The Caribbean has many islands, too many to list and like most of us we tend to only know a few of them, yet each one is beautiful and diverse. But one particular island, the fourth biggest in the Caribbean archipelago, Puerto Rico is somewhat not on many people’s radar. Despite its size and close proximity to the Florida coast this US territory has all the mod cons of any great North American state but with one added ingredient-The Caribbean!
Most Cruise lines when visiting the Southern Caribbean tend to depart from Miami or Port Canaveral taking the ship at least 36 hours to reach its first port of call. When departing from Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan (US Oldest official city) you arrive at your first destination the next day, sampling beforehand the great Calypso that this area is famous for and also bearing in mindless days at sea.
Staying in Puerto Rico is a marvel on its own, US laws, highways and infrastructure makes its more secure and under pinned than its neighbours. Climate 26/28 Celsius approximately all year round, both English and Spanish is widely spoken, US Dollar is the official currency which means you can grab those bargains at the Caribbean’s largest shopping mall in San Juan-Plaza Las Americas.
Accommodation to suit all budgets-Five star, boutique, small inns or Green Hotels. Most hotels are located in the capital area, Old San Juan, Condado and nearer to the airport you have Isla Verde. A short 20 minute drive will take you to most hotels in San Juan from Luis Muñoz Marin international airport. Hotels such as El Conquistador Five star luxury which has both its own beach and private islands (Palomino/Palominito, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed), Gran Melia as one pundit described it “In its own world!”, Copa-Marina Beach Resort a classic Caribbean relaxation gem also with its own island.
Old San Juan, a truly remarkable and colonial paradise with such sites as the old Spanish fortress, is a must for those budding photographers out there. The city boasts an array of boutiques, nightlife places, bars and restaurants. Sample the local beer - Medalla or maybe a Pina Colada where this icon cocktail was invented back in the 1950’s. If adventure is on your list this is the island which fits your criteria. Boasting 3 out of the world’s 7 Bioluminescent Bays you can choose from Fajardo, La Parguera or Mosquito Bay in Vieques Island. These lakes actually illuminate at night whilst you paddle your kayak, something out of “Avatar”. About 35 miles east of the capital you have the only tropical rainforest in the US national forest system. “El Yunque Rainforest” Take a tour of the forest on a quad bike, true adventure style! Or maybe Cavernas del Rio in Camuy, where you have the longest underground river in the world!
If you fancy something a bit more exotic then the Island if Vieques, a short 10 minute flight from the smaller airport in San Juan. As mentioned before here lies the brightest Bio Luminescent Bay in the world (Mosquito Bay). The island only has a handle of hotels, El Blok a modern contemporary place to stay is just one of them. If you like horses there are wild ponies roaming the area. Further south you have the chance to visit Ponce, Puerto Ricos second city, boasting Native Indian park and the islands most famous fire house!
Water sports is high on the agenda on the 200 or so sandy beaches, Zip line adrenaline fever at Toro Verde and Golf, 23 courses to choose from. Sir Bruce Forsyth (UK TV icon) actually has a house on one of the courses, no doubt if he sees you he may say “nice to see you, to see you nice”, then again he will busy playing his favourite tee shot.
Expect the weather to be typical Caribbean. Warm and sunny and surprisingly hurricanes tend to “miss” this paradise, in fact it’s a base for evacuees in the States and other Caribbean islands. Only a handle of cruise lines depart from San Juan, Carnival Cruises have a couple of ships stationed there and Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the seas-a UK favourite. With the introduction of direct flights from LGW with Norwegian Airline every Wednesday and Saturday respectively from early November 2015 from £199 one way you too can have a Caribbean holiday and cruise at 2004 prices!-£1400 based on a back to back cruise with Royal Caribbean.
As this is US Territory you will require a ESTA visa.
Bon voyage and see you there.
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