Escape to the adventures of Puerto Rico. A U.S. territory located in the Caribbean that offers exotic locations, miles upon miles of white sand beaches, plus an unbelievable rain forest and mountains.
Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles (a Caribbean Sea island group that includes Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Cayman Islands). San Juan is its capital.
Old San Juan
Old San Juan, a must see, is about an eight by ten block district of San Juan that is quite geographically and culturally distinct. The area is hilly, with narrow authentic blue cobblestone streets, many original buildings, statutes, stores and museums. A great way to see Old San Juan is a walking tour that includes the old coastal neighborhood, visiting the colonial-era Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, and Morro Castle, a 16th-century citadel.
The El Yunque National Rain Forest
Hiker or not, hiking/walking in the El Yunque National Rain Forest to a peak of the Luquillo Mountains is an awesome experience, particularly if you have never been in a rainforest before. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. While on any of the trails, your expedition will be comparable to what you might imagine being in a jungle-like tropical forest where lush foliage, masses of rock, waterfalls, and rivers are prevalent and provide wonderful sights. Yes, you may get rained on in the rainforest … so be prepared, with a light rain jacket.
The rain will likely pass in a short time, as is typical with tropical rain showers. Depending on how you get to the rainforest, consider stopping at one of the roadside stands to experience fresh, locally grown fruit smoothies and other fresh goodies. And, speaking of goodies, you absolutely must try Mofongo, a delicious, classic Puerto Rican dish. You can order it from just about any restaurant. While they may differ slightly, they are all very delicious! Many of the restaurants offer live entertainment that will include a performance of Spanish dancers and singers.
Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south the beaches offer currents, wave action, snorkeling or a just a lazy fun day.
NOTE: A passport is not needed to visit Puerto Rico. It is the home of one of only 20 National Parks included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Written by: Carolyn Hartsfield