I haven’t been to Puerto Rico since 2004 when I went on a Celebrity cruise out of San Juan to the southern Caribbean islands. Prior to that, it was the embarkation port for my very first cruise in 1998…and was the travel experience that led me to the travel industry! It’s high time to go again to see this “Heaven on Earth”! The Puerto Rico Tourism Board is holding a conference in May, and one of my best friends is scheduling the education for them. Lucky girl that I am, I will have quality time with my “bestie” and increase my travel industry knowledge at the same time….after which I will take a glorious 7 night cruise with another “bestie” on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas to visit more lovely islands.
The ship will stop at several islands, including St. Thomas and St. Kitts. Two others I have not yet had the opportunity to visit are Aruba and Curacao, 2/3 the “ABC” islands (Bonaire is the third) that lie off the coast of Venezuela, allowing them some protection from the hurricane winds. But that is for another story, so stay tuned!
Puerto Rico is a lovely, diverse island with six regions to explore, and each has it’s own unique characteristics and attractions. If you wish to learn more, a great website is www.seepuertorico.com My experience has been primarily with the area surrounding San Juan, and the area East where the rain forest El Yunque provides a wonderful eco-experience. It’s easily accessible from San Juan (about 1.5 hours drive) so be sure to include it in your trip, no matter how long you plan to stay.
San Juan Metro is one of the top 25 metropolitan areas in North America, and is big on entertainment (casinos), business and culture. But you can travel back 500 years while in the massive fortifications of Old San Juan, which is a seven-block museum and designated a UNESCO World heritage site. It has neighborhoods, but also plenty of places to party, dine, shop and stay. I especially enjoy exploring the old fort there…it has amazing views of the sea and feels magical to me.
The East boasts fantastic beaches, golf, nature reserves, and impressive underwater reefs. And in the 2014 Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Awards, Vieques (just off the coast) was among the top 10 Islands in the Caribbean and Flamenco Beach in Culebra (another small island) was voted among the best Beaches in the World! Impressive.
Lodging is both luxurious (world-class) and quaint and affordable. Paradors, best known for affordable rates and charming out-of-the-way locations, are comfy starting points for nearby adventures. You will find caves networks, great hiking, body rafting, and night-time kayaking on bioluminescent bays. The surfing is fantastic on the West side of the island, and here you can find some very cool surf towns.
The diving is also world famous, with Scuba Diving Magazine ranking four of Puerto Rico’s sites it’s top rating of five flags. I loved this description of Angel Reef off Vieques. “If you’re looking for wilderness diving, this rarely dived site truly fits the bill…with corals in near-pristine condition.”
Golfers, there are more championship golf courses here than in any other Caribbean destination. Most are a short drive from San Juan, and the most distant is just two hours away. There are eight resorts billed as golf resorts, so you won’t have trouble finding one that fits your needs, to be sure!
Here are a few photos I took on my last visit to wet your appetite. And remember, you won’t need a passport! We have good air options from all over the continental US, and pricing is quite reasonable. I also wouldn’t hesitate to suggest you rent a car for part or all of your vacation, as the roads are quite good and it’s very safe.
I will share more information after my trip in May, of course, so please watch for another story or two. As always, I am happy to assist you in planning your adventures…I love people like you who love nature and want to really get out there to explore when they travel! Peace, Bobbie