For the past five years, our vacations have veered towards all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. The first time we travelled to an all-inclusive we had three kids and I was pregnant with my fourth. It was sheer bliss. The second time we chose this route, we had a six month infant in tow. The all-inclusive brand of vacation worked for us.
Until it didn’t.
On our last vacation we spent ten days in a lovely resort in Punta Cana. Safiya and Amir had a blast. Amir’s highlight each day was riding the train themed tram that transported us from our rooms to the main building where the restaurants were housed.
The highlight for the rest of us was the buffet. Three times a day.
Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.
I kid you not.
Mealtimes were our primary source of entertainment. We were that bored. I gained 5 lb. in 10 days.
When the kids were younger, my ideal vacation was to have someone else worry about what the kids would eat. And the dishes. And making the beds.
This year has been a turning point for us. It was important that the country we chose to visit played a more significant role in our vacation experience.
I was left in charge (as usual) for picking the destination and it was fun researching the possibilities. I had my heart set on Panama but the cost of airline tickets plays a BIG role in where we end up and this time was no different. Flying to Panama was way over budget. In the end we travelled to Puerto Rico.
Although I wanted to visit a city with a tangible history, I was also nervous about the kids and didn’t want Safiya and Amir to be disappointed.
We did a bit of everything.
We spent the first five days on the East coast in Fajardo where we could spend a day on the famous Luquillo Beach and visit the El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System. The kids also had access to the pool in the condo we rented.
We then drove an hour and a half to the city of Old San Juan.
The picturesque, narrow cobbled streets were lined with buildings painted in distinct pastel colours (see picture at top of post).
We explored El Morro, Old San Juan’s most recognizable landmark. It is one of the two Spanish forts that date back to the 16th century. For over 400 years it protected the shipping route from the new world to the old.
San Juan is home to some incredible architecture. I could go on.
But I won’t.
We also went caving and zip lining.
The icing on the cake (at least for me) was a visit to a local lighthouse; something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was little. For some reason I’ve never got around to it.
Until now :)
There’s something just a little special about being on top of a lighthouse!
I was quite anxious about the younger kids being bored on this trip but they had a lovely time and got to see and do things they wouldn’t normally have a chance to at home.
The trip surpassed all our expectations and I’m happy to say we’re okay with saying goodbye to all-inclusive resorts :)
I can’t wait to see which country we explore next year :)