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Puerto Rico Is The Perfect All-Around American Island

Updated: Jun 23, 2023


Puerto Rico is the Island of Enchantment! A Caribbean island with a rich history, gorgeous beaches, rushing waterfalls, and vibrant streets. Puerto Rico is not always an easy place to live, and the evidence of a hurricane, not voting in U.S. elections, and things like the elevated cost of cars, milk, and electricity contribute to the challenges in Puerto Rico. However, the U.S. territory does have advantages for U.S. citizens:


You don't need a passport to visit.

You can use your cell phone without additional fees

The U.S. dollar is the official currency

The flights from within the U.S. are not expensive.


Many people fly to Puerto Rico and never go beyond their resort. Not my thing, but I get it. Sometimes you need a getaway where you do nothing. But if you want more than just a beach, Puerto Rico has it all. If you're visiting for just a few days as I did, you can easily fit in beach time, adventure-time, and culture.

Beach Time


Take a day trip to islands like the Icacos Island, Fajardo, Puerto Rico. It's miles of beaches with white sand, palm trees, and only accessible by boat with opportunities to snorkel. Ten extraordinary women chose to experience this tour with East Island Excursions. Arriving on a catamaran boat coupled with music, good food, and drinks, and a captain with friendly and engaging staff made the cruise to Icacos Island super fun!


Another boat experience was a relaxing sail across the Caribbean in Puerto Rico. Sipping on a "surprise me" fruit drink for 1.5 hours was a beautiful way to see San Juan.

Sailing San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sailing San Juan, Puerto Rico


There's the Condado beach in San Juan, similar to Miami's South Beach without the glitz. The beach is backed by a lively neighborhood filled with boutique shops and dining. There's Isla Verde Beach, a large beautiful beach with many people but no snorkeling and easily accessible from El San Juan Hotel in Carolina. Check out my blog El San Juan Fairmont Hotel| The Walk Through for details about my stay. There are dozens of beaches in Puerto Rico, so whichever one you choose, you can't go wrong.







Adventure Time


Visiting the only rainforest in the U.S., El Yunque, was high on my must-do list. While Hurricane Maria damaged the rainforest in 2017, it is recovering! The lower section of the main road has opened, so you can now explore certain areas – some even include waterfalls! For this experience, 20 women and I went with the tour company Seeing Puerto Rico. The dynamic duo, the husband and wife Lisz and Narayan Lismar, lead us on a unique route they discovered during the pandemic. I consider myself somewhat in shape despite the pandemic pounds, I digress, but this hike challenged me! It was the narrow walking path, the up and down hiking, and balancing act while holding on to a rope. Add the stepping over and in between thick branches while trying not to trip over a rock, oh and let's not forget the limbo dance to pass the tree trunks. I was happy the scenery was gorgeous along the way, but boy was it a challenge!


The duo kept the hike interesting with fun facts about the forest, along with the stops for water and rest breaks and Instagram photo ops. I would do it again, and I would do it with Lisz and Narayan.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Legendary Culture


The pastel streets of Old San Juan are easily the prettiest part of San Juan; however, Puerto Rico isn't just pretty streets and beautiful beaches. There is so much history and culture and art all over the island. San Juan is the epicenter and an easy place to maximize your time. You'll find the island's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Fortaleza, the official residence of Puerto Rico's governor, and the three forts that protect Puerto Rico. The San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal, and El Cañuelo forts were designed to protect against sea and land invassion.


I find it enriching by walking through landmarks like the forts, museums and converse with the locals. Coupling these experiences with local cuisine like Mofongo in Puerto Rico allows visitors to admire and absorb the destination.


Top of the list for me was a visit to Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, and for $6, I gained access to one of the most humbling and creative displays of Puerto Rico art. I was in this museum for at least two hours, admiring and reading the past and present collections and the innovative permanent and temporary exhibits. To cap off my visit, I entered the green oasis of the National San Juan Botanical Garden. If you want to go to the garden, tell the guard, and he will direct you to walk around to the parking lot, where you can enter the Botanical Garden for free.


I strolled around the garden and was impressed by the mature trees, giant palm trees, and tropical plants. I took full advantage of cool shady areas! Puerto Rico has a handful of museums like the Casa Blanca, now a museum and the oldest residence in Old San Juan. The Casa Cautiño Museum (mansion) is full of period furniture, so I advise you not to skip out on these opportunities.


After the museum and the Botanical Garden, it was off to walk the streets with the locals. I had no particular destination in mind. I just wanted to see what I could see. After about 30 minutes of walking, I discovered the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico museum. A small but fantastic museum with a beautiful open atrium! The entry fee was $5, and I spent about an hour at this two-level museum with four excellent exhibits.




Nightlife


During my visit to Puerto Rico, the world was still in the middle of a pandemic, so the popular bar hopping and nightlife were curtailed. For instance, if you wanted access to a friendly or even popular spot, you had to arrive no later than 7:30 - 8 PM. For others, you had to make reservations. My first night out was in La Placita de Santurce it's a must-stop for anyone visiting Puerto Rico, from nightclubs and rooftop lounges to delicious cocktails. I had the pleasure of accessing Garabatos Bar & Restaurant, which was the best spot in Placita that night, in my opinion. However, the entry fee was a whopping $250, which covered bottle service! There were crowds below enjoying the music heard for blocks, and I enjoyed some excellent dancing, a bit of food, and people watching!


On another night, dinner was at the Eter Rooftop & Lounge, with stunning views of the ocean and San Juan. Service was a bit slow, and there was only one bathroom stall to be shared with both men and women. They also give you a timeframe to complete your meal! So in my case, slow service worked out to our benefit; nevertheless, the staff was friendly, the food was good, and the scenery was outstanding.


Overall


If you're looking to put your feet up at the resort or a traveler who enjoys adventure and even a traveler who wants to explore culture and history, Puerto Rico has it all. COVID-19 precautions are taken, and you do not need a passport. Puerto Rico is a fantastic option for anyone looking to not leave the U.S. and want a Caribbean vacation. I've been twice this year so I do recommend it as a top 10 vacation destination in the US. Don't forget to subscribe and follow me on Instagram for more inspiration, tips, and hacks to travel.


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