Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Puerto Rican Honeymoon: Day Trip to Arecibo

Puerto Rico, honeymoon, Arecibo, maps
Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. Stars and text my own.

Beau and I arrived back home late late late the evening of April 6th, and honestly, the first few days back at work were ROUGH. We each took off 12 days from work for our wedding, our honeymoon, and our first wedding reception. It's nice being home again, but I miss our lazy days in Puerto Rico. Then again, our day trips from San Juan were far from lazy occasions...

While we spent most of our honeymoon in Puerto Rico enjoying the beach, the pool, and each other wink wink, Beau and I also took two day trips outside of San Juan to see other parts of the island. After spending the second full day of our honeymoon in Old San Juan, and relaxing the third day, the fourth day was the perfect time for an adventure! Beau carefully mapped out our trip to include four highlights:
Camuy River Cave Park, Puerto Rico, honeymoon, caving
Beau is a better photographer than I am
I am not an outdoorsy person. My idea of an adventure is going to a new museum or walking aimlessly through the streets of a big city. But Beau really wanted to see the cave system with the third-largest underground river in the world, and who was I to deny my new husband anything? Luckily for me, the paths in the cave are wide with gentle inclines, just right for caving novices, children, or people who have physical disabilities. 

We showed up to the Rio Camuy Caves Park around 10am. Unfortunately, we arrived at about the same time as a large school group who was given priority over other tourists. We waited more than half an hour before we were finally escorted into the small cinema. After watching the short film on the history and science of the cave system, the underground river, and the sinkhole, everyone lined up to board the trams.

We waited a good 15 minutes before we could board a tram. Then on the tram, we waited another 15 or so minutes before the second tram arrived for the rest of the group. I'm not sure if there was a mechanical error, or if they were trying to place extra distance between us and the school group, but I don't think all this waiting is normal for tourists. 

The tram ride was quite terrifying, and I thought I was going to die, but at least all the trees and plants were pretty. 

The caves were so much cooler than I thought they would be. The beauty and magnitude of the first cavern made me wonder aloud if we should have just gotten married there. 

After the caves, we grabbed a quick lunch at some small local sandwich shop. From there, we drove to the Arecibo Observatory, the biggest single-dish radio telescope in the world. 

Arecibo Observatory, science, Puerto Rico, telescope
Also Beau's picture
Climbing the hill to get to the telescope was quite the workout, but it was definitely worth it. Along the way, we stopped at each planet marker, which were spaced out to scale. The Visitor Center is essentially a small bilingual science museum with hands-on exhibits about the solar system, astronomy, weather, and more. 

The short introductory film alternates between English and Spanish versions, so we enjoyed the science exhibits while we waited for the English film. After the film, we were able to see the telescope itself.

Again, words really fail to describe the magnitude of this telescope. I had no idea a telescope could be so big. I'm in awe of the research done at this facility. 

The only annoying part is that the visit is set up so you end in the gift shop, unable to go back to the museum portion. We had to circle all the way around the building to the entrance to see the rest of the exhibits.  

After leaving the telescope, we went to a waterfall! It was off the main highway, but we miraculously made it down the narrow back road without dying or getting into a car wreck. 

waterfall, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, honeymoon

Yes, it was beautiful, and yes I was so happy that I might have jumped up and down clapping my hands, but the waterfall itself was not the best part.

Shortly after we arrived at the waterfall, two local women of a certain age showed up with a bottle of wine. One of them came over to Beau and me, who were taking a few selfies with the waterfall behind us. She offered to take our picture for us, in her limited English (still way better than our Spanish!). Beau's camera is annoyingly complicated, and we had just taken two successful pictures with the timer feature, so we declined. She asked us where we were from and what we were doing in Puerto Rico. She was SO NICE! Then she and her friend poured themselves a cup of wine each and waded out into the water, sitting on rocks by the waterfall. Beau and I were still hanging out, just enjoying being there, and she called over to us, asking Beau if he would take their picture. Of course he complied, because he's wonderful, and this woman was seriously so nice.

With all the cool things we saw that day, our interactions with this old woman and her friend were actually my favorite part of the day. When I am older, and my hair has turned gray, and my body has shown signs of childbirth and age, I hope that I can still maintain that joie de vivre of these women. I hope that I still drink wine with my besties and go off the beaten path to see a waterfall. I hope that I am still kind to strangers, even those who don't speak my language.

We ended our day trip with a quick visit to the outlet stores, which were on the way back to San Juan. Yes, we went all the way to Puerto Rico and shopped the outlets. Unfortunately, Ann Taylor didn't have anything I wanted in their petite section, so I just ended up restocking my supply of Old Navy ribbed tank tops. 

shopping, Puerto Rico, outlet malls, tank tops, Old Navy
This was the ugly green chair in our hotel room. It mostly held our open suitcase all week.
Yes, out of all the outlet stores, with all the designer options available to me, I bought six Old Navy tank tops. But they've been a wardrobe stable for 12 years, and they're a lot more expensive than they used to be. At the outlet store, they were the price I remember paying in high school: only $5 each!

All in all, our day trip to Arecibo was a great idea! I'm so grateful to Beau for planning out our entire day. He is quite talented at putting together an itinerary with routes marked and everything. Little does he know, he just signed himself up for a lifetime of vacation-planning...

More Puerto Rican stories coming soon!

Travel Tuesday



  1. Your honeymoon sounds so perfect! I love how you managed to fit in such a diversity of experiences in Puerto Rico. And LOVE the story about the women you met. Some of my favorite travel experiences have been striking up conversations with old women-- when I lived in Krakow I'd always knit on the tram to my school, and without fail it'd catch someone's attention and I'd get to practice my Polish and talk about my project!

    1. It really was perfect! Between all the awesome honeymoon sex, we really did enjoy the best of what Puerto Rico has to offer. I probably won't have time to write a new travel post today (this one took more than a week to compose and edit and format), but I have more exciting adventures to share!

      Meeting local people or other travelers has often been my favorite part of traveling, especially traveling alone. I met some awesome, very diverse people in hostels when I traveled by myself.

  2. Thanks for linking up! And CONGRATS! I still don't know where we're honeymooning yet, and we only have until October to decide.... How did you pick Puerto Rico? And I've heard lots of people shop in PR because there's no export tax haha.


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