The Island of Your Dreams:
7 Wonders of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a country located on the island of the same name in the Caribbean Sea. The Spanish translation of its name means “rich port”, and although it initially implied something completely different, today it clearly explain Puerto Rico’s popularity among tourists from all over the world. Resorts for every taste and perfect beach holidays are just some of the things that attract travelers. The following 7 wonders of Puerto Rico will reveal the most amazing and interesting features of this place...
San Juan is Puerto Rico’s state capital and its highly developed infrastructure really amazes. However, if you rent a car with Alamo at SJU Airport and drive a little from San Juan deep into the island, you’ll discover incredibly beautiful wild landscapes opening before your eyes. The main natural attractions of Puerto Rico are the Camuy River Cave Park, which is an extensive cave with an underground river, as well as the Parguera Nature Reserve with a complex system of coral reefs along with El Yunque National Reserve. As Puerto Rico itself is relatively small, you can drive by car around it in just a day. That’s why sightseeing tours are popular there. During these road trips you can see fascinating coral reefs, caverns, mangroves, as well as local wildlife presented with manatees, Puerto Rican frogs and rare species of birds.
Festivals for any occasion
Whatever time of year you decide to choose for visiting Puerto Rico, you will surely catch some bright festival. The merry temper of the Puerto Ricans turns even a modest event into a holiday. Parades and performances are held there for any reason, whether it’s a festival of orchids or pineapples, beer or sugar cane!
San Sebastian celebration is held throughout the island. During this time you can enjoy a unique festivity with dances, and numerous tents with traditional food and objects of local craftsmen are presented right on the streets. Every year, beginning in the 1970s, in the middle of January, a great number of tourists flock to the old part of San Juan to become part of the noisiest and the funniest local festival.
In colonial times, Puerto Rico was a rich port in terms of exports — coffee, sugar, and tobacco were actively grown on the island. Nowadays, farms and plantations have been become private ownerships and continue to produce products of excellent quality by using traditional technologies. Excursions to reed and coffee plantations will be especially interesting for families, because children can get acquainted with real rural life and see that sugar and coffee don’t grow in a supermarket. In the city of Vega Baja there’s a farm where horses are bred and trained, so you can visit it to admire these clever and kind animals.
Dancing until the morning
Salsa is Puerto Rico's major highlight. In the evenings, cheerful rhythms are heard from cafes and restaurants, musicians perform everywhere, and people dance until the morning. If you don’t feel confident in going out on the dance floor, you can first take a lesson: many cafes and clubs have special training evenings for beginners. Well, if your interest in salsa goes beyond night dancing, go on a tour of San Juan, called Salsa Route. The tour passes through old music shops, themed monuments, bars and restaurants, gradually revealing the history of the development of salsa, as an integral part of the culture of Puerto Rico.
New generations of the island’s inhabitants respect the heritage of their ancestors, so in Puerto Rico, modern hotels peacefully and organically coexist with centuries-old buildings. San Juan was built up in layers, so all the historical eras on the city can be seen with your own eyes. For example, the iconic Spanish restaurant La Mallorquina was opened about 150 years ago, and the best paella on the island is served there like a century and a half ago.
The city itself is surrounded by the walls of 500-years-old Castillo Sao Felipe del Moro. The Western Hemisphere’s first Christian church was also built there. Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which adorns the center of the old city, was erected of wood in 1521 and later restored with stone. The pearl of the journey into the past is the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, which is the restored village of the Arawak Indians who lived there in 25 BC. This center will soon be 2000 years old!
Rum and pastries
Local rum is the main component in many local cocktails, including the famous Pina colada, which was invented there. Instead of the well-known Bacardi, be sure to try the local rum varieties that you can hardly find anywhere else - Palo Viejo, DonQ, or Ron del Barrilito are among them.
After a night of adventures, the most enjoyable morning lesson is the unhurried brunch in Panadería – these are so-called street bakeries that work in the morning. They serve excellent coffee, fresh pastries, outstanding breakfasts and tasty lunches.
Vieques and Culebra
These two strange words are the names of the small satellite islands located east of Puerto Rico – you can reach them by ferry from Fajardo or by small plane from San Juan. On Culebra Island, there’s Flamenco Beach, where old rusty tanks left there forty years ago can be seen from the sand – this is a surreal sight for memorable photos.
On Vieques Island, you need to stay overnight and spend it in Mosquito Bay, which is full of bioluminescent plankton that glows at night with bright neon light. In the afternoon, it’s worth going to Sun Bay Beach to watch wild horses. Both islands have beautiful beaches, hotels and restaurants, so you can stay there for a few days and spend an excellent vacation.