Puerto Rico Destination Guide
Puerto Rico Holidays
American in citizenship, currency and infrastructure but a blend of Spanish, Indian and African in culture, Puerto Rico is a beloved spicy melting pot in the middle of the Caribbean. It is a common stop for cruise ships of the Caribbean - though a simple day in Puerto Rico doesn’t really do it justice. Stay a little longer and you’ll find an island full of colour and personality. Where beaches run the gamut from glow in the dark waters at Mosquito Bay, to pink sandy shores at Isla Verde Beach, lush rainforests like El Yungque let you literally get off the beaten track and towns like Old San Juan will see you travel back in time. Add a healthy appetite for golf, nightlife and Pina Coladas and you’ve got a Caribbean Island ready and raring to show you a good time? All you’ve got to do is go.
The list of things to do runs long in Puerto Rico. At the top of your list should be riding the free trolley around Old San Juan. It is here you can learn about the island’s colonial heritage, visit the 11th story art deco Banco Popular building and browse its third floor museum. Another day trip not to miss is taking the ferry out to the pristine waters of Vieques where you can enjoy some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and a wide range of natural wildlife including wild Paso Fino horses. For even more lush landscapes, head to the Parques Las Cavernas where you’ll be wowed by the third largest underground cave system in the world, or soar over the Toro Verde National Park for a bird’s eye view of Puerto Rico on one of the world’s longest zip-lines.
Eat and Drink
There’s more to Puerto Rico’s dining scene than chocolate and coffee (although there is that too). Start your morning in the courtyard of the popular Patio del Nispero restaurant, where locals recommend ordering the mallorca – an egg, ham and cheese grilled sandwich dusted with sugar. Those who can’t start their morning without coffee should ask for the local Finca Cialitos brew, touted as one of the Caribbean’s best coffees. To sink your teeth into some authentic Puerto Rico cuisine, order the fried plantain dish called mofongo for lunch (El Jibarito in San Juan is a great place to try it). For fine-dining, many of the island’s resorts featured covetable onsite restaurants such as Fern at the St.Regis Bahia Beach Resort, and Pikayo at the Condado Hilton.
Where to Stay
If you want to be close to the hustle, bustle and nightlife, opt for a high-rise hotel in San Juan such as the Sheraton or Ritz Carlton. For easy beach access, there are a multitude of resorts lining the coast such as Dorando Beach and Isla Verde Beach. While facilities and star ratings vary, private villas and golf courses are incredible common. If you’re looking for romantic beach-side seclusion, Puerto Rico has a number of surrounding islands where you can stay such as the boutique Club Seabourne on Culebra Island and the 5-star W Retreat on Vieques Island.
Where to Shop
With such a vivacious culture, Puerto Rico is a fantastic country to discover by shopping. For the most choice, explore the narrow streets of Old San Juan where you’ll find everything from upscale boutiques to authentic crafts and tacky souvenirs. Shopping in this area is very similar to shopping at home in that you won’t need to deal with hagglers and bargaining isn’t typically practiced (and may seem rude). For local art work and authentic souvenirs, we recommend visiting the Puerto Rican Arts & Crafts store where you can browse some incredible paintings, ceramics and handmade jewellery.
Puerto Rico like a Local
If you find yourself in Puerto Rico on the first Sunday of the month, don’t miss visiting the monthly Farmer’s Market in San Juan’s Condado neighbourhood. The lively market at Ventara al Mar hosts an array of local produce and crafts ideal for browsing and mingling with locals. We also recommend visiting on an empty stomach too as the market is famed for its street eats like home-made empanadas and fritters, best washed down with freshly made cocktails.