The best way to explore the island? Footloose and fancy-free…
Puerto Rico's "El Yunque"
Mile for mile, Puerto Rico is one of the most diverse places on Earth. Besides its rim of sweeping soft-sand beaches, the island has a dramatic geographic variety that includes a mountainous spine blanketed with lush foliage, the only rain forest in the U.S. Forest Service system, one of the largest underground cave systems, and three bioluminescent bays. These natural wonders, together with sophisticated cities and rich cultural attractions, make Puerto Rico one of the most exciting destinations to explore.
What are you waiting for? Go ahead—experience Puerto Rico!
Explore Old San Juan
There is no city in the Caribbean that can top Old San Juan's dramatic charm. Nearly four centuries ago, the first stone of this classic fortress city was set in place; today Old San Juan is counted among the World Heritage Sites, which include such places of distinction as the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. Its seven square blocks of cobblestone streets, tropical fruit-colored buildings and picturesque balconies are reminiscent of a bygone era, though also thoroughly modern and full of trendy restaurants, art galleries and boutiques.
Top Stops in Old San Juan:
- See El Morro and San Cristóbal Fort, two dramatic fortresses and National Historic Sites.
- Visit one or more of the many museums, such as the Las Américas Museum or the Children's Museum.
- Stop by San Juan Bautista Cathedral, a religious architectural marvel originally built in 1521.
- Make stops in the Old City's more than a dozen plazas and parks: Parque de las Palomas overlooking the restored La Princesa jail; Plazuela de la Rogativa on the city wall above the San Juan Gate; Plaza de Armas in the heart of Old San Juan; and the social and artistic landmarks of Plaza San José, Plaza del Quinto Centenario and Plaza Colón.
- Stroll along Paseo La Princesa, a 19th-century walkway lined with antique street lamps, royal palms, statues, fountains, benches, tables and vendors.
Explore Metropolitan San Juan
The Old San Juan suburbs include dozens of adjacent coastline neighborhoods and tourist districts. Among these are Condado, Ocean Park and Isla Verde, where you will find charming guesthouses, world-class hotels and restaurants, exciting casinos and nightspots, and upscale shops and boutiques.
There are also a number of points of interest in surrounding areas, including Santurce, home of the fabulous Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, and the town of Cataño, where the famed Bacardi Rum Factory is located. The urban core of San Juan is south of the tourist areas and is a collection of neighborhoods, such as the financial district of Hato Rey, where you'll find the massive Plaza Las Américas Mall, and the mostly residential Río Piedras, home of the University of Puerto Rico, its museum and botanical gardens.
Top Stops in the Metropolitan area:
- The Bacardi Rum Distillery in Cataño, the site from which the world's largest and mostfamous rum producers make 100,000 gallons of rum per day and ship 21 million cases per year worldwide. Sampling is encouraged here.
- The Botanical Gardens in Río Piedras, a 75-acre tropical garden with more than 200 species of plants and flowers.
- Paseo Piñones Recreational Trail and Boardwalk in Carolina just east of Isla Verde, a state forest and beachfront boardwalk lined with casual local eateries, mangroves, lagoons and tropical shoreline.
- Visit the Plaza del Mercado in Santurce, which bustles with shoppers buying fresh local produce by day and revelers at night enjoying the block party atmosphere Thursday through Sunday. Take a peek in the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico-one of Puerto Rico's world-class museums.
Explore Fajardo and the East
Puerto Rico's eastern side is home to some of the island's greatest ecological treasures, including the only rain forest in the U.S. Forest Service system—El Yunque National Forest—the fascinating Las Cabezas Nature Reserve and one of the most picturesque beaches in all the Caribbean. You'll also find many man-made treasures in the east, including world-class resorts and championship golf courses.
Nature lovers and hikers will say the main attraction of the east is El Yunque, a sprawling 28,000-acre mountainous rain forest laced with cascading waterfalls, gentle rivers and streams, and deep, cold pools. The stunning coconut palm-lined Luquillo Beach is probably the most photographed stretch of sand on the island.
Top Stops in the East:
- Kayak during the day at Seven Seas Beach or at night at Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve.
- Take a fascinating trek through the wondrous El Yunque rainforest.
- Stop for a photo or a swim at Luquillo Beach and a bite to eat at the kiosks that serve delicious local favorites.
- Make a visit to the 19th-century lighthouse at Las Cabezas de San Juan.
- Stop for lunch at the Sardinera Fishing Village in Fajardo for delicious, fresh seafood.
to read more about El Yunque rainforest.
Explore Porta Caribe (Ponce and the South)
The city of Ponce and the southern region may be only 75 miles away from Metropolitan San Juan but they seems worlds apart from the fast-paced northern side of the island. The laid-back, drier south has a lot to offer, and visiting this less congested side of the island is definitely an integral part of the Puerto Rico experience.
The south is a fascinating blend of historic cities and museums, fabulous beaches, seaside villages and natural wonders. Ponce, known as "the Pearl of the South," is a charming town with magnificent Spanish colonial architecture. Some of the many highlights of the city's elegant historic district are several top-notch museums and immaculate plazas.
Top Stops in the South:
- Stroll around the historic district of Ponce.
- Visit the Serrallés Castle.
- Ride the old sugar train between Arroyo, Guayama, Coamo and Yauco.
- Take a tour of the Hacienda Buena Vista.
- Visit the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center, featuring artifacts of two prehistoric cultures that date back to 400 B.C.
- Tour the Ponce Art Museum.
- Take a photo in front of Parque de Bombas, the city's old fire station, built in 1882.
Explore the Central Mountains
The best way to take in the dramatic natural beauty and spectacular shades of green in the central mountains is to take the picturesque Panoramic Route and its winding country roads, which stretch some 165 miles. Life in the mountain towns is much slower and peaceful but certainly not boring. Here the fun is finding the quaint hideaways, charming inns and small local restaurants while getting to know the friendly people who call these towns home.
Top Stops in the Central Mountains:
- Visit Jayuya's Toro Negro Forest, where you'll find one of Puerto Rico's tallest peaks (4,389 feet).
- Stop for a visit at one of the quaint country paradores (inns) along the way.
- Stop at the Caguana Ceremonial Indian Park in Utuado.
Explore the North
There are some things you won't find anywhere else on the island beside the north, including fascinating karstic landscape. In Vega Baja's freshwater Tortuguero Lagoon, nature lovers can enjoy close encounters with turtles, frogs and possibly even an alligator. Further west and inland from the northern coast are several of the island's crowd-pleasing attractions, including the Río Camuy Cave Park and the Arecibo Radio Telescope. A guided tour of Camuy's subterranean caverns, formed more than a million years ago, is a fascinating experience. And besides an enormous telescope, the Arecibo Radio Telescope Observatory has an exhibit that explains the workings of the instrument and tells a bit about the cosmos. Nearby is the Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park, which is a cultural theme park based on the history of Puerto Rico. The park also features a beautifully renovated lighthouse built by the Spanish in 1898.
Top spots in the North:
- Experience the Río Camuy Cave Park in Camuy.
- Visit the Arecibo Observatory.
- Stop by the Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park.
- Visit Cambalache Forest in Barceloneta for a picnic or off-road biking experience.
Explore Porta del Sol
Porta del Sol, which loosely translated is "doorway to the sun," is known for its lush greenery, sensational sunsets and playful surf. The wild and wonderful west has a personality all its own, with fabulous beaches and an entirely unique ambience that is a far cry from the bustling metropolitan areas of the island. This is where residents of the San Juan metropolitan area, surfers and sophisticated travelers go to escape the city and take in the tropics.
For years, surfers have flocked to the little town of Rincón for its world-class surfing conditions. Wilderness, Jobos and Surfers Beach also have a huge following for their monstrous waves. Cabo Rojo and La Parguera in the southwest corner draw families and travelers looking for a truly tropical respite from the cosmopolitan capital, and the area's underwater life and unique forest reserves also draw divers, hikers and explorers. But that's not to say that Porta del Sol is not a sophisticated destination. There are several upscale resorts and distinguished inns in the area, as well as a selection of marvelous restaurants. Mayagüez, the largest city in the region, has two hotels with casinos, as well as shopping malls. The west coast is also one of a few spots where, during the winter months, you might be able to catch a glimpse of humpback whales making their seasonal sojourn to the Caribbean.
Top Stops in Porta del Sol:
- Dive or snorkel the underwater caverns of Shacks Beach.
- Visit the Mayagüez Zoo.
- Take a sail, kayak, snorkel or dive trip to the offshore reefs and mangroves of La Parguera and visit the Bioluminescent Bay.
- Take a hike in the Guánica Dry Forest.
Explore the sister islands of Vieques and Culebra
Just a short ferry trip from the east end of Puerto Rico are the tiny islands of Vieques and Culebra, where life moves at a pace so much slower that you feel it the minute you step off the ferry or flight. Here in the charming sister islands, there are no traffic jams, crowds or casinos, but plenty of great beaches, interesting conversation and opportunities to get close to nature.
Just seven miles east of the Fajardo coast is the 25-by-5-mile island of Vieques. The lush green island shaped like a banana is a favorite for cyclists and nature lovers with its rolling hills, pristine beaches and a phosphorescent bay, said to be one of the most luminescent in the world.
The 25-square-mile Culebra, halfway between Fajardo and St. Thomas, is one of the best spots for snorkeling and diving or for witnessing a sea turtle hatching. The little-developed island is a favorite getaway for kayaking, hiking, fishing and sailing enthusiasts, as well as vacationers looking to "get away from it all." It's home to one of the Caribbean's most beautiful stretches of sand, Flamenco Beach.
Top Stops in Vieques and Culebra:
- Bike along the back roads of Vieques.
- Visit the beautiful Flamenco Beach on the northwest side of Culebra.
- Swim in Mosquito Bay, Vieques' phosphorescent bay, on a moonless night.
- Snorkel along the reef in Culebra's Playa Carlos Rosario.
- Take a guided eco-tour of Vieques.
Costa Caribe Golf & Country Club
1300 Sancho's Ave.
Ponce, PR 00716
Days/Hours of operation: 7 days a week
Costa Caribe Golf & Country Club is the premier golf and social club on the south shore. The world-class facility includes a 27-hole, oceanfront championship links-style golf course featuring Puerto Rico's first island green, lighted practice facility and a spectacular 32,000-square-foot modern beachfront clubhouse.
East Island Excursions
P.O. Box 1270
Fajardo, PR 00738
Snorkeling trips to islands off the east coast of Puerto Rico aboard the 62' EAST WIND sailing catamaran. Complimentary lunch buffet, tropical rum drinks and snorkel gear. Excursions to Culebra's world-famous beaches, pristine reefs, Vieques bioluminescent bay or St. Thomas. Destinations easily reached on our high-speed power catamarans, ISLAND FLYER and ECO ISLEÑO. Private and group charters available.
Trump International Golf Club
100 Clubhouse Drive
Río Grande, PR 00745
Days/Hours of operation: Golf: 7 days a week, 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Located on Puerto Rico's beautiful northeast coast, Trump International Golf Club features two breathtaking 18-hole golf courses designed by PGA TOUR Professional Tom Kite and a 46,000 square foot Clubhouse;home of the Puerto Rico Open, an official PGA TOUR event.
VIP Properties/Rita Molinelli
295 Palmas Inn Way, Suite 134
Palmas del Mar, Humacao
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Days/Hours of operation: 7 days a week (Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun.: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Palmas del Mar is a beautiful resort located on the Caribbean Sea side of the island. Its beautiful, shaded beach, two world-class championship golf courses, water sports, Equestrian Center, restaurants, shops and the best Tennis Center in the Caribbean offer a great vacation destination. Nice and comfortable beachfront villas with spectacular ocean views will make your stay unforgettable.
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