Though I love driving through Caguas and seeing the sleeping princess, it is often a nightmare to take that road to Maunabo, especially at night. So, I thought I would try route 66, the toll road, to Fajardo and then a piece of Route 3 to Fajardo which merges into Route 53 all the way to Yabucoa and route 901 el barrio Emajagua taking road 7760 (I think is the number) to Villas del Faro. The highway is a breeze and it only takes ten more minutes with good driving time. When there is "rush hour" traffic (such a misnomer) on route 52 to Caguas, we are talking about an hour difference in our favor.
I left Isla Verde area at four thirty and naturally got some traffic on La Baldorioty till I reached route 66 and the rest was a breeze. I had mountains on my right and an open road before me till I reached the exit to the road near Rio Grande. On the way, on this elevated road in the hills, you see the Atlantic Ocean below on the north skirting the island and lovely green hills placidly taking in the sunshine towards the south. Later, once off of 66 and on Route 3 you see the colorful hammock and tourist shops as you get closer to El Yunque and El Palmer turn off. After that it is a stone's throw to Luquillo and the typical seashore fritters at the Kiosks next to Luquillo Beach. Stay on route 3 towards Fajardo. Beautiful views of the ocean and a typical island town is yours when you reach Fajardo.
Fajardo is also home to the ferry or "lancha" that will take you to the pristine beaches of Vieques and Culebra with its famous, Flamingo Beach. Flamingo Beach There are several motels to choose from including Flamingo Beach Resort and Spa http://www.resortflamingobeach.com/ Check out this link to Vieques: http://vieques.com/island-puerto-rico-beaches/ The ferry will take you to Vieques or Culebra for a mere eight dollars round trip. Don't be mistaken by the prices you see online. I went and it is more expensive but still a gift a mere four dollars each way. They are talking about raising the ticket to 10 dollars, so if you want to pay less, go soon. To check out availability go to http://www.culebra-island.com/CulebraIsland/Transportation/Ferry_Schedule.htm
or another good link is:http://www.culebratourism.com/cschedule.html
As you leave Fajardo, Route 3 merges into Route 53, which is a decently paved highway which goes around the eastern side of the island starting with Ceiba with Roosevelt Roads (nicknamed Rosey Roads), Naguabo, Punta Santiago, and Humacao. You can see numerous modern windmills slicing through the air which are pretty impressive. I counted at least six. You can also get off of Route 53 to access these towns and travel the seashore on a very scenic ride. I did it several times with my mother on our Silver Hair adventures when there was no alternate route and I am so glad I did. I don't want to fail to mention, that towards the west or the interior of the island we are basically on the backside of El Yunque Rainforest which in itself is a monument of nature. It is breathtaking to look at. Driving and contemplating is not a good mix so stop, look, and snap your pictures. The stops are worth it. When I get a more reliable car I plan to go up the mountain and see where all these roads lead.
Keep driving towards Humacao, and "laugh at the colored fishes," as we say in Spanish. Nos reimos de los peces de colores, meaning we are on top of our game. We have really dodged a bullet when it comes to traffic. Another 11 miles and we will get to Yabucoa, and start our drive up Route 901 and the rest is history. I made it to Maunabo before sunset, and that my friend, was good news. And now to enjoy the breeze, the ocean, relaxing, and some painting.
Happy trails to you! If you have any questions, let me know.