Puerto Rico Feature
If You Like
Sanjuaneros often pack the city's sandy stretches as well as such east-coast beaches as Luquillo, especially on weekends, when the later afternoon traffic back into San Juan is a nightmare. Those seeking solitude will find it on the outer islands, where the beaches are wide, spectacular, and often deserted. To the south, several stretches are broad and inviting, with plenty of seaside bars and restaurants where you can while away the hours. The west coast near the town of Rincón is popular with surfers.
Balneario de Carolina, San Juan. There's a reason this spot is the site for some of the toniest resorts in San Juan's Isla Verde—the beach, wide and warm and kissed by the surf, seems to go on forever.
Balneario Luquillo, Luquillo. This beautiful beach has all the trimmings—including lifeguards, changing rooms, and nearby kiosks where you can find tasty local cuisine and piña coladas.
Playa Crashboat, Aguadilla. The picturesque boats lining the shores here are just part of the appeal. The water has a shimmering, glassy look and is great for swimming and snorkeling. The snorkeling and diving off the pier are sensational.
Playa Flamenco, Culebra. Imagine a mile-long curve of pure white sand dissolving into pure turquoise water. In fact, it's the most beautiful beach in Puerto Rico, with room enough to spare.
Sun Bay, Vieques. This crescent-shaped bay has one of the region's prettiest beaches and is popular with day-tripping sanjuaneros. On weekdays, when the crowds are thin, you might also find wild horses grazing among the palm trees.
Puerto Rico has preserved much of its history, especially in Old San Juan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk down any cobblestone street and you'll get a sense of what it was like to be here during the Spanish Empire. Nearly as fascinating is Ponce, whose boom in the 1930s brought wonderful Art Deco buildings around the main square. For colonial splendor, there are San Germán and Guayama on the southern coast.
Capilla de Porta Coeli, San Germán. One of the oldest religious buildings in the Americas, this mission-style chapel now functions as a museum of religious art.
Casa Cautiño, Guyama. Dating from 1887, this elegant neoclassical home has a painstakingly restored exterior. You'll be swept back in time walking through the Victorian-era rooms.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan. El Morro is solid as a rock and even today seems impenetrable. Take a guided tour and see why San Juan was able to fend off invaders for 400 years.
Hacienda Buena Vista, Ponce. The grounds of this former coffee plantation are meticulously maintained. Take a guided tour to find out what it was like to be a settler taming the wilderness.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan. The island's premier art museum scours the island for interesting pieces, displaying works by contemporary local artists as well as island masters like Rafael Tufiño. It will reopen in 2010 after a fabulous remake.
Parque de Bombas, Ponce. This red-and-black striped structure has served as a firehouse since 1883. It's among the most photographed buildings in Puerto Rico.
Does it take more than a piña colada to get you going? Does the thought of lying on the beach for a week bore you to tears? Luckily, Puerto Rico has more than enough outdoor activities to keep you occupied. Whether you prefer your adventures in the forest, on the sea, or underground, the island has something for everyone.
Kayaking in Bahía Mosquito, Vieques. The magnificence of gliding through the sparkling sea creatures at this bioluminescent bay at night is almost beyond description. Here nature beats special effects hands down.
Hiking in Bosque Estatal de Guánica, Guánica. This dry forest is an amazing site with its various forms of cacti and abundant bird life. Hiking here may not be for everyone—it's hot and arid—but you'll love it if you're interested in exotic flora and birds. Tiny coquí frogs hop around underfoot.
Spelunking at Parque de las Cavernas de Río Camuy, Arecibo. Rappelling into the caves in the limestone karst just south of Arecibo—through wild bamboo and banana plants—is one of the most exciting adventures in Puerto Rico.
Exploring El Yunque. With 100 billion gallons of precipitation annually, this protected area truly is a rain forest. Among its sights are 240 tree species and 68 types of birds, including the endangered Puerto Rican green parrot. It has 38 miles of trails.
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