Puerto Rico became part of the U.S. commonwealth after the Spanish-American War, which makes it our fourth U.S. Caribbean destination where you can enjoy the sandy beaches, sun, and fun without worrying about the latest CDC testing for re-entry into the US after international travel. Check out my previous blogs for info I covered in previous weeks about the three U.S. Virgin Islands St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.
1. San Juan. Many travel blogs, publications, and reviewers describe San Juan as a “cosmopolitan city with a beautifully preserved colonial core.” This magnificent city would be a great choice for first time visitors. Cobblestone streets lined with restored 17th and 18th century Spanish buildings give San Juan Viejo, Old San Juan, a quaint feel. Pay homage to the statue of Ponce de Leon who founded the first settlement and named the island Puerto Rico – Rich Port. If you’re a rum fan, Bacardi Rum Distillery might be on your list of things to do.
2. San Juan National Historic Park. Plan to spend a day exploring San Juan’s magnificent National Historic Park. The Spaniards began construction on this massive military complex in 1539 and finally completed in 1786. Two castles, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and Castillo San Cristobal dominate the landscape and were intended to protect invasions from the sea and land. The onsite museum provides historical information and a collection of military artifacts.
3. El Yunque National Forest. The U.S. National Forest service manages this amazing rainforest full of diverse foliage and wildlife. Start your visit at El Portal Rain Forest Center to pick up the latest info and advice on how to get the most out of your visit. There are a number of hikes ranging from easy to strenuous offering some of the best wildlife viewing in Puerto Rico. As you make your way to the summit of Cerro El Toro, you’ll experience a number of diverse ecosystems and breathtaking views of plunging waterfalls.
4. Vieques. This isle just off the east coast of Puerto Rico holds a wonderous experience. Diving in Mosquito Bay on a moonless night amidst the bioluminescent glow is a surreally beautiful must do experience. Tiny single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates emit a blue light when disturbed by passing fish…or humans. The entire lagoon lights up as you swim in this magical bay.
5. Luquillo Beaches. Many tourist publications highlight the gorgeous golden-white sand beaches between the towns of Rio Grand and Luquillo. Located just 45 miles east of San Juan, visiting these reef-protected warm water locales is doable as a day trip. Snorkel and explore the tidepools in these out of the mainstream beaches. Or choose to stay at nearby upscale resorts for the ultimate Puerto Rican getaway.
Before traveling to St. John, check the latest travel conditions and protocols at:
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