Caribbean Tourism

Before Travelling

The Flag

22 December 1995 was the 100th anniversary of the lone star flag of Puerto Rico, marked by hoisting it alone at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño, in clear violation of US law which states that the US flag should always be flown alongside state or other territorial flags. All over the island the flag was flown as a gesture of pride in Puerto Rican nationality. The...

Defeat of the Great Unwashed

1997 was the 200th anniversary of the attack on San Juan by General Abercrombie in the last and largest attempt by the British to take the Island. On 17 April 1797, 68 ships and over 3,000 troops anchored off Punta de Cangrejos. The next day they landed, occupied the town of San Mateo de Cangrejos, and Abercrombie set up command in the summer residence of...

Culture

Music & Dance The island was Spanish until 1898 and one of the oldest musical traditions is that of the 19th-century Danza, associated particularly with the name of Juan Morel Campos and his phenomenal output of 549 compositions. This is European-derived salon music for ballroom dancing, slow, romantic and sentimental. The Institute of Puerto Rican...

Excursions

Puerto Rico’s coastline is protected in many places by coral reefs and cays which are fun to visit and explore. La Cordillera is a nature reserve of cays and rocks off the northeast tip of Puerto Rico, including Icacos, Diablo, Ratones and Las Cucarachas, which have a rich coral reef, clear water and sandy beaches. There is an abandoned limestone quarry on...

Vieques

Vieques a peaceful, relaxing, low-key island of rolling hills, is located 11 km across the sea from Puerto Rico. It was catapulted into the limelight in 1999-2000 when locals campaigned for the removal of the US military from their bases at the east and west ends of the island. The island is about 34 km long by 6 km wide, the inhabitants mostly concentrated...

The Southeast

One of the prettiest parts of Puerto Rico, which should be visited, lies south of Humacao, between Yabucoa and Guayama. Here are the villages of Patillas (público from Guayama) and Maunabo (público from Patillas, and from Yabucoa). There are a number of restaurants in this area, especially on the coast, which sell good, cheap food. Yabucoa is the east...

San German

Inland from La Parguera, off the main Route 2, San Germán has much traditional charm; it was the second town to be founded on the island and has preserved its colonial atmosphere. It is an excellent base from which to explore the mountains and villages of southwest Puerto Rico. The beautiful little Porta Coeli chapel on the plaza contains a small, rather...

Ponce

Much renovation has taken place in the heart of the city; the Casas Villaronga and Salazar-Zapater have been restored (the latter to accommodate the Museo de Historia de Ponce), other houses are being repainted in pastel shades, streets have been made into pedestrian areas (for example the Paseo Peotonal Atocha and Callejón Amor), and the large, air-...

North Coast Road

Route 2, the main road in the north, runs from Aguadilla through Quebradillas to Arecibo, then through urban areas to some extent from Arecibo and completely from Manatí to San Juan. South of Quebradillas in the Montañas Aymamón is the Bosque Estatal de Guajataca, a dry forest with a large number of bird species, on Route 446. There are over 40 walking...

Mona Island

Mona Island, 80 kilometres west of Mayagüez, is fascinating for historians and nature lovers, with turquoise sea and white sand. Originally inhabited by Taino Indians and then by pirates and privateers, it is now deserted except for its wildlife. Here you can see one-metre-long iguanas, colonies of sea birds and bats in the caves (possibly pirates too). 60-...

Mayaguez

Mayaguez is a crowded city with little of interest to the tourist. There are botanical gardens, at the Tropical Agricultural Research Station, near the University of Puerto Rico. Free. Monday-Friday, 0730-1630. The city also has a zoo. Adults US$1, children US$0.50. Tuesday-Sunday, 0900-1630. The tourist office is in the Municipalidad on Plaza Colón but...

La Parguera

Further west is La Parguera, originally a fishing village and now a popular resort with two paradores, guest houses, fish restaurants, fast food outlets. Noisy on holiday weekends. Fishing, kayaking, mountain biking and other activities are offered. Nearby is Phosphorescent Bay, an area of phosphorescent water, occurring through a permanent population of...

Guánica

Going west from Ponce is Guánica, the place where American troops first landed in the Spanish-American war. It has an old fort from which there are excellent views. Although Guánica has a history stretching back to Ponce de León’s landing in 1508, the first of many colonist landings in the bay, the town was not actually founded here until 1914. For details...

El Yunque

El Yunque (see also Flora & Fauna), or Caribbean National Forest, is a tropical forest and bird sanctuary. El Yunque is reached via Route 3 from San Juan towards Fajardo, and then right on Route 191. The forest is divided into north side and south side, with no road connection. After a series of landslides everyone has given up and Route 191 is...

Eastern Tour

An interesting round trip through the east half of the island can be done by a series of públicos from San Juan – Río Grande – Luquillo – Fajardo – Humacao – Yabucoa – Guayama – Cayey – Aibonito – Barranquitas – Bayamon – San Juan. If travelling by car, a variant between San Juan and El Yunque takes you on Route 187 from Isla Verde, outside San Juan, to...