What all New Jerseyans need from trip is to be transported exterior our tiresome loop of visitors congestion and potholes—right into a world with a extra tranquil tempo and, maybe, a extra colourful backdrop.
Someway Caribe Hilton does this inside seconds of arrival, inviting friends to dive head-first into its alluring and historic beachfront property in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Like every good Northeasterner looking for a palm tree and a frozen drink, I checked in early. And from the second I pulled as much as Caribe’s open-air foyer—only a nimble 10-minute drive from the airport—I instantly left my footwear and suitcase on the entrance desk and made my means towards the swimming pools whereas I waited for my room. (One of the best half, although, is I didn’t even want to attend for my passport renewal within the mail as a way to journey.)
Traversing the frequent space, little design cues pay homage to Caribe Hilton’s storied previous. The resort, initially constructed in 1949, was Hilton’s inaugural institution past america mainland and rapidly turned a well-liked vacation spot for celebrities and prosperous vacationers—together with Elizabeth Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr., and David Rockefeller. Nevertheless, even in 2023, it’s not unusual to identify a celeb or two on the resort.
Immediately, the resort’s ambiance, which was as soon as evocative of the Nineteen Fifties, has now develop into extra family-oriented after a latest multi-million greenback renovation following Hurricane Maria in 2019. A well known landmark within the metropolis, Caribe boasts 652 suites and rooms that span 17 acres throughout its waterfront property, teeming with tropical gardens, ponds, a number of swimming pools, a secluded seashore, and a resident peacock.
Probably the most iconic reality, nevertheless, is that Caribe Hilton was the originator of the piña colada cocktail again in 1954 when Ramón Marrero labored a number of months concocting a mix of rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice, which was ultimately launched to resort-goers that summer season.
After all, I needed to sit in the identical place the beloved drink was conceptualized—Caribar (initially referred to as The Beachcomber)—and order my very personal. And wow, the easy recipe, together with rum, coconut cream, and pineapple, lived as much as the drink’s legacy.
The bartender used Ron del Barrilito, a superior Puerto Rican rum, to display the drink’s building and historical past—which made for fairly presumably the perfect piña colada I’ve ever had. That stated, regardless of the place you go on the property, together with Bagua Bar—Caribe’s outside swim-up bar—even the piña coladas made with home rum trumped that of the dozen others I’ve had in Puerto Rico, together with a number of high eating places. Name me a vacationer, however style buds don’t lie. In my years of globetrotting, I’d be hard-pressed to recollect an occasion the place my resort was slinging higher drinks than a lot of the native eating places.
The meals choices at Caribe Hilton are as spectacular as the dimensions of the resort itself. A number of full-service eating places can be found simply steps from the frequent space, which was nice for the nights I returned to the resort after a protracted day within the solar.
Although all seashores in San Juan are public, Caribe Hilton’s seashore creates a way of privateness because it extends throughout a self-contained cove, giving it a secluded and unique ambiance. What’s extra, the cove breaks lots of the waves, making for a leisurely swim simply steps exterior the resort. It was precisely what I wanted after a day of trekking by El Yunque, the nation’s tropical rainforest.
Rooms at Caribe Hilton are minimalist and easy, adorned with bone-white hues and touches of seafoam, drawing inspiration from mid-century-modern design—once more calling again to its historical past. Each room features a balcony, offering friends with picturesque views of both the ocean or the luxurious tropical gardens on the property. Fortunately, although, I snagged an ocean-front room, and the balcony vibes didn’t disappoint.
United flights go on to San Juan from Newark, NJ (about three or 4 hours). The costs are comparatively cheap to different locations, making visits like mine extraordinarily economical for Jersey vacationers. Did I point out you don’t want your passport?
What to Do Whereas Staying at Caribe Hilton
One of many greatest facilities of Caribe Hilton—except for its health middle, tennis courts, and spa—is its location. Located amidst the charming ambiance of the colourful Condado Seashore and the historic attraction of Viejo San Juan (and fewer than an hour from the nationwide park), journey is rarely far.
Viejo San Juan
Just like the airport, the historic Previous San Juan is only a 10-minute drive from Caribe Hilton. Previous San Juan is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico, relationship again to the early sixteenth century. The historic district is characterised by slim cobblestone streets, pastel-colored buildings, and spectacular fortresses, together with the enduring Castillo San Felipe del Morro. The world is famend for its cultural significance, that includes a variety of museums, galleries, and reside performances.
Nevertheless, I’ll admit, I principally ate my means by town. Whereas it’s finest to do your analysis to search out the perfect eating places right here, I discovered it extraordinarily useful to guide a meals tour to not solely check out completely different cuisines but in addition get a deal with on navigation (shoutout to Flavors of San Juan Excursions). It’s additionally simply lots of enjoyable to mash your individual mofongo.
In case you do nothing else exterior of Caribe, make it a go to to El Yunque Nationwide Forest. Positioned only a 45-minute drive from the resort, El Yunque Rainforest is a lush oasis nestled throughout the northeastern nook of Puerto Rico. It is without doubt one of the solely tropical rainforests in america Nationwide Forest system. Boasting picturesque trails and cascading waterfalls, it’s the perfect place to come across distinctive natural world discovered nowhere else on the island.
If it’s your first time visiting, it’s finest to guide a good tour information. I personally advocate Bespoke, their guides are educated and easily know learn how to have time. They’ll additionally sometimes cease at seashores like Luquillo, the place you’ll be able to take a dip within the ocean and have lunch earlier than heading dwelling (take a look at Edelweiss Bar & Grill for seafood if you happen to cease right here).
Day Journey to Culebra or Vieques
Admittedly, it could show time-consuming to get to one in all these islands through ferry (about an hour of journey time) if you happen to’re solely going for the day. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re prepared to take the journey or fly in, you’ll see a few of Puerto Rico’s finest seashores, snorkeling spots, and naturally, Bioluminescence. Earlier than visiting both island, you should definitely guide a rental car (ideally a UTV) earlier than arriving.
Nevertheless, if you happen to’re eager on kayaking by a Bioluminescence bay and experiencing the water glow off your paddle after darkish, there are many different choices in locations like Fajardo. Most kayak excursions are round two hours.
In regards to the Creator/s
Michael is the Editor-in-Chief of New Jersey Digest, COO of X Issue Media, and an avid author. Rising up in Bergen County, he found his ardour for phrases whereas in Friday detention. Michael loves kayaking, a fats glass of Nebbiolo, and over-editing.