Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Riss’s Travel Guide: San Juan, Puerto Rico

I’m giving you the ultimate travel guide to paradise! Follow my journey through San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you buy products through my links, I’ll receive commission. However, these are all products I bought myself because I love them!

How I Got There

My boyfriend Nick surprised me with tickets to Puerto Rico on my 19th birthday..and boy was I excited! The only places I’ve ever visited in the past were between Texas and Florida. Nick’s mom grew up in San Juan, so his family planned a trip to visit where she grew up. Being able to join them was such a blessing! I highly recommend visiting Puerto Rico. It is so beautiful, and there are so many things to do from landscape to cityscape.

Birthday Surprise - Jewelry and Journey

19 year old Riss taking a selfie…

Follow in my footsteps. Here’s what I loved:

Isla Verde Beach

We stayed at the Marbella del Caribe on Isla Verde Beach. This is the perfect cost-effective location! We were within walking distance of the other fancy hotels if we wanted to dress up for the casino or clubs. However, our location was quieter, homier, and filled with natural light reminding me I was in the gorgeous Puerto Rico every morning. Best way to start the day? A walk down the beach of course!

Isla Verde Beach - Jewelry and Journey

How vintage does this beach pic look?!


Isla Verde Beach - Jewelry and Journey

Cheesin’ in my floaty!

I spent my time at the beach riding the waves in my inflatable, orange floaty (truly surprised at the speed you can catch on waves in a floaty!!). Meanwhile, the boys played paddleball, which is a very popular beach sport in Puerto Rico. When I tried, I spent more time running to get the ball than keeping it in the air. Something else I learned I’m not good at is water sports. I thought Nick driving a jet ski was scary until it was my turn… Besides the fact that we almost capsized one too many times, I don’t think I’ll ever get over my fear of sharks. Despite that, I would do it again in a heartbeat because sometimes you just need a little thrill. 😉 Isla Verde is nothing short of a great time, and the sand and water are perfect.

Isla Verde Beach - Jewelry and Journey

That smile was before I realized what I was getting myself into

El Yunque National Rainforest

You don’t have to like nature or hiking to fall in love with El Yunque Rainforest. Step one foot on the path, and you’re hooked. I never get the opportunity to hike especially in a rainforest with waterfalls. Even as you view the landscape of the entire city, there’s always a cloudiness in the direction of the rainforest.

El Yunque Rainforest - Jewelry and Journey

El Yunque Rainforest - Jewelry and Journey

This rainforest is so lush with greenery walking through makes you feel like you’re in a magical world. We ate lunch sitting on rocks in front of a mini waterfall trickling down a large rock wall. It’s the little things in life the are so wonderful. <3

El Yunque Rainforest - Jewelry and Journey

Me posing in front of said rock

But wait it gets better…take the La Mina Trail to La Mina Falls. This waterfall enters into a natural pool. The water is FREEZING even in summer but so refreshing after your hike! We all braved the cold and swam around and stood under the rushing water. I promise it doesn’t seem so cold once you’re in there! My only regret on this vacation was being such a ninny and taking forever to get into the water. Just do it!

El Yunque Rainforest - Jewelry and Journey

La Mina Falls

Old San Juan

Old San Juan is a vibrant city that reminds me of a clean French Quarter. There are colorful buildings, local boutiques, authentic art, and street food. *heart eyes* Walking around, you can find a Puerto Rican snoball known as a piragua. But my favorite street treat was the coco helado. I’d buy another plane ticket to taste that again! (Fun fact: Talenti Caribbean Coconut is pretty similar but NOT the same.)

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

My first and not my last coco helado

And since we are on the topic of food, I also discovered one of my favorite Puerto Rican dishes at Café Manolín. It’s a small cafe in a bright purple building {so cute}. This dish is called mofongo, and you must try it! It’s fried plantains caved around a seasoned meat of your choice and served with my favorite side dish of black beans and rice. (Nick’s family not only helped me get over my fear of beans but made me obsessed with black beans and red beans. I owe them my life! lol)

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

Smiling after eating my mofongo

Another must-do in Old San Juan is visiting the Parque de las Palomas, which translates to risk catching a disease by paying $1 to be flocked by a bunch of pigeons. I’ll admit, this seemed like something I wanted to observe more than do. It took me a whole lot of observing before I said “When in Rome..err Puerto Rico.”

Parque de las Palomas, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

When in Puerto Rico my friends!

The park has hundreds of pigeons just walking around. Someone is usually there selling birdseeds by the bag for $1. Open that bag, all hell breaks lose. I have to admit I was no Cinderella while summoning these birds.

Parque de las Palomas, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

And this is what I call “Fake it till you make it.” I look like a bird keeper!

{Shop my green sunnies here}

Last, you can’t visit Old San Juan without a trip to El Morro. Perfect for all of the history buffs out there! Long story short, the fort was used to protect Puerto Rico and its Spanish colony. But if history isn’t your thing, the view of the San Juan Bay at the top is incredible. And if you’re lucky, your tour guide may be an iguana! They tend to crawl on the outside of the fort and bask in the sun.

El Morro, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

The path from Old San Juan to El Morro

Searching for sea glass

Nick’s mom shared a unique experience with us — searching for sea glass! She took us to an unpopulated shore where we were sure to find a plethora of it. At this time I had just started my jewelry business Geo By Riss, so we were excited to find pieces I could use in my work!

Geo By Riss Sea Glass Jewelry - Jewelry and Journey

The fun part about searching for sea glass is the competition to find the most rare colors. Clear and brown are very common colors, and sapphire, ruby, and emerald are the most unique. Go figure!! I left with some winning pieces though. 🙂 It was a fun activity while watching the sun set.

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

Me winning, Nick losing. (jk jk he was a great helper)

El San Juan Hotel’s Club Brava

Of course we explored some of Puerto Rico’s nightlife! We went to Club Brava, and I must say it was a night for the books. The vibe overall was so fun and energetic. You could hear everyone singing the Spanish songs while they danced the night away. Imagine adult Kids Bop…but slightly less weird lol.

Brava, El San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico - Jewelry and Journey

Watching the Sunrise

When you go out to the club make sure to stay awake long enough to watch the sunrise! Ok, did I have you fooled? I absolutely did not do that because I am a grandma, but I did set an alarm in the morning to watch it! It happens so fast, so don’t miss it. It’s just another experience that couldn’t be recreated too often.

Marbella del Caribe Sunset View - Jewelry and Journey

I hope you have the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico some day. I cannot wait to go back and explore deeper into the Caribbean island. If you’ve been before, make sure to comment what you liked most about your trip!

San Juan, Puerto Rico Travel Guide - Jewelry and Journey