Puerto Rico is a wonderful mixture of old and new. This large Caribbean island is quite modernized with glamorous resorts, a busy business district, and the most technologically advanced convention center in the Caribbean. It is also home to historic colonial forts, leafy rain forests, coral reefs and impressive beaches. Here are eight attractions that you will not want to miss in Puerto Rico:
1) Historic District of Old San Juan – Spanish Colonial architecture is found throughout with over 400 well preserved buildings in the historic district. The forts of San Felippe del Morro and San Cristobel are UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their cultural and historical significance. San Juan Bautista Cathedral is known for its superb trompe l’oeil representations.
2) Hacienda Buena Vista – Located in the lush mountains above Ponce, Puerto Rico, this coffee plantation is one of the best remaining examples of the 19th-century coffee industry and is now a living museum. When in full operation it supplied 10,000 pounds of coffee per year to Europe. Today historical re-enactments depict rural life in 19th-century Puerto Rico.
3) Bacardi Rum Distillery – The “Cathedral of Rum” is the world’s largest rum distillery. Guided tours explain the history of sugar cane in the Caribbean, the origins of rum making and the Bacardi family history. After a factory tour, shop in the gift shop and enjoy two complimentary rum drinks of your choice. The tour is free, but the bartenders appreciate tips.
4) Casino Gaming – Puerto Rico has many casinos and many are open until 4-6 am. They boast state-of-the-art technology and many hotel casinos welcome gamers who are not hotel guests, so you can stay at one and play at many.
5) Bioluminescent Bays – Puerto Rico has three locations where this rare phenomenon occurs every night. At Laguna Grande, on the east coast, La Parguera, on the southwest coast, and Mosquito Bay on the outer island of Vieques, thousands of single-cell organisms give off light underwater creating an other-worldly aquatic light show.
6) Camuy River Cave Park – 60 miles from San Juan, great subterranean caverns carved out by the Camuy River are part of the third largest cave system in the world. Seven miles of passages can be explored to discover dramatic sinkholes, caverns and unique blind fish. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday and reservations are essential because of its popularity.
7) El Yunque Rain Forest – This cool, mountainous, sub tropical rain forest on the eastern side of the Luqillo Mountains is a quiet and serene slice of flora and fauna. Hike miles of well-maintained trails to see the Sierra Palms, cloud forest and beautiful waterfalls.
8) Culebra and Vieques – These off shore islands are popular for snorkeling and beaches. Culebra has coral reefs and Vieques boasts clear water and some of the best white sand beaches in Puerto Rico. Visit these quiet and tranquil communities on a day trip by a short ferry from the mainland for a departure from the hustle and bustle of the casinos and action of the main island.
In Puerto Rico, you can stay as active or as relaxed as you wish. As a major Caribbean cruise port it is a great place to extend your vacation before or after a cruise, but also has plenty of sights and natural beauty to make it your sole vacation destination. Let our knowledgeable travel advisors help you arrange your next trip to Puerto Rico and enjoy the history and Latin style of this unique island.