The best way to fully experience Puerto Rico is through the senses—the colorful sights, vibrant sounds, and the spicy aromas of the island will fill your head and your heart. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or a few weeks, you’ll want to explore the areas beyond your hotel and dig deep into the rich culture of La Isla del Encanto.
Try the Local Food
Puerto Rican food combines the flavors of its history with influences of Spanish and African flavors, as well as the native Taino and Caribbean ingredients. Arroz con gandules, made with rice, pigeon pea, pork, and spices, is known as Puerto Rico’s national dish. You must also try mofongo, a tasty mash of plantains, garlic, and crispy pork or bacon.
You’ll find street food at markets, beaches, and carts in the city. Sample the alcapurrias, deep-fried fritters filled with beef and plantains. Another fried specialty is the bacalaitos, which are savory, crispy patties made of cod and vegetables.
Explore the Ocean
With 270 miles of coastline, you’re never far from the beach in Puerto Rico. All beaches are open to the public. The El Escambrón public beach near San Juan is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. You can see all kinds of animals when snorkeling in the ocean.
Kayaking or canoeing in lagoons and shallow waters is also popular. At night, you can explore the bioluminescent bays, where microorganisms in the water glow in the dark. During the day, you may spot marine life, such as dolphins or manatees.
Feel the Music
You can find live music throughout the island on beaches, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Many styles of the Caribbean, Latin American, and American pop are popular, but for a true original Puerto Rican creation, you need to experience reggaetón. A fusion of rap, reggae, and other Latin sounds, reggaetón has a beat that makes you want to dance. Traditional folk music such as bomba and plena are still popular expressions of Puerto Rico’s culture. You may hear them at festivals and parties, but their sounds are also being adapted by modern musicians.
The heritage and culture of Puerto Rico shine throughout the island, and with a good sense of adventure, you can easily experience much of it. The sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Puerto Rico will stay with you long after you’ve left for home.
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