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Puerto Rico Vacation and Travel Guide
Puerto Rico officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, "Associated Free State of Puerto Rico") and formerly known as and sometimes called Porto Rico, is the largest insular territory of the United States, and it is located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea.
The Capital and most populous city of Puerto Rico is San Juan. The territory does not observe daylight saving time, and its official languages are Spanish, which is predominant, and English. Puerto Ricans are natural-born citizens of the United States.
The island is mostly mountainous with large coastal areas in the north and south. The main mountain range is called "La Cordillera Central" (The Central Range). The highest elevation in Puerto Rico, Cerro de Punta 4,390 ft, is located in this range. Another important peak is El Yunque, one of the highest in the Sierra de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation 3,494 ft.
Located in the tropics, Puerto Rico has a rainy season which stretches from April into November. The mountains of the Cordillera Central are the main cause of the variations in the temperature and rainfall that occur over very short distances. The mountains can also cause wide variation in local wind speed and direction due to their sheltering and channeling effects adding to the climatic variation. About a quarter of the annual rainfall for Puerto Rico, on average, occurs during tropical cyclones, which are more frequent during La Niña events.
The island has an average temperature of 82.4 °F (28 °C) throughout the year, with an average minimum temperature of 66.9 °F (19 °C) and maximum of 85.4 °F (30 °C). Temperatures do not change drastically throughout the seasons. The temperature in the south is usually a few degrees higher than the north and temperatures in the central interior mountains are always cooler than those on the rest of the island.
Tourism in Puerto Rico
Tourism has been a money revenue industry for Puerto Rico for a number of decades given it is host to diverse natural wonders, cultural and historical buildings, concerts and sporting events.
The fact that visitors from the United States do not need a passport to enter Puerto Rico attracts a large number of tourists from the mainland United States each year. Other groups of tourists that visit Puerto Rico in significant numbers include French, German, Spaniards, Canadians, Mexicans, Venezuelan, Brazilians and Asian tourists.
The inauguration of the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel on 16 October 1919 marked the beginning of upscale tourism in Puerto Rico.
From wonderful beaches to historic landmarks, Puerto Rico has everything happiness would be jealous of. Puerto Rico's rich history, tropical climate, diverse natural scenery, renowned traditional cuisine, and attractive tax incentives make it a popular destination for travelers from around the world.
Puerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of these five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Culebra, which is merely 18 miles away from the mainland, is home to Flamenco Beach, considered by some travel writers as one of the top ten beaches in the world.
Mona, which has played a key role in maritime history, is uninhabited most of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. There are many other even smaller islets, like Monito, which is near to Mona, Isla de Cabras and La Isleta de San Juan, both located on the San Juan Bay. The latter is the only inhabitted islet with communities like Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra, and connected to the main island by bridges.
Puerto Rico Main Destinations
- Aguadilla: site of old Ramey Air Force Base, now a local airport
- Arecibo: site of the famous Arecibo Observatory
- Bayamón: site of the Science Park
- Cabo Rojo: site of beautiful beaches
- Cataño: the site where Bacardi has the world's largest rum distillery
- Culebra: home to several solitary beaches such as Flamenco Beach
- Fajardo: home of the Fajardo Lighthouse and its luminicent bay, Las Croabas fishing village, the Paso Fino horse national competition ring, and Seven Seas beach.
- Luquillo: Home to several beaches, including Balneario La Monserrate, Playa Azul, La Pared, and La Selva - the last two, sandy bottom surf spots where leatherback turtles often nest.
- Mayagüez: home of the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo and the local beer, Medalla, brewery
- Ponce: home to a 19th century historic district with over 1,046 restored buildings, plus the world-renowned Museo de Arte de Ponce, the imposing Castillo Serrallés, the nostalgic Hacienda Buena Vista coffee plantation, and its whimsical Parque de Bombas firehouse.
- Rincón: surf capital of the Caribbean
- San Juan: home of Old San Juan, the Puerto Rican Museum of Art, El Morro Castle
- Trujillo Alto: home of Lake Carraizo Dam
- Rio Grande: home of El Yunque National Forest
- Vieques: home to many beaches, two Spanish castles and lighthouses, eye-catching mountains and sought-after marine reefs.
The Architecture of Puerto Rico demonstrates a broad variety of traditions, styles and national influences accumulated over four centuries of Spanish rule, and a century of American rule. Spanish colonial architecture, Ibero-Islamic, art deco, post-modern, and many other architectural forms are visible throughout the island. From town to town, there are also many regional distinctions.
Old San Juan is one of the two barrios, in addition to Santurce, that made up the municipality of San Juan from 1864 to 1951, at which time the former independent municipality of Río Piedras was annexed.
With its abundance of shops, historic places, museums, open air cafés, restaurants, gracious homes, tree-shaded plazas, and its old beauty and architectonical peculiarity, Old San Juan is a main spot for local and internal tourism.
The district is also characterized by numerous public plazas and churches including San José Church and the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. It also houses the oldest Catholic school for elementary education in Puerto Rico, the Colegio de Párvulos, built in 1865.
The oldest parts of the district of Old San Juan remain partly enclosed by massive walls. Several defensive structures and notable forts, such as the emblematic Fort San Felipe del Morro, Fort San Cristóbal, and El Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as La Fortaleza, acted as the primary defenses of the settlement which was subjected to numerous attacks. La Fortaleza continues to serve also as the executive mansion for the Governor of Puerto Rico. Many of the historic fortifications are part of San Juan National Historic Site.
Puerto Rican Cuisine has its roots in the cooking traditions and practices of Europe (Spain), Africa and the native Taínos. In the latter part of the 19th century, the cuisine of Puerto Rico was greatly influenced by the United States in the ingredients used in its preparation. Puerto Rican cuisine has transcended the boundaries of the island, and can be found in several countries outside the archipelago.
Main Airports in Puerto Rico
- Culebra Airport, Island of Culebra
- Eugenio María de Hostos Airport, Mayagüez
- Humacao Airport, Humacao
- Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, San Juan
- Mercedita Airport, Ponce
- Rafael Hernández Airport, Aguadilla
- Vieques Airport, Island of Vieques
Places of interest located in Puerto Rico, divided among the 78 Municipalities of the island.
Adjuntas: Casa Pueblo, Guilare Forest
Aguada: Aguada Museum, Coloso Sugar Cane Refinery, San Francisco de Asis Church, Cristopher Columbus Cross, Pico de Piedra Beach
Aguadilla: Rafael Hernández Monument, Las Cascadas Water Park, Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena, Crash Boat Beach
Aguas Buenas: Aguas Buenas Caves
Aibonito: Cañón de San Cristóbal
Arecibo: Arecibo Observatory, Arecibo Lighthouse, Bosque Río Abajo
Bayamón: Parque de las Ciencias, Casa y Museo José Celso Barbosa, Bayamón City Hall
Cabo Rojo: Los Morrillos Lighthouse, Joyuda Lagoon, San Miguel Arcángel Church, Isla de Ratones
Caguas: Jardín Botánico y Cultural de Caguas
Camuy: Camuy Caverns, Stone Church
Canóvanas: El Camarero Horse Racetrack
Carolina: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Roberto Clemente Stadium and Sports City
Cataño: Bacardi Distillery
Ceiba: Roosevelt Roads Naval Station
Ciales: Toro Negro Forest Reserve
Coamo: Baños de Coamo, Church San Blas de Illescas of Coamo,
Culebra: Flamenco Beach, Culebra Bioluminiscent Bay, Culebrita
Dorado: Casa del Rey Museum, Juan Boria Theatre, Ojo del Buey Park, Sanctuary Christ of the Reconciliation
Fajardo: Cape San Juan Lighthouse, Old Fajardo Sugar Cane Refinery, Palomino Island, Las Croabas
Guánica: Gilligan's Island, Playa Santa Beach, Central Guanica, Faro de Guánica, Bosque Seco de Guánica
Guayama: Carite Lake, Vives Sugar Mill, Pozuelo Beach
Guayanilla: Ventana Beach
Guaynabo: Fine Arts Center, Caparra Ruins
Hormigueros: Basilica Menor de la Virgen de Monserrate
Humacao: Palmas Del Mar Beach Resort
Isabela: Bosque de Guajataca, Jobos Beach
Jayuya: Cerro Punta, Cemí Museum, Nemesio Canales Museum, Piedra Escrita, Bosque de los Tres Picachos
Juana Díaz: Three Kings Museum
Juncos: Juncos Sugar Mill
Lajas: La Parguera, Cartagena Lagoon
Lares: Lares Ice Cream Parlor, Lares Cathedral
Las Piedras: Las Piedras Historic Museum
Luquillo: El Yunque
Manatí: Mar Chiquita
Maricao: Hacienda Juanita, Bosque de Maricao
Maunabo: Punta Tuna Lighthouse
Mayagüez: Asilo De Pobres, India Beer Brewery, Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo, Edificio José de Diego, Plaza Colón, Teatro Yagüez, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, U.S. Post Office and Courthouse
Moca: Palacete Los Moreau, Enrique Laguerre House
Naguabo: Ramón Rivero "Diplo" Monument, Casa Vaña del Mar
Orocovis: Matrullas Lake, Toro Negro Rain Forest
Peñuelas: Convento Caverns
Ponce: El Tuque beach, La Guancha Recreational Center, Panteón Nacional Román Baldorioty de Castro Historic Cemetery, Ponce Cathedral, Castillo Serrallés, Caja de Muertos island, Monument to the abolition of slavery, Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Parque de Bombas Firehouse, Plaza Las Delicias, Río Inabón River, Ponce High School, Ciudad Deportiva Millito Navarro, Letras de Ponce, Cruceta del Vigía, Banco de Ponce, Banco Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño, Cementerio Católico San Vicente de Paul, Panteón Nacional Román Baldorioty de Castro
- Beaches: Caja de Muertos, El Tuque, La Guancha
- Churches: Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, Iglesia Metodista Unida de la Playa de Ponce, Ponce Cathedral, Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida de Ponce
- Forests: Bosque Estatal de Toro Negro, Bosque Estatal de Cerrillos
- Historic Homes: Casa Fernando Luis Toro, Casa Font-Ubides, Casa Oppenheimer, Casa Paoli, Casa Salazar-Candal, Casa Serralles, Casa Rosita Serrallés, Casa Wiechers-Villaronga, Castillo Serrallés, Residencia Armstrong-Poventud, Residencia Rosaly-Batiz, Residencia Subirá
- Islands: Caja de Muertos, Isla Cardona, Isla de Gatas, Isla de Jueyes, Isla de Ratones, Isla del Frío, Morrillito
- Lighthouses: Faro de la Isla de Caja de Muertos, Faro del Puerto de Ponce
- Marinas: Club Nautico de Ponce, Villa Pesquera
- Monuments: Monumento a la abolición de la exclavitud, Monumento a los heroes de El Polvorín (obelisco), Monumento a los heroes de El Polvorín (tumba)
- Museums: Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes, Hacienda Buena Vista, Museo Castillo Serrallés, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Museo de la Arquitectura Ponceña, Museo de la Historia de Ponce, Museo de la Masacre de Ponce, Museo de la Música Puertorriqueña, Museo del Autonomismo Puertorriqueño, Museo Francisco "Pancho" Coimbre
- Parks: Parque de Bombas, Parque de la Abolición, Parque de la Ceiba, Parque del Retiro, Parque del Tricentenario, Parque Ecológico Urbano, Parque Familiar Julio Enrique Monagas, Parque Lineal Veredas del Labrador, Parque Luis A. Wito Morales, Parque Pedro Albizu Campos, Parque Urbano Dora Colón Clavell, Plaza Degetau, Plaza Las Delicias, Plaza Muñoz Rivera
- Shopping Plazas: Fox Delicias Mall, Plaza del Mercado de Ponce, Plaza del Caribe, Plaza Juan Ponce de Leon
- Theaters: Teatro Fox Delicias, Teatro La Perla
- Ponce Visitor Attractions: Antiguo Casino de Ponce, Antiguo Cuartel Militar Español de Ponce, Antiguo Hospital Militar Español de Ponce, Biblioteca Municipal de Ponce, Centro Cultural de Ponce Carmen Solá de Pereira, Centro de Convenciones de Ponce, Complejo Recreational y Cultural La Guancha, Cruceta del Vigía, Letras de Poncem, Luis A. Ferré United States Courthouse and Post Office Building, Paseo Atocha, Paseo Tablado La Guancha, Ponce City Hall, Ponce YMCA Building, United States Customs House, Zona Historica de Ponce
Quebradillas: Guajataca Tunnel
Rincón: Punta Higuero Lighthouse
Río Grande: El Yunque National Forest
Sabana Grande: Susúa State Park
Salinas: Albergue Olímpico, Central Aguirre
San Germán: Porta Coeli Church, San Germán Historic District
San Juan: Old San Juan, Golden Mile District, José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, Fort San Felipe del Morro, Fort San Gerónimo, Fort San Cristóbal, San Juan Port, Paseo La Princesa, Colón Plaza, Cuartel de Ballajá, Plaza Las Américas, Luis Muñoz Rivera Park, Puerto Rico Convention Center, San José Church, Galería Nacional, Bosque Urbano del Nuevo Milenio, Bosque Urbano San Patricio
San Sebastián: Guajataca Lake
Toa Baja: El Cañuelo, Isla de Cabras Recreational Park
Trujillo Alto: Carraízo Dam
Utuado: Lago Dos Bocas, Dos Bocas Dam, Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center, Lago Caonillas
Vega Baja: Tortuguero Lagoon
Vieques: Conde de Mirasol Fort, Punta Mulas Lighthouse, Vieques Bioluminiscent Bay
Villalba: Doña Juana Waterfall, Maravilla Hill, Toa Vaca Lake
Yauco: Negroni Mansion, Lucchetti Lake
Besides beach-bumming and complete relaxation, Puerto Rico offers the perfect romantic getaway atmosphere, culture and an adventure-packed vacation for people craving time with nature.
Map of Puerto Rico