Puerto Rico, the tropical island that gave us Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and inspired Luis Fonsi (also Puerto Rican) in the video clip of "Despacito". The Magical Caribbean island that went through a lot in the past year following hurricane Maria, has not lost it's touch. The colorful streets of San Juan, the magnetic green of the rainforests, and the sandy beaches make it a small paradise on earth. With the perfect combination of culture, history, and relaxation, Puerto Rico has something to offer everyone.
Old San Juan
The capital of the island, San Juan captures the romantic yet exotic vibe of the entire island. It's colorful streets, rich history, delicious food, and warm atmosphere make it one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean. Walk through the cobblestone streets, enjoy the colourful buildings and store fronts, and engage with the people. This neverending celebration continues whether you spend the day at the beach or the luxurius resorts. You will not be disappointed.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
The 16th-century citadel is located on the northeastern edge of Old San Juan. It was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1983, and for a good reason. The carashing waves and warm breeze carry endless historical stories. Feel free to explore indepnently or join one of the led programs held throught the week.
What is a Carribean vacation without the beach? Flamenco beach is located on the northern shore of Culebra, an island-municipality of Puerto Rico (approximately 17 miles east of the mainland). To get to Culebra you can eaither catch a flight from San Juan or get there from the town of Fajardo by ferry (about 45min ferry ride). Consider scheduling a full day on the island, or even staying the night.
Scuba diving in Culebra
For the divers among you, take advantage of the scuba diving and snorkling opportunities available in Culebra. The snorkel sites include natural tunnels, caves, and coral reefs. Visibility is one of the best in the world and most reefs are in excellent conditions. There are multiple companies offering snorkeling rentals and training. It is recommended to go with an experienced team and with a bit of luck you will be able to witness the rich ocean life, inclduing sharks and turtles.
El Yunque national Forest
The tropical rainforest in northeastern Puerto Rico stretches across just under 29,000 acres. The biological diversity of the forest, though its relatively small size, make it mesmerizing. The hundreds of animals and plant species, combined with the endless green, waterfalls, and mountains make for an unforgetable experience. The area available for public use may change throughout the year, so check before planning a trip.
Food, Food, Food
The uniqueness of the Puerto Rican cuisine comes from its worldwide influences. Traditional cooking came from Europe, Africa and the Tainos (one of the indigenous groups of the Caribbean). Later, the cuisine had much of its influence coming from the US. You can also find some Asian inspired flavours in the island's dishes. Some of the main dishes include "Arroz con Gandules" (a combination of rice, pigeon peas and pork), various fried snacks, and "Arroz con dulce" (a sweet rice dish).
The island located in the northeastern Caribbean is about 21 miles long and 4 miles wide. It offers a variety of touristic landmarks, among which the most famous is The Bioluminescent Bay. There are multiple places around the world with this phenomenon, but the best known is found on this island and is called "Mosquito Bay". The best way to enjoy the beauty of the bay is through a moonlight kayak trip. The source of the green-blue glow is the existance of the Pyrodinium Bahamense (a tropical species of the dinoflagellates family) that live in a large concentration in this area. Pictures don't do this place justice, so you will have to go there yourselves to truly experience the magic.
The large cave on top of a cliff in Arecibo, provides a breathtaking view of the Rio Grande valley . It is a popular tourist attraction and was features in multiple movies. You can visit the cave on your own or join one of the guided tours for further explanation on the plants, history, and geography. For you instagramers, this is the perfect setting to get your creativity on.
If you are not restricted to specific dates, try to catch one of the local festivals that take place on the island. Here are some of the best ones:
- San Sebastian: celebrated on the third Thursday on January, this festival honors Saint Sebastian and takes place in the Old San Juan. Join the locals in this street festival and get a glimpe of the cultural life in Puerto Rico.
- Saborea!: the culinary highlight event of the year. This is the best time to try all sorts of Caribbean dishes in a celebratory environment. Discover why Puerto Rico is considred by some the capital of gastronomy of the Caribbean. Dates may change every year, but usually it takes place around the April time.
- Ponce Carnival: Ponce Carnival to Puerto rico is what Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. Celebrated for over 200 years, this carnival is like a Puerto Rican culture explostion (in the best of senses). Enjoy the best food, street dancing and music, costumes, and cultural rituals. Generally celebrated around February.