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Highlights Puerto Rico


San Juan

San Juan which was originally founded in 1521 is laid out in a grid on a headland protecting a large flash shaped bay.   The historic core of San Juan known as Old San Juan has been beautifully restored with stunning 17th and 18th century buildings painted in tropical fruit pastels lining the narrow cobblestoned streets.   Some of the houses have been converted into charming boutique hotels.   There are two castles which guard the colonial city which is also port of call for cruise ships which dock alongside the ancient harbour.

Modern San Juan centres on the Condado Ocean Park and Isla Verde which is an upscale residential district.   It is teeming with Art Deco and modern structures.   Condado was Puerto Rico’s first tourist resort and first became popular in the 1980’s.   The main thoroughfare which is called Avenida Ashford is a favoured shopping area and features many upscale and designer shops.

Condado Beach is a powder white beach which draws local sun seekers at the weekends.   The area is also really well known for its great nightlife with plenty of trendy bars and restaurants that come to life after sunset.


EL YUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST

This 44 square mile park which was formerly called the National Forest is the only tropical rainforest within the US National Park system.   It ranges from 30ft at its base to 3533 ft at the top of Cervo El Torro.  The visitor’s center offers excellent exhibits on local geology, geography and ecosystems.   There are a number of excellent hiking trails which range from easy to strenuous where you will pass plunging waterfalls and steep ravines.


VIEQUES

Vieques Island is the largest of the 24 isles of the Spanish Virgin Islands which surrounds Puerto Rico.   Life on Vieques is much more relaxed than life on Puerto Rico.  Most of the local inhabitants live in Isabel Segunda which is a little town that remains charmingly old world with very little traffic.    Vieques is a chic spot for visitors seeking off the beaten track charm to see deer, manatee and four species of marine turtles.    The island is fringed with beautiful beaches.   The most popular which include Playa Sombe, Playa Media Luna, Green Beach and Blue Beach.

You can get to Vieques via passenger ferry from Fajardo, or by flying from the San Juan (SJU), Isla Grande (SIG) or Ceiba (RVR) airports.


CULEBRA ISLAND

Smaller than Vieques, Culebra is renowned for its amazing beaches including Playa Flamenco which is indisputably Puerto Ricos finest beach.    Many of the beaches on Culebra are protected as a marine turtle nesting site within its National Wildlife Refuge.


PONCE

Located 125 km south of San Juan, Ponce was originally founded in 1692 and remains an important port city.  It is a very cultural city and a center for artists and political thinkers.   It’s down town area reminds many visitors of New Orleans especially when dancers parade through the streets during various festivals that take place.


LA RUTA PANORAMICA

The Panoramic route officially known as La Ruta Panorámica follows the highest ridges of the Central Cordillera for 266km. This scenic highway cuts through some of the least explored but most rewarding parts of the island.  It snakes its way among mist-shrouded peaks, scintillating viewpoints and dense, dimly lit forests.

This is rural Puerto Rico at its most traditional, a patchwork of small coffee farms shrouded in palo colorado forest, where the local colmado (shop) doubles as a bar, and smoky roadside barbecues cook up roast pork and thick wedges of banana. It’s a landscape inhabited by the descendants of the jíbaros, the hard-working peasant farmers who first colonized the jungle-drenched slopes and who embody much of Puerto Rico’s romantic ideas about its past: humble but wise, poor but proudly independent.


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