When we discovered that our family were all off for the Thanksgiving week, we decided to take a trip for some sun, sand and much needed relaxation. Isn’t it difficult to plan vacations when your children are now adults? It is just so hard to get everyone’s calendars in sync. It is even harder when they live in a different state. Why Puerto Rico? We had been to Puerto Rico quite a few years back when our children were very young; we stayed in Dorado and as we were on a business trip, we had never really explored the island. Besides, Puerto Rico is only a 3 hour flight from our closest airport, that was reason enough to pack our bags and head for the sun :)
Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth and the US dollar is the official currency. US citizens do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico. Spanish and English are the official languages, although most Puerto Ricans speak English. Puerto Rico might be considered a small island, but it is surrounded by miles of beautiful coastline. Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches can be found in Puerto Rico, turquoise waters, golden sands, palm trees swaying in the breeze, this was a welcome break for all!
I found us a beautiful condo in Isla Verde overlooking the beach. The views from the condo were just spectacular as the photos above show. We chose Isla Verde as it is a tranquil place, less touristy, but with no shortage of restaurants, bars and entertainment.
Breathtaking El Yunque National Rainforest in the northeastern part of Puerto Rico is the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest system. Lush foilage, waterfalls, flora and fauna were prevalent. We rented a car for a couple of days and drove to this subtropical mountainous forest. We did hike to one of the waterfalls, parts of the forest floor were quite slippery with the rainfall and humidity and is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Strolling through the streets of Old San Juan just sightseeing was a great activity. It is architecturally beautiful and contains many of the cultural and historical sights. Just wander through the blue cobblestone streets, marvel at the brightly colored buildings, peek into some of the old churches, stop by a cafe, listen to street music, enjoy the festivals, grab a drink at a roof-top bar and be enchanted and immersed with all that Old San Juan has to offer.
San Juan National Historic Site – where history comes to life. The 16th century citadel was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies. This is a great open area to visit, it is lush and green and it’s right in Old San Juan.
Without a doubt, Flamenco Beach in Culebra was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen. The Travel Channel says, “Culebra is situated 20 miles off the northeast coast, has beautiful beaches and plenty of sun, but it’s also an old pirate hideout loaded with virtually undisturbed treasures. Not to mention that in 1493 Christopher Columbus dropped by this tropical oasis during his second voyage, and in 1909 Theodore Roosevelt declared Culebra one of America’s first wildlife refuges”. The boat ride from mainland Puerto Rico took roughly under two hours. The boat trip to the island offered snorkeling equipment, a lunch, snacks and and an island rum punch, but be warned, it was quite pricey! Because the reef is protected, the boat was not allowed on shore, so one had to swim to get to shore. There were giant sea turtles and colorful fish all around the reef. It is a beautiful unspoiled island, not wracked with commercialism, I just wish there were more places around like this. Ricky Martin is said to own a home on the island.
We drove around some of the more local beaches to check out the neighborhood scene. It is a good idea to rent a car for a day or two to explore other parts of the island. Ponce was on our list, but we did not make it there. Will we return to explore some more? You bet we will! The people, the friendly faces, the food, the sun, the beaches, just so many reasons to plan another trip sometime soon. Puerto Rico should be high on your list too if you are considering a tropical beach getaway anytime soon.