Some places never get old. They enchant us the more we reflect on them.
I unexpectedly went to Puerto Rico on my own in 2011, after plans fell through with a friend.
I was going through my hard drive and found these gorgeous pics of the islands of San Juan, Culebra, Culebrita, and the beach towns Isabella Segunda and Esperanza in Vieques. The picture above is of Esperanza, at sunset. You can either catch a short flight, which will take you through views like the one below to get there, or you can take the ferry, which is significantly less expensive at around two bucks each way from Fajardo.
Here are the 15 activities you can conduct in Puerto Rico, which will give you pause for thought and perhaps serve as the best vacation impetus possible.
1. Fly in and out on a tiny plane over the most gorgeous Caribbean islands.
Your seat in the plane will be determined based on your body weight. It’s an eight seater, and you will get the most unforgettable arial views. And if you’re lucky, you may just be in the co-pilot’s seat. If you’re even luckier, you will be sitting at the copilot’s seat on the way back from Culebra into San Juan, and at the old fortress in the old city, you will realize the rapid shift in the water’s color, indicating the sharp drop land level close to the old city of San Juan.
These, of course, are simple observations along the way from Vieques to Culebra via Fajardo. If you’re planning on going to Vieques, I highly recommend renting a car, if you can drive. If you can’t, it’s best to stay in Esperanza, as it’s the hub for the bioluminescent bays, and the food, the food.
2. Speaking of food, you can check out the locations of these Creole inspired meals.
Whether it’s fish and chips at the famous Bananas Bar in Esperanza, or a quiet meal of mofongo topped off with delicious rum based drinks, Puerto Rico has it all.
Mofongo is a local dish made from mashed plaintains filled with scrumptious seasonings of beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, or whatever your tastebuds lead you to fancy.
3. Hike up to the north of Vieques and ask Ruben to give you a tour of the beaches on horseback.
The settlements of Vieques are filled with approximately 10,000 people. It is an encouraging sign of how easily you can enjoy an unparalleled trek with a wild new hobby.
You will learn how to gallop on a horse, and by doing so, you can even pay homage to the wild horses who roam free and unbridled, grazing freely in the fields around the two small islands that jut out of neighbouring San Juan’s northeastern ends.
You can observe the most magnificent rides as you traverse mountains where the local residents share free and cold beers because they can tell you’ve been thirsty on your journey. You can also check out the large cable that gives electricity from Vieques to Puerto Rico while sipping on some coconut juice.
The level of trust you bestow upon a stranger who shares his beautiful stories and soul as he discusses his family, his dreams, and the beautiful music of the islands to you whilst you’re traversing around completely isolated beaches? What could possibly be better.
4. Bask in the sands of some of the crystal clear beaches.
Whether its the famous Flamenco Beach, or Playa Caracao, Puerto Rico has several unforgettable beaches to choose from, and be mesmerized by.
The tranquil waters are inviting, and to say the very least, it’s mesmerizing.
5. Ponder that even in paradise, violence is never too far behind.
Check out the artistic homage paid by local artists to these meaningless remnants of the USA testing out war equipment and using PR until 1994, and feel inspired by the poignant tribute paid by local artists.
Puerto Rico was used as a US army testing base. The most obvious reminder of this is a tank which has been left abandoned at the northwestern tip of Flamenco Beach. Abandoned after protests in 1994, locals claim that landmines could be seen frequently, until a few years ago.
Even now, although the risk is minimal, tread carefully. If you see something strange in the water that may have rolled in in the last tropical storm, report it. Do not try to handle any mines by yourself.
6. Seek out plants and trees like the rum fruit, or scattered flowers along cobbled streets, or inexplicable jellylike creatures that are translucent, on the beach.
Whether it’s plants hanging off pastel colored quaint wrought iron terraces, the rum fruit that you can pluck off a tree while horseback riding, a pretty hibiscus, or even just the tropical jungles (and the only natural tropical jungle in all of the North American continent), Puerto Rico’s got a lot to offer you.
7. Discover Old San Juan sooner rather than later. La Perla is a must, but of course be careful of your belongings.
Any place with a beach and a body of water is enough to makes us all happy, but if you want unparalleled pretty Spanish architecture too and you crave gorgeous tree lined streets into some of the soothing and inspiring colors of a tranquil village, you should go
8. Kayak out to the bioluminescent bays and swim in the waters at night.
Ever taken a dip in water that glows in the dark, after you have kayaked all the way there in the undeveloped mangrove undergrowth?
The still, undisturbed water of Mosquito Bay is home to the world’s highest concentration of dinoflagellates, with 720,000 of these tiny microorganisms per gallon of water. Each individual bioluminescent flash from these microorganisms lasts only 1/10 second, but together, they light up the water in a vivid electric blue which can be seen for miles around. As a result, Mosquito Bay may be the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.
Puerto Rico also has other bioluminescent bays in Parguera and Fajardo. However, the popularity of these bioluminescent bays is also threatening their continued survival. Garbage, fuel spillage, and other pollution from surrounding development has reduced the concentration of dinoflagellates in these areas to just 10% of that of Mosquito Bay. To make matters even worse, local light pollution is drowning out the more subtle illumination from these bays.
9. Take a boat to the oldest lighthouse in the Caribbean, which just happens to sit on a completely uninhabited island offshooting from Culebra’s north side.
Two bucket list accomplishments in one go.
10. Mingle with wonderful locals.
Puerto Ricans are open minded, warm and welcoming. wonderful people, who are ready to welcome you to post shark kebab salsa temptations.
11. Because you will succeed in life if you truly learn the meaning of this:
If you’re a dude, just extend your imaginations to read the sign as island man, of course..
12. Snorkel in the waters.
There’s a whole different world underneath the ocean. PR has some of the most saline water around, so your chances of drowning are minimal, whilst the possibility of noticing the most marvelous array of fish means your very own adult Little Mermaid tribute.