Travel Tuesday: No Passport, No Problem – A Visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Will Have You Living in Color

by Selena Swartzfager on April 11, 2023 in Travels,

Puerto Rico, the home of Ricky Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julio Iglesias, is an island in the Caribbean that is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Geographically, it is closer to South America than to most of the USA.


A Little History

Puerto Rico is shaped by the interaction of various cultures, languages, traditions, and power dynamics. Claimed for Spain in 1493, the United States won Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War in 1898. As a result, no passport is required for US Citizens to visit. Whether you are looking to relax on the beach, explore local museums and galleries, or indulge in some of the best cuisine in the Caribbean, it has something to offer everyone.

Getting there

A direct flight from many Texas locations will quickly land you in San Juan and 20 minutes later via car, you will be in Condado, a vibrant municipality of San Juan sitting directly on the Atlantic Ocean.

The Condado Collection: Where It’s At!

Your favorite part of the Condado Ocean Club will be The Deck, which is their infinity pool located right on the beach. Photo courtesy Murphy O’Brien.

The Condado Ocean Club (OC) is an adult-only boutique hotel where you truly feel like you belong to an exclusive club. You will be sitting by the ocean without having to battle the sand. Leave your headphones at home because you will enjoy the sound of waves crashing on the rocks and groovy new age music drifting through the air. Lounge in their complimentary beach chairs or reserve a cabana (there are only nine). You can order food and beverages from the poolside bar. The décor is fresh and funky. Weekday stays are quiet and relaxing but on the weekends, it is party time!

The OC guest rooms are beautiful and overlook the Atlantic Ocean with large floor to ceiling windows. Photo courtesy Murphy O’Brien.

While staying at the OC, dine in the evening at the hotel’s upscale restaurant called SOCIAL. Grab a light breakfast at the DETOX Coffee and Juice Bar. Can you really go wrong with a juice called “the hangover cure”?

Is this food or a work of art? It is both and you can dine at Social sitting either inside or al fresco. Photo courtesy Murphy O’Brien.

For a family friendly experience, stay at the La Concha Resort. This luxury beach resort has three pools and ocean front rooms with sliding glass doors and balconies. Complimentary bicycles are available to cruise around the neighborhood on a first come, first served basis  You can walk right out the hotel’s front door to a vibrant evening scene of restaurants, bars, a casino and public art. Dine in the evening at Solera and breakfast at Aroma Cafe.  If you are looking for the adult only area, check out Marena, a hidden beachfront terrace.  Treat yourself by renting a cabana on the beach side or pool side.

Open the sliding glass door at the La Concha and enjoy the sound of waves crashing below. Photo courtesy Murphy O’Brien.

Excursions Not to be Missed

While you can certainly plan to hang out at one of these two delightful hotels for the duration of your travel, don’t miss the Eco-adventure with Puerto Rico Access Tours where you will take a guided night kayaking tour.  Transportation can be booked for your trip to the mangrove forest of Lagunda Grande Reserve on the East Coast of the island where adventure awaits. The destination is to see the bioluminescent sparkles in the Fajardo Bay. There are only a handful of bioluminescent bays in the world that glow year-round, three of which are in Puerto Rico.

In the Fajardo Bay, tiny marine organisms called dinoflagellates emit light through chemical reactions in their bodies when disturbed by your hand or paddle. Photo courtesy Puerto Rico Access Tours.

Mid-day is the perfect time to eat your way around Old San Juan while learning about its history and culture on a walking tour with Flavors Food Tours. Old San Juan is a historic district that features colorful buildings, cobbled streets and incredible landmarks like El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal.  Your guide will be knowledgeable of Puerto Rico’s history and culture. Communication from this company is top notch.

On the Flavors Food Tour you will enjoy authentic local cuisine like mofongo from restaurants such as Cuatro Sombras, La Picadera, Sr. Paleta, Casa Luna and Choco Bar. Why eat at just one restaurant when you can eat at five? #diversification. Photo courtesy Ketchum.


Photo courtesy Selena Swartzfager.

Cover photo courtesy Murphy O’ Brien.

Selena Swartzfager is a travel writer, nonprofit president, an amateur photographer, lover of adventures and life. Her favorite type of travel allows her to learn about history while enjoying things for the first time. Follow her on Instagram.