Planning a vacation soon?
Puerto Rico should be at the top of the places to consider. The combination of history, diverse culture, scenery, attractions, warm people and fascinating cities, make this Caribbean gem a world-class destination.
We can list many reasons why you should plan a trip to the island, but here are only four to get you started.
Indulge in the Culture
Puerto Rico’s rich and vibrant culture derives from a mix of the indigenous Taínos, the Spaniards and the Africans. This integration is reflected throughout the island’s colonial architecture, spirited art, powerful literature and dynamic music.
Dance and music are essential when describing the vibrancy of the islanders. From the most traditional sounds like bomba, plena and the décima (or trova) to the urban sounds of reggaetón, the fusion of races comes through in every beat. One of the most breathtaking and folkloric demonstrations of our heritage become alive in the bomba, an Afro-Caribbean rhythm played by two or more drums led by the footsteps of the dancer. The respect with which it is carried out captivates the mind of every spectator.
Other traditional sounds of Puerto Rico are the plena and the trova. Usually heard during Christmas time, these genres elevate popular instruments such as el cuatro and pleneros. Just like the corrido in México, the narrative of the songs details the struggles and burdens of the countryside and coastal communities. Puerto Rico is also known for its flavorful salsa singers and reggaetón artists. These two genres will surely make you swing your hips and lose yourself to the rhythm of the music.
Another manifestation of the captivating history of Puerto Rico and how it has evolved can be appreciated by just walking down the streets of Old San Juan where you will see monumental fortresses, pastel-colored buildings, blue cobblestone roads, and elaborate wall carvings.
You can find museums and galleries all over the island that reflect the Puerto Rican cultural heritage and evolution. Ancient artefacts, pre-Columbian paintings, contemporary pieces and even street art can be found by those with a trained eye and even the self-taught amateurs.
Be Captivated by Nature
In terms of beauty, Puerto Rico is astonishingly diverse. With over 36 nature reserves, 19 state forests and five wildlife refuges, travelling across the island easily brings the opportunity to enjoy the contrast of scenery and get back in touch with nature.
You can appreciate the marine life diversity across the nearly 300 beaches along the 272 miles of coastline. With different characteristics – like colors, sand textures and wave flow – each area has a distinctive quality and varied marine life.
If you’re seeking eco-friendly experiences like no other, Puerto Rico is the place to go. The island has three of the world’s bioluminescent bays. The fluorescent waters are the result of a delicate ecosystem made up by single-cell organisms that release energy when agitated, giving the effect of “glow in the dark” water. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is currently the brightest bioluminescent ecosystem in the world, so – to make the most of your visit- be sure to avoid full moon nights.
Puerto Rico also has El Yunque, the only subtropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest System where it rains at least four times a day. Within its 28,000 acres, you can find over 240 species of plants, rare endangered fauna, several rivers, streams and waterfalls. El Yunque is the most ancient area designated as a natural reserve in the Western Hemisphere.
The karstic zone is one of the most precious non-renewable resources because of the special ecosystems that developed there, such as the largest riverine estuaries, fossil deposits and an extensive cave system with over 2,000 caverns and the world’s second largest river.
The beauty of Puerto Rico? You can enjoy all its diversity in a single day.
Go on an Adventure
If “unforgettable” is how you want to describe your vacation, Puerto Rico should be your destination. The tropical weather and distinct typography make the island a perfect setting for unique and extraordinary ventures. From bird-watching to canyoneering, kayaking and ziplining, the island has something for everyone.
Hitting the turquoise waters of Puerto Rican beaches is one of the many reasons millions of tourists visit each year. There is a wide range of activities to choose from like sailing, snorkeling, deep-diving, surfing, kayaking, whale spotting or simply relaxing.
If you’re in for an adrenaline rush, go ziplining over lush trees, valleys and rivers in El Yunque or Toro Verde. You can also get off the beaten path and have a canyoneering adventure, climb, rappel and scale to the top of vigorous mountains or hike the fascinating trails these forests have to offer.
Savor the Flavors
With an explosion of flavors and a wide variety of dishes that aim to please and comfort even the most picky-eaters, Puerto Rican cuisine can be best described in three words: diverse, complex and familiar. Whether it is a snack, a drink, some street food or a high-end meal, every chef on the island has the same goal: take care of people and showcase the culture through the food.
The constant evolution of the Puerto Rican kitchen brings a combination of traditional and trendy savors that promise to make you feel at home with every culinary experience. One ingredient you will find in almost every plate is sofrito, a blend of peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs that gives any dish that extra Latino flavor we all love. And, even though we encourage our visitors to try our staple dishes – such as mofongo, tostones, roasted pork and maybe some mamposteao – Puerto is so much more than rice and beans.
In recent years, there has been a movement by local chefs to elevate Puerto Rican flavors through eclectic infusions of other cultures to accommodate the palate of all our visitors, while highlighting local products to maintain that Caribbean essence.
Puerto Rico has a share of James Beard Award nominee chefs that are ready to entice your taste buds and take you on a gastronomical journey.
This Article originally appeared on DiscoverPuertoRico.com