Activity Holidays in Puerto Rico
A popular Caribbean destination, the small island of Puerto Rico has plenty on offer. With its tropical climate, sandy beaches, colonial history and adventure activities, it is understandable why so many people visit this dream destination.
About Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an official US territory with the US dollar as its currency. Although many Puerto Ricans migrate to the US every year, there are millions of US mainland visitors who flock to visit the island. It is a self-governing commonwealth located in the Atlantic Ocean, in the north-eastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is 35 miles wide and 100 miles long and is home to fewer than 4 million people. With English and Spanish as its main languages, the name Puerto Rico means ‘rich port’ in Spanish, although the local nickname is ‘Island of Enchantment’ or Isla del Encanto. It has a tropical climate with average temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F.
Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1493 and claimed it as a Spanish outpost. The capital city, San Juan, was founded in 1521. The island is a cultural fusion of Spanish, African and Taino, with many local delicacies such as mofongo, which is mashed platanos stuffed with meat and lechon, roast suckling pig.
Old San Juan is a commercial and residential area, with over 400 restored 16th and 17th century colonial buildings. Best explored on foot, there are a number of Plazas that act as local meeting places and contain a number of historical monuments. The nearby El Morro fortress contains 18 ft thick walls and only fell once during its history.
The unofficial mascot of the island is the coqui, a small tree frog that is only found in Puerto Rico. Its ‘ko-kee’ sound can be heard across the island. It is also home to the largest single dish radio telescope in the world, responsible for the first asteroid images in history. Visitors can tour the telescope and its facility at Arecibo.
Beach Life and Sea Life
Puerto Rico is home to more than 300 beaches and off the coastline there are coral reefs and sea grass beds, favorite feeding spots for turtles. There are many other marine species in and around the waters of Puerto Rico, including sharks, barracuda and butterfly fish. Off the coast of Fajardo, the islets of Iacos, Loboc and Ratones are easily assessable by boat or catamaran and these islets offer some of the best snorkeling in the area.
Mona Island is one of the top ten diving sites in Puerto Rico. Although it takes around six hours to reach the island, experienced divers can swim with sharks or even humpback whales. La Parguera offers dive depths of between 50 ft and 1000 ft to the sea floor and it is also a popular spot in which to night dive. For those who prefer cold water diving, then consider other US destinations such as Alaska, where some of the best Alaska holidays are available for diving.
As well as diving and sailing, Puerto Rico is also popular for surfing activity holidays. Rincon is a surfer’s paradise, remaining home to many who travelled to the Surfing World Championships there in 1968. Waves break between 2 ft and 25 ft, with the Tres Palmas being dubbed the ‘temple’ of big waves in the Caribbean.
Other Activities Available
Other ideas for adventure holidays include hang gliding, which offers the chance view the El Yunque rainforest, the only subtropical rainforest in the US. There are also ziplines, caving and rappelling activities. The island is popular destination for hikers and cyclists and there are also ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours available.
Tom Brown writes regularly on activity holidays for a range of travel websites and blogs. As well as reviewing adventure holidays, Tom will also be reviewing the best Alaska holidays in his next article.