Tue, December 7th, 2010 - By

Spotlight: Puerto Rico


With a blanket of fresh snow covering most of the UK and elsewhere in the world, beaches and sunshine are on many of our minds.  Today let’s visit one of the hot destinations – in the literal sense – Puerto Rico.  I went to Puerto Rico for a wedding, and was awed by the authentic culture and the beautiful setting.  But you don’t need to attend champagne receptions to appreciate a great Puerto Rican experience.  Here are some highlights.

Beach Culture

The beaches are of course Puerto Rico’s biggest draw, with hundreds of miles of beachfront.  You’ll probably stay at a resort or hotel that is near a handful of hotels, and in all cases the hotels are near the beaches that are good for sunning and relaxing.  Other beaches are too rocky or kind of hard to get down to.

Once you’ve got your fill of your hotel’s view, here are a few other noteworthy beaches that you might want to check out:

  • Luquillo Beach:  This is where most of the postcards in town are shot, I think.  It’s a great, family-friendly beach and the white sand is perfect for sandcastle building and squishing between the toes. It’s about 30 miles outside of San Juan.
  • Boquerón Beach:  This is another gorgeous bay, picture postcard perfect, and a great place to go for a day of picknicking and relaxing.   Combine a trip here to a visit to Los Morrillos, a series of red limestone cliffs and lighthouse that are a must for the budding photographer of the family.  The area also has several hikes and national parks that might be of interests.
  • Flamenco Beach:  You’ll probably see this from the plane landing, as it must be one of the most gorgeous blue bays I’ve ever seen.  This is a shallow bay, so this beach is very popular for snorkeling; actually this beach can be pretty crowded, but it’s well worth a visit.

Getting around the island is pretty easy.  You can hire a car, or just hop on the buses, which are quite touristy-friendly. Maps and directions are also easy to find at either your hotel or the tourist information centres, which are great for tips and suggestions.

Rum

No doubt you’ll notice all the rum available in shops and souvenir stands in Puerto Rico – their big name brand is Bacardi, but there are over 200 brands of rum in production in Puerto Rico, and probably another hundred illegal productions (number varying on whom you ask).  Some of the deals are very good, others not so much – just be sure you’re aware of import rules of bringing rum home, and remember those pesky liquid rules in carryon luggage.

The big rum-based attraction is the Bacardi Rum Factory tour.  I found it slightly too touristy, but it does offer a history of rum production in the country, and it’s free.  You also get two free drinks, and they have pretty much every flavour they produce, so it’s interesting to see if they’ve got something new or something not sold back home.

There are several ways to get to Bacardi, but the ferry sailing is one of the most enjoyable.

San Juan

San Juan is where the airport is, so you’ll either start or finish your journey here.  San Juan is well worth a bit of time to explore the island’s features; it is a huge city, so you’ll probably want to focus on Old San Juan, which has many of the tourist shops and historic attractions, such as the beautiful colonial-era houses (easy to spot for their bright, pastel colours).   I also highly recommend a walk along the city walls out to El Morro and the fort, San Cristobal, with their lookout points (pictured above).

Old San Juan has a lot of small terraces and walk up counters where you can just relax, have a rum and coke, and enjoy the sun.  It’s the perfect place to forget about your worries at home.

Photo Credit:  Oquendo, drbertgelgado, vlasta2

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 at 12:58
Category : Spotlight
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One Response to “Spotlight: Puerto Rico”

  1. Brian says:

    Nice info Andrew

    Justed wanted to say that worldwide Bacardi is the best selling rum, but here in Puerto Rico the locals go for Don Q distributed by Destileria Serralles

    Also worth pointing out that Flamenvo Beach (one of the best in the world) is located on Culebra Island off the east coast of Puerto Rico so folks landing in San Juan would have to make a day trip by ferry or plane to enjoy the sand and surf there

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