We spent 2 weeks in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. What a lovely island!
Fajardo is on the eastern side of the island; about an hour outside of San Juan. A bustling fishing and water sport community. We lucked out and found a great apartment located on top of one of the bluffs in the area. We got to overlook Fajardo and the coastline along the north side of the island — the Atlantic.
There is no shortage of things to do. The residents are mostly bi-lingual and very friendly and helpful. Most everything is metric, except for the MPH signs along the roadways. Weird thing to be different.
We’ve climbed to the top of El Yunque — the highest point in PR at 3,200 feet. The hiking trails in this national forest are beautifully maintained. Tons of people on the easier trails and lower elevations. The summit hike gave us a great opportunity to see every aspect of a rain forest. They aren’t kidding when they say, “Tropical Rainforest: If it isn’t moving, it’s rotting.” There were only a handful of people who muscled their way to the summit overlook. We found out later that there is a service road that will take you most of the way to the summit and then you can walk a few hundred yards to the overlook. I’m glad we did the hike.
We took a lovely drive to the south side of the island to check out the Caribbean. Of course, I wanted to take a more scenic route home. We climbed into the mountains on very narrow winding roads.
We made a fortuitous wrong turn and came across an amazing ancient (or maybe not so old, given how fast things grow) Banyan tree. We spent quite awhile exploring its massive root system. We kept telling ourselves that we’ve come to the end of seeing “the coolest thing”, but then something comes up and it ends up being cooler than the last. This tree will be hard to top.
There was a lagoon near our apartment that can only be accessed via kayak through a very heavy mangrove forest. This lagoon is very popular at night because it is home to bioluminescent organisms that glow at night. Unfortunately, we were visiting close to a full moon and the luminescence is very low during these times. We still wanted to see the lagoon so we rented kayaks and set out by ourselves during the day. We were lucky enough to have the whole area to ourselves the morning we went.
We spent several hours exploring the waterway and lagoon. Bright colored (blue and red) crabs hanging out on the tree roots; tiny spider-like crabs scurry around like insects. Fishing birds swooping in for a meal of fish right in front of us. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.
We snorkeled 2 separate times and thoroughly enjoyed it. We spent one afternoon, on our own, in a nearby bay getting used to the water, current and equipment. We saw all kinds of fish. Bright Dory-like (“Finding Nemo”) ones and more subtle colored ones. We happened across a Lion Fish. Thank goodness for PBS & Discovery Nature shows. We both knew to keep our distance since Lion Fish have nasty stinging barbs on their fins.
Our more adventurous outing was with a diving company. They took us to nearby islands and reefs. The reefs were much bigger and many more fish to see. I’m glad we had a warm up day, since it was pretty windy and rough on this outing. Being comfortable bobbing about had its advantages. The other people on the boat were struggling with waves and water getting in their masks and snorkels.
We hung out on a spit of sand out in the middle of nowhere — Palomino Beach. This is the beach filmed for the last scene of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I could almost feel Johnny Depp’s aura…not really.
Puerto Rico is definitely on our list of places to visit again. There is so much to explore and discover. We had some serious discussion about buying one of the condos in the complex where we were staying. Real Estate is really affordable right now. We’ll see. It’s a pipe dream at the moment.