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We arrived in San Juan last October on the Explorer of the Seas which docks right in Old San Juan right next to the new pier (not the one all the way around the bay near the airport). Even from the closest pier, the walk to El Morro is completely uphill (and steep in some places too) and it is devilishly HOT in Old San Juan (they say it is the hottest place in the Caribbean and now I believe them!)
I think you would be much happier taking a quick cab or trolley ride from the pier up the hill to the fort and then walk back DOWN to the dock at your own pace. The taxicabs are PLENTIFUL just off the pier (mostly air-conditioned white vans) and I think the little green trolley is free (though VERY slow).
We even thought the walk from the fort parking area to the fort entrance was difficult as well. It is a long sandy/grassy stretch with zero shade (the palm trees were all blown down and not replaced) and a park service sign at the start warns you to "carry enough water" with you to make it back! Thank heaven for those shaved ice cones they sell on every corner! Don't forget to bring a hat!
All in all, we really loved Old San Juan and it has some special architecture, great shops and restaurants and magical green spaces along its narrow and winding cobblestone streets.
BTW: half of our group took the RCI rainforest tour and they said EVERYONE who was on that bus with them was thoroughly disappointed. It was a three hour round trip in difficult traffic that took up almost their whole time in PR. The Royal Caribbean excursion does NOT stop at the picturesque falls that you can swim in but rather at the smaller (Coca?) falls right next to the roadside guardrails. They also did not go to the $12 million "El Centro" rainforest museum and were barely able to eat a quick bite at a "cheesy" roadside tourist trap on the way back. They said all trails they went on were paved, they never saw ANY wildlife, and did not like the tour guide. I saw all their photos and videos (because I was supposed to go on the tour with them but my husband did not want to ride in a bus that long) and they were all of mediocre forests with the exception of some spectacular mountaintop photos they took from some tower. Sorry to be so negative but they all said that was the one thing they wished they had skipped on our whole vacation.
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Last edited by Best Buds; February 23rd, 2007 at 03:33 AM.
We also enjoyed the lovely walk through the quaint street to El Morro and then walked back along the sea side to another fort (oops forgot the name). We were there in this month and it was lovely..not too hot. Take water with you. On Sundays the local kids were flying their kites on the huge grassy areas of El Morro..it was a beautiful site. Like a previous poster stated there is a free green trolley that takes you for free to El Morro ~ have a great trip..Els
Teenagers would love the rain forest...enviroment is nice...of course they need a good tour guide. If your port is in Isla Grande you need to take a cap. If your port in in old san juan you can walk for 15 minutes