Hey babes! For my 25th birthday, I celebrated in my homeland Puerto Rico and it was such a beautiful, peaceful experience I had to share the details with you!
I wanted this trip to be unique and decided to try something I’d never done before… scuba diving! We booked the Icacos & Palominito Islands Snorkeling tour through East Island Excursions with hotel pick-up & drop-off from San Juan to Fajardo. I would 100% recommend this trip, there’s an open rum bar on board, all you can eat lunch, a waterslide and hourssss of snorkeling in some of the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.
The islands are secluded, the staff is super sweet and helpful plus it’s a good time for anyone. It’s great if you’ve never been snorkeling before or can’t even swim because they offer lessons on board and with the floaties anyone can go out there and try.
I had my birthday dinner at Oceano, a gorgeous waterfront restaurant right on the beach. I highly recommend the Ginger Coco Shrimp & Yuca Crusted Calamari to start and the Cod with Batata Blanca (white sweet potato) entree. The Sunset and El Perfecto cocktails are really yummy too.
After dinner we danced the night away at La Placita in Santurce. The farmers market by day transforms into a strip of clubs and restaurants by night. On Friday’s they close the strip down completely to cars leaving party goers to roam the streets freely, safely and drunkenly. Whether you want to Salsa to the classics, hear some old school Reggeaton, hit the electric slide with a bunch of NBA players (true story) or all of the above, there’s something for every flavor.
Saturday morning we got an early start and lounged by the pool at Serafina Beach Hotel where we stayed for our trip and it was gorgeous.
The new boutique hotel has an infinity pool leading to a private beach and it’s catered to the grown & sexy so you won’t be woken up to screaming kids during your poolside nap. Perfect for a girl’s trip or baecation! I ordered tostones, fried fish of the day (Halibut) and the Spicy Wonton Shrimp to snack on with a Piña Colada on the side.
After wearing ourselves out at the pool we were starving! If you have trouble deciding what to eat, or like me you love to pick at a bunch of different things, I’d recommend Lote 23. The open dining space hosts 13 food trucks of all different cuisines from Chinese to Italian & everything in between including Puerto Rican food of course, plus most trucks serve alcohol as well.
A quick drive from Lote 23 is a vintage store I discovered on Instagram named Johnny & June. The owners, a sister duo, did an amazing job of curating the perfect vintage garments and aesthetic across the entire store. If you’re a vintage lover like myself Johnny & June is so cute! I picked up a few pieces you’ll see on the blog soon.
It was about that time for dinner so I switched into my official birthday dress. My inspiration was vintage 80’s barbie, do you think I nailed it? We wanted to see what all the hype was about for the restaurant in our hotel, aMare and it didn’t disappoint. We had champagne and sautéed shrimp salad with a gorgeous view of the ocean just a few feet away.
I ran upstairs to change again, this time into something comfy to dance the night away. We spent the night drinking pineapple rum cocktails at La Factoría, the most popular club in Old San Juan. When you enter it looks like your average bar, nothing special… until you realize people keep pouring in & out of the saloon doors in the back that you thought led to a kitchen. La Factoría has 4+ rooms, each with a different theme and music, that you access through discreet doors, usually by accident. Spend time in the Salsa room where the Salsero’s will give you a show & once you’re feeling a nice buzz, it should be around the time where they open the final room. Into the dark abyss, you’ll find the Electro room. If you want to dance like no one’s watching this is the place for you!
I’ll be honest, I was hurting the next morning lol! You just don’t recover the same after 23. We had a huge hangover breakfast, then hung by the pool again until our reservation at Casa Bacardí.
We did the Historical Tour & it was so cute, I was actually surprised. A 10 minute Uber took us to the ferry to cross the bay into Old San Juan. We grabbed Bacalaitos (Cod Fish Fritters) on the pier and walked to El Jibarito for dinner. I highly recommend the Garlic Shrimp with Tostones and salad, but the portions are on the smaller side.
Our last full day in PR we enjoyed breakfast with a beautiful view of the ocean at the Condado Plaza Hilton then headed to Escambron beach. We sipped fresh Coconut water and ate Quenepas that were so ripe, I miss them already!
We headed back to Old San Juan for a Puerto Rican tradition, Hot Chocolate Cortés with Queso de papa (Caribbean cheese) at Chocobar Cortés. My grandmother would make it for us as children and it tasted just like childhood with the Tostada Mallorca (toasted Mallorcan bread). They also have other yummy chocolate treats & choco-infused cocktails.
If you’re looking to have drinks and lunch with the locals and a gorgeous view, La Vergüenza rooftop patio is your spot. Walk off those Medalla’s and get lost exploring the beautiful, colorful houses in Viejo San Juan. Then check out the gorgeous architecture at the Bautista Cathedral, the second oldest in the Americas, and sign your name amongst thousands of visitors from across the globe.
We continued on and had thee best Crab salad and Gandules (pigeon peas) Soup with Tostones at Raíces, a super popular restaurant so get there before 5pm or expect a long wait. Honestly their birthday song is amazing, legit a whole performance with traditional instruments and literally one of the highlights of my trip! Plus the amazing tres leches cake of course.
All in all, the trip was amazing and Puerto Rico was the perfect birthday destination and refresh I needed before getting back to work. I hope this helps you plan your next trip, if you have any questions or additional tips, leave them down below!
P.S. If you’re looking for the I ❤️ PR sign, it’s on the pier right across from CVS.
- LYFT still isn’t available in PR so you’ll need Uber. Luckily it’s super cheap and aside from the airport, you probably won’t ever pay more than $10 for a trip.
- Drink and food prices here are super low but so is the minimum wage in PR so be kind and tip your servers!
- Almost everyone in PR is bilingual but the primary language is still Spanish so be culturally conscious and at least learn some basic Spanish phrases beforehand.