I very rarely book a package holiday but Jet2’s prices for a four-night jaunt to Puerto Rico in Gran Canaria could not be bettered at £520 for B&B, including flights and luggage. Their service at Manchester airport was very good too and we were through security in no time. I took my guitar to do some practice, and that didn’t cause any issues.
I had a single room in the Ocean Hill hotel, which included a swim up pool. Alas, neither the weather nor the water was warm enough for me take advantage of it. It looked nice though! The accommodation was spot on. Spacious, clean, neatly furnished, comfy beds, good shower pressure and all the kitchen equipment you’d need. The buffet breakfast was fine and for all the other meals I ate out in town.
Like many hotels in the town, Ocean Hill is perched on the mountainside and rises up quite a way. Consequently, there are three lifts and two open walk-ways to get up to reception/entrance and the dining room from the bottom level; not the best if it’s raining. One evening I got drenched walking this route. Overall, my room was excellent and I enjoyed chilling out in it, it was a comfy, light, and airy gaff. Officially, Ocean Hill is a two-star hotel, though I’m not sure why. From the perspective of my room, it felt more like a three-star.
It’s a 20/30-minute walk down to the beach and seafront. There are a few routes you could take, and the journey is quite steep in places, but it’s a pleasing stroll in the sunshine with views over the sea. A taxi back is around €4. But the walk is most agreeable on the way back up the hill; if a little tiring. One afternoon there were no taxis available as the, very heavy, rain had increased demand for their services. The downpour overwhelmed the drains, and at one point I began to glide serenely along the pavement on a slick of gelatinous excrement. Fortunately, I didn’t fall over. It would have been a shit experience in every sense of the word. To be fair a deluge like this is a rare occurrence, they got five inches of rainfall that afternoon.
Space is perhaps at a premium in Puerto Rico due to the topography. It’s set in a narrow valley and there’s a beach with a harbour and large cliffs that quickly climb away from that relatively small coastal area. Inevitably, there’s a shortage of flat land. Consequently, bars, shops and restaurants are often in shopping centres that are two or three stories high. The Europa centre was nearest our hotel, it was a bit jaded, and reminded me of Middleton Arndale Centre, circa 1973. The larger Puerto Rico centre in the centre of town was marginally nicer. Beyond that is the newer Mogan Shopping Mall, which is much more attractive, with a splendid, large fountain. My photos and video should demonstrate this variation and give you a feel for the place.
If you’ve been to Benidorm, I’d say Puerto Rico is in the same family, though they are not identical twins. The BIG selling point is the price of the beer. With a little effort, you can find bars that sell a pint of lager for a little more than £1. This bargain booze sets the tone for much of the town; it caters very well for people who like a drink! In nice weather, you can sit outside, catch a few rays and socialise with chums. Quite a lot of people come here several times a year and friendships are formed such that it’s a bit of a home from home. Mary D’s in the Europa Centre was a typical example, as is the Sun Spot bar in the main shopping centre. Cheap beer and lots of televisions to watch the football on. We were there during the World Cup.
When I say ‘we’, I mean the Magnificent Seven guys who made up our party. People don’t go to Puerto Rico to visit the art galleries and museums, pottery classes aren’t on the menu, and poetry recitals are few. Cultural activities were not our raison d’être; getting pissed was. We each achieved this noble goal according to our capacities and, let me tell you, some people’s capacities are mightily impressive. Especially at £1 a pint.
It would be remiss of me not to refer to our little boat trip, however. The port of Mogan is thirty minutes by ferry down the coast and we went over for the afternoon. Frankly, I was gobsmacked. I’ve been to four Canary Islands, and seen plenty of towns in them, but nothing as lovely as Mogan. it reminded me very much of so many ports on the Greek Islands I have visited (like Fiskardo); a harbour full of flashy yachts, classy dockside eateries, tasteful buildings bedecked with bougainvillea… I won’t say anymore, my wife and I will be going in later this winter for sure.
Should you go?
To be honest, I wouldn’t go to Puerto Rico again. It does what it does, and it does it well, but I prefer a more mellow, laid-back holiday experience these days. You can have a chilled out, feet up, break in Puerto Rico, certainly in the more upmarket hotels. But, from what I saw, that isn’t what the town is set up for; it’s a party venue. That stated, in December at least, the vast majority of the visitors are aged 50+. It may be quite different in the summer during the school holidays. Most are British or Northern Europeans. I was only there for four nights, but, if you want cheap beer and sunshine, this place is a great option.
I would like to say a big thanks to the guys for letting me join them on the outing. And a big thanks especially to Tony for doing so much organising on our behalf. He was so on the ball that l just switched off thinking about the nuts and bolts of travel and getting about. I took it for granted that Tony would have it all sussed out. Cheers, good man!
If you liked my blog maybe you’d like the comic novel I’ve recently published. As much as I enjoyed teaching, and respect those who do the job, there’s plenty to laugh at. I spent 30 years giggling 😊. It’s a bargain at £2.20 for the Kindle! Click on the image for the Amazon link.