My Gilligan’s Island and Guanica, Puerto Rico Mini Guide

As crisp autumn breezes slowly start to caress Florida, my heart is inevitably transported back to my favorite hidden gems at home. Inspired by last week’s San Juan day trips, today I write a mini guide for Gilligan’s Island and Guanica, Puerto Rico!

Gilligan’s Island and Guanica, Puerto Rico Mini Guide

Gilligan's Island, Guanica Puerto Rico

I’ve previously described some of Guanica’s stunning attractions, such as the 4000-hectare UNESCO Guanica Biosphere Reserve and Playa Santa. Yet, I have not introduced you to Guilligan’s Island, one of its beautiful mangrove islands.

Cayo Aurora (as it is also known) is part of the famous Guanica Dry Forest. By taking the public ferry dock, you will find several mini gazebos outfitted with picnic tables. The surrounding shallow waters are perfect for kids and kayaking.

If you walk around the island or have a private boat drop you off elsewhere though, you will find narrow channels and fun currents. While they are not safe for kids, they are a blast to go tubing or swim against if you are fit enough!

how to get to Gilligan's Island, Guanica, Puerto Rico

How to Get There

The Caribbean beach town of Guanica, the gateway to Gilligan’s Island, is located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. It is an easy 2 to 2.5-hour drive from San Juan–particularly scenic if you take the southern route through Salinas, my personal favorite.

There are several ways to get to Gilligan’s Island proper. You can either hop on the public ferry, go on a long kayak ride or hire a small boat from wandering fisherman.

The easiest wait to get there is by the public ferry though. Boats leave every hour between 9 AM and 5 PM, Tuesday to Sunday (weather permitting). Better yet? The dock is located by the colorful Restaurante San Jacinto, where you can sample authentic Puerto Rican food as you wait for departure.

For the kayak option, stop by the Copamarina Beach Resort, Playa Caña Gorda or Mary Lee’s by the Sea. You will be able to rent kayaks there and ask about safe routes to get to Gilligan. Prices vary, but rule of thumb is to veer away from the resorts and head to the local Caña Gorda beach for more budget-friendly rentals.

Feeling adventurous? Practice your Spanish and haggling skills by talking to local fishermen! My advice if you go down this route though is to get a fisherman boat ride on the way to Gilligan’s Island, but hop on the public ferry back. If you don’t have a local cell phone or contact information of the fisherman, you run the risk of being cast away.

Cayo Aurora, Guanica, Puerto Rico

Best Time to Visit Gilligan’s Island and Guanica

Guanica is a popular southern beach town among Puerto Ricans, particularly between the summer months. Subsidized government summer rentals attract many middle-income families.

This explains the many holidays I spent along its coasts during my childhood–and why you should avoid it then as a visitor!

We are lucky to enjoy year-round summers in Puerto Rico, so I recommend avoiding American holidays and local festivities. This way, you’ll be able to soak in the solitude and natural peacefulness these southern pearls have to offer.

Remember: you have to take a boat to Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island). Check the forecast prior to departure and don’t head there if stormy weather is in the horizon. This why I also advise against traveling there during the hurricane season in general, which runs from June to November.

That’s not to say you cannot be graced with sunny days then, though! If you can only visit Puerto Rico during those dates, I say take the risk and go for it.

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Where to Stay and Eat

Puerto Rico is small: about 110 x 32 square miles. It is quite easy to make Gilligan’s Island and Guanica a day trip from anywhere in the island. I personally recommend staying at night or two on the West Coast of Puerto Rico; it is magical!

Unfortunately, it is forbidden to camp at Gilligan’s Island, so you will have to stay on a nearby town. Don’t be disheartened though: there are so many wonderful options!

My favorite overnight spots include Cabo Rojo, Rincon, and Isabela. You could also stay in Guanica proper, booking a night at a local, family-owned parador. Speaking of which, I highly recommend Parador Guanica 1929 by Tropical Inns. My friends and I love its colonial design, fantastic Puerto Rican food, and location in relation to all of Guanica’s attractions (and beyond!).

A short walk or drive from Parador 1929 is Bodega Andreu Sole. A wonderful farm and restaurant, with decent Spanish food and wines. I love the alfresco dining with water views though, totally my favorite! They offer free tours of the grounds and tastings Sundays between 2 and 5 PM as well.

I also recommend the short drive to Rincon for more food options and nightlife. My favorite spot there? Casa Cofresi! It is another good place to stay on the West Coast, in addition to having a good restaurant and lively vibe on weekends. Great place to mingle with locals, too.

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Gilligan's Island, Guanica Puerto Rico guide

One last tip! If you have previously visited Puerto Rico, I advise you fly into into Aguadilla airport (BQN) instead of San Juan (SJU). This way, you’ll be right on the West Coast and enjoy the region without a crazy drive through the capital’s metro area 😉

San Juan Day Trips: My Favorite Excursions from Puerto Rico’s Capital

Having lived in Puerto Rico for over 18 years, my heart breaks looking at most tourists’ San Juan day trips. Cheesy Old San Juan rum tours; an afternoon at a resort in Dorado; a crowded “hike” (which could be done in a vehicle) at El Yunque Rainforest.

Puerto Rico does it better. I promise you.

So please take my advice: hunt down a flight deal, rent a car (it’s going to cost you less than USD $100-200 for the day, sitting a minimum of four people, which is less than any chore), and venture out to these gorgeous spots throughout the archipelago:

unique San Juan day trips, Arecibo


Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio, Arecibo

one-hour West (88 km), mostly down Expreso José de Diego PR-22

Silence only broken by a group of bats and feeding birds in the surrounding valley… Or foamy ocean waves, crashing against piles of rocks. Rocks which hide grottoes decorated with pre-Columbian petroglyphs!

Arecibo may be known for the second-largest radio telescope in the world, but barely mentioned as a top day trip from San Juan due to its natural beauty. Take the mere one-hour drive to explore peaceful Cueva Ventana and historical Cueva del Indio beach.

San Juan excursions, Camuy

Camuy Cave

Camuy Caverns

one hour, 24 minutes. West (102 km), through Arecibo

About 30 minutes southwest of Arecibo lie the third-largest subterranean river system in the world. Jaw-dropping hike through stalagmites, stalactites, and the purest water you’ve ever drunk await.

While you could wake up at the crack of dawn and do both Arecibo and Camuy, I recommend you spend the whole day taking in the grandiosity of this underground world.

excursions from San Juan, Fajardo


Governor’s House Beach and Bioluminescent Bay, Fajardo

one hour East (63 km), through Rio Grande and Luquillo

The Bioluminescent Bay is plastered over all Fajardo brochures and I know, it’s hard to turn down! While I highly advise you take the ferry ride or flight over to Vieques and explore Mosquito Bay instead, time strapped travelers might still find value in it.

My tip then? Take your rental car, spend the whole day in Fajardo, and book the sunset Biobay tour with an outfitter directly. Start with sunrise at Seven Seas Beach; take a morning hike to Governor’s House Beach; then drive to the outfitter in time for your tour.

day trips from San Juan, Vieques Island

Vieques Island

Scooter Road Trip, Vieques Island

one-hour drive to Fajardo port; then, a 10-minute flight or 1.5-hour ferry

If you have at least five days in San Juan, you have to spend a minimum of two days in Vieques. While renting a scooter (~USD $60/day) and beach hopping can be done in a day, the last thing you want to do is rush it.

Another tip: look up JetBlue coupons for VQS airport and see if you find a discount!

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San Juan, Puerto Rico day trips mini guide

Whether you cross the Caribbean Sea for an adventurous scooter road trip or take the easy drives East or West, these San Juan day trips will sprinkle some authentic spice to your Puerto Rican getaway.

Unique Puerto Rico Trips: My Favorite Routes

Caverns where the third-largest subterranean river system in the world flows. A private beach house in Rincon. Sampling crab empanadas in Naguabo. A natural cave with Taino-Indian petroglyphs in Arecibo. Have you heard of any of these unique Puerto Rico trips?

unique Puerto Rico trips, Rincon

While I’ve previously mentioned how easy it is to visit Puerto Rico as a U.S. citizen (USD accepted + no passport needed) and even described how vibrant the nightlife in San Juan is, today I’d like to lure you to other special parts of my island.

Spots so rich in natural beauty, yet tucked away from most tourists’ trails.

Below, some of my favorite places outside Old San Juan and El Yunque Rainforest.

Unique Puerto Rico Trips: My Favorite Routes

unique Puerto Rico attractions, bioluminescent Bay

Fajardo to Humacao through Naguabo

Imagine kayaking at new moon, with the ocean glowing blue and green under your paddles — as if you were drawing with florescent sharpies on a blackboard.

That’s the magic behind a visit to a bioluminescent bay!

Dinoflagellate, particularly, are among the rarest and most fragile bioluminescent microorganisms on the planet.

Puerto Rico boasts 3 of only a handful of dinoflagellate bioluminescent bays on Earth. They are Mosquito Bay, La Parguera, and Laguna Grande.

The latter is located in Fajardo–only an hour ride from San Juan.

This makes Laguna Grande the easiest bio bay to visit on a day trip from the capital, so ask your agent or concierge to book a sunset kayak tour there.

Got at least a week or this isn’t your first time in Puerto Rico? Head southeast!

Unless you plan to head to Puerto Del Rey and catch a ferry to Vieques or Culebra, I recommend an adventurous road trip through the rural, coastal towns of the East.

unique Puerto Rico resorts, Palmas Del Mar

Palmas Del Mar oceanview from La Pescaderia by Sergio Munoz, my cousin!

From Fajardo, take PR-53 South to Humacao. You can follow it straight or take an interesting detour when you see an exit for PR-3.

Why? So you drive down the rural coast and make a pit stop at one of Naguabo’s beaches!

The draw here is not so much the ocean, but its seafood. Naguabo is popular among locals for its outstanding juey–a type of crab, abundant in this area.

I highly recommend stopping at one of the seaside hole-in-the-walls (locally known as “chinchorros”) and grabbing pastelillos de juey (crab empanadas)–a Naguabo specialty.

With full bellies and happy hearts, continue down PR-3 until you reach Palmas Del Mar: another hidden oasis in Puerto Rico’s east coast.

Naguabo road trip, Puerto Rico

Naguabo road by yasmapaz, Flickr

The five-star resort is a large compound little known to most Puerto Rico tourists. Yet, it is quite popular among affluent expats and local residents.

In Palmas Del Mar, you will find stunning golf courses, acclaimed restaurants, and well-appointed accommodation either walking distance or a short right away from off-the-beaten-path beaches.

Some popular things to do in Palmas Del Mar and the vicinity include:

  • Chez Daniel French Restaurant: a rarity for foodies in Puerto Rico
  • Rancho Buena Vista: horseback riding at the beach and other outdoor activities
  • Monkey Island day trip by kayak
  • Snorkeling boat trips from Maragata Yacht Center
  • Humacao Nature Reserve: truly off-the-beaten-path hiking and cycling trails
  • Casa Roig: a historic Frank-Lloyd-Wright-inspired home, now converted into a beautiful museum
  • La Pescaderia: another outstanding Palmas Del Mar spot, specializing in seafood

Rincon to Arecibo through Camuy

Porta Del Sol, as Puerto Rico’s West Coast is known locally, is one of my favorite regions of the island.

Its vibe is a total contrast from our pulsing capital.

If you remember, I surprised my American beau with a stay at Puntas Tree House for our second-year anniversary.

He was blown away. So much in fact that Rincon became his favorite base in the Caribbean after second trip the Puerto Rico.

Most visitors who flock here are either surfers, body boarders or laid-back spirits seeking sleepy beach towns or unspoiled natural attractions.

While the surf season (November through February) brings with it world-class competitions and an influx of tourists, Porta Del Sol only sees a fraction of Old San Juan’s numbers.

Better yet? The low season (July through September, excluding local holidays) leaves most West Coast surfing beaches swell-free and nearly deserted–except for a few local beach bums.

unique Puerto Rico day trips, Cueva Ventana

Cueva Ventana in Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Beyond Rincon, you’ll find many hidden gems, particularly in neighboring Porta Atlantico.

Located only a few miles north of Porta Del Sol, my favorite towns there include Isabela, Camuy, and Arecibo.

Top Puerto Rico day trips on this region include:

  • Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio, Arecibo: jaw-dropping natural caves
  • Camuy Caverns: home of the third-largest subterranean river system in the world
  • Shacks Beach + Blue Hole, Isabela: some of the finest waters and marine life in the region

Extra tip: if you’ve been to Puerto Rico before and wish to explore the West Coast exclusively, I highly recommend you fly into Aguadilla airport (BQN) instead of San Juan International (SJU). Currently, it is serviced by JetBlue, United, and Spirit Airlines.

unique Puerto Rico attractions, Isabela

Shacks Beach aerial by Villa Tropical Resort, Isabela

Finally convinced? Build your unique Puerto Rico itinerary by following one of my favorite routes. They are my favorites!

Do you suggest other Puerto Rico trips? Share them below!

Puerto Rico’s Western paradise: Our Rincon beach house rental [PHOTOS]

He was speechless. As he looked at the bright, towering Rincon beach house rental, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

More so once he stepped into the top floor suite, opened the French doors and stared into the ocean right off the living room.

He sat down, quietly–and didn’t speak for the next five minutes.

Rincon beach house rental, Puerto Rico West Coast

What if he didn’t like my Rincon beach house rental surprise?!

Finally, he uttered some words I didn’t expect:

“I’ve never stayed in an oceanview hotel room, let alone an oceanfront beach house.”

Where he comes from, oceanview rooms are so expensive that his family could never afford them. And so, I was giving him one of the best gifts of his life.

At this point, there were tears streaming down his face. Then, he looked into my eyes and said:

“I’m sorry. I’m just so happy and shocked that I’m speechless.”

Once again, he didn’t speak for several minutes.

Rincon Beach House, oceanview

This is the effect our budget Rincon beach house rental had on him.

I must say, Puntas Tree House was love at first (digital) sight.

For about USD $85 a night, we could have a beautiful, third-floor suite boasting a private balcony, bathroom, fully-equipped kitchen, and living space.

Other perks included A/C, complimentary Wi-Fi, and private parking right across Sandy Beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico.

Better yet? It was a stone’s throw from a myriad of restaurants, bars, plus unbelievably-cheap-and-delicious panaderias.

You could barely get an oceanview room on a similar location in San Juan–one of the reasons why I love Puerto Rico’s West Coast so much more.

Puntas Tree House, Rincon Beach rental

Living room of the honeymoon suite on the 3rd floor of Puntas Tree House

Relaxation and adventure, all in one location: Rincon Puerto Rico!

My favorite thing about Rincon Puerto Rico, though? It’s so laid back: a striking contrast from most of the East Coast.

Yet, this Western paradise still manages to be as adventurous as its counterpart. From world-class surfing and diving, to kayaking and sailing.

Relaxation and adventure: all in one location!

Sandy beach, Rincon rental

Bodyboarders and surfers at Sandy Beach, Rincon Puerto Rico

Since we were in romantic relaxation mode (it was our second anniversary after all!), we opted for long mornings walking along the coast and lazy afternoons drinking cocktails while staring at the ocean from Tamboo’s amazing deck:

restaurant in Rincon Puerto Rico

Where to eat: Our favorite spots

Speaking of lazy afternoons, we also enjoyed stuffing our faces 😀 There was certainly no shortage of dining options by our Rincon beach house rental.

However, none of them are particularly inexpensive.

SO! For those budget-conscious travelers, we highly-recommend Panaderia Eileen, about a 10-minute drive toward PR-115 in the neighboring town of Aguada. Here, you’ll find fantastic sandwiches, breakfast & some Puerto Rican fritters for excellent prices.

Puerto Rican food, West Coast

And…the one place that made us throw our budget out the window a couple of times: Tamboo.

Right before the high season kicked off (Thanksgiving week), it was pleasantly uncrowded, with decent service and food.

What made us keep coming back, though? THIS:

Rincon Puerto Rico cuisine

As good as the plantain-crusted shrimp was, it wasn’t really the food! 😉

Puerto Rico’s West Coast nightlife: boring or thriving?

As relaxed as Rincon Puerto Rico might seem, it still offers some thriving nightlife to those who seek it! Besides Tamboo, we got two other favorites:

  • Casa Verde’s bar, as it was right off the backyard of our Rincon beach house rental
  • Villa Cofresi is actually 10-min. drive away, but trust us, the ambiance and cocktails, particularly The Pirate special, are SO worth it. Super local vibe, too!

Rincon Puerto Rico nightlife

The most unique, romantic Puerto Rico getaway a couple could plan

Planning a visit to Puerto Rico? Definitely consider the laid-back town of Rincon and booking a suite at the beachfront, budget-friendly Puntas Tree House!

Not only is it cheaper and more private than a hotel room in San Juan, but most certainly, better views 😉

Rincon Puerto Rico rental, Puntas Tree House

I already miss you, Rincon!

Would you rather book a beachfront cottage or an ocean view hotel room?

We stayed at Puntas Tree House for 4 nights, 3 which were complimentary. Views expressed on this article are my honest opinion, though. We actually paid for a 4th night because we didn’t want to leave!

Puerto Rico paradores: PHOTOS + video of my East Coast favorites

Merry Christmas to you all! This week’s Beach Thursday feature are my favorite East Coast Puerto Rico paradores.

Hope you enjoy the beautiful PHOTOS + videos! They are certainly some of my favorite spots in the entire island.

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico paradores

As you already know, a couple of weeks ago I was scouring the island for the best hidden gems and intimate spots as part of my first (official!) #TourBoricua.

Here’s a glimpse of what I found!

Puerto Rico Paradores: Photos + Video of my East Coast Favorites

I spent hours on the Internet looking for special properties in which to celebrate our second-year anniversary. I wanted to surprise him, make it special: none of that cookie-cutter, international hotel chain nonsense.

We were also on a budget!

While our time in a private Rincon beach house was perfect, I couldn’t find “The One” on the east.

That’s when I knew I had to look into Puerto Rican paradores.

Parador Costa Del Mar, Yabucoa Puerto Rico

Simply put, a parador is a local inn that offers an intimate atmosphere and services beyond the typical bed-and-breakfast. They feel cozier; more homey.

Naturally, when I discovered that the family-owned paradores chain Tropical Inns also offered all-inclusive stays, I knew I had to book a room in one of their East Coast properties!

All of them looked enticing though. Which to choose?

OPTION # 1: Parador Costa Del Mar, Yabucoa

First up was Parador Costa Del Mar, a cozy 16-room retreat in the Eastern beach town of Yabucoa.

Hmm…quite off-the-beaten-path.

Few restaurants on that road; more local bars than anything else. The spirit of a romantic spot?

I wasn’t so sure until…

Yabucoa Puerto Rico oceanview parador

THAT view from a room’s balcony. *Gasp.* Ok, I’m sold?! But theeeen:

OPTION # 2: Parador MaunaCaribe, Maunabo

Beachfront. Holy infinity pool. Off-the-beaten-path as well. But over 50 rooms… And quite popular with locals during holidays and weekends.

Not quite the romantic getaway I was looking for. Still though, I’ll keep in mind for my next family reunion!

infinity pool in Puerto Rican parador

MaunaCaribe, a parador Puerto Rico

OPTION # 3: Parador Palmas De Lucia, Yabucoa

Parador Palmas De Lucia was located on the same road as Costa Del Mar. Bigger property though, closer to the beach and walking distance to a local restaurant or two.

Went inside to take a look…

Super family-friendly. Lots of kids. Better suited for a weekend with my baby nephew and close family:

parador in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Yabucoa beach from parador Palmas De Lucia

VERDICT: for a romantic retreat, Parador Costa Del Mar it is!

We stayed during the low season, for the long Thanksgiving weekend, and had the property to ourselves.

It was absolutely magical: the unobstructed ocean views from our room’s balcony; the peace of mind knowing our meals were all taken care of (even our afternoon snacks!); unlimited coffee (extremely important); and the silence…!

Puerto Rican food, parador Palmas De Lucia

one of the fabulous meals we had during our stay: the crunchiest, most delicious cassava tostones I’ve ever had, plus delicious red snapper with Creole sauce and veggies

We only heard a few voices by the pool around lunchtime the day we were leaving. Just one more room was booked during our entire stay.

Anyone who has been to Puerto Rico before know this is a luxury.

I still dream about the mornings hearing the ocean come and go; the smell of coffee brewing in our bedroom; the chunks of coconut in their exquisite flan; the kick of their steak’s chimichurri sauce & crispiness of their yuca tostones; opening my eyes and seeing Vieques Island right off my sliding door…

oceanview room, Parador Costa Del Mar

Oh our dear Costa Del Mar: can’t wait to visit you again!

PLEASE NOTE: the lovely Tropical Inns family offered us a 3-day, 2 night stay in exchange of some press…

Little did they know, we would have raved about them anyway! 😉

All opinions set forth are entirely our own though: and honest. We were so impressed with this little piece of heaven, we can’t wait to go back 😀

Check out our full review here.

Have you stayed at a parador? What was your experience like?

Beach Sunrise Time Lapse Video: Sandy Beach, Rincon, Puerto Rico

Happy Beach Thursday! I’m in the middle of an exciting project for My Destination Puerto Rico, traveling far and wide throughout my island, looking for hidden gems—particularly, very special accommodation options. I can’t wait to show you the videos! For now, check out my very first beach sunrise time lapse video, filmed at Sandy Beach, Rincon, Puerto Rico and other spectacular sky photos below 😉

Beach sunrise time lapse video: Sandy Beach, Rincon, Puerto Rico

My apologies for the BLURRY resolution: if you pay attention to the right, you’ll see a great amount of ocean spray—after almost 2 hours of filming, it saturated the lens! I’ll have to figure out a way to protect it (and by default, protect the quality of the video :P) next time around. Any tips, by the way? 🙂

More beautiful colors after filming our beach sunrise time lapse video

We had a full day of filming ahead of us, so after 2 hours, we had to head back to our beach house to wrap it up. Oh, but how did I regret our decision, after witnessing the following sunrise COLORS in the sky on our walk back!

beach sunrise time lapse video and photos

Purple, yellow, orange: such a beautiful sky

Rincon Puerto Rico sunrise, beach time lapse

kind of hazy from the ocean spray.. but still charming

Rincon beach sunrise, Puerto Rico time lapse video

Like a postcard: but better 🙂

Another tease? Just check out the beautiful beach house we got!

Rincon Beach rental, Puerto Rico West Coast

We are definitely going back to you, Rincon: as your main via aptly describes you, the Road to Happiness <3 Already missing you!

Have you filmed a sunrise time lapse video? Share it with us below!

Puerto Rican Christmas traditions: Navidades en Puerto Rico!

Welcome to Cultural Tidbits Monday! Today I’m sharing a post about Puerto Rican Christmas traditions by Sara Moyano, co-proprietor of Hacienda Moyano. I’ve talked about our Christmas traditions in the past, including our famous parrandas, but Sara goes a little deeper. Enjoy! 🙂

Puerto Rican Christmas food

Puerto Rican Christmas food sampler

Puerto Rican Christmas traditions

In the northern hemisphere the leaves have changed to their short lived majestic autumn colors, the air is crisper and Halloween is just round the corner.  It is hard to believe 2013 is almost over.  But before we think about the New Year, let’s talk about where you are going to spend your holidays.  Some people like to stay close to home and spend time with loved ones. Some people like to go to places where the winter weather makes it look and feel like those beautiful snowy scenes on old Christmas cards.  And a few lucky ones will choose to come to Hacienda Moyano in Naguabo, Puerto Rico!

Nobody celebrates the holiday season like the people of Puerto Rico. From the food to the music, everything about Puerto Rican Christmas is special. The holiday season lasts from Thanksgiving until January 6, the day of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. It is important to note that it is also the beginning of carnival season in many cultures.  At Hacienda Moyano, we always find a reason to celebrate and Christmas is the best reason of all.

The cooks are already putting their orders in for the “viandas” (vegetables) that they will need to make “pasteles”.  Pasteles are a staple of the Puerto Rican holiday menu, a very labor intensive dish that is a must on every table.  They are made with a masa of green bananas and plantains, “yucca” (taro), and calabazas (pumpkin) and wrapped in a scorched banana leaf.  The combinations of flavors can include: chickpeas, raisins, olives, capers, beef, chicken, pork, fish or “jueyes” (land crabs), and are as endless as the family recipes that have been passed down for generations.

“Arroz con gandules” (rice and pigeon peas) is another staple of the holiday menu.  There is usually a smoked meat imparting its woodsy flavor, but the “sofrito” is the star of this simple dish.  And I say that with the outmost respect.  Cooking good rice is really an art and not as easy as it sounds.

Puerto Rican Christmas traditions, lechon

SEXY Puerto Rican lechon a la varita! By Angela Rutherford, Flickr

The star of the Puerto Rican Christmas table, however, is the “lechon” or pork.  Usually it is a “pernil” or fresh ham.  Again the recipes are as varied as the tastes and the origin of the family. Most cooks use “adobo mojado” or wet seasoning that consists of salt, pepper, oregano, vinegar and olive oil. Some families splurge and cook “lechon a la varita” or a pig roast on a homemade spit.  No matter what recipe you use it is usually the best thing on the table.

The day we roast a pig at Hacienda Moyano is a day to celebrate.  Everyone is up early, the “carbon” (coal) is started, the “ron caña” (Puerto Rican moonshine) is flowing early. The Medallas are cold. The pig has been seasoned at least the night before and it is rested and ready for its day view.  There is nothing that smells like Christmas in Puerto Rico than the smell of pork fat dripping on the smoldering charcoal.

And wait until you taste the “postres” (desserts). “Arroz con dulce” (rice pudding with spices and raisins), tembleque (a cold coconut custard with cinnamon), “dulce de papaya” (spiced candied papaya usually served with white cheese). These are just a few, there are so many more delicious sweet treats to enjoy during the Christmas holidays.

Oh, and how about the drinks, the “coquito” (coconut eggnog), is a tradition.  After a dinner of arroz con gandules, lechon, pasteles, postre y coquito, all you need is a “hamaca” (hammock) in the shade to take a “siesta”.  Or go to El Yunque for a hike.  The choice is yours because Puerto Rico does it better! Feliz Navidad from Hacienda Moyano! (even though it’s October — celebrate early! 😉 )

Have you experienced Puerto Rican Christmas traditions and food?

Luquillo Puerto Rico: Attractions, Sights, Food [Beach Thursday VIDEO]

I’m so freaking excited that I can barely speak into my voice recognition software…BUT! Before we move on to the AMAZING news I got for you, let me warm you up with my latest travel video. I’ve talked a bit about it before, but today we dig deeper into the beautiful beach town of Luquillo Puerto Rico: this week’s Beach Thursday pick!

Luquillo Puerto Rico: attractions, sights, FOOD!

You heard (or watched?) right: my second Chief World Explorer video. Which means? Out of more than 3,000 applications from 99 countries, I made it to the Top 50 [semifinals round!] of Jauntaroo’s Best Job Around the World Competition. And to think that, due to fear and past failures, I almost didn’t apply…WOW! Can you believe this?! Announcement was made on Tuesday and I’m still shaking of excitement!

Help me make it to the TOP 5: vote by clicking ‘LIKE’ on my video here!

My Luquillo Puerto Rico video might even make it to Puerto Rican TV and the island’s leading newspaper, which is why I couldn’t come here to blog about this amazing accomplishment until today 😉 Yah, I’ve been busy hustling!

I would GREATLY appreciate it if you take me one step closer into fulfilling my dream career: to volunteer and travel around the world, all while getting paid for it. And filming amazing videos. While being all crazy and fun and energetic in front of the camera. Tweeting pinning Facebooking. The works!

Don’t leave yet though: I got some more Beach Thursday content before I ttyl 😉

Luquillo Puerto Rico photos + bonus video

Luquillo Puerto Rico Balneario La Montserrate

Balneario La Montserrate

Luquillo Puerto Rico St. Joseph's church altar

Intricate altar at St. Joseph’s church (photo by j.lowrydoyle, Flickr)

La Parrilla Luquillo kiosk

Probably the nicest kiosk/restaurant in Luquillo: La Parilla (photo by Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr)

Have you been to Puerto Rico? VOTE for my Luquillo video here!

Puerto Rico beaches: refreshing from the heatwaves! [Beach Thursday photos]

When there’s a heatwave in New York, you know things must be worst down in the Caribbean. And so, it’s been stifling here! I’ve been going to quite a bit of Puerto Rico beaches to refresh from the heat and humidity. Hope you enjoy the photos I’ve snapped for Beach Thursday 😀

Some were taken with a smartphone while inside a plastic back (lol), so I apologize for the quality in advance!

Puerto Rico beaches, Carolina Beach Thursday

Welcome to Puerto Rico Beach Thursday!

Puerto Rico beach photos: Playa Pal Pueblo, Carolina

When driving to Balneario de Carolina, right before you start seeing the gates, you’ll find a dinghy sign saying “Playas Pal Pueblo” and entrance to a small parking lot: this is it! In contrast to its popular neighbor, Playa Pal Pueblo didn’t feel crowded—a rare commodity to find on beaches near San Juan.

Puerto Rico beach photos, Carolina beach Thursday

Playa Pal Pueblo coastline, right by the Courtyard Marriott in Carolina

Puerto Rico beaches, Carolina beach Thursday

Doesn’t that water make you want to run right in?

My favorite thing about this Puerto Rican beach, though? There’s a small campsite among palm fronds and vegetation, right by its entrance. Its residents are actually peaceful protesters of further development of the Carolina coastline, fighting to keep beaches free for Puerto Ricans to enjoy. Very picturesque protest may I say myself:

Puerto Rico beach photos, beach campsite

See the tents on the left and right?

Puerto Rico beaches, Carolina Playa Pal Pueblo

LOVE this photo and entrance!

Puerto Rico beach photos: Playa Escondida, Fajardo

I’ve already written about the many things to do in Fajardo, including how to get to the “Governor’s Reserve Beach.” Well, you’ll be happy to hear that Playa Escondida is on the way! It’s the very first glimpse of coast you see after your long 30-40 minute hike. So, totally possible to visit both Fajardo beaches on the same day. If you decide to keep walking along the coast until you see the Cove with the Governor’s house, though, beware the cops. ENJOY! 😀

Puerto Rico beach photos, Playa Escondida Fajardo

We apologize for the ugly picture: it was cloudy, not a sunny day!

Puerto Rico beaches, Playa Escondida

Now THIS one makes some justice to this gorgeous beach

Puerto Rico beach photos, Puerto Rican girl bikini

My apologies for ruining it: I had not taken a photo of myself that trip…

Puerto Rico beach photos: Isla Verde, Carolina

THE most popular beach by San Juan, where most of the beachfront hotels are located. Perfect for windsurfing, kite surfing, parasailing, and people watching. You may also rent kayaks and kite surfing lessons. Oh, and lastly but most importantly, lots of palm trees to find shade under!

Puerto Rico beaches, Palm tree

this photo has NOT been edited in ANY way!

Puerto Rico beach photos, ocean view

What about them ocean views?

Puerto Rico beach photos: Balneario La Montserrate, Luquillo

So crowded on weekends, so popular: yet, one of the cleanest, safest beaches in the entire island. My advice? Go on a weekday and enjoy its reef-protected waters, palm tree forest, and surrounding mountain views. Truly spectacular (and BLUE FLAG beach, by the way):

beach Thursday, Luquillo Beach

Clearly, I went on a weekend…!

Balneario La Montserrate, Puerto Rico beaches

Love the colorful lifeguard posts

Puerto Rico beaches, Luquillo water

got cloudy, so not the best shot of the amazing water 🙁

Puerto Rico beach photos: Playa Ultimo Trolley, San Juan

One of the windiest beaches by San Juan, perfect for bodyboarding and kite surfing. Locals refer to it as “the kite beach” as well. Lack of shade though, as the few baby palm trees are taken early in the morning. So pack plenty of sunblock!

Playa Ultimo Trolley, beach Thursday

I felt stylish that beach day 😉

Have you been to these Puerto Rico beaches? Any favorites?