Puerto Rico is a United States territory with commonwealth status located east of the Dominican Republic in the northeastern Caribbean. With its beautiful beaches and natural rain forests, Puerto Rico has enough attractions to satisfy the tastes of any tourist. But the attractions don’t stop there! There are museums, historical sites, performing arts, and enough places to shop until you drop.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Capital: San Juan
Climate: Absolutely beautiful! Temperatures average about 83 degrees in the winter and 85 degrees in the summer.
Currency: U.S. dollar.
Languages: English and Spanish.
Passport and Visa Requirements: None
Population: Close to 4 million.
Power: 110 V, 50 Hz
Time Zone: UTC-5
If you enjoy windsurfing, wave jumping, or kite surfing, Puerto Rico is the right vacation destination for you. Shacks Beach in Isabela has often been compared to Maui. Only a few miles down is Jobos Beach, where you can scuba dive or snorkel.
Puerto Rico is also home to some very beautiful rain-forests and wildlife preserves, the largest is El Yunque rain-forest.
If horse races are what you enjoy, visit the El Comandante racetrack in Canóvanas. Thoroughbreds are raced every day, except Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the modern track. Try horseback riding along the beaches of Puerto Rico, follow a trail through a tropical rain forest, or go riding high in the mountains. Several ranches rent horses by the hour and offer guided tours and classes for beginners.
Donald Anthony says:
Long story made short: All the Spanish colonial Architecture, language and heritage mixed with Caribbean music, food and enjoyment of life without the hassle of worrying about undue travel safety as in other areas of the Caribbean.
While the residents of Puerto Rico are citizens of the US they are under territorial laws and are not able to fully govern themselves at all levels like a citizen of a state in the Union. The island does have a have a “mainland feel”, in the apparent police presence, the US style of auto driving and the bilingual signs. The Puerto Rican people have a longer history than the United States and have fought in the American Revolution, in World Wars I, II and all US police actions since. I’ve learned that the Island is 2.5 times larger in land mass than Long Island, New York with less population than Manhattan. In the 1950’s there was a great migration to the states centering in New York, hence the Broadway show. Periodically there are votes to decide whither they will apply for statehood or remain a territory of the United States. The issue is very sensitive.
At dinner tonight our tour guide told a story where, many years ago, her mother and father moved the family to the states for a seemed to be, back then, better economic opportunities. As life would happen our tour guide returned to Puerto Rico and has been here many years and now refuses to go to the states. She promised to show us why she loves Puerto Rico.
Tonight we went to a little restaurant called UWA. It is located in a neighborhood a short distance to the east of San Juan, in a residential section attached to a boutique style 28 room hotel that is right on the beach. While the waves pounded surf in the background and a light rainstorm showed some small leaks in the roof, I enjoyed a seafood sauce on linguine that was magnificent. Mussels, clams, crab and calamari practically danced around the plate. I wisely asked the wait staff for a half order of the linguini so I could focus on the sauce: light and creamy; filling but not stuffing. In this small restaurant I got my first lesson about Puerto Rico: enjoy the food and don’t sweat the small stuff. It shows its Latin heritage and its island location. Fresh caught produce and ingredients that sent my taste buds flying and my mind wandering how could I get back here for another meal?
Seven o’clock in the morning is a typical wakeup time for work but not here. In Puerto Rico it would be just enough time to dress for outdoor adventure, have breakfast and travel about 30 minutes from the Sheraton Hotel by the Conference center, where I was staying to get to “Hacienda Campo Rico”. It is a former sugar cane plantation and farm that has transformed itself into a hotel and recreation center with eco-adventure tours, horseback riding, ATV tours, amphibious vehicles and zip lining. Each activity is coordinated and run by a subcontractor who is an expert in that particular field. While the fact is that the term “safety first” is the paramount rule, having fun is the major second. Located in an area known as Carolina, Puerto Rico, a short 30 minute drive from San Juan, the Hacienda Campo Rico appears to be at least full 2 days of extraordinary education and physical fun.
The staff of each adventure area takes time to outfit clients with the right equipment and give instruction on how to use it. The Zip Line for me was great fun, although, for the guides it must have been difficult to handle the speed at which I traveled on the cables. Since an accident years ago, I do not have much strength in my arms and my braking power was not as efficient as other folks. So I must have been traveling at 500 miles an hour into the zip catcher. When she realized how fast I was traveling towards her, I thought her face showed a little panic but… she stopped me safely. I must have been the topic of conversation that night!
Horseback riding was wonderful, although the horse grunted when I approached and then moaned uncle when I got on board. With the instruction they gave it was easy to learn how to control the horse and at the end he went right back to the barn for lunch…just as I wanted him to do. The ATV ride and the amphibious vehicle ride both lead to “way back in the rainforest” where the group could observe nature and just listen to the birds. It was educational, relaxing and we even got to see a rather large iguana.
The following day, I learned that a guided tour of Old San Juan may be the only way to go. There is so much to see that the guide actually organizes the time and subjects for better efficiency than I could do. It was a short taxi from the hotel and some of our group went back there later at night and found the people accommodating and conditions non-threatening. One or group said he going to talk to his wife about a vacation in Puerto Rico just based on this short trip. The guide took us to Fort Cristobel the oldest fort in the Americas. Built by the Spanish in the early 1600’s it is a world heritage site, run by the U.S. National Park service. After our tour of the fort, through the cells, barracks, past the chapel and across the pediments we took a short few block walk into the blocks of Old San Juan.
The Spanish architecture or its influence is in every building with neat rows of houses reflective of their European roots, clean street filled with families and students.
The main travel site is - http://SEEPUERTORICO.COM
Hacienda Campo Rico - http://haciendacamporico.com/