Since I've been with John, each year we've tried to get the family together during the week of Thanksgiving to spend some quality time with each other. This year we decided on Puerto Rico! We originally had planned to stay at a house that John had stayed at previously inside of the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar, however a few days before our flight the host called us and informed us that they were experiencing power outages and the house currently had no power. In a last minute scramble, we were able to find two houses that were right next to each other to rent on another part of the island. (We needed at least 7 bedrooms with the amount of people we had) It was a bit stressful, but ended up working out and the houses (as you'll see below) were incredible! This was my first trip to Puerto Rico and it did not disapoint!
Day 1 (Saturday, November 19th)
Charlie was 3 months old by the time of this trip and traveled like a champ. At this age they're not mobile so while he is young, I think I actually found it easier than when he got a bit older (currently as I write this he's about to turn 9 months). He was perfectly content nursing and napping in the carrier the entire time so it worked out pretty well. We flew out of Fort Lauderdale in the morning so we could have a direct flight into Puerto Rico. Since there was going to be 16 total (14 adults and 2 children) we rented 4 cars between all of us and we decided on brining the UppaBaby car seat and stroller combination. Depending on how you plan on traveling, it could make sense to rent a car seats from a car rental company? However, for us we just brought it through the airport and gate checked it for free since we knew we would be doing a bit of driving during our stay. By the time we got into the house it was later in the afternoon, but we were able to watch the sunset and that was breathtaking with the views we had from the balcony!
Day 2 (Sunday, November 20th)
We didn't have any set plans for the trip, so we took today to hang out at the house. We were fortunate enough to be able to hire a chef that cooked breakfast this morning and quite a few of the dinners. It was so nice not to have to worry about who was going to cook what, and instead we all just sat down to enjoy the meal! If you have a large group and the budget for it, it's definitely something to consider- Plus, its significantly more affordable than the states to have someone come in to cook. After breakfast we all got into our bathing suits and headed down to the pool! Like I had mentioned above, the two houses we ended up renting were literally right next to each other so while we were separated at times we could easily walk back and forth. In the later afternoon a few of us we drove down to a local beach close by the house called Seven Seas to hang out!
Day 3 (Monday, November 21st)
We all decided that we definitely wanted to a day group trip to Old San Juan! Honestly, I totally underestimated how beautiful this city was going to be. We walked down the old cobblestone streets with the brightly colored buildings (so fun!), and through the San Juan National Historic Site with the Castillo San Felipe Del Morro! We stopped for lunch at a restaurant called La Danza where I had probably the BEST empanadas and sweet plantains I've ever had. Afterwards, John and I went across the street to a cute gelato spot called Anitas for some incredible biscoff flavored gelato topped with waffle cones. YUM! 10/10 Recommend doing a day trip to Old San Juan. Definitely wear comfortable shoes, cool clothing and a hat because even though it was November it was h.o.t.
Day 4 (Tuesday, November 22nd)
This morning we all piled into the cars and went for a short hike in the El Yunque National Forest! There were some highly rated waterfall hikes that we were really looking forward to, but unfortunately at this time they were closed due to hurricane damage. So we decided on the Angelito Trail instead! It was a short hike, about 1 mile each way with a bit of an incline. I would classify it as family friendly and doable with small children. You just have to take your time and obviously plan for breaks! It was an out-and-back that brought us to the Las Damas pool in the Mameyes River. The water was quite cold but even Charlie dipped his toes in. So fun! I hiked this in my sandals, a bathing suit with shorts over it and carried Charlie in my Hippie Joey carrier that was water friendly!
Day 5 (Wednesday, November 23rd)
There weren't any big plans on the agenda for today. The guys had booked a round of golf at a local course, so my brother, my sister, her fiancé, Charlie and I decided to go for another hike! (I love AllTrails and used it throughout the trip to find all the hikes we did) There was one nearby that had great reviews so we drove 10 minutes down the road to Fajardo to hike the La Zanja Trail. It was another hot day so wearing all black was probably the wrong move, however it was still so beautiful! This hike went along a quiet beach into a private cove on the end of the island. We walked along the beach/in the water for most of the hike so I would definitely recommend water friendly shoes or just be comfortable getting wet! Charlie was a champ and was perfectly content napping/nursing in the Hippie Joey sling again. (Not sponsored, I just love it and wish I had gotten it during the newborn stage!) Once we got towards the end of the trail when it opened up into the cove, the trail climbed up some rocks and went a bit further to another cove. I would say that was the only part that wasn't super friendly towards hiking with a young one because it was a bit of a scramble? I decided to hang back and my brother/sister went a bit further. Still a great hike though! Just make sure to bring a hat too as there was no shade. Afterwards we stopped for empanadas at a local spot in Fajardo on the way back to the house!
Day 6 (Thursday, November 24th)
Happy thanksgiving! Today we all decided to take a drive and spend the day at the Wyndham Resort. We hung out by the beach and ordered drinks for the morning. Then the girls went for massages at the spa- which was LOVELY. There's something about getting a massage on vacation that makes you feel like a million bucks. On the drive back in the afternoon we stopped at a cool strip mall on the side of the road and got drinks at Mojito Lab! It's exactly what it sounds like a bar that serves a bunch of different kinds of mojitos. I highly recommend getting coconut milk in yours- chefs kiss! In the evening we all had dinner together and Charlie went in the pool for the first time with John. So cute!
Day 7 (Friday, November 25th)
Bittersweet and our last full day in Puerto Rico! We had a slow morning full of cuddles and dressed Charlie in matching PJ's his cousin got for him. (Nobody prepares you for the cuteness of matching pajamas in motherhood, cue heart explosion.) As we were trying to figure out what to do for the day, John mentioned a cool island off the coast that he saw boats ferry over to during the day. We did a little research and found someone to take us over! We drove down, found the boat and hopped in... except the moment we pushed off the dock and set off the engine cut out and died. We all just sat there staring at each other wondering what to do as our captain spoke to someone on the phone in Spanish. A couple minutes later, that felt like an eternity as your floating adrift with small children on a boat, he got the engine running again and we were off. It was definitely a popular spot among the locals as you could tell, and I unfortunately can't figure out the name of the spot. It was right off the coast of Las Croabas in the Pasaje de San Juan if you're able to find it on a map. We hung out at the beach, Charlie went into the ocean for the first time and snacked on some chips we picked up at a convenience store. A couple hours later our boat came back and picked us up (Thank goodness because for a little bit I thought we had gotten dropped off and forgotten about LOL) and we headed back to the house. We spent the later afternoon hanging out by the pool and soaking in the views one last time before our travels back the following day!
All in all, I feel like Puerto Rico is one of those spots that's completely underrated. You have a bit of everything from amazing hikes in the jungle, historic cities, kind locals and beautiful beaches. We had an amazing time and I would absolutely go back again! I think I was able to recap and cover everything, but if you have any questions on the trip- please feel free to send me an email at email@example.com! I blog because I enjoy wiring down my memories for when my brain starts to get a bit fuzzy (which seems more and more lately with the baby brain fog), but I also write in hopes that this helps whoever is reading this in some way. Traveling with young children can be challenging and it may look different than you're used to, but I don't think you need to put your life on pause. Just bring them along and make sure to pack extra snacks!