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Puerto Rico travel tips

  Puerto Rico travel tips

 

Known as “La Isla de Encanto”, or the Island of Enchantment, Puerto Rico has always been a popular destination for Americans. Being that it is a US commonwealth and it is relatively close by, tourists flock to Puerto Rico for great weather. Besides using the American dollar, being a beach destination and being home to many famous artists, Puerto Rico has gems worth visiting.

El Morro: For your biggest Puerto Rican history lesson, start your adventure at Fort San Felipe del Morro. Located at the most northwestern point in San Juan, Puerto Rico, it was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay by the Spaniards. The site itself has seen many attacks during Spanish rule and American military occupation, but ultimately became a National Park and World Heritage Site. Climb to the top for exquisite views of Old San Juan.

Culebra Island: Don't be frightened that the translation of this island is called "Snake Island"; it is named this only for the shape of its archipelago. For mainland Puerto Ricans and Americans, Culebra Island is a fantastic weekend tourist destination. Clear waters and beautiful sand beaches extend for miles. Flamenco beach; one of the most popular on the island is ranked #2 in the top 10 most exotic beaches in the world. Tourists can also find great scuba diving and under water reefs.

Bioluminescent Bay: Although Vieques Island itself is a great place to visit as it has been internationally known as being a bombing range and testing ground for the US Navy, tourists shouldn't miss out on one particular thing to do. Known as the Mosquito Bay; the world's largest and brightest bay is a sight to see. The luminescence is caused by micro-organisms which glow leaving a trail of neon blue. Take the natural scenery of the red mangrove trees, a lack of modern development, and cool, deep waters to create one spectacular water phenomenon. It wasn't as appreciated as it is today; Spaniards who first arrived thought the bay was a work of the devil and tried to block the ocean's waters from entering the bay. All they did was increase the luminosity.

El Yunque: For the rainforest experience without traveling to the Amazon; start with a visit to El Yunque. Located on the eastern part of Puerto Rico by Rio Grande, the tropical rainforest elevates on Rocky Mountains; giving tourists fun peaks and trails to climb. the name comes from the indigenous Indian spirit name which translates to "Forest of Clouds."; which spans over 28,000 acres. Over 240 species of trees and plants dominate the area which is constantly being preserved by the Puerto Rican government. Just make sure to bring your poncho; it can get up to 240 inches of rain per year.

Bacardi Factory: Besides being known as vibrant individuals who know how to party, Puerto Ricans are proud to own the Bacardi Rum name. Visiting the Bacardi Rum Factory (Casa Bacardi) in Puerto Rico is a must for any tourist. You'll learn about the history of the sugar cane and the origins of rum making. By the end of the tour, you'll learn how to make a few drinks, view old Bacardi advertisements, and take a tour of the factory. Luckily, before you leave, you will indeed be able to sample a few drinks; for free! (The tour itself is also free as long as you are not with a tour operator.)

Rio Camuy Caves: Discovered in the 1950's, archaeologists discovered massive cave systems near Lares in the western part of the island. Large networks of natural limestone caves were made by the Taino Indians; the indigenous tribes of the land. With 220 caves and 17 entrances; the vast system is one of the largest cave systems in the world. Experts believe there are still 800 caves left to be discovered. A small part of the complex is open to the public for safety reasons. Make sure to look above for bats; the Caves are home to 13 species.

Arecibo Observatory: If you're familiar with the 90's movie "Contact" starring Jodie Foster, you have witnessed the Arecibo Observatory. Operated by Cornell University, the observatory has the single largest aperture telescope ever constructed. It has played a key role in many astronomical discoveries, including the rotation period of Mercury. It's location near the equator allows Arecibo to view all of the planets of the solar system; a fascinating sight for those who work there. Check out the visitor center to learn more about the operations and astronomical findings.

Old Aguadilla Lighthouse Ruins: For the off the beaten path experience, or fans of lighthouses, a trip to Aguadilla can make for a great photo-shoot opportunity. Built by the Spanish in the late 19th century, the brick structure was built for it to only crumble years later after a major earthquake. It was abandoned and rebuilt in a different location. What remains are historical ruins; officially known as the Borinquen Point Lighthouse. The views through the hollow windows are absolutely breathtaking.

El Arsenal:  Even if Old San Juan is a sight to see in itself, make sure to check out this historical site. Built in 1800; this fortress based on Roman architecture was a naval station for the Spaniards following the Spanish-American war. Currently, it serves as the Institute of Puerto Rican culture. Visitors can find themselves learning all about the island and can view many art collections of local Puerto Rican artists.

Lagoon Tortuguero: Finding untouched nature can be hard in such a fast paced world. Luckily, this lagoon is the only natural lake in Puerto Rico; making the experience that much more unique. With over 700 species of plants, it is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the island. The area is great for hiking and finding ocean views, while the lake is great for kayaking.

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