Could Puerto Rico be one of the most enchanting islands to visit in the Caribbean? I surely think so. An American territory sitting to the east of the Dominican Republic, there’s something for everyone in Puerto Rico making it also one of the most exciting islands in the Caribbean. Offering a wide range of activities from adventure to relaxation with a little shopping and a lot of good eating in between, Puerto Rico will keep you busy whether you plan to spend a long weekend in historic Old San Juan or explore all of Puerto Rico’s treasures over a week. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should visit Puerto Rico now and see for yourself why it is called the “Island of Enchantment.”
1) The Sights: Sightseeing galore in picturesque Old San Juan
A visit to Old San Juan is like stepping back in time. As you walk around the narrow blue cobblestone streets passing the colorful buildings that house shops, bars, and restaurants, it’s hard not to be immediately thrown into vacation mode. Have your camera ready because Old San Juan is also a photographer’s dream. Pretty architecture, historic churches, inviting courtyards, old forts, and seascapes provide great opportunities to snap up some fantastic pictures.
Whether you are sipping a pina colada at Barrachina (the birthplace of the popular drink), or shopping for a souvenir along Calle Fortaleza, you’ll find that the hours will fly by as you make your way around walkable Old San Juan. With opportunities to take in some historical sites including the forts, El Morro and San Cristobal, and plenty of spots to stop for traditional Puerto Rican food and drink, you’ll find yourself wanting more hours in the day to enjoy all this small historic area has to offer.
2) The Surfing: A surfer’s paradise in Rincon
Rincon is a surfer’s paradise with 20 foot waves and a relaxing bohemian vibe. Even if you are not a surfer, you should plan a visit to this relaxed coastal area located on the western part of the island. In just a 3 hour drive from Old San Juan, you’ll be transported to a beach town where the people are friendly and the waves are high. Sure, there are a lot of young kids in the area to catch those big waves, but there are just as many residents and tourists of a certain age hanging out at the bars, restaurants, and beaches too. In Rincon, you’ll also find plenty of beaches that are swimmer friendly if surfing is not your thing.
Don’t miss the sunsets in Rincon, either. With Rincon on the west coast of Puerto Rico, you’ll enjoy some pretty amazing sunsets into the ocean. For a relaxing sunset, share a beer with a surfer on the beach at Maria’s Beach. If you are up for a party scene, catch the happy hour sunset at Villa Cofressi Either way, watching a sunset is the perfect way to end a day in Rincon.
3) The Rainforest – A taste of nature at El Yunque National Forest
When you need a break from the sun and sand, plan a visit to the tropical rainforest on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Here, you can hike along the trails in a jungle-like environment taking in the lush foliage, waterfalls, and small indigenous animals that lurk in every nook and crag. With a high temperature of only 73 degrees (F), it’s a great retreat from the hot sun and warm temps of the island. Plus, it’s the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest System.
4) The Beaches – A break from civilization on Vieques Island
Puerto Rico definitely takes advantage of its coastline, and you’ll find some incredible beaches whether you are visiting the north, west, or east coast. However, if you really want to see some drop-dead gorgeous beaches that are never crowded, visit Vieques Island.
Whether you take a ferry or a prop plane, do what you can to get yourself to this small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. What awaits you are unspoiled beaches that are practically empty every day of the week, a bioluminescent bay that is considered one of the best in the world, calm waters for swimming and snorkeling, wild horses roaming the neighborhoods and roads, and giant iguanas hanging out in the shade. Leave the dress clothes in the suitcase because Vieques is a very laid back island providing a relaxed environment that is hard to find nowadays. Do yourself a favor: book a simple guesthouse in Esperanza and rent a Jeep for exploring the island; you’ll get a real dose of living life at a much simpler pace.
(You can find more information about transportation options on Vieques Island, here).
5) The Resorts – Relax in luxury along the coast
Spend a few days being pampered in one of the island’s luxury resorts. The island boasts several large luxury complexes offering everything from swim up bars to golf. There’s no need to have sand in your toes for your entire vacation when you can indulge in the luxurious amenities of resorts like The Horned Dorset Primavera (Rincon), El Conquistador (Fajardo), or the Gran Melia Puerto Rico Golf Resort (Rio Grande). Also, from swimming in beautiful pools to golfing stunning fairways, you’ll have a terrific view with anything you do during a stay at these luxury resorts whether it be the ocean, sea, rainforest or plantations.
Have you been to Puerto Rico? Do you have a favorite beach or hotel? What is your favorite place to visit or most memorable experience? Share in the comments below.