PUERTO RICO was once marketed as a “Continent”. Some people laughed, but I’m guessing those folks never actually traveled to La Isla del Encanto and enjoyed a good bit of her less obvious charms. If they had, they’d know this remarkable island boasts a broad and dynamic collection of vacation experiences worthy of a land mass way larger than its 3,515 square miles. The swanky hotels, sexy beaches and legendary nightclubs of San Juan garner much of the headlines, but that’s not even half of what makes Puerto Rico so special. For Uncommon Travelers, the real soul of the island lies well outside the bright lights of the Big City; in mountain communities like Jayuya, fishing villages like La Parguera, surfing areas like Rincon and colonial-era towns like San Germán, the third-oldest city in the United States. The natural wonders along Puerto Rico’s unbeaten paths are nothing short of amazing, offering experiences not found too many other places on earth. The Rio Camuy Caves, the world’s third largest cave system carved out by the world’s third largest underground river, tops the list, but El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest included in the U.S. National Forest System, isn’t too far behind. Or, how about the Guanica State Forest, the best-preserved dry forest in the Caribbean? Or the fact that three of the five bioluminescent bays found anywhere in the world are here? Incredible!
Any time you visit Puerto Rico, though, San Juan is impossible to ignore. But, if you can focus your urban activities to the oldest section of the city, you really won’t regret it. Old San Juan is a living, breathing museum of Spanish colonial history, seasoned with healthy doses of fine art, fashion, inventive gastronomy and music. Few places are more inspiring to those driven to create, its cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, colorful legends and stately Churches fueling an untold number of creative works for hundreds of years.