Full of charms, Puerto Rico boasts astonishing hidden gems, luxury accommodations and outstanding cuisine.
By Carl Pettit
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory that offers visitors a hefty dose of Latin culture, superb seafood and an overabundance of luxurious amenities that will easily keep anyone seeking relaxation — or adventure — delighted beyond all expectation. Puerto Rico, overflowing with beauty and charm, doesn’t disappoint.
This island, nicknamed the “Isle of Enchantment,” beckons to lovers of sunshine and the good life, inviting them to explore. With magnificent villas and hotels to stay in, plus a vibrant culture to dig into, Puerto Rico’s allure won't be lost on people visiting for an extended weekend, or those staying for several weeks at a time.
El Conquistador Waldorf Astoria Resort
For uncompromising comfort, a private beach, and stunning views, Las Casitas Village (a Waldorf Astoria Resort) makes an ideal place to call home while you visit Puerto Rico — especially Fajardo, on the eastern side of the island. The hotel boasts a 100-acre private island, a world-class spa, seaside water park, suits overlooking the water, butler service, and so much more. It’s truly a place to relax in comfort and style.
When it comes time to delight your palate with exquisite meals, La Mallorquina should be high on your list of eateries. Located in the capital of San Juan, this local joint dishes out some genuine Puerto Rican dishes. The restaurant — in business since 1848 (although closed briefly a few years back) — serves lobster, prawns, cod fritters and tasty rice dishes. Swing by for great local fare.
Continuing the theme of fine dining establishments: How about booking a table at Marmalade Restaurant & Wine Bar? This Old San Juan restaurant specializes in culinary delights like lobster risotto, harissa mussels and mero (fish) with persimmon lime and coconut — all prepared with organic protein and fresh produce sourced from local farms.
Although the island is the smallest of the Greater Antilles, there are hidden wonders in every direction. If you want to check out Puerto Rico’s famous bioluminescent bays, Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island, and La Laguna Grande, near Fajardo, are some of the best bets for catching the glowing bioluminescence come nightfall. A great way of seeing light trails left by hands dipping into the sea and fish gliding past is by kayak, with a knowledgeable guide in tow. Plenty of companies offer tours, which you can book through your hotel. The water lights up with color produced by endemic algae.
Old San Juan
Once you’ve had your fun in the water, and have had a chance to dine out, a stroll through Old San Juan, full of colorful buildings and sundrenched charm, might do you some good. Afterward, a trip to Castillo de San Felipe del Morro—the Spanish fortress that controlled the entrance to the Caribbean during colonial times—could make for a rewarding afternoon. If you have time, a visit to the Camuy River Caves will give you the chance to wander around limestone caves carved out by one of the largest underground rivers (Río Camuy) on the planet. And no one should leave Puerto Rico without a visit to El Yunque, the island’s lush rainforest with its rivers, waterfalls and rich flora and fauna.
Puerto Rico is an American tropical paradise that delivers the finer things in life, from pristine beaches and great food to natural wonders, all of which will keep your imagination occupied, and provide you with more pleasure than you’ll know what to do with. ■
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