Published March 08, 2012
The paradise island of Puerto Rico is characterized by a heady mix of laid-back Caribbean charm and infectious Latin American swagger, tinged with a distinctly American influence. This cultural cocktail gives Puerto Rico an atmosphere and culture unlike any other in the region.
Over the past few decades Puerto Rico has blossomed into a world-class tourist destination with boundless opportunities and experiences for the fun-loving traveler. These three highlights of Puerto Rico are sure to impress.
Historic district of Old San Juan
Perhaps the best way to start your exploration of Puerto Rico is with a stroll through the island’s historical capital. Surrounded by walls dating back to the 17th century, the district of Old San Juan provides visitors with a breathtaking glimpse of the island’s colonial past.
The area is filed with hundreds of preserved and restored buildings, as well as magnificent statues and palm-shaded squares. It is also home to two of the island’s most stunning colonial fortresses, El Morro and San Cristobal, which are both perched on cliff tops.
The six floors of El Morro citadel house a wonderful museum that documents the fascinating history of the island.But it’s not all about history – there are also plenty of excellent bars, restaurants, cafes and shops dotted throughout the area.
For those seeking to explore some island culture, Old San Juan is also a vibrant center for cultural attractions, including quaint museums, art galleries, music and theater.
You will undoubtedly be impressed by the golden powdery sand of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful beaches. While many travelers will spend much of their time on their hotel’s local beach, some shores are so spectacular they are well worth an extra journey. Take a trip out to Vieques Island's Mosquito Bay – one of Puerto Rico’s finest and well maintained beaches. For a truly memorable experience, visit the bay at night for a swim or kayak and watch the water glow a magnificent luminous-green color.
With only one man-made structure on the entire island, the unspoiled beauty of Culebrita Island creates the perfect setting for some serene beaches. West Beach and Playa Tortuga are equally beautiful shores and the perfect spots to enjoy some snorkeling to explore the surrounding coral reefs on the island’s southern coast.
Located on the southern coast of the island, Ponce is one of Puerto Rico’s liveliest and most interesting cities. The historic center of Puerto Rico's second-largest city is lined with narrow streets and a charming square that appear as if they’ve remained unchanged since the city’s foundation in 1692.
Thanks to rapid development to transform Ponce into a tourist hotspot, the city now contains five excellent museums that celebrate the history and culture of the island nation. Of the five, the Museo de Arte de Ponce is surely the finest. This newly renovated museum boasts the largest collections of Latin American art in the Caribbean, as well as an intriguing array of pre-Raphaelite and baroque paintings and sculptures.