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A Day in San Juan with Camila

May 12, 2020

My name is Camila (@camilanegron) and I am from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Last year I moved to London to pursue a Master’s degree and a career in Marketing. Even though I love London, deep down I will always be an island girl. Puerto Rico is an island full of culture, inspiration and beautiful views. I love a lot of things about my country, but there is one that stands out: the people. Puerto Ricans are friendly, hospitable, lively, entertaining and above all, Puerto Ricans are resilient and strong. The residents of this beautiful island have endured hurricanes, earthquakes, corrupt governments, and now a pandemic. However, Puerto Ricans have always stood by each other through tough times. I have seen with my own eyes how Puerto Ricans went out to the street to help the less fortunate when the government failed to respond. Puerto Ricans are beautiful people, and if you visit the island it will be the first thing you notice.

What is a typical breakfast and where would you go?

For a typical breakfast you could go to Kasalta, located five minutes away from the beach. This place offers delicious sandwiches, eggs, pastries, and freshly squeezed juices. Fun fact: President Barack Obama went for brunch to this place when he visited the island! It's amazing.

Where is your favourite place to grab lunch?

My favorite place to grab lunch is Umai. This is a delicious sushi restaurant that offers dozens of creative sushi combinations. The owners have explored different combinations with local ingredients to make the best sushi in Puerto Rico. My personal favorite is the “Ay Bendito Roll” which has cream cheese, tempura chicken, avocado and spicy mayo. It’s amazing! It’s the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy the Caribbean weather with a nice glass of white wine. Also, I love going to this restaurant and run into friends and colleagues (Puerto Rico is very small).

What is the ideal afternoon activity in a city like San Juan?

The ideal afternoon activity in Puerto Rico would be to chill at a beach sipping on some fresh coconut water (or if you prefer a Rum and Coke haha). Afternoons in Puerto Rico can get quite dreadful with the combination of humidity and high temperatures. Therefore the best way to spend it would be by the water (pool or beach…your choice). In addition, you can always make your way to a rooftop and watch the sunset with a nice glass of wine.

Where are the best places for dinner?

This is my top 5: Santaella; Mario Pagan; Vianda; Cocina Abierta; Shibo

Cocina Abierta | picture credit: @cocinaabierta

In the evening, what is the city like and where do you find yourself?

Puerto Rico has a very vibrant nightlife scene, it just depends on what you like. On Fridays the place to go is La Placita de Santurce. It’s a square full of bars, restaurants and clubs for everyone to enjoy. At La Placita you can find live music, locals dancing salsa in the streets, karaoke bars, and if you’re lucky you might run into someone famous. You can start your night having dinner at Santaella, one of the most exclusive restaurants in the island. Right after you can make your way to el Coco de Luis to have a $3 cocktail with freshly squeezed juice. Once you are feeling like listening to some latin music, make your way to De la Vida and dance the night away with some locals. However, you cannot miss a night out in Old San Juan. The old city has various clubs, restaurants and speakeasy bars perfect for a Saturday night out. If you are in Old San Juan, you can’t leave without having a cocktail at La Factoria. At La Factoria you will be able to try incredible cocktails harnessing local flavors and ingredients. With an authentic atmosphere and the best hospitality, La Factoria has maintained its place as one of the World’s Best 50 Bars.

La Factoría | picture credit: @lafactoriapr

In a busy city like San Juan, is there anywhere to chill?

Of course, it’s the island life! Even though Puerto Rico is quite hectic and vibrant, its citizens appreciate some down time. As island people we are used to take time to chill and just enjoy the weather and the company. For this reason, a lot of people in Puerto Rico own boats or villas where they can escape for the weekend and relax. Overall, Puerto Rico has everything!

picture credit @camilanegron

What is there to do for something fun and different?

Scuba Diving, El Yunque (the only rainforest in the United States), kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, hiking, kite-running at El Morro, discover one of the hundreds of beaches in Puerto Rico. Go for a day trip to Culebra (or even for a weekend) and go to one of the best beaches in the world (which has been named various times as one of the best beaches in the world).

Where is the best area to stay/sleep for young travellers?

When it comes to accommodation it depends on what you want to do and where you want to go. If you are interested in being close (walking distance) to restaurants, bars and nightclubs then the best area to stay is Condado. Condado is the tourist/hotel district where you will find lots of options for accommodation. In addition, they are used to tourists in the area so its quite easy to find your way around. If you would like to stay in a more residential area you could check Miramar or Old San Juan, but you would need to Uber or rent a car if you wanted to get yourself around. Puerto Rico does not have a good public transportation system, so therefore renting a car could be a good idea if you wanted to do some cool road trips around the island.

What season would you recommend visiting?

Puerto Rico is blessed to have summer all year long! Therefore, the best time to visit is…anytime haha. However, if you are tired of the cold weather then winter would be the best time to visit. Keep in mind September is hurricane season, so always watch the weather before you go.

Is San Juan best for a family holiday/friends holiday or couple holiday?

Puerto Rico has something for everyone. Whether you want a romantic getaway with your partner, a relax family holiday or an adventurous trip with friends; it is the perfect destination for any occasion.

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