Puerto Rico Vacation

In 2017, I made my first trip to Puerto Rico with my sister and our friend Amanda. We went to celebrate Amanda’s 30th birthday and the only stipulations were that we had to be able to get to where we were going quickly and the location had to be new to all three of us. So after many extensive searches on Google Flights, we settled on Puerto Rico. The direct flight couldn’t have been easier… we departed Charlotte on a Thursday morning and had five nights to spend in Puerto Rico.

I’m a pretty adventurous person, which means 9 times out of 10 I’m not the type to just want to sit at a resort pool and drink tequila unless I’m in Playa del Carmen. After all… I want to explore and take photos. So with a decent amount of time, we decided that we’d do a mini road trip. I anguished over the routing for a few days because so much of PR appealed to me. Ultimately, we chose west because I’m a bit of a surf-nerd and I’d always heard of this sleepy, surf town nestled in the northwest corner of Puerto Rico called Rincon.

On this trip, I took a Fuji Xpro 2 and an old, TLR, medium-format, film camera called a Yashicamat 124G, which is probably one of my favorite cameras to travel with for its size and inconspicuousness. Most passerby’s don’t even realize it’s a camera and that’s a huge advantage for street, or travel, photography. All of the images in this post were shot on my Yashicamat and developed at The Find Lab

The first series of images were shot on the first and last days of our trip when we stayed in Old San Juan to explore the older, historic sites of the city. We bookended the trip in this way to minimize any potential travel woes.

On our first night, we stayed at La Terrazza de San Juan, which is a beautiful, little boutique hotel in the heart of Old San Juan and last, was at the Caribe Hilton. If you’re in that area definitely check out the two castles overlooking the water… Castillo de San Cristóbal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Also, if you’re a coffee dork (like me), be sure to stop at Caficultura, near Plaza Colón, for a cappuccino.

Speaking of coffee…

After the first day in Old San Juan, we jumped in our rental car and set off into the mountains of central Puerto Rico (the Cordillera Central range) because I’d read about an awesome little coffee farm called Sandra Farms.

As it turns out, all the reviews of Sandra Farms were true… it’s situated high on top of a mountain with incredible views in every direction and the proprietors, Israel & Sandra, couldn’t have been nicer people. We spent the afternoon learning about their coffee process, touring the farm and sampling coffee on their wrap-around porch. They also have amazing homemade chocolate. We bought as much as we could carry home.

As an aside, the roads getting to Sandra Farm are narrow, windy and isolated. If you go, please make sure you have GPS or a working cell phone… my phone led us right to it, but we still had to call to make sure we had the right place. There’s not much out there, but the adventure is part of the appeal. Oh – and if you get out of the car to take photos on those roads, be mindful of stray dogs in the bushes… I almost got properly attacked… no thanks. Be safe.

Once the coffee tour wrapped, we jumped back in the car and drove out of the mountains heading for our main rental in Rincon. I’d read about a place called Pelican Point on Sandy’s Beach, which looked perfect for our needs and, honestly, I think I’d stay there every time due to its incredible backyard right on the beach.

Around Rincon, be sure to eat fish tacos at Cambija (pictured below) and check all of the beaches in the area… they’re all pretty different. My favorite is Sandy’s, but the sunsets over near Step’s and Tres Palmas are incredible.

If the weather is nice and you want a good day trip, drive south through Mayagüez to Cabo Rojo and spend the day exploring the lighthouse, cliffs, and beach area. Be sure to take everything you’d need for a day away though because there’s not much out there (it’s a national park). The roads are dirt and littered with pot-holes so take your time, but it’s not that bad… we rented a Kia Soul and were fine. If this kind of afternoon sounds fun to you, go… you won’t regret it. It’s definitely a local kinda spot, with few tourists, which I love.

Sadly, after this amazing trip hurricane Maria decimated the island, which it’s still recovering from today. If you get the opportunity, go visit and help the locals. Sabrina and I are planning a trip real soon! Stay tuned for another blog with the images I shot on the Fuji Xpro 2.

If you have any photography, or travel-related questions, just shoot me an email at jimtricephotography@gmail.com