Destination Puerto Rico Travel Information
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DESTINATION TRAVEL GUIDE
Puerto Rico is unique to the Caribbean as a "free associated state" of the American commonwealth.
Greater San Juan
Stretching along the Atlantic coast, the city of Greater San Juan encompasses the beaches of Isla Verde and Condado where the bulk of hotels reside. Adjacent to these beaches on a peninsula that wraps around San Juan Bay, the historic walled city of Old San Juan is an alluring mix of the past and future. The 70 square blocks that make up the old city are book ended by two massive forts, El Morro and San Cristobal. In between, narrow cobblestone streets are home to 400-year-old churches and brightly painted Spanish Colonial buildings. Set within this architectural wonder are restaurants, boutique museums and galleries.
El Yunque & The Golden Shore
About one hour east of San Juan, El Yunque National Park rises more than 3,000 ft. over the northeastern portion of the island. The 28,000-acre protected zone offers more than 28 miles of trails designed for all levels of eco-adventurers and avid naturalists. The U.S. Park Service oversees a maze of walkways, rest stops and picnic facilities placed among the mist-covered rivers and waterfalls cascading down through the verdant landscape.
Around El Yunque, the towns of Rio Grande, Luquillo, Fajardo and Humacao are welcoming a growing collection of five-star resorts, resulting in the region’s new designation as "The Golden Shore." In addition, top fairway designers are practicing their craft here and no golfer enthusiast will be able to play just one round of 18-holes: lush smooth greens sidle up to the Caribbean Sea, while breezy trade winds take the edge off the sun.
The beachy paradises of Culebra and Vieques are often referred to as the "Spanish Virgin Islands." These rustic island outposts are a throwback to the Caribbean of old. Ferry boats from Fajardo and commuter flights from San Juan run daily and accommodations range from quaint eco-inns to small luxury resorts.
Overnight visitors to Vieques should visit the bioluminescent waters of Mosquito Bay, where tiny micro-organisms light up at night in a neon cacophony of purple, pink and blue hues when they’re exposed to any movement. Local tour operators and hotels have package deals for couples to row out for a moonlight tryst. During the day, good bets are Sun Bay for swimming; the Museum of Art & History in Isabela Segunda; and the beach town of Esperanza lined with seafood restaurants.
Culebra is even more laid back than Vieques, although it’s receiving oodles of attention as Puerto Rico’s most chic eco-tourism escape. Many visitors come to explore the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge and Canal de Luis Peña Nature Reserve, but it’s the collection of small inns surrounding the parks that have become meeting spots for global citizens.
South and West Coasts
The western shores of Puerto Rico are undergoing an image renewal with a new destination marketing brand called Porta del Sol. The region running roughly from Boqueron in the south to Aguadilla in the north is being promoted as a destination within a destination, where Puerto Rican culture is the main attraction. At the center of the initiative is the varied collection of paradores, small inns with 75 rooms or less that maintain standards drawn up by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
Direct flights from the U.S. mainland service Aguadilla. A few reasons to explore the area include the beaches, one of the largest aquatic theme parks in the Caribbean and the tradition of mundillo lace-making. Like Rincon just minutes to the south, Aguadilla offers a collection of exciting surfing communities centered around the crystal clear waters of Crash boat, Gas Chambers and Wilderness beaches.
The south coast of Puerto Rico is anchored by Ponce, the island’s second largest city and home to the world-renowned Ponce Museum of Art, housing over 1,000 paintings and 400 sculptures.
Official language: Spanish and English
Government: U.S. Commonwealth
Temperature: Averages 73ºF
Rainfall: 52 inches annually
Official currency: U.S. dollar
Entry requirements: Photo I.D. or passport
Departure tax: None
Marriage requirements: Marriage license papers may be requested in writing from the Demographic Registry Office. It is also necessary to have a medical certificate from a physician in Puerto Rico. Wedding ceremonies can take place at the free weekly Judicial Center.
Gaming: Puerto Rico offers more casino square footage than anywhere else in the Caribbean
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