I have so much to tell you about Luquillo, Puerto Rico. While planning a warm winter getaway, we looked at tons of places, including Panama (still a dream trip for me), Anguilla, Antigua, and many others. Puerto Rico kept popping up as a good option because of the direct flight from Boston to San Juan and our JetBlue points.
After our very exciting safari travel adventure last year, this year I wanted a quiet, relaxed beach vacation. When someone on Twitter mentioned that Luquillo was a “sleepy beach town” I started looking into it, and I was sold. Not only did it look beautiful and affordable, it was a 45 minute drive from San Juan, about a 15 minute drive from all of the boat and island excursions to Icacos, Culebra, and Vieques, and about 10 minutes to the El Yunque National Forest. The more I read about Luquillo, especially about its kioskos (more to come on this stretch of 50+ restaurants and food stalls) the more I wanted to BE THERE RIGHT NOW.
So that’s where we went. Our flight from Boston to San Juan was easy; typically it takes about four hours, but due to the winds we got in over half an hour early and were in our rental car with the windows down and the music pumping before we knew it. I LOVED the music in Puerto Rico.
The drive to Luquillo was super easy and took maybe 35 minutes. When we are traveling for more than a night or two, we tend to like houses or apartments as opposed to hotels. We’ve gone with Flipkey in the past for a Sonoma rental (which was AMAZING) and this time we decided to try Air BnB and after lots of research went with a condo in Bello Mar Apartamentos in Luquillo. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico, I would be happy to share the name of the owner and the details.
The owner kindly met us with the keys and the remote for the gate to park, and then she drove ahead of us to show us where the grocery store was. She texted us tons of restaurant recommendations and also had a binder in the apartment with all of the information we could need.
The apartment was beautiful; the cleaning person was finishing as we arrived, and it was immaculate. It had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a kitchen, sitting room, washer/dryer, and a to-die-for deck.
The apartment was also stocked with everything you could ever need: beach umbrellas, beach chairs, plenty of beach towels, DVDs, books, magazines, coffee, oil, sugar, all of the cooking basics, etc. We were amazed at how much was there.
Since we had an apartment, we bought groceries to have breakfast and cocktail hour on our balcony every day. It’s a great way to save money when traveling but also to relax and keep a chill pace. Our schedule would be to have a leisurely breakfast of tropical fruit and vanilla yogurt, avocado dressed with fresh lime juice, and extra strong coffee on the balcony, then head out to the beach or for an excursion.
Also, we had passionfruit mimosas every day. Vacation.
At night, after plenty of time seeing the sights or swimming, we returned to the condo for sunset and sundowners, as we started calling drinks on safari. We made up plates of cheese and crackers and enjoyed local beers and Capri Sun like pouches of rum punch until the sun went down, then headed out for the night.
When we returned home from dinner, we usually spent time sitting on the balcony listening to the roar of the waves. One night we watched a movie, but mostly talking and staring out to sea was how we spent our time.
Luquillo itself has some areas that look basically like anytown USA, with a WalMart, KFC, etc. But once you are off the main route and onto the side streets, you find some gorgeous beaches, including our favorite, Playa Azul.
Parking was free, and the beach was not at all crowded. It had a great surf for riding waves and a man who sold rum in coconuts.
Slathered in sunscreen, wearing hats, and occasionally draping ourselves in towels, we also found a perfect grove of palm trees to retreat under when the sun felt too hot. Every day was around 89 degrees, and we definitely felt it!
Besides sitting on the beach, we did tons of swimming and floating and riding waves. Being a Jersey Shore girl, I love big waves and a strong current. Luquillo definitely had that. The only regret I have is not taking surfing lessons. . . but I was just too busy relaxing with my rum-filled coconut.
Luquillo is a dreamy getaway, if you are looking for something a little off the beaten path and not super fancy. It does have a couple of resorts, but for me, when I am at the beach, I like to be a little sandy and salty and dressed as down as possible. Luquillo was the perfect place to let out that beach bum that resides in me.