Frugal Foodie Mama: 3 Must-Dos with Kids While in Puerto Rico

Friday, May 15, 2015

3 Must-Dos with Kids While in Puerto Rico

From visiting a tropical rain forest to playing on the white beaches of a private island, these are my 3 Must-Dos with Kids While in Puerto Rico...
3 Must-Dos with Kids While in Puerto Rico- from a tropical rain forest to a private island
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Almost four years ago, my husband and I traveled to Puerto Rico for the first time together for our honeymoon.  We spent about a week in this Caribbean paradise lounging at the resort, exploring Old San Juan, taking in the beauty of the El Yunque, and enjoying a little private island relaxation. Since our couples only trip there, I have been daydreaming about traveling back to Puerto Rico with the kids.  There is so much from the island that I want to share with them, for them to see and experience firsthand. Puerto Rico may be an island, but it definitely packs everything that a traveler dreams of within it's 3,515 square miles! :) From amazing food to white sand beaches to a 16th century citadel to even a lush rain forest- the travel experiences & possibilities in Puerto Rico are almost endless. 

I thought long and hard, and I came up with my top 3 must-do's whenever we do finally make the trip back to Puerto Rico with the kiddos in tow. Now this list of my top 3 is strictly based on what my husband and I were able to see, do, and experience on our first trip to the island.  I know the island has SO much more to offer though, and I look forward to exploring a few new sites with my family when we do return. But I can personally speak for and vouch for these 3 Puerto Rican must-dos... 

The El Yunque National Forest- the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System

1. The El Yunque National Forest-
We will definitely be taking the kids to see the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System! My husband and I took a bus tour from our resort to the forest, and the experience was absolutely amazing. :)
The El Yunque National Forest- the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System- a definite must-do when in Puerto Rico!
We climbed to the top of Yokahu Tower (pictured on the upper right above) to take in breathtaking 360 views of the forest and surrounding mountains. Then we climbed the rocks to get a closer look at La Coca Falls. And yes, we may have went in at the base of the falls. I mean, how many opportunities do you get to sit under a waterfall in a tropical rain forest? :) Pictured at the bottom left is Bano Grande, a man made pool that was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. Sadly, you cannot swim in this now as parts of the pool have naturally become too deep to be deemed safe for public swimming.  But man was I tempted to jump into that gorgeous greenish-blue pool of water!

Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

2. Castillo San Felipe del Morro-
It is truly awe-inspiring and humbling to step inside this 16th century citadel. No matter where we are traveling with the kids, we are always looking for sites of historical significance to stop at and explore. Being a former history teacher, I jump at every chance I get to bring what is written on the pages of history text books to life for my children. :)
Immerse yourself in history, and visit Castillo San Felipe del Morro while in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you plan on exploring Old San Juan on your trip to Puerto Rico, be sure that El Morro is on your agenda for the day. The fort was designed and built starting in 1539 to protect and guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay.  As I walked through the various entryways and rooms of the fortress, I kept thinking of the stories those stone walls could tell if only they could talk. How amazing would it be to stand inside a structure with your children that has been in existence for nearly 500 years?
Palomino Island- a private, secluded beach in Puerto Rico only accessible by private boat or as a guest of the El Conquistador

3. Palomino Island-
Imagine lounging on a beautiful beach with crystal blue waters gently lapping just a few feet away from your lounge chair. Where you can gaze up and see coconuts on the palm trees. And make friends with the island iguanas. Where the only way to get to there is by boat or ferry, and you may experience a celebrity sighting or two. This, folks, is Palomino Island.
Iguanas, palm trees, and tropical sea life await you on Palomino Island in Puerto Rico

Palomino Island is a short 8 minute ferry ride from the luxurious El Conquistador Resort. My husband and I probably spent at least a few hours most days on this island. In the shallow clear waters, you can find conchs in their shells and wave to a nurse shark. The beach is pristine and not overcrowded. Perfect for letting little ones have the space they need to play and explore along the beach! :)
But I should note that visiting Palomino Island is a luxury reserved only from those staying at the El Conquistador or who are permitted to visit by private boat. And that brings me to my bonus #4- The El Conquistador Resort...
The El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico boasts 7 pools, it's own water park, and ccess to a private island
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I wouldn't categorize the El Conquistador in the realm of budget friendly family stays on Puerto Rico, but staying here for your island getaway does have it's perks. ;) Most notably that gorgeous private island! It also boasts it's own water park-the Coqui Water Park, and 7 different pools! Not to mention a variety of on-site restaurants and it's own casino (for the parents only, of course). You can also plan for and pay for full and half day excursions from the resort. It is worth checking into the El Conquistador for rates if your travel budget is not too tight. 

I look forward to one day soon exploring Puerto Rico again, but this time getting to share these experiences and the magic of the island with my children. To fall asleep to the chorus of the coqui frogs as the sun sets over the ocean. To be in awe of the iguanas lounging in the sun just feet away. To breathe in the history and culture of this beautiful island paradise with my son and my daughter... 

Have you visited Puerto Rico before with your children?
What would you recommend that I add to my must-do list when I get to one day visit the island again with my kiddos for the first time?

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