Puerto Rico Tourism – 11 Amazing Activities (From the Local Perspective!)

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Are you thinking about visiting Puerto Rico? Great news! Despite all the negative news, Puerto Rico tourism is still going strong!

puerto-rico-tourism-rincon-beach

When it comes to visitors to Puerto Rico it’s not uncommon for tourists to follow a standard itinerary. Folks might stay at a big hotel, eat in familiar restaurants, and perhaps take one excursion.

But, they never have the opportunity to experience all of the activities that the island has to offer, especially from the perspective that the locals enjoy.

As such, and with the recent deluge of negative news surrounding Puerto Rico, I decided to reach out to eleven friends and acquaintance on island with a simple question.

“What activity are you truly enjoying in Puerto Rico right now that a tourist might not usually hear about or get to experience?”

The goal was to focus on some of the many positives that exist here on island, and perhaps more importantly, to highlight the fact that each of the individuals below are all working, in their own way, to change the narrative of how people view Puerto Rico.

1. Biking in San Juan

puerto-rico-tourism-condado-bike-laneimage credit: davsot

Biking in San Juan was suggested by José Padilla who is the co-founder of Blimp.

With respect to Puerto Rico tourism from a local’s perspective, José also mentioned, “I enjoy hiking on trails in Yunque, Roosevelt Roads, Cayey, etc…).

(Note: If you need to rent a bike while in Puerto Rico, check in with the good folks at Koishma Multi Sport Store.)

2. Old San Juan Children’s Museum

childrens-museum-puerto-rico

This great recommendation for families comes from Raul Colon who is an extremely talented photographer and the founder of Limonade Inc.

More info:
Old San Juan Children’s Museum website
Old San Juan Children’s Museum Facebook page

3. Exploring Brunch Options

la-mala-vida-puerto-rico-tourism

Axel Rivera provided this culinary activity.

Trying new places for brunch on Sundays. There are many new options in San Juan. So far I’ve been to Mala Vida, Tostado, & John Doe’s. There is also Abracadabra (was the first to start the trend) and La Waflera in Old San Juan.

Axel is an iOS and Ruby developer and he is the creator of the active Facebook Group Startup After Hours.

4. Professional Basketball Games

vaqueros-bayamonimage credit: Vaqueros Bayamon

“Cheap seats. Cheap beers.” ~Luis

Luis S. Herrero is the founder of Explorer Media and  works for the team Vaqueros de Bayamón.  He recommends attending a professional basketball game in Puerto Rico.

More info:

Promo video – https://www.facebook.com/vaquerosbayamon/videos/10153478846489668/

Baloncesto Superior Nacional or BSN (National Superior Basketball) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baloncesto_Superior_Nacional

Tickets – http://venta.prticket.com/

5. Surfing

surfing-rincon

The surfing recommendation comes from young entrepreneur and UPR Mayaguez graduate, Marcos Alonso Cruz.

“A great day for me would be surfing Marias on solid 6ft swell all day and finishing the day with a great smoothie watching the sunset at Tres Palmas.” ~Marcos

6. Jogging Around Condado Lagoon

condado-lagoonimage source: mherphotography

Carlos Cobian, founder and creator of Cobian Media & the H3 Conference, lays out a slew of fun Puerto Rico tourism activities from a local perspective.

“I like jogging every morning around the Condado Lagoon, going to La Parguera or Rincon during the weekends, spending the whole Saturday with the kids at Ventana al mar (breakfast in Ben & Jerry’s, lunch Di Parma and at night Ventana al Jazz).”

But wait… There’s more!!

“Thursday night dinner at Santaella, Lima, or Soda and then laugh your ass off at Teatro Breve.” ~Carlos

7. Getting Lost on Puerto Rico’s Rural Roads

rural-puerto-rico

The recommendation to get lost on Puerto Rico’s rural roads comes from my friend Joaquín Rodríguez Kierce.

“There’s something magnificent about narrow roads surrounded by vegetation and the branches of flamboyanes reaching to the other side. The mix of red, green, yellow, blue… There’s something sublime about it. And it reminds you to enjoy the journey.” ~Joaquín

Joaquín makes Neuron Igniters which are unique drawings that will make you think and contemplate positive action!

8. Bomba y Plena (Folk music)

el-boricua

The bomba y plena offering comes from the founder of Brands of Puerto Rico, Alan Mikahil Urayoan Taveras.

“I love a couple of things but my favorite has to be watching a live bomba y plena at el Boricua in Rio Piedras with friends….best bar ever!” ~Alan

9. Jogging Through Old San Juan (plus some bonus ideas!)

old-san-juanimage source: Prayitno

At number nine, Miguel Moreda, founder of Porto Capital, gives a virtual guidebook’s worth of local activities for tourists to do in Puerto Rico.

“I love jogging through Old San Juan and then stopping for brunch / breakfast / coffee in any of the local shops.” ~Miguel

Some added bonus ideas from Miguel!

– Shopping at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday at Old San Juan.

– Walking up to El Morro after stopping at the supermarket and having a picnic. Very nice.

– Other days I bike to Condado with my beach chair on the back… and after having breakfast / brunch / lunch / then stopping at Ocean Park and dipping into the Ocean.

– Another thing I do frequently is dine at the many local eateries in Old San Juan.

10. Balneario de Carolina (Carolina Public Beach)

balneario-carolina

The next suggestion for visitors looking to get off the tourist trail comes from Manny Morales. Manny is the Founder and CEO of Grasslark.

“I just had two very enjoyable Saturdays. I actually spent the entire day (8AM – 5PM) at the Balneario de Carolina in my oldest daughter’s Beach Volleyball tournament – Festivol. I believe it runs the next couple of Saturdays till mid August. It is very well organized and the beach is very nice.” ~Manny

11. Westside Getaway

rincon-puerto-rico

The eleventh and final recommendation comes from serial entrepreneur Ramphis Castro.

“I love the obvious ones: weekend getaway in Rincon/Aguadilla/Isabela. I like brunch at Cafe Loto in Santurce.” ~Ramphis

BONUS Late 12th Addition!

12. Toroverde Adventure Park

toroverde-adventure-park

Chief Button Pusher at Seriously Creative, Angiemille Latorre, had a couple  a couple of late additions to the list. Angie recommends Toroverde Adventure Park, Congreso de la Salsa, and La Ruta del Chinchorreo.

If *YOU* are visiting Puerto Rico and hope to experience the island like a local,  you now have enough ideas to keep you occupied for a couple of weeks!

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How “Code and Stay” Packages can Work for Puerto Rico Tourism

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Puerto Rico has tremendous year round weather!

Would you rather be freezing, working and coding in NYC or Boston all winter long? Or would you like a respite from the frostbite on the sunny beaches of Puerto Rico?

Imagine, you can get on a plane during a blizzard, wearing your ushanka, and about three and half hours later step out into blazing sunshine in shorts and flip-flops.

(Note: For those that might not know, “code/coding,” as it’s used here is meant to be analogous to computer programming/hacking, creating apps, and developing online platforms for business and money making purposes.)

There’s been a lot of not so great news coming out of Puerto Rico lately regarding residents leavingthe debt burden, and lost jobs.

But on the flipside, Puerto Rico was just voted “Best Caribbean Island” by the readers of USA Today! (How’s that for irony?)

It’s easy to see why it was voted number one! Puerto Rico has something for everybody with sandy beaches, the rainforest, world-class resorts, intimate Inns, great food, impressive culture, friendly people, and the list goes on and on.

Puerto Rico Best Caribbean Island

While there is, sadly, an undeniable “brain drain” happening in Puerto Rico, what about the “brain rush?” Specifically, those skilled and entrepreneurial minded travelers who come to the island for a week, ten days, or even for a month.

How do we connect them, promote collaboration, and knowledge give-and-take, while they’re in Puerto Rico?

Well, what you might not know — through all of the noise — is that there’s a tremendously dedicated group of talented individuals seeking to change Puerto Rico’s economic trajectory through entrepreneurship, technical innovation, and creativity.

Game changers like Marcos PolancoRamphis Castro, and Dana Montenegro, and startups like BlimpKytelabsAnt Rocket, and Piloto 151 are shaping Puerto Rico’s future economy; via one day of work and one line of code at a time.

You might be thinking, “How does the Puerto Rico Tourism fit into all this?”

To which I would answer, it all starts with a Tweet. You see, my former Launch Academy Coding Bootcamp cohort-mate, Zach Young, and I were having a Twitter conversation and he mentioned that he “keeps seeing photos posted of Puerto Rico” and stated, “I need to get out there!”

Then the “light bulb” went off and I sent the following Tweet to Puerto Rico Tourism Company as a way to start the discussion and to have them think about becoming the conduit between travelers and locals.

puerto rico tourism twitter

To their credit, Puerto Rico Tourism replied and suggested I “DM,” which I did.

twitter puerto rico tourism 2

The idea behind – (choose your name) “Code & Stay,” or “Hack & Surf,” or “Collaboration in Paradise” – packages would be to create even more avenues for information exchange, technical inspiration, and creative growth here in Puerto Rico.

Fact: Talented individuals (like Baris at Google) are traveling to Puerto Rico for vacation. However, unlike Baris, many visitors might not know how to connect or get involved with the entrepreneurial community here who are working to launch something brilliant and world changing.

That’s where “Code & Stay” packages come in. For a bit of vacation time mentoring entrepreneurs, giving presentations, or pair programming (or live coding) visitors to Puerto Rico — who are in the entrepreneurial and tech world — could get packages with reduced rates, guaranteed upgrades, or other booking incentives.

Specifically, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, in conjunction with a group like Startups of Puerto Rico, could perhaps initiate the discussion with a forward thinking airline like JetBlue, and approach hotels like the San Juan Marriott, the DoubleTree, and the Intercontinental San Juan. Or, conversely, maybe smaller boutique properties like Andalucia Guest House, Acacia Boutique Hotel, San Juan Water & Beach Club would be willing to discount room rates or offer other enticements.

You get the point.

How does this benefit the traveler, tourism, and the local entrepreneurs?

In order to be successful, all good ideas must solve a problem or provide some type of benefit(s). The following are just a few of the possible, tangible outcomes:

The visitor – Besides coming to an amazing destination, they would get a real cultural experience and have the opportunity to interact with some of the brightest and most talented folks in Puerto Rico. That’s not even mentioning (hopefully) discounted travel and a place to work like Piloto 151.

Most importantly, I believe that the traveler stands to share their knowledge, while at the same time, learning a lot and getting educated about the “Best Caribbean Island.” In the grandest of outcomes, maybe they come back and invest or create jobs here.

The Puerto Rico tech & entrepreneurial community – Certainly, with social media, the barriers of global communication have been largely dissolved. However, collaborating with someone in person on a business idea, or hearing an outside perspective on entrepreneurship, or working to solve a particularly tricky coding problem, has intrinsic value.

Even though there are fantastic tech and entrepreneurial meetups on island, sometimes it can feel as though you are working in a vacuum. Outside connection and perspective can sometimes be the antidote and solution to pushing a creative idea further.

Puerto Rico tourism – As a former hotel owner here in Puerto Rico I can tell you that these early adopters of technology and entrepreneurs are exactly the type of guest that we wanted staying with us. They are the bloggers, the Twitter power users, and addicts of Instagram who will help to grow a hotels digital presence by writing, Tweeting, and posting about the island, their interactions with the creative community, and the properties they’re staying at.

With respect to global tourism, creating a “Code & Stay” promotion is an innovative approach to marketing the island as a destination and no other location has such a program.

In closing, the above post is meant to just get the initial idea out to the greater world and to create a discussion amongst stakeholders like the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Startups of Puerto Rico, and travelers to the island.

Certainly, more thought, dialogue, and “packaging” needs to go into the “Stay and Code” concept. Please offer your input and thoughts below on how you might structure this idea for success or share on Twitter.

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Sun, Surf, and Startups – ebook highlighting Puerto Rico’s Tech & Creative Entrepreneurs

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Puerto Rico certainly has no shortage of innovation, creativity, or entrepreneurs (see: EnterprizePR).

However, during the past couple of years the island has experienced a surge in the tech startup industry. From Bar Camp to Startup Weekend, and Hackathons to a chapter of the Founder Institute — a community is evolving and the participants are going to be helping to shape the future economy.

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Over a year ago I was sitting on the ferry traveling from Culebra to San Juan, Puerto Rico to attend a meetup organized by Marcos Polanco and Ramphis Castro. Having witnessed (from the periphery) for a few years the remarkable group of talented, driven and creative technical folks, I thought about how I might contribute to the community and help to get the message out. The ebook — Sun, Surf, and Startups — is the result of that initial brainstorming session and you can download it by clicking on the cover below (or this shortlink http://bit.ly/10I83Ux) .

puerto rico startups

 

Seemingly, everyday I learn about new people involved in startups here in Puerto Rico who are taking the global community by storm. During the last week alone I learned about Sparkative, Tommie HernandezNGEN, and Rebexa.

PLEASE, if you are an entrepreneur in Puerto Rico or are familiar with individuals not profiled in version one, put their info below or let us know about them. The sole purpose of the ebook, and its future versions, is to create an additional communication node that draws light on Puerto Rico’s tech and creative startup initiatives.

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