Rico, Spanish for “rich port,” has beguiled travelers for centuries. Back in the 16th century, boats laden with spices, sugar and coffee would ply its deep waters. Today, seaports and airports are still busy, bringing visitors eager to walk the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, dance to the Caribbean beat and indulge in aromatic dishes. Rich in culture, natural beauty and awash in the warmth of its people, Puerto Rico welcomes you!
Sightseeing and Attractions
From unspoiled beaches to rainforest-covered mountains to the desert-like reaches of the southwest, visitors will find much to see within Puerto Rico’s shores.
Here, modern attractions like the world’s largest radio telescope in Arecibo vie for attention with the ancient majesty of the fort of San Felipe del Morro. Go further back in time and view remnants of the indigenous Taíno culture at the Tibes Ceremonial Center in Ponce. Taste one of Puerto Rico’s finest exports at the Bacardí Rum Distillery. Savor fresh roasted coffee at a working coffee plantation established in the 19th century. Or drink in the view from the top of the observation tower in the heart of the El Yunque National Forest.
Festivals are also a wonderful way of experiencing island culture: every October, the Le Lo Lai Festival combines traditional music and dance with a farmer’s market, artisan exhibits and more in the heart of Old San Juan.
Dining and Nightlife
Puerto Rican criollo cooking has its roots firmly planted in its triple heritage—Taíno, African and Spanish. Fresh-caught seafood, poultry and meat are sautéed, stewed or roasted in a variety of dishes, many accompanied by aromatic arroz blanco (white rice) y habichuelas (beans). Local chefs have taken traditional recipes to new heights, creating a flavorful nouvelle cuisine. International fare is also well represented, particularly in cosmopolitan Condado, San Juan and Isla Verde.
Nights are especially vibrant—Puerto Ricans love to dress up and go out on the town. Hotel lobbies that combine the excitement of a casino with live music are very popular, and there’s no shortage of nightclubs and discos in the metropolitan area. The catchy rhythms of salsa and merengue music mixed with European and top-40s dance hits pulse far into the night, so bring your best dancing shoes!
You’ll find plenty to take home, from gorgeous artisan pieces sold in markets throughout the island to the latest fashions, jewelry and more—don’t miss a visit to the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, Plaza las Americas. The streets of Old San Juan are dotted with galleries: look for native handicrafts such as hand-carved santos, or saints, hammocks, needlework and ceramics.
Don’t forget low import tax rates make the purchase of tobacco, spirits and perfumes a very good deal.
Puerto Rico is literally ringed in fabulous beaches: Isla Verde, Condado and Ocean Park are great places to park your towel and people watch, but if you’re looking for a bit of seclusion, head out to seaside towns like Guánica and Fajardo or take a jaunt to the tiny outlying islands of Culebra and Vieques (great daytrips!) Wherever you go, you’ll find expanses of golden sand shaded by tall palm trees swaying in the cool trade winds.
Tee time is on at any of 23 courses, many attached to names like Fazio, Nicklaus, Norman and the island’s own Chi Chi Rodríguez. Hike trails in the rainforest to natural pools, spelunk the caverns at Camuy, or angle for a trophy off the back of a fishing boat. Take your pick of surfing, sailing, kayaking or jet skiing, go below to dive sites at Desecheo and Mona islands or snorkel the shallow reefs of Humacao, San Juan and Dorado, among others.
The beautiful island of Puerto Rico is within the SkyMed Service Area—safe travels, always!