Travel

7 Things to See in Puerto Rico

7 Things to See in Puerto Rico
Written by Staff Writer

There are many attractions on the island of Puerto Rico, and listed below are some of the top not-to-be-missed sites.

1. Tour San Juan Antiguo
San Juan Antiguo, or Old San Juan, is situated on the Isleta de San Juan and is the oldest settlement in the country. It is famous for its shopping, history, and architecture. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The original settlement was founded in 1508 by Juan Ponce de Leon. This settlement was abandoned in 1809 and moved to a location known as “Puerto Rico” or “Rich Port.” Old San Juan is a major tourist location and has a free trolley that services the city.

2. El Yunque National Forest
This is a federal forest reserve that comprises a tropical rainforest known for its rare trees and birds. Camping and hiking are both available here. The forest is located in the northeastern part of the country on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains and features a walkway that winds through the treetops, leads to La Mina waterfall and Mount Britton, then to a high-desert forest. Visitors can view ancient petroglyphs made by the nation’s indigenous Taino people. The highest mountain rises 3,494 feet above sea level. While parts of the forest are closed due to the damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017, much of it remains open to visitors.

3. Castillo San Felipe del Morro
This 16th-century citadel was built by the Spanish on top of a cliffside promontory that offered the perfect mounting place for their cannon to face the sea. The fortress is located at the northeastern point of Old San Juan. It was named to honor King Phillip II of Spain and designed to protect the entrance to San Juan Bay. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983.The view from the Castillo is breath-taking.

4; Condado
This oceanfront community in Sanburce is made for pedestrians, who can take leisurely walks down its tree-lined street. Located east of Old San Juan, it is a middle/upper-class area known for its nightlife and its natural estuary. In the region’s northern portion, there are Atlantic Ocean beaches, hotels, nightclubs, casinos, shops, and restaurants. It represents one of the country’s chief tourist destinations and has its origins in the beginning of urbanization in 1908. It was a streetcar suburb at the time and saw an economic boom during the first decades of the 20th century when some of the richest families in the world built homes here, including the Vanderbilts.

5; Flamenco Beach
This attractive beach features snorkeling and camping accommodations. Located on the island of Culebra, this is a public beach known for its shallow and amazing turquoise-colored waters, white sands, and premier swimming and diving sites. The beach extends for a mile around a horseshoe-shaped bay. It is popular with locals and in 2014 was named the best beach in the world by travelers.

6. La Reserva Natural de La Bahía Bioluminiscente
This nature reserve is one of the most enchanting in the world. Located at Puerto Mosquito, it offers an excellent example of a bioluminescent bay. Boats moving through the waters leave glowing trails, and swimmers are surrounded by luminous “clouds.” The luminescent effect is produced by microscopic dinoflagellates, which total in the millions and are harmless. The microbes release a chemical that reacts with oxygen when disturbed to create light effects. It is thought to be a defense mechanism. Tourists can visit the bay on their own, but it is recommended that they use a local tour operator instead to get a real introduction to the site.

7.  Rio Camuy Caves
Just an hour’s drive outside San Juan is the third-largest underground cave system in the world. There are some 220 caves over an area of approximately ten miles, and the Rio Camuy runs through it. The major part of the cave is huge and has a ceiling more than ten stories high.. There are organized tour groups that take visitors through the cave system, or adventurous types can go with an individual guide who will show the attractions. The caves are overseen by the Parquest Nacionales on a 300-acre site. Walking tours are provided with guides speaking both English and Spanish. As clean-up from Hurricane Maria continues, visitors are advised to check on the park’s hours of operation before arrival.

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Staff Writer