Museum of Art and Centro Bellas de Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Explore the incredible Art scene of San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Museo de Arts de Puerto Rico and the surrounding neighborhood.

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Puerto Rico is known for amazing beaches and a variety of rum drinks, including the famous Pina Colada.  What about Art?  Today, I set out to explore the art scene in Puerto Rico, starting with the capital of San Juan.

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Over view of Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Overview of Fajardo, Puerto Rico for Seven Seas beach, Bio Bay kayaking tours, scuba, dining, and the El Conquistador hotel.

Our first experience with Puerto Rico was Old San Juan, and I was hooked!  When planning our next visit, we knew we needed more time, and we wanted to explore several areas of the island.  We started in beautiful Isla Verde, just outside of San Juan, then rented a car and headed out to Fajardo for a few days.  Six months later, I find myself back in Fajardo.

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Fajardo is an hour East of San Juan, at the meeting point for the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on the Northeast tip of the island.  Fajardo boasts one of the world’s rare bioluminescent bays, a must-see at night during the new moon, when it is darkest.

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El Conquistador Resort Review | Fajardo, Puerto Rico

For the luxury portion of our Puerto Rico vacation, we checked into paradise, officially known as the El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf-Astoria property.  It has that Latin America laid back culture, but quite posh at the same time.

El Conquistador pool view from lobby
El Conquistador pool view from lobby overlooking the Ocean
EC room

Our room was simple, with sunken bathtub and huge walk-in closet.  The real in-room feature is the balcony!

View from the Balcony
View from the Balcony

The resort property is massive, with a little bit of everything.  Just getting there involved driving through the enormous golf course (slight pun intended).  There are several pools on each level, complete with poolside cafes, and many different restaurants.  The engineering geeks (us) were very excited for the funicular, an inclined plane cable car, to carry passengers safely up & down the steep incline from the Lobby to a lower room level and the marina.

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Beach getaway in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

Outside of San Juan, just a few minutes from the Airport, is beautiful Isla Verde district of Carolina, Puerto Rico.  Close enough to Old San Juan for the tourists, convenient for business in San Juan city center, and perched on the northern coast beach.  We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott, but any of the beach front hotels in Isla Verde or Condado are a good choice.  The area is a popular destination for business conventions, family vacations, and weekend getaways from the Mainland South and East Coast cities.

Isla Verde and Condado, Puerto Rico
Isla Verde and Condado, Puerto Rico

A rental car is not necessary, but Enterprise rental car is down the block for any island adventures outside of San Juan.

Beach gazebos
Beach gazebos

The beaches are clean with perfect temperature water year round.  All beaches are open to the public and there are many beach gazebos and facilities.

Unlike many islands in the Caribbean, we did not see any vendors on the beach. It was pleasant not to be disturbed by t-shirt sellers and various hawkers.

Each of the resorts offer beach chairs and umbrellas to guests.  There are jet ski rentals and surf schools all along the beach.

Isla Verde Courtyard Marriott
Isla Verde Courtyard Marriott pools and beach front

Isla Verde offers plenty of delicious, local restaurants walking distance from the beach.

Can-Can pork chop from Platos
Can-Can pork chop from Platos

After extensive research, I am happy to report that Platos Restaurant serves excellent pork and the best Pina Colada in San Juan (even better than Barrachina – home of the Pina Colada!).  Other local restaurants worth eating at are Piu Bella, Metropol, and Las Canarias Bakery (24 hour bakery, serving sandwiches & breakfast).

My favorite spot to read
My favorite spot to read

Mayans in Cancun, Mexico | Exploring Mayan History Steps from the Beach

The most well-known Mayan ruins and archaeological sites are in the interior of Mexico and Central America which can be difficult to visit, often requiring long car or bus rides.  The nearest airport to Chichen Itza is Cancun and then it is still several hours travel by car.  There are two noteworthy Mayan sites located within Cancun.

El Rey
El Rey

El Rey
El Rey

El Rey is located along the Hotel Zone of Cancun, tucked away behind large trees and a small sign.  For 43 pesos (per person) this hidden gem is an old Mayan village for exploration.  The area surrounding the structures is cut back leaving very little shade.  The site opens at 8 AM for the coolest temperatures.  There are plenty of signs in both Spanish and English translation.

View of modern hotel in the distance at the El Rey site
View of modern hotel in the distance at the El Rey site

The entire site takes less than an hour to walk and take a few photos.

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The Mayan Museum, Museo Maya de Cancun, is just down the street from the El Rey site.  The museum opens at 9 am, one hour later than El Rey, allowing for a full morning of Mayan history. At a mere 57 pesos, the entrance fee is one of the best bargains in Cancun!

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