THERE'S A HURRICANE COMING AND WE ARE GOING IN A WEEK!!! Let's just hope Fiona doesn't gain strength and become a big storm too. And stupid me, listened to my fiance and dropped the travel insurance. good thing he has relatives in San Juan in case we ever need to crash somewhere~
DBF and I just recently returned from San Juan. We stayed on the beach in Isla Verde. We stayed at The Beach House hotel. The rooms were small, the beds were small but the beach and service was beyond perfect. It was more like staying with friends than in a resort.
If you are going for the SJ shopping/downtown experience, I don't have much to say about that as we aren't big shoppers. If you are going to experience the island and the culture, or if you are just staying out of the metro area, I can't say it enough, "RENT A CAR, RENT A CAR, RENT A CAR". We spent several hundred dollars in a few days on taxis before we broke down and rented a car. (You can rent a nice/newer car from a local dealer for 20-30$/day).
We didn't find a lot of artisan crafts in San Juan, though we were told by a local about a specific street as we were checking back in at the airport. :( You might be able to ask around about the name of it.
You can drive the island in a day, leaving time to make stops along the route. Rincon was my favorite place on the entire island. If you have time, that is a must see on my suggestion list. :)
TripAdvisor claims Rio de Piedreas (sp?) to be a unique taste of authentic PR. My BF and I have a different opinion. It was nothing more than hardware and discount stores, maybe with a few fruit-stands inside the market. We met a local at a burger cafe inside the market who ever so kindly escorted us to a "safer area for tourists".
Lastly, as far as safety, we did not feel unsafe anywhere on the island. (Okay, so I might have felt a little "unsafe" when I tried to face my insane terror of putting my head under water with a 'discover scuba' trip...lol).
We got ourselves into two different neighborhoods where locals escorted us out, we walked downtown at night and sat on a near deserted beach in the wee hours of the night and morning. We felt very safe. We were never approached by people on the street, not even in the questionable areas or on the city bus.
SJ and PR in general is beautiful. The people are friendly and look out for tourists. (They understand that is what a large portion of their economy is based on.)
Enjoy your trip! Share pictures when you return? :)