The best part of traveling to Puerto Rico with kids is that it’s easy. By easy, I mean there are lots of direct flights from Atlanta to San Juan, no passports are needed, English is spoken as much as Spanish, the dollar is the local currency, and you don’t need an international phone plan. Yet traveling to Puerto Rico with kids is still travel to an exotic Caribbean Island with unique cuisine, interesting wildlife and of course, gorgeous beaches.
Traveling to Puerto Rico with Kids
Always leave something for the next trip.” Wise words from the dad of a Field Trips with Sue reader. My recent press trip had me thinking about traveling to Puerto Rico with kids before I even left. So what would I do again on a visit with kids, and what would I do different? Mostly, add a few more days
The El Conquistador Resort & Las Casistas Village
Our Puerto Rican adventure started at El Conquistador Resort & Las Casistas Village. The resort was lovely and my hotel room overlooking the marina perfect for a couple. For a family traveling to Puerto Rico with kids, I’d book one of the 1, 2, or 3-bedroom Las Casitas Villas. There is a Walmart close to the property for basic necessities, but the hotel can also stock the fridge before arrival, because who wants to be in a Walmart on vacation.
ScoutAbout at the El Conquistador
The free ScoutAbout Scavanger Hunt is a fun way to get oriented and do a little exploring. Secure a map from the front desk, then search for bands around the resort. Collect all the bands and trade them in for a special one and put your name on the Hall of Fame. The band is a fun ‘prize’ for kids, but the real fun is learning about the resort. Although this is billed as a kid’s activity, it’s interesting enough for any age.
Beach and Water Fun at Palomino Island
Take the ferry to Palomino Island, the private island of the hotel. The 10 minute catamaran ride is a pleasure in itself and a relaxing way to leave your cares behind. Once on the island there are lots of water sports, horseback riding, a restaurant, and of course, just relaxing on the beautiful beach. What struck me as we arrived were the butterflies. At first I thought they were white birds, like the seagulls we have at home, but it was thousands of small white butterflies. As you walk around the island you are sure to find the resident iguanas too. Bring some comfortable shoes and hike to the top of the mountain for a view from the top.
Eating at the El Conquistador
During my press trip, we samples many traditional Puerto Rican foods at the different property restaurants. The El Conquistador has 23 different restaurants. However, for our initial family dinner, I’d book a chef to create a traditional Puerto Rican meal in our villa. On the menu would definitely be some mofongo, probably some arroz con gandules, maybe some coquito and pasteles if the trip falls around the holidays. We’d open up the doors and windows and listen for the coqui frog, sending the kids out to search for the little guys, since seeing one brings good luck.
Day Trips from the El Conquistador Resort
This morning we might venture off the resort for breakfast. A friend recommended Las Vistas, which is about 5 minutes from the hotel and apparently has delicious banana coconut pancakes and fruit picked from the owner’s backyard. If we wanted to do a little more scouting, we could rent a car from Enterprise, which has an office on property.
After a big breakfast, we’d be ready for a tour of the El Yunque rainforest. The hotel concierge can put it together for you. We didn’t have time for this or the bioluminescent bay, which is a perfect evening activity, especially when it’s dark outside. If you go when the moon is full, you won’t see as much glow. These two day trips would definitely be on my list when traveling to Puerto Rico with kids.
Relaxing at the El Conquistador Resort
My husband and oldest would probably head to the 26,000 sq. ft spa to work out a few days during our trip. Maybe I’d follow for a spa treatment, although it’s more likely I’d head to one of the seven pools. At some point today we’d visit the Coqui Water Park for some slide thrills. The water park covers 2.4 acres and includes Torre de Yocahu, a tower from which three high-speed water slides flow, including the El Gigante Dormindo (The Sleeping Giant). The boys would cajole me to go down this slide with it’s 40-foot drop and I would refuse, but agree to the 8,000 sq. foot lazy river or the 8,500-square-foot infinity-edge pool. We’d cool off with Piraguas, traditional Puerto Rican snow cones, and learn a little about the history from the Piragua concierge located within the Coqui Water Park.
Get the Family on the Golf Course with Foot Golf
While I’m at the water park with the kids, my husband might play some tennis or maybe golf on the Arthur Hills par 72-course. I love the beauty of golf courses, and this one has so many rolling hills and beautiful vistas, but I don’t play, which is one reason I am so excited about foot golf. The El Conquistador has a program where you walk the gorgeous hills of the golf course, but rather than use clubs and a tiny ball, you play with a soccer ball. This would be so much fun as a family and everyone could participate and enjoy the beauty of the course.
The Candado Hilton Plaza, San Juan
During my press visit, we stayed at the Condado Hilton Plaza, which is the only hotel to overlook both the Atlantic Ocean and the tranquil Condado Lagoon. My room overlooked the ocean, with crashing waves lulling me to sleep at night and easing me into the morning. It was heaven. If I were traveling to Puerto Rico with kids, it may be better to stay the Lagoon side tower because they have family friendly suites where you can close a door between the kid’s area and the master bedroom.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
A trip to Puerto Rico would not be complete without a visit to Old San Juan, which is less than two miles from the Condado Hilton Plaza, but can take about 20 – 40 minutes by car, especially on a Sunday when locals, as well as tourists head to this historic area.
Walking through the streets of Old San Juan reminded me of a seaside New Orleans, with a few steep hills. Look for the blue hued cobblestones in the street. These are the original cobblestones put in by the Spaniards. They are made from an iron waste called slag, which is what gives it the blue hue.
Castillo’s de San Juan
I’m a sucker for history and a cool old fort, or as the Spanish say, castle. Old San Juan has two, Castillo San Felipe del
Water Activities at the Condado Plaza Hilton
After a day exploring Old San Juan, the Condado Plaza 24-hour pool area is the perfect place to relax. The lush green grass of the lawn, with blue lounge chairs is perfect for resting in the ocean breezes. The main pool complex has a salt-water pool, as well as a larger pool with swim up bar and water slide and baby pool for the kids. Off the pool area is a beach with swimming in an area protected from the larger ocean by a series of rocks. We went snorkeling off the beach. The hotel provided all the equipment, as well as an armband booklet of the types of fish we might see. Our trip was in December, when water is perfect for surfing, but it was a bit rough for snorkeling. Instead, take out a kayak or stand up paddleboard from the water sports desk located by the Condado Lagoon. Our group went kayaking and came upon three manatees that played with us as we paddled toward the other side where music festival was setting up.
I think four to six days imight be just enough for a return visit traveling to Puerto Rico with Kids. Of course, then we’d have to come back and explore the other parts of the island too.