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Puerto Rico – Dream vacation in the Caribbean

Puerto Rico is the easternmost and smallest island of the Greater Antilles, which also includes Cuba, Jamaica , and Hispaniola . The U.S.-administered country is a destination that is still relatively unknown to Europeans, although it fulfills all the clichés of the Caribbean . However, the port of San Juan, the capital, is visited daily by numerous cruise ships, whose passengers then want to discover Puerto Rico in one day and are guided through the picturesque old town in groups for a few hours.

Old San Juan

Capitol of Puerto Rico
Capitol of Puerto Rico, Image: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Puerto Rico and its approximately 3.5 million inhabitants exude a very special flair that can best be described as a combination of Spanish tradition and the American way of life. The cobblestone streets of the historic old town and the colourful houses are a living example of the architecture of the Spaniards in the 16. and 17th century.

During a stroll through the city, the historic cathedral, Fort El Morro and the largest Spanish castle on American soil, San Cristobal, are among the most important sights. The area is best discovered on foot and at every corner another exciting photo motif reveals itself to the visitor. In the typical Caribbean shopping street Fortalezza Street, you can browse for souvenirs and souvenirs in small shops and market stalls.

Puerto Rico offers a variety of natural beauties and should definitely be explored as part of a round trip, because the country is much too beautiful for a pure beach holiday. If you organize your stay on your own, you will soon realize that it is not easy to move around the island by public transport. It is advisable to rent a car to drive to the many places worth seeing in the island state.

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Ponce, the Pearl of the South (La Perla del Sur)

Cueva Ventana
Cueva Ventana is a cave in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Image: Tinapat Kotumrongsak / shutterstock

The second largest city in Puerto Rico is Ponce, located on the south coast. The place impresses with its colorful mix of styles. Art Deco or Neoclassical buildings stand right next to houses of Creole architecture. Ponce is also home to the most photographed building in the country: the old red fire station, which now houses a museum. Other highlights of the city include a sugar mill and a rum museum, which can be visited and give a good insight into these traditional industries.

El Yunque National Park

Salinas, Puerto Rico
View of the municipality of Salinas, Image: Felix Lipov / shutterstock

A visit to this impressive national park in the northeast should not only be on the excursion program for nature lovers. Various hiking trails lead through the more than 100 km² site and can be walked or ridden. The treetop walk, which starts at the visitor centre, offers a completely different perspective of the rainforest from a height of 20 metres. In the protected area, you have the opportunity to get to know 240 different types of rainforest trees and to encounter thundering waterfalls along the way.

The lush, tropical vegetation is also a perfect habitat for many animal species and so, with a little luck, you will get to see one of the coqui frogs, which find ideal conditions here. Its characteristic croaking can be heard in many variations throughout the night. Puerto Rico’s endemic species also include the silver-gray Angela Warbler and a colorful parrot species. In addition, you can meet the native iguanas (iguanas) all over the island, which can grow up to two meters long. Although they are an absolute plague for the locals, they always delight tourists.

The most beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico

San Juan
San Juan, Image: ESB Professional / shutterstock

The Caribbean state has numerous palm-fringed, fine sandy coastlines that seem to have sprung from a travel catalogue. For water sports enthusiasts, for example, the Crashboat Beach near Aguadilla on the northwest coast is ideal. Boat and diving excursions are offered here, as well as jet skiing and paragliding. Rincon Beach, on the other hand, is where surfers meet and this hotspot is also known for its fantastic sunsets.

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Snorkeling fans get their money’s worth in many places in Puerto Rico and some of the offshore small islands are also absolute snorkeling paradises. The islands of Vieques and Culebra, among others, are particularly popular. If you prefer a quieter beach, you can drive through a barren desert landscape, which forms an incredible contrast to the otherwise lush green nature on Puerto Rico, to the extreme southwest coast. In Cabo Rojo there is a hidden small bay.

The best time to visit Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Image: Gary Ives / shutterstock

The Caribbean has a tropical climate with relatively constant temperatures all year round. Most precipitation falls in the months of April to November, when, with the exception of the drier south, there can be heavy rainfall in some places. The best time to travel is in the period from December to April, when temperatures rarely exceed the 28°C mark and the risk of hurricanes is extremely low.

Culinary specialties in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican cuisine is influenced by Spanish and Creole influences. As everywhere in the Caribbean, rice and chicken are among the most popular dishes. Sweet potatoes and deep-fried dumplings filled with meat or crabs are also often on the menus. In terms of drinks, of course, all international soft drinks are available and among the types of coffee, café con leche, which consists of equal parts espresso and condensed milk, is considered a speciality. The many tropical fruits that grow here are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Puerto Rico is a dream destination that is just as suitable for beach vacationers and water sports enthusiasts as it is for nature lovers.