Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Raices Fountain | Kale and Ale

In front of Raices Fountain.

This is part three of three focusing on my Caribbean vacation. Read about St. Croix food and St. Croix activities.

Coming back from St. Croix Aaron and I decided to extend our Caribbean vacation a little longer by having a 24-hour layover in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We took a small plane from St. Croix over the most beautiful water to San Juan.

Once we landed we hopped in a cab to Old San Juan. Riding on the interstate, I felt like I was in Miami, but once we entered Old San Juan, with its very narrow, brick streets and colorful buildings that touch one another, I knew I was somewhere special. On first impression I called it a Spanish New Orleans, but it’s its own special place.

We made it to our boutique hotel Monastery Art Suite, which I recommend. It’s a great location, the owner Elena is great and the room is full of old-world charm yet modern. Elena has good recommendations on local places to visit. We freshened up and hit the streets to explore.

We grabbed some coffee and made our way down the tree-lined open street Paseo de la Princesa, stopping at a sculpture park off to the side. Heading east, the street ends at the large Raices Fountain. This is next to the governor’s mansion and leaders to a nice, wide walkway along the shore toward one of the two forts on Old San Juan. It was a warm and sunny yet thankfully breezy day, so it was nice to be outside one more time before heading home to winter and reality. We went to the western fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro and walked around until lunch.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro San Juan | Kale and Ale

Lighthouse at Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan.

Having looked on Happy Cow, I had few restaurants in mind, but since it was Monday many were closed. We went to Cafe Berlin, which has a great vegetarian selection of Latin food and breakfast late into the day, so everyone is sure to find something. From there we walked past the cruise ships and up Calle Fortaleza, the main shopping and food drag in Old San Juan. Because there were two cruise ships docked that day, there were lots of people walking around, so we browsed some galleries and made our way to more food and drink.

Old San Juan fort look east | Kale and Ale

Looking east into Old San Juan from the fort.

This led us to Club Spritz, a new restaurant and bar with a great location on a closed-off street overlooking water. It’s called Club Spritz because the husband is from Italy and they feature spritzer drinks, which were super refreshing after walking around in the warm sun. We sat and enjoyed drinks while the sun went down. The husband and wife team are very friendly and the place has a good atmosphere. We walked around more, looking at the architecture at night, making our way to Toro Salao for sangria and dinner. Toro Salao is a hopping place near a main square, serving fresh and innovative food. If you are looking for a trendy nightlife restaurant, this is the place. And because we sat at the bar and stayed so long, chatting up the employees, we happened to get free dessert of a cheesecake-type bar and churros in homemade chocolate sauce. I said yes to free dessert on the last night of vacation! After all this food, drink and walking it was time to go to bed.

Toro Salaeo Old San Juan | Kale and Ale

Free dessert!

The next day before our flight to reality, we visited Castillo de San Cristóbal (pro tip: save your receipt from a fort, you can visit both with the same admission) where it was pretty similar a fort and display, but it was neat to see a different perspective. After that we got a filling lunch at a restaurant next to Cafe Berlin, Caficultura, which has good coffee, nice sidewalk seating and a filling breakfast.

Old San Juan Courtyard | Kale and Ale

Beautiful buildings all around Old San Juan.

All in all this is a great place to visit, but a stop on a cruise or a few days to try more food, a water sport or perhaps the Bacardi rum tour would be enough.

Have you been to Puerto Rice? What did you do/see/eat that you loved?

St. Croix, USVI: Activities

This is part two of three focusing on my Caribbean vacation. Read about St. Croix food and my layover in Puerto Rico.

Cane Bay St. Croix | KaleAndAle

Cane Bay, the local beach where we snorkeled and hung out for the day.

St. Croix is made for outdoor activities. As is typical in the tropics, the one day it rained it was still sunny and would pass quickly, but with the tan burn I was sporting, I spent the day at the beach under a large palm frond, so it all worked out.

Aside from lots of time laying on the beach and reading (which was the main point of the vacation), Aaron and I took in some activities since I can’t sit still forever.


St. Croix hike | KaleAndAle

The start of the unknown.

We stayed next to the start of the trail into the rainforest and hills to the Annaly Bay tide pools. The trail was much more dense and narrow than I anticipated, so I was thankful for my hiking shoes and time to walk carefully. The course offered some good views but we couldn’t fully explore the tide pools since the sea was angry that day. But it was worth it and a fun adventure since I didn’t know what to expect.

Annaly Bay St. Croix hike | KaleAndAle

View while on the trail in the thick of it all.


This was my third time snorkeling and each time was unique. You enter the water from the beach, swim a little ways, and the sandy floor quickly becomes coral reefs full of life. The clear water makes it visible for a while, where you can see all kinds of fish and plants. It was so calm and beautiful. My favorite part was just floating, looking around and taking it all in.

We snorkeled at our resort, where we rented our gear for 24 hours, which they let us have for 27 (hashtag island time! Thanks Sweet Bottom Dive Shop!), so we took advantage by hitting up the neighboring beach, Cane Bay, the following morning.

Annaly Bay tide pools St. Croix | KaleAndAle

View from Annaly Bay tide pools, where we hiked.

While there we took in a local beach, but on the north side where we were located there isn’t a bad spot to be had!

We really lucked out in a beautiful, undeveloped island with great weather and wonderful activities. Have you been to St. Croix or another Caribbean island? What was your experience like—please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

St. Croix, USVI: Food

Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Bay hammocks | KaleAndAle

View from the hammocks at the resort in St. Croix. Did not want to leave that spot.

Last week Aaron and I went to St. Croix, the largest and least-developed of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was an amazing escape any time of year, but the fact that right before we left the highs in Minnesota were negative temps made it even better. In this post I will discuss the food I ate and two followup posts will discuss activities and our 24-hour layover in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Food. This will be the most difficult of the three posts. Food is my biggest hesitation when travelling places other than large cities in the United States. I don’t let it stop me, but it gives me pause and slows me down. If anyone has seen a vegetarian or vegan write about how to travel easily with dietary restrictions, I would love to read it.  I would write the post myself but I have’t figured it out. Other than checking the wonderful resource Happy Cow and mentally preparing myself for disappointment, I don’t have solid answers.

Annaly Bay tide pools pano St. Croix | KaleAndAle

View from Annaly Bay, St. Croix, how could you not want to be here?

We decided on St. Croix by looking at tropical locations where we could use hotel points that were somewhat secluded yet relatively easy to access by plane. And I don’t regret for one second the location we picked. St. Croix is relatively undeveloped, with two cities. Only one road on the island is more than two lane and faster than 35 mph. It’s a hilly and lush tropical island, and because it’s the U.S., they speak English and its easy to travel there. Ill save details for what we did in our next post, but here are a few views of the island. Never a bad view whatever direction you look!

However, it is an island in the Caribbean who, for much of its history, wasn’t part of the U.S. they even drive on the left side of the road! Therefore I knew seafood would be plentiful, and I wasn’t sure what they might think my diet contains when I mention I’m a vegetarian. Fortunately, their definition of vegetarian is the same as mine. Unfortunately, staying at a resort, the options were limited. When I ate there, the options were salads or pre-made veggie burgers. The two times we took a cab off the resort, the options were much better.


Rum cake 40 Strand St. Croix | KaleAndAle

Rum cake at 40 Strand was so good.

We went to the capital city the evening the art galleries—which I would learn to mean is Crucian gold—are open late. We ate at 40 Strand Eatery known for fresh local food. It’s a small place and, without reservations, we had to sit at the bar, which meant we could talk to the bartender, watch food prep and see a little of it all. My eggplant was great, and since we were on vacation I decided to have dessert, something I don’t normally want. I had to go with the rum cake. I haven’t had any since living in South Florida, and St. Croix is known for its rum. The cake was topped with a caramel sauce that balanced well. It was a great meal at a good price.

Cane Bay

Cane Bay is the next bay over from where we stayed and have a local vibe. We went on Sunday and the beach and few waterside restaurants were hopping. We had lunch at Off the Wall, which is run by someone who moved from Wisconsin (can’t blame her!) and features fresh food you would want for a filling yet light meal at the beach. The veggie sandwich was packed with fresh veggies and the loaded nachos hit the spot. They are also known for their pizza, which looked great and smelled even better.

Off the Wall St. Croix | KaleAndAle

Entrance to Off the Wall keeps it casual

Later we went to Spratnet Beach Bar. The people were nice, the menu extensive (especially for seafood). Locals and tourists kept coming and going, and they have a house-made infused rum shot that was very warming. We had fried cauliflower—I’m a sucker for any fried veggie—and grilled cheese and cole slaw to go, only because I couldn’t eat another veggie burger or salad.


Spratnet St. Croix | KaleAndAle

All the rum drinks at Spratnet in Cane Bay

I can’t talk about St. Croix without mentioning rum. It’s all over. Cruzan is named for the island. Not being my go-to drink, I had enough rum to last me a while. But I did have some good drinks that taste better with sun on my face, toes in the sand and the sounds of waves crashing.

All in all I put the food dearth aside for the views, but some good food and drink options are available, especially if you have a car (which we didn’t).

If you have dietary needs, how do you ensure good meals while traveling?