Boulevards & Byways

Postcard from Puerto Rico

Things to do in Puerto Rico

Luquillo Beach’s swaying palm trees and crystal clear water.

I’ve loved this mesmerizing island for many years. The beaches go on for miles and that shimmering aqua water soothes my soul. It’s an island with a swaggering history and an abundance of eco-friendly adventures. I’m sending everyone this Postcard from Puerto Rico. It highlights the fun things I did on the island.

I woke up in New York and by noon I was on Luquillo Beach relaxing under a palm tree. A four-hour flight was all it took, and because Puerto Rico is a US territory, no passport is required for US citizens. Easy!

Things to do in Old San Juan

There’s a myriad of things to do just in the city of Old San Juan alone! From historic churches to centuries-old forts like Castillo San Felipe El Morro and San Cristobal, to restaurants like Marmalade boasting top chefs serving local cuisine and quaint bars like La Factoria serving masterfully made cocktails, I was able to get close to the fascinating history and culture of Puerto Rico with the help of seven things to do in Old San Juan.

It’s a city made for walking and this self-guided tour of Old San Juan took me over the blue cobblestones and along the streets lined with candy-colored 16th and 17th century Spanish Colonial buildings, to some of the best sites and unique cultural experiences of the city.

Things to do in Arecibo

Explore Cueva Ventana

Nature and outdoor adventure are plentiful throughout the island. Some of the most strikingly beautiful areas of the island are in the mountainous regions. Cueva Ventana or Window Cave is no exception. In the town of Arecibo, a 90 minute guided hiking tour took me to a breathtaking panoramic view of the countryside and beyond, framed by the opening of the cave. It’s an incredible sight to see and the tour gave me an informative overview into the original inhabitants of the island.

Visit Arecibo Radio Telescope

If that’s not enough, the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest radar/radio telescope, is also nestled in the tropical mountains of Puerto Rico. This 1,000-foot diameter dish keeps us safe from asteroids and has assisted in numerous notable discoveries.

The viewing platform allowed me to fully appreciate the enormity of the telescope. An informative visitor center gave me the opportunity to view the pictorial message that was beamed 23,000 light-years away in hopes that extraterrestrial intelligence might receive and decipher it.

Things to do in Luquillo & Fajardo

Hike El Yunque National Forest

Cooling waterfall and swimming hole at El Yunque is a refreshing treat for visitors.

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. This is a sight not to be missed. I hiked through the verdant mountainous jungle with cooling pools and thunderous waterfalls and climbed Yokahu Tower for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. The National Parks website was helpful in providing me with information about the hiking paths and closures. It’s a wonderful way to spend the day or just a few hours.

Journey to the Beaches and the Bay

Responsible and eco-friendly tourism continues to support the island which is why I booked a kayaking snorkeling adventure with Pirate Snorkeling Shack on Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo. The best on the island, Hector and his staff provided me with a snorkeling kayaking tour and also rented me a paddleboard. After exploring, I kicked back and relaxed on the beach named for the seven different shades of blue of the ocean.

Then there are the Bio Bays, the -glow-in-the-dark bioluminescent bays. With only five in the world, Puerto Rico has three of them, each explorable by a kayak tour. A unique experience, I followed a tour guide by kayak through a mango forest to the bio bay. The water sparkled when stirred. I recommend taking a tour to find out why!

Where to Stay in Puerto Rico

Accommodations in Puerto Rico are varied and plentiful. High-end resorts on the beach in Condado and Isla Verde offer every amenity imaginable, mid-priced historic hotels in the heart of Old San Juan offer convenience to history and culture, while quaint guest houses in the smaller towns like Luquillo offer a more local flavor.

There’s no shortage of things to do in Puerto Rico. For more off the beaten path adventures in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean sign up at Boulevards and Byways and never miss a post or a postcard from me. Happy travels!

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