El Conquistador in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, is a great choice for families who are looking for a one-stop vacation option. With a private island full of great activity options and an in-resort water park, you could enjoy a relaxing family vacation without ever leaving the resort. If you want to see more of what Puerto Rico has to offer, El Conquistador is perfectly located to grab a ferry to a neighboring island, drive a few miles to the rainforest, or enjoy some authentic cuisine in local restaurants. Take a float on the lazy river, chase iguanas on Palamino Island, and sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views El Conquistador has to offer.
El Conquistador Hotel – What Works for Families
El Conquistador is located on the Eastern most tip of Puerto Rico in Fajardo, high along a ridge that provides some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. As soon as we entered our 2-queen bedroom, I was mesmerized by the view overlooking the resort’s marina, funicular, and ocean.
Many of the most popular activities for families such as visiting Culebra, hiking in the rainforest, and kayaking through one of the bio bays are located close to Fajardo, making El Conquistador a perfect home base for exploring the island. If you’re planning to do many of those activities or planning to explore San Juan (between 1 – 1 1/2 hours away) during your trip, I recommend getting a rental car for your visit because taxi fees can add up quickly.
El Conquistador offers a variety of rooms that work well for families from the standard Las Brisas 2-queen room that we stayed in to the multiple bedroom private villas (at a premium cost) in Las Casitas Village. The beds in the standard rooms are comfortable and the bathrooms are larger than any I’ve ever seen in a standard hotel room. This article on family fun at El Conquistador gives some great tips on how to choose your accommodations.
The amenities are where El Conquistador really shines with its in-resort water park, private island with a gorgeous beach, and Camp Coqui full of fun nature hunts and beach activities designed just for the little ones.
With a private ferry that leaves every half hour, El Conquistador’s private island, Palamino Island, was simple to get to. We arrived on the island around 10 a.m. and spent the next six hours swimming in the beautiful ocean, sipping non-alcoholic piña coladas on the beach, chasing huge iguanas around palm trees, and playing a little mini golf in the shade when we needed a break from the sun.
Many of the activities on Palamino Island are free and there are plenty of activities to keep you and your family entertained from the moment you step on the island to when the last ferry leaves. If you’re going to eat one meal at the resort, eat it on the beach on Palamino Island. The food was actually quite tasty and surprisingly inexpensive for being a part of the resort. My friends just raved about the fish and chips.
We finished off our Palamino Island day with a quick stop in the resort’s Coqui Water Park. With three high-speed water slides, a lazy river, a kid-friendly pool, and an adult-friendly infinity one, it would be an easy way to spend a lazy morning or afternoon with kids. The only downside is that the water park is not included with your hotel stay and can feel a little pricey for just a few hours of water fun when the beach is free.
We didn’t have the chance to enjoy Camp Coqui to its fullest, but if you’re bringing along kids ages 4-12 and want a couple of hours to yourselves without the kids, Camp Coqui is a great option. With activities ranging from arts and crafts to spa time for the girls, it’s an easy way to keep the kids entertained while you enjoy a treatment at the spa or even a morning of hiking in the nearby rainforest. Like the water park, Camp Coqui is an additional cost ranging from $45-$75, depending on if you choose a full or a half day option.
El Conquistador Hotel – What Doesn’t Work for Families
While there are many dining options in the main resort, most are over-priced for the food quality, with the exception of the fine dining Chops steakhouse, which is not kid-friendly for its own reasons.
We grabbed a late night dinner at the casual Café Caribe where sandwiches and kid-friendly meals were priced in the $10-15 range, too much in my opinion for the subpar quality food. We ate the breakfast buffet in Las Brisas restaurant and while the selection was great and the food tasty, at $25+ a person, we would’ve had to eat a lot more than we did to make it worth the cost. My recommendation is to grab a pastry at the resort’s Starbucks and eat a heartier lunch somewhere off the resort. If you’re tempted to try out room service, just know that there’s a hefty service charge, gratuity included, and a high tax; we spent almost $80 on two orders of French fries, two bowls of soup, and a plate of fresh fruit.
The one meal I would eat again on a subsequent visit to El Conquistador is at Chops Steakhouse but only on a girls night. While the food at Chops is absolutely delicious, the nude and boudoir photos lining the walls made me happy I’d left my husband and son at home. If you do go, get the twice-baked truffle fries and a 14-layer chocolate cake to share with the table.
If you have a rental car and the option to go off-site for food, I recommend stopping at a grocery store on your drive into Fajardo to pick up some breakfast essentials and sweet bread (pan sobao) to keep in your room. Instead of eating at the resort for lunch or dinner, pick out a couple of local restaurants and enjoy high-quality authentic food for a fraction of the price. My favorites are Las Vistas Cafe for brunch and Las Estacíon for dinner.
The two options for parking at El Conquistador are to valet park or to self-park for $16-$20 a night at a parking lot that is quite a haul from the resort entrance. While there is a shuttle that goes from the self-park parking lot to the entrance, it seemed to never be there when we needed it and walking was quicker than waiting for the shuttle. If you have a family or are dragging a lot of gear, I’d recommend just forking over the extra $5/night for valet parking.
The price of rooms at El Conquistador is reasonable, however, many things in the resort things include a fairly high additional cost. If you’re staying by yourself or with just your spouse or significant other, the costs aren’t as bad, but if you are traveling with a family of five or six, the additional $20 for the water park and up to $75/day per child for Camp Coqui can add up quickly. Save money by eating off-site, enjoying the free Palamino Island, or taking advantage of one of these 7 free things to do at El Conquistador Resort. Use the money you saved to splurge by spending an afternoon at the water park or by putting your kids in a half-day of Camp Coqui while you get a massage at Waldorf Astoria Spa.