Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment
No Passport Required!
Want to take a trip to the Caribbean but don’t have a passport? Well take off to Puerto Rico. This beautiful green island is a commonwealth of the United States so no passport is required. With its Spanish heritage, this island has more to offer than one can see in just one vacation, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve seen this varied country until you have seen it from east, west, north and south. With both Spanish and English being primary languages, you will have no problem getting around. It’s easy to drive here if you are the adventurous type and want to get out and explore on your own. If you prefer guided tours, there are plenty of those available too.
First you will want to see Old San Juan and El Moro fort. This area is also chocked full of handsome old colonial buildings, some painted in bright Caribbean colors. There is an endless array of shops and fabulous restaurants. Stop by one of the shops that make and sell local Cuban-type cigars. Even if you don’t smoke them, it is really interesting to learn the history and see how meticulously they are hand rolled. You may want to ship some home to your favorite cigar aficionado. While in this area you can also take a ferry across the bay to visit the Bacardi rum factory. Following the guided tour and learning how this delectable drink is distilled, enjoy complimentary Bacardi drinks before hopping the ferry back to Old San Juan. If you arrive in San Juan via cruise-liner, this is the area where the docks are located so be sure to leave enough time before or after your cruise to enjoy San Juan. You may even want to take a tour via Segway. You will find a tourist information center just outside the dock area.
If you want to stay in this area, there are several hotels located right in the old town. Your next option would be to stay in the Condado area. Here you will be within walking distance of the old historic center but you can stay right on the beautiful tropical beach located in this area. Another option is the area of Isla Verde and Carolinas Beach. About 10 minutes via taxi from the docks and old city and 5 minutes to the airport, this is the beach that made San Juan famous as a beach destination in the 1950’s. You will find older remodeled hotels reminiscent of the old Miami hotels, as well as new hotels. There are both chain hotels and smaller boutique style hotels both right on the beach and a couple of blocks off the beach. The main street, Isla Verde, is a great place to stroll and enjoy many restaurants and local shops. You can even get a bicycle taxi to transport you to the beach if you prefer not to walk.This area makes a great pre or post cruise stop too.
There is so much more to see outside the city, but too much to include here, so stay tuned to my follow up blog about the fabulous tropical paradise of Puerto Rico.