Puerto Rico Travel Guide
Puerto Rico is one of the many places around the world blessed with beautiful and tranquil beaches, year-round sunny and hot weather, great opportunities for deep-sea fishing, snorkelling, diving, and surfing. However, despite the fact that all of the above-listed is just about enough for a perfect summer holiday, there is so much more to Puerto Rico than sunsets and suntan. Beyond the hectic and buzzing San Juan you will have the best chance to explore a coastline that is as raw, unspoiled, and untouched as you cannot hope in your wildest dreams.
Kilometres of the finest sparkling sand and crystal clear water are substituted here and there by the bright examples of the island’s rich and diverse culture as an exciting mixture of African, European, and Taino influence. The atmospheric and charming colonial towns, the incredible criollo cuisine, the many exquisite festivals, the world’s best rum, and the great salsa tradition – Puerto Rico is a home to a much more distinctive culture than you can imagine. Despite its links with the USA, the country remains proudly Latino and this is one of its many charms!
When it comes to beautiful landscapes and natural charms, the island is definitely a great attraction in this sense, offering plenty to explore from the mysterious rainforests of El Yunque, the crumbling outcrops of karst country to the reef-encrusted desert islands and the enigmatic dry forests to the southwest. However, the most alluring yet mind-blowing natural spectacles remain the magical glowing waters of bioluminescent bays. The compact size of the country allows you switching from tranquil beaches to awe-inspiring mountains in minutes, so make sure to dive deep into Puerto Rico’s magical beauty and discover as much as possible from its varying and diverse landscapes and beautiful spots off the tourist trail.
Of course, one of the most attractive highlights of Puerto Rico remains the country’s beautiful beaches thanks to the good regulations won by local environmental groups, the coastline of Puerto Rico remains pretty unspoiled with low-key beach resorts such as Rincon and with a lot of natural beauty. Some of the most idyllic and exciting coastlines of Puerto Rico belong to them until recently occupied by the United States Navy islands of Vieques and Culebra. Puerto Rico’s mountain asset is just as beautiful and enchanting as the beachlines with plenty of Spanish hill towns and gourmet coffee plantations dotted around. Ranches and farms around this region still raise the finest American Paso Fino horses while the region attracts with lush jungle-covered peaks, crumbling waterfalls, and fish-filled lakes.
The juxtaposition of old and new, classic and modern, is what makes Puerto Rico such a charming and exciting place with a very distinctive culture and lifestyle. While the island hides some leftover melancholy from the past, the new Puerto Rico is a home to very interesting contrasts such as towns, where bareback horse riders use modern smartphones, sharing the streets with speeding SUVs, passing by old and very romantic colonial architecture and modern shopping malls along their way.
Despite all the distinctiveness and unique vibe of Puerto Rico, the image of the country is still largely influenced by its relationship with the USA. Despite the fact that Puerto Rico has never been a state but rather a “commonwealth” since 1952, the island is very attractive to Americans looking for a hassle-free holiday in the sun. However, this relationship does misleadingly create the idea that Puerto Rico is yet another extension of the USA in the Caribbean and this is definitely not the truth.
The first and main stop for the majority of the visitors of Puerto Rico is the capital San Juan, one of the most dynamic, hectic, and largest cities in the Caribbean. Head to the old part of the city to explore the beauty of the Spanish colonial style and architecture, plenty of cobbled little streets and flower-strewn houses dotted around, chapels and grand mansions. For some beautiful stretches of beach, you need to go to the resort zones of the city that are the areas of Condado and Isla Verde. Are you looking for a nightlife fun? The city is particularly good at its nightlife entertainment and opportunities with a diverse scene of trendy bars and clubs.
The getaway to the east coast is Luquillo where you can test and enjoy the tempting and extra delicious kiosco food. If you are up to some summer adventures, Fajardo is your getaway to some great snorkelling, diving, and surfing spots. In case hiking is what you fancy, El Yunque National Forest is a home to rainforest-covered peaks and plenty of hiking trails. Explore the island culture of the country by visiting the smaller island of Vieques that is a home to some really beautiful, fine sand-covered beaches and waving palm trees. Of course, the main attraction in this area is the enchanting and magical experience of swimming in the bioluminescent bay where boats and swimmers leave ghostly and mysterious fluorescent trails. Culebra is the even smaller and more atmospheric island blessed with turquoise water all around, dazzling cays, and empty romantic beaches.
Go back inland and head to the north coast to explore the interesting crumbling limestone peaks of karst country including the Observatorio de Arecibo, Caverns del Rio Camuy, and Centro Ceremonial Indigena de Caguana. The Porta del Sol also is known as the “getaway to the sun” is the surfing paradise of the country that starts at the northwest coast and peaks at Rincon. If you are up to some unforgettable diving experience make sure to head to Isla Desecheo, a protected island reserve. The main spot of the west is the once-depressed but nowadays emerging city of Mayaguez and beyond it is where a chain of low-key resorts lay including Playa Buye and Boqueron along with the weathered cliffs of Cabo Rojo. The south coast is also offering plenty to do and experience with the labyrinths of channels and caves of La Parguera, the jam-packed with luxurious mansions and charming Spanish churches. The southern coastal area is called the Porto Caribe. When in this part of Puerto Rico do not miss to visit the Gilligan’s Island and Ponce.