The Caribbean island Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth of the USA, and a melting pot of American and Spanish cultures. The territory’s mountainous terrain is covered with tropical rainforests, waterfalls, beaches, and historic landmarks. This mesmerising island is popular for the music of salsa, aesthetic architectural sites and also prides itself as the ‘Rum capital of the world’.
Capital San Juan is coloured with vibrant Spanish architecture and has a well-preserved Old City. The 16th century structures like El Morro citadel and La Fortaleza, the historical market plaza of La Placita de Santurce, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico and sandy beaches like Balneario El Escambrón and Playa Isla Verde are the highlights of the capital. You can also take a tour of Casa Bacardi, the largest rum distillery in the world, which is just a short drive away from the capital.
El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest that comes under the US Forest System. It is home to numerous waterfalls like Juan Diego Falls and La Mina Falls, and hiking trails like El Angelito, Mt Britton and La Coca are most popular. Ancient petroglyphs of the region’s indigenous Taíno people can be found in the south of the Park. There are over 200 species of flora and a rich collection of reptiles and amphibians. The park also has observation towers from where you can observe this massive greenery and also spot birds.
Puerto Rico’s second largest city, Ponce city is located on the south coast of the main island. The city stands for its impressive Spanish architecture and local culture. The highly photographed building, Parque de Bombas – situated at Plaza Las Delicias, is the main attraction in Ponce.
Guanica, a coastal city, is known for its vast 10,000-acre State Forest (also known as Bosque Estatal de Guánica), that has a desert terrain and subtropical dry vegetation. The beautiful beaches here are void of the typical tourist crowds and you can take a ferry to Cayo Aurora, a small mangrove island with clear cyan-blue waters.
Rincon – a town on Puerto Rico’s west coast, is a popular setting for magical sunsets. The Punta Higuero Lighthouse, endless sandy shores, beautiful corals and excellent surfing, are the offerings of the town.
Culebra is a stunning island that boasts of great beaches like Flamenco, Tamarindo and Punta Melones. The island’s rich underwater world offers great diving and snorkeling and its lush forests are suitable for hiking. Culebra is a great destination for those who seek solitude and escape from the chaotic day-to-day life.
Vieques, a lone island stands popular for the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world – Mosquito Bay. It hosts great beaches, Fuerte de Vieques – a 19th century Spanish fortress and great restaurants.
Puerto Rico is a great tropical island getaway with a stunning coastline, friendly locals, excellent food and plenty of rum. With a mix of Spanish, American and native cultures, this Caribbean paradise is a class apart from your typical island vacation.
Old San Juan area houses some amazing well-preserved buildings.