One of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a stunning vacation spot that offers everything from mountains and rain forests to beach-side cocktails and superb local cuisine.
Travelers keen on experiencing the outdoors will flock to attractions like nearby Mona Island, which is often likened to the Galapagos. If you're more interested in history, you'll be dazzled by the ancient architecuture and lively culture of Puerto Rico. If you're having trouble seeing part of the map, just widen your browser.
Old San Juan is home to many of the island's historical sites including Fort San Cristobol, Fort San Felipe del Morro, La Fortaleza, and the Cathedral of San Juan. Located within the greater San Juan metro area (on the northern coast about midway across the map) this is where you'll find the most museums and landmarks, as well as some of the island's busiest beaches, including Condado Beach. Puerto Rico is a large island with a diverse selection of beaches. The ones on the eastern and southern shores tend to be calm and uncrowded, making them great for swimming and snorkeling. The beach at Rincon and some other locations along the western and northern coast frequently tend to be quite windy, which explains why they attract surfers and windsurfers from around the world.
El Yunque Rainforest, perhaps the most famous natural feature of the island, covers a huge portion of the Puerto Rico's north eastern region. You can drive or hike through the forest, which covers part of the Luquillo Mountains, and maybe even catch a glimpse of Puerto Rico's rare tree frog, the Coquî.
Some of Puerto Rico's most beautiful natural attractions are on the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra. Vieques, which is 21 miles long, has several beaches such as the Playa Esperanza. The highlight of the island is the Bioluminiscent Mosquito Bay, where water glows when disturbed, a rare natural phenomenon. Culebra, which sits about 10 miles north of Vieques, boasts Playa Flamenco and the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. In 2013 it was ranked at number 19 on a list of "World's Best Islands" by Travel + Leisure.
Other places of interest include the world's largest radio telescope at Arecibo and the Camuy Caves Park, both of which are located in the north west (upper left part of the map),. The diverse ecology at Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, near Fajardo is also noteworthy. Puerto Rico's Underwater Wall runs parallel to the south coast, and can be explored on dive boat trips from Guanica and La Parguera.
Mona Island, located 47 miles southwest from Mayaguez is home to many endangered and rare plants and animals. The enormous Mona Iguana is found here, as well as the Geco Oriundo, Hawksbill and Leatherback sea turtles. Humpback whales are frequently sighted with their young during the winter months.
Besides the many natural attractions, visitors will discover traditional local foods and nightlife in many parts of the island. Casinos are located in San Juan and in a few other scattered resort areas around the island.
The great majority of the island's accommodations are in or near San Juan. This north central area is the most popular (and most crowded) part of Puerto Rico. The greatest concentration of hotel rooms is located in and near the Condado District.
If you are looking for a quieter alternative, consider Dorado, which is close enough to allow day trips to San Juan while being outside the heart of the metropolitan area. You'll find plenty of other hotels and resorts farther out, particularly in the North East region scattered along the coast from San Juan to Fajardo.
South across the island, Ponce is a fairly large city, but it only has a limited number of hotels and motels, and they are mostly located away from the water. Still, it is a good central location which provides a good starting point for exploring many other parts of the island. Less congested areas like like Mayagüez, Rincon, and Aguadilla along on the west coast are also worth considering, especially for those who want to get away from the crowds and aren't looking for a large resort complex.
Palmas del Mar, on the other hand, is a very large, gated resort community with miles of beautiful beaches, thousands of upscale condominium units, a marina and a hotel. It is located near Humacao, south of the El Yunque rain forest.
Other options include the many small Paradors, or country inns, which are scattered around the island, including some located in the mountainous interior. Although privately owned and operated, the Paradors participate in a government sponsored program that makes it easier to book a reservation, and helps ensure a more consistent and predictable level of quality. Many offer traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, picturesque locations and friendly service at a very reasonable price.
Puerto Rico's largest airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), is in the San Juan metro area. It has numerous non stop flights from the United States and Europe, and serves as a hub for connecting flights throughout the Caribbean. Cities with less frequent scheduled air service include Humacao, Mayaguez and Ponce.
The island's major cruise port area, Port of San Juan, is also in metro area. Some piers are adjacent to Old San Juan, allowing tourists to walk to major attractions there; other piers are located directly across the bay, in the Isla Verde district -- a short taxi ride from most points of interest.
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