Boriken (Land of the Great Lords), the name Taino’s gave the island we now know as Puerto Rico. Taino’s are the original people of the island, descendants of Arawak, who were the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida.
While visiting the island this August 2022, I had the pleasure of checking in to Coqui Del Mar Guesthouse in San Juan. Coqui Del Mar is a LGBTQ guesthouse, offering a safe space for the human colors of the rainbow to be and vacation around their community (a quick note: you don’t have to identify as LGBTQ to enjoy a visit here.) Learn more about this cannabis friendly BnB in Puerto Rico, and my experience staying there below.
Traveling the Island of Puerto Rico
The island of Puerto Rico (no passport needed for U.S citizens because Puerto Rico is a U.S territory) is east of Florida, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic (Haiti and Dominican Republic share an island). Puerto Rico is in between Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands (which are partly territory of the U.S, and part territory of the Crown), and includes the islands of Culebra and Vieques (this means these islands are also U.S territory).
The island has over 300 miles of coast lines, 111 miles of them from east to west, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (San Juan on the Atlantic side, Ponce on the Caribbean Sea side). Puerto Rico is an island with oceans, rivers, mountains, rainforest, and waterfalls.
There is so much to see and explore on the island! Most people visiting for the first few times visit and stay in the capital and largest city on the island: San Juan, which is home to the Isla Verde strip. This is the nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and hotels on the ocean strip that is extremely popular, and for great reason; it’s marvelous!
The mountain region, known as central island, is majestic. Visiting this area means you’ll hear the coqui (frog) singing at night, and the birds singing to greet you with the sunrise. It’s quiet and seems like a world away, but it’s only an hour or so from San Juan when headed to the Atlantic, and an hour or so from Ponce when headed to the Caribbean Sea.
Ponce, the largest city on the Caribbean Sea side of the island, and the second largest city on the island. La Guancha Peseo Tablado, is a nice area to visit, along the Caribbean Sea. The boardwalk has incredible views of oceans and mountains.
Eating in Puerto Rico is great because there are options for everyone. Some of the vegan restaurants were open on weekends only, others just limited hours each day, but plenty of restaurants offer vegan options and menus. Gluten free is supported as well. One thing I recommend all of the time- Mofongo! A tip, vegans and vegetarians: ask if the beans are made with meat, sometimes they are. Make sure to ask for the vegan/vegetarian mofongo, traditional mofongo isn’t vegan/vegetarian. The pastelito’s may look vegan/vegetarian but most are not, even the ones with just guava filling, may have egg in the recipe.
Medical Cannabis Access for Visitors of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico allows guests traveling from other parts of the United States, to use their medical cannabis cards to shop in cannabis dispensaries on the island. The condition(s) have to be on the list of conditions approved by state/territory. Safe Access Now says:
“Puerto Rico extends reciprocity to medical cannabis patients with unexpired medical cannabis recommendations and medical cannabis ID cards from U.S. states for up to 30 days as long as those states maintain a database that allows verification of patient status and make such information available to Puerto Rican authorities and dispensaries. Puerto Rico does not impose a residency requirement for qualifying patients, meaning that non-resident patients may obtain a Puerto Rican medical cannabis card by visiting an authorized healthcare provider, completing the application process and paying $25.”
Medical cannabis patients can purchase edibles, oils, and topicals. Being approved to purchase cannabis flower requires an additional process and fee, that results in obtaining a Puerto Rico medical cannabis card. Because cannabis is still federally illegal, traveling with cannabis- THC is not legal.
About Coqui Del Mar, LGBTQ Guesthouse
Owners Rob and Vianney said that they wanted to create: “something as gay as Paris, as tropical and fun as the people of Puerto Rico, and as sustainable and green-friendly that could rival any Californian hotel.”
Coqui Del Mar Guesthouse is a safe space for the LGBTQ commmunity, that is also 420 friendly and supports cannabis patients in their consumption of medical cannabis. The guest house is considered the queerest place in the Caribbean, and described by the owners as: “not just a place to sleep, but a place to gather and meet others. We are a queer-friendly place not just for gay men, but for the entire range of LGBTQIA, where all feel at home and welcome.”
As a guest of the Pink room, I can proudly say that their statement is accurately executed.
My Experience Staying at Coqui Del Mar
This is such a lovely place in San Juan, close to Carolina and Loiza, just footsteps away from the Atlantic Ocean, and about a 10 minute car ride away from Isla Verde (there’s generally traffic all times of the day in the heart of the city). When I arrived, I smiled at the cuteness and inclusiveness of the guesthouse; there’s an equality flag, a Puerto Rican flag, and a Black Lives Matter flag hanging at the entrance. The palm trees just outside of the main entrance were painted in the colors of the rainbow, and the structure itself had the colors of the rainbow painted along the front. Before walking through the main door, I felt welcomed, included…considered.
The property is a tropical oasis, set up to feel like a home away from home, offering some amazing public spaces to meet and mingle with others, and enough seclusion if that’s not the vibe. Coqui Del Mar is a clothing optional space, offering guests the option to be clothed or not in the pool and jacuzzi area.
They do ask that guests be clothed when on the rooftop deck and in la hacienda (the community store). Speaking of la hacienda, this is the community store where guests can make small purchases such as spirits, but also search the “help yourself” section for things like sunscreen, water, seasoning, and coffee.
Guests have a few different units to choose from. I chose the Pink room, centrally located between the pool and the jacuzzi, not far from la hacienda. The Pink room is a full studio unit, with a full kitchen and bathroom. Though I wasn’t able to consume cannabis indoors (smoking indoors is not allowed, vaping is), I was able to consume anywhere outdoors: the pool, the jacuzzi, the rooftop deck, right outside my door, etc. There was enough cover from the sun and rain to consume outside comfortably.
The Pink room was comfortable and met all of my needs, allowing me to cook a little on the days I wanted to stay onsite and not order or eat out. Speaking of eating, breakfast is included, and it’s such a nice hot one with vegan and gluten considerations! Every breakfast was hot, delicious, and served with smiles. I love the consideration of sending visitors off to see the island with a full, nourished stomach.
I had a marvelous time during my stay and met some cool people that educated me on the island and cool landmarks to see. It was breakfast and blunts every morning (coffee and breakfast is included with the stay), over great conversation, and the experience was great!
Huge thank you to those that made my journey possible: Bud and Breakfast, Simon Hawk, Coqui Del Mar Gay Guesthouse, Consolidated C.R., LLC, and the Love Plug. Each sponsored/supported my travel journey to the island, my stays on the island, introductions to people in cannabis on the island, cannabis tours on the island, and getting around the island.