It may come as a surprise to many visitors to Puerto Rico who arrive in search of sun, sand, and surf, but this Caribbean island is also home to some interesting archaeological sites. The scale of these sites can’t compare to Peru’s Machu Picchu, Guatemala’s Tikal, or Mexico’s Chichen Itza, but the structures found there help us learn more about the island’s indigenous and colonial histories.
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island unlike any other. Technically a US territory, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it. Yes, there are areas that have become westernized, but by-and-large, any trip into San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, will tell you that you needn’t look far to experience some of the “real” flavor of Puerto Rico.
If every city in the world has a “Main Street” – a street where commerce and culture congregate, Calle Fortaleza is San Juan’s contribution. Here’s where you’ll find a list of boutique shops, fabulous restaurants, and street buskers clanging out their favorite tunes for willing ears and maybe a little dinero. Frotaleza is an integral part of the culture of San Juan, and just like the Castillo San Felipe or Condado Beach – visiting Calle Fortaleza is one of the best things to do in San Juan.
The Museo de Vida Silvestre (aka the Wildlife Museum) is one of the top things to do in San Juan with children. If you’ve got kids in tow, then consider making vacation a bit easier on all of you and do something that everyone will enjoy, like checking out the local flora and fauna of not just Puerto Rico, but of the entire world.
In Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diaries (also now a film starring Johnny Depp), there’s a scene – one of the opening ones – where the protagonist is on a plane and says something about the feeling of excitement blended with hope and power – it’s a feeling that “only a young man on the start of a journey whose ending is unwritten can feel.” That’s not an exact quote, but it should probably be, because it’s one of the best lines in the book, and it’s with just this feeling in mind that you too should venture into San Juan.
From the top of Yokahu Tower, I could see acres of green hills, the light blue shimmer of surrounding water, and, far off in the distance, a sliver of St. Thomas, less than 100 nautical miles from Puerto Rico. The tower was the third stop of our guided tour of El Yunque National Forest, and my favorite by far.
One of the coolest things to do in Puerto Rico has to by a visit to the Cavernas del Rio Camuy (aka the Camuy River Caves). This amazing spectacle of mother nature’s might can only be described as wonderous and awe-inspiring.
Camuy River Cave Park is a series of more than 200 caves, caverns, and sinkholes, some of them large enough to swallow up a skyscraper. Running underneath and through them all is the third-largest underground river in the world – the River Camuy.
Looking for the best beaches in Puerto Rico? You’ve found them. Culebra Island is something of a hidden gem, but those that know, know that your tropical Caribbean escape truly begins and ends on Culebra Island.