Monday, December 23, 2013

Why Isla Verde is the best place to stay in Puerto Rico

Most of the Caribbean Islands that I have visited give you two basic choices of accommodations (if you are lucky) – The big fancy resort or the small funky guest house. Puerto Rico has other options and the Isla Verde area (see map) is a great place to find the kind of stay you want. Isla Verde is right next to the airport between the beach and lagoon. It is a tourist center, but it also has many Puerto Rican amenities.

Let’s start with the feel of Isla Verde. It is a tourist area. However it is also the place that many locals come to go to the beach. So the area has shops and restaurants for both groups of people. It gives Isla Verde a down home feeling that Condado (the other San Juan resort area) doesn’t have. There are restaurants for all income groups including many that serve criollo cooking. I strongly recommend MiCasita Restaurant for inexpensive down-home cooking. It is also served by 2 supermarkets and 2 Walgreens drug stores

Isla Verde is also well served by the San Juan public transportation system. It is a 40 min bus ride from the Old San Juan bus terminal (near the port) and the new convention center. This means that you don’t NEED a car, especially if you are here to just sit on the beach. On the other hand there are 3 local car rental agencies in the area. Isla Verde sits on route 26, on the main highways into San Juan. This route connects with the other main highways (autopistas) so getting from here to other parts of the island is easy, as long as you don’t hit traffic (here called tapon).

Isla Verde has many high end, beach-front hotels. The El San Juan Hotel and Casino (here) and the Intercontinental (here) are two old fashioned resort hotels on the beach. There are others. The area also has its share of funky guest houses.  But what makes this area our favorite are these factors.

Isla Verde has a long history of condominium development. Not time shares, but full owned condos. That means that there are a lot of condo owners who are looking to rent their apartments. This trip we rented a 2 bedroom over-looking the beach for $2500 for the month. There are other condos and prices will range based on amenities and distance from the beach. Many of the condos come with parking included (a perk that hotel don’t offer). But the main reason we love Isla Verde is this:

To the east

To the west

This is the view from our apartment. One of the nicest beaches on the island. We can walk the beach in the morning. Sit under a tree and watch the water. There are places to rent ski-doos, banana boat rides, and paragliding.

All of these things together make Isla Verde our home away from home whenever we come to Puerto Rico.

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