A lot of history and beauty packed into one small island!
One of the most unique things about Puerto rico is the sheer amount of wonderful places to visit, packed into one relatively easy to navigate island. Even the name of this amazing place, Puerto Rico (Spanish for Rich Port) gives a clue to the riches held within its shores.
The El Yunque National Rainforest
The El Yunque Rainforest offers many magical walks leading to stunning waterfalls and rich tropical vegetation that is the home to the rare Puerto rican Parrot with its distinctive green coloration and trim of tiny red feathers above its thousand years. Saved from extinction by the multi-agency Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, it is a delight that they are now is relative abundance.
The Rio Camuy Caves
Located near the northwestern town of Camuy, known as “La Ciudad Romántica” (romantic city), the Rio Camuy Caves are a wonder of the natural world that should not be missed on any visit to the island. From Arecibo, travel southwest along Route 129 to the Río Camuy Cave Park. This park is the site of the great subterranean caverns carved out by the Camuy River over a million years ago. The well looked after trails will give you confidence as you head down into what is the third largest cave system in the world.
The Serralles Castle
The beautiful Serralles Castle located on the hill above the City of Ponce, Serralles Castle was the “summer home” of the Serralles family. The Castle is located two miles (3.2km) north of the center of town, but it is worth the journey. The Castle is often called ‘The House that Rum built’, which gives a clue to the source of wealth of the Serralles family and the important role they played in the colony. Be sure to check out the magnificent gardens and the exquisite butterfly house.
The bioluminescent bays of La Parguera
No visit to Puerto Rico would be complete without a trip to the ‘glow in the dark’ beaches near the southwestern town of Guanica, in Lajas, La Parguera. The phenomenon is caused by the bioluminescence of tiny living organisms in the water, but when you float across the water at night in a canoe, the effect is nothing short of magical. The find the lagoon you must take a 20 minute boat ride, but the trip is worth it.
Fort San Cristobal
Just walking distance from the San Juan Capitol Building in San Juan is the El Morro Castle, which took over 150 years to build. Recognised by the national Park Service as the biggest fortress ever to be constructed on the American Continent. The fortress named in honour of Saint Christopher the patron saint of land travellers, was built to repel attacks from the English and Dutch in 1598 and 1625. The massive structure contains a multitude of defensive tunnels and a huge rain water collection system which is used to this day.
The Arecibo Radio Telescope
Also known as the Arecibo Observatory it is the biggest single dish radio telescope in the world. Opened in 1963, it was built under the direction of Cornell University Professor William E. Gordon. It is a magnificent structure and performs a much needed scientific function as one of the key radio telescopes in a world wide network. The observatory helped scientists demonstrate that Einstein’s theory of relativity applied even to objects with extreme gravity, such as neutron stars.
This remarkable island near the eastern town of Fajardo is remote and beautiful. Don’t expect to see hordes of tourists, in after the boat ride you might find that you are the only people on the beach as far as the eye can see. There are no shops, and no facilities whatsoever, so bring everything you need for a day’s adventure on a deserted island.
and finally.. who would not want to visit Gilligan’s Island right?
Gilligan’s Island, Guanica
For all those who may remember the popular television show from the 1960s and 70’s called Gilligan’s Island, sitting about a mile off the south west coast of Puerto Rico, this tropical hideaway will have special significance. It is part of the Biosphere Reserve of Guanica, and its remoteness and beauty will not disappoint any visitor. The waters are clear and the opportunity for snorkelling and exploring the tiny island are sublime.
If you have planned a trip to the island territory of Puerto Rico make sure you make time to visit all of these wonderful places, it will be a journey that will stay in your mind forever