Following a 15-month closure for renovations (after Hurricane Maria), the iconic Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico opened in time to celebrate its 70th anniversary. Sporting a top-to-bottom makeover, the four-star beachfront resort offers many family-friendly amenities, the perfect destination for your family beach vacation. And the location can’t be beaten. Situated on 17 acres of lush tropical gardens with a private beach, Caribe is a short drive to historic San Juan and cosmopolitan Condado.
Caribe Hilton in San Juan: Family Beach Vacation in Puerto Rico
With a private beach, many amenities and proximity to Old San Juan, the iconic Caribe Hilton is an ideal family hotel in Puerto Rico. Caribe – the first Hilton built outside the continental United States – opened in 1949.
The newly renovated, laid-back luxury beach resort offers 652 well-appointed guest rooms and family-friendly activities. In addition, it’s the birthplace of the piña colada. Whether traveling solo (like I often do), with friends or on a family vacation in Puerto Rico, the Caribe Hilton is a delightful tropical getaway. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite family beach hotels for its location, amenities, and friendly service.
Read More: Tips for planning your perfect family beach vacation.
First Impression: Caribe Hilton
The open-air lobby overlooking the pools and ocean makes a good and lasting first impression. Equally important, check-in was a breeze and I settled quickly into my room before exploring the congenial property.
Situated on a 17-acre peninsula, Caribe Hilton has a shaded hammock garden, tropical gardens, and beachfront and garden walkways. Strategically placed lounge chairs offer many relaxing areas with ocean and pool views while enjoying the resort’s signature piña colada. In fact, the tasty tropical drink was created by Ramon ‘Monchito’ Marrero in 1954 while working as a bartender at the Caribe Hilton.
Family-Friendly Guest Rooms & Grounds
The Caribe Hilton hotel has three towers: the Beach Wing, Wave Wing, and Garden Wing. All guest rooms and suites include coffee makers, mini-refrigerators and WiFi. I enjoyed my room in the wave wing, which is a short walk to the lobby, restaurants, and beach. Even better, my room had a comfy king bed and a balcony with views of the ocean and Old San Juan.
The Garden Wing overlooks lush grounds and a pond. On a stroll, you’ll probably see ducks and peacocks.
Although there is not a designated children’s program, the resort offers an array of family activities. In the lobby, a large activities calendar posts daily happenings. Free onsite activities include yoga, dance lessons, bingo, goofy games, and even piña colada tastings. I found a spot at the Bagua bar for the free tastings, which I quickly realized were virgin pina Coladas. Regardless, they were tasty and the bartender served up a classic piña colada afterward.
Caribe Hilton also offers an onsite snuba activity, guided reef tours, and tennis lessons.
Families will also discover activities to enjoy on their own throughout the property. For example, there’s a game room, a children’s playground, and chatty parrots in the lobby.
Off-Site Activities Near the Caribe Hilton
Neighboring the hotel is the 17th-century Fort San Geronimo. While under restoration, the fort is open to the public. In addition, Caribe Hilton offers tours to major attractions, which include El Yunque Rainforest, El Morro, Casa Blanca, and La Fortaleza.
The hotel also partnered with the Manatee Conservation Center of Puerto Rico to offer an experience to become a ‘Manatee Caretaker for a day.’ Guests will learn how to feed and care for these gentle giants. The program is expected to launch in early spring 2020.
Caribe Hilton’s Private Beach
The sheltered, secluded beach was my favorite place to relax at the Caribe Hilton. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are free, and you can rent beach cabanas. Nearby, the swim shack rents snorkel gear, and rafts for a small fee. A small jetty keeps the water calm and clear, making it a safe and relaxing place to swim and snorkel in the comfortably warm Atlantic ocean.
It’s tough deciding between the private beach or Caribe Hilton’s swimming pools. But why choose?
After swimming in the ocean, I lounged poolside with a piña colada. The resort has several amazing swimming pools. There’s an infinity pool, two swimming pools (one with a swim-up bar), and a children’s shallow fountain pool, as well as two whirlpools.
TravelingMom Tip: Heading to the beach is one of the best ways to spend a family vacation, but packing is no Bueno! Save time and don’t forget a thing with our Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Packing List!
Caribe Hilton Dining Options
- Néctar del Caribe. The beachfront restaurant offers an extensive breakfast buffet and tropical breakfast cocktails. House specialties include piña colada french toast (caramelized pineapple relish, whipped coconut cream, toasted coconut, and almond brittle).
- Rustica Ristorante. Located in the lobby, the casual restaurant serves a Northern Italian cuisine with more than a dozen types of pasta. In addition, the menu includes antipasto, meats, seafood, and a large, international wine selection.
- Lola’s Puerto Rican Cuisine. Also located in the lobby, the cozy eatery serves tasty, traditional Puerto Rican dishes like mofongo, fried pork and arroz mamposteao (rice and beans).
- Morton’s The Steakhouse is the newest addition to the resort’s dining options. The ocean view restaurant specializes in prime-aged beef, seafood, and an extensive wine collection.
- Mojito’s features a Caribbean concept open for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
- Bagua. The poolside bar and grill offer sandwiches, burgers, tacos, and snacks. There’s also a swim-up bar.
- Caribar. Located in the lobby, the full-service bar also serves salads, burgers, fish, steak and pizza. More importantly, it’s where the first piña colada was created.
- Starbucks. Great for a quick meal to go before you head to the airport.
- Ice Cream & Cookies Co. is a popular spot for house-made waffle cones, ice cream, and candy.
Zen Spa Océano
Be sure to make time for a massage and/or facial at the Zen Spa Oceano, an 8,500-square-foot beachfront spa. The ocean-themed, full-service spa has a hydrotherapy room, sauna and steam rooms, outdoor heated whirlpools, hair salon, and spa boutique. A couple of the rooms have ocean views.
In addition, there’s an adjoining modern fitness center where various classes take place.
Additional Guest Amenities
- Children’s menus
- Cribs and high chairs with advance reservation
- Babysitting (for a fee)
- Room service
- Gift shop
- Clothing store
- Convenience store
- Snack shop
More Hotel Services at Caribe Hilton
- Meeting rooms
- Laundry/valet service
- Luggage storage
- Coin-operated laundry
- Photocopying & printing service
- Audio/visual equipment rental
- Express mail services
- Car rental desk by Enterprise Rent-A-Car
What Families Need to Know About the Caribe Hilton
- Kids ages 18 and younger stay free in their parents’ room when using existing bedding.
- Free breakfast for kids ages 5 with a paid adult at Néctar del Caribe.
- Caribe Hilton’s daily resort fee covers WiFi, fitness center, tennis courts, private beach with chairs and umbrellas, daily recreational amenities, and 20 percent off select spa services..
- Self-parking and valet parking available.
How to Get to the Caribe Hilton Puerto Rico
Caribe Hilton is located about 15 minutes from the Luis Muñoz International Airport. Taxis and Uber services are easy to secure.