Determining why Puerto Rico is such a beloved travel destination is a no-brainer. With endless sand, incredible history and tropical ecosystems and wildlife, very few places can compare. Puerto Rico is appropriately nicknamed the ‘Island of Enchantment’ by the locals for its cultural charm and natural beauty.
Playa Isla Verde is a broad, mile-long wedge of sand lined with palm trees and is a picturesque tropical oasis. Located in the heart of Puerto Rico, this beach is the place for locals and tourists who want to be seen. The stylish, energetic Isla Verde Beach is considered one of the best municipal beaches in San Juan. The thriving beachfront is loaded with restaurants, cafes, bars, stores and rental shops for water activities. Playa Isla Verde’s lively atmosphere should not be missed, especially if you are looking for a fun, exciting holiday with friends.
San Pedro is a small, working coffee farm with an attached museum and tasting room where you can learn about the entire coffee-making process. This farm is one of the most historic aspects of the island, dating all the way back to 19th century. Honouring a family tradition, Hacienda San Pedro Coffee is still grown in the mountains of Jayuya, hand-picked, and brought to the market the same way it was done nearly a century ago. This historic venue is a great way to escape the sun after a few days at the beach and the gourmet blends are some of the best brews you can find.
El Bosque Nacional El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest system. This rain forest stands out for its sultry climate and impressive biodiversity. It is home to thousands of native plants, including 23 species of trees that are only found in this forest. There are also several species of wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else except for El Yunque. While you are here take a dip in the refreshing La Mina falls, an 11m waterfall that cascades over huge rocks into a pool of clear rain forest water. El Bosque Nacional El Yunque is an incredible sight and a great learning experience as visitors are always impressed with its ecological importance.
Puerto Rico’s amazing beaches and ocean views iare not the only natural beauty this island has to offer. This island is home to some of the most extensive biodiversity in the world, and Las Cabezas de San Juan is no exception. Las Cabezas de San Juan’s ‘El Faro’ Reserve shelters seven different ecological systems including beaches, lagoons, dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves. Amongst the natural beauty you will find a historical highlight: this reserve is the home to Puerto Rico’s oldest lighthouse overlooking the cliffs. For visitors craving a nature hike, there are about two miles of trails you can follow on a guided walking tour throughout the reserve with views of the lighthouse.
El Morro is the star of San Juan. Documented as the oldest Spanish fort in the New World, this piece of military history juts out over the Atlantic for a breathtaking view of the coastline. Castillo San Felipe del Morro is named in honour of King Phillip II of Spain, and it was designed to guard the entrance to San Juan Bay. The construction of the fort took nearly 200 years and played a crucial role in fighting off several foreign attacks. Do not leave Puerto Rico without taking a tour through El Morro; the immense size is impressive enough, but its historical significance makes this sight a must-see.
Puerto Rico falls into the tropical climate zone. Therefore, temperatures are moderate year round, averaging near 27 °C in lower elevations while dropping to 21°C in the mountains. The island is notably very windy, and its rainy season stretches from April through November with the peak of hurricane season hitting in September. The winter months are the best time to visit, as the temperatures cool down and there is less humidity. However, March is the driest month in Puerto Rico if you are looking to avoid any rain on your travels.
Puerto Rico is a United States territory, so when you are shopping in San Juan you can pay with American dollars, and credit cards are widely accepted. Many Puerto Ricans do speak English, but Spanish is most frequently used throughout the island, particularly by locals. Passports are required for entry to Puerto Rico. You will need to go to the US embassy offices and get a tourist visa. Also, in order to use an Australian mobile phone, you will need an app that relies on WiFi to connect you to the homeland or a global SIM card.
Before you take off on your long journey to the island paradise known as Puerto Rico, be sure to get international travel insurance for peace of mind while travelling abroad.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Breezy Baldwin; cropped from original