn’t bring their Burger King lunch to the pool, even though every other worker there said there were no rules against that. Considering the prices at the Marriott, we were doing everything we could to cut corners. We would buy beer at the liquor store down the street and put them in a little soft cooler we bought. We brought pizza in or made sandwiches in our room. No one had a problem with this except that one security guard, so we had to sneak around a little. One night our key reader broke on our door and had to be replaced, which caused us to be locked out of our room for a while. The Marriott gave us a free dinner for our trouble. Overall, I was satisfied with the service and the resort as a whole.
Check out our pics…
Puerto Rico Slideshow