Puerto Rico is a 177 KM long and 56.3 KM wide unincorporated island territory (it is neither a state nor an independent country) of the U.S.A in the Caribbean Sea since 1898 when the U.SA defeated Spain in the Spanish-American war. That’s why Spanish and English are the official language of this island.
The 3.2 million people of Puerto Rico are American citizens (65.93% White and 16.72% African American) who follow Catholic religion but they have no right to vote in presidential elections and lack representation in the U.S.A parliament (Congress). Baseball, basketball and boxing are the most popular sports in Puerto Rico.
Why Puerto Rico is a famous tourist destination?
- Puerto Rico falls in the tropical climate zone. As a result, tourists enjoy warm temperatures (averaging 27 degree Celsius) all year in lower elevations and 21 degree Celsius in higher elevation areas.
- This island has a landscape of mountains, waterfalls and the El Yunque tropical rainforest. Puerto Rico is famous for its hotel strip, beach bars, palm lined beaches, colorful Spanish colonial buildings, Tarpon fishing experiences, casinos, lagoon and bird watching tours.
- Puerto Rico is a safe place to visit but there is always a risk of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017 and caused huge destruction.
- The English language is widely spoken on this island so tourists don’t face language barriers and they can easily hire and communicate with a travel guide.
- However, the United States Dollar is the official currency of Puerto Rico but visiting this island is not very costly because the economic conditions of this island are poorer than the poorest state of the U.S.A because 45% of the population of Puerto Rico is living below the poverty line. However, this island has the highest GDP per capita in the region in comparison to other Latin American countries.
- The average price of a seven day tour to this island is $1,400 for a solo traveler, $2,400 for a couple and $4,500 for a family of four members.
Tourism accounts for 6.9% of Puerto Rico’s GDP. 3.7 million Tourists visit this island in 2019. December-May is the best time to visit Puerto Rico because hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November with a peak in September. In this article, I will list some of the top Puerto Rico attractions.
1. La Fortaleza (The Fortress)
This seaside UNESCO world heritage site fort which is the official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico at present was built in 1540 to defend the harbor of San Juan from attacks of the European powers of that time. This fort is based in neoclassical architecture and spread in a 6,475 meter square area.
2. Old San Juan
Old San Juan provides both a historical landscape and modern energetic nightlife for party lovers. Major tourist attractions are
- 500 years old UNESCO world heritage site with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture like The Castillo de San Cristobal and The San Juan Cathedral and forts like El Morro Fort and The Fortaleza.
- Dining, shopping and staying in 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial buildings.
3. El Yunque National Forest
Spread in 43 square miles. This is the only tropical rainforest in the national U.S forest system. Major tourist attractions are
- Luquillo Mountain view and 3,500 feet high El Yunque’s mountain peak.
- La Mina falls, 85 feet high La Coca Falls, Yokahu Tower, Bano Grande and Bano de Oro.
- Hiking with walking trails to look at the 240 tree species, 50 species of orchids and abundance of smaller wildlife.
4. Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco)
This public beach is located on the Caribbean island of Culebra around a sheltered, horseshoe shaped bay. It is the top ranked beach in Puerto Rico and third best Blue Flag beach in the world. Major tourist attractions are swimming areas, natural diving sites with lifeguard towers, kiosks selling food, white sand beach and shallow turquoise waters.
5. Culebra Island Tours
This is a 7 mile long and 3 miles wide small island about 17 miles east of Puerto Rico .Major tourist attractions are
- Beautiful white sand and palm lined beaches.
- Coral reefs on its own 23 offshore islands.
- Swimming and diving in crystal clear water.
- Hiking on Cayo Luis Pena Island.
- Isla de Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.
Vieques is a small 21 miles long and 5 miles wide beach which is eight miles away from mainland Puerto Rico. Major tourist attractions are
- Dining on beach resorts, hotels and restaurants.
- Mosquito Bay or Bioluminescent Bay in which water lightens up at night because of the large concentration of phosphorescent dinoflagellates.
- Playa Negra, the only black sand beach in Puerto Rico.
- Puerto Ferro Lighthouse and the Fortin Conde Mirasol Museum which is the last Spanish fort.
This is known as “Surfing Town or Gringo Paradise”. Major tourist attractions are
- Surfing on 15 feet high waves and watching humpback whales from mid-January to March.
- Swimming in crystal clear water.
- Beautiful sunsets and amazing twilight colors.
Fajardo, situated in the eastern side of Puerto Rico is known as a water sports hub. Major tourist attractions of Fajardo are beautiful Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve which consist of a Spanish colonial era lighthouse and bioluminescent Laguna Grande and five outstanding marinas like Puerto del Rey.
9. Rio Camuy Caves
This is the 268 acres third largest underground cave system in the world. These caves are created by the Camuy River. Major tourist attraction is
- 200 feet deep cave sinkhole view in a trolley bus. This sinkhole is known as Cueva Clara Empalme.
10. Parque Isla Verde
The 1.14 million hectare Verde island passage is extremely rich in marine biodiversity. That is why it is known as the Center of the Center of Marine Shore fish Biodiversity. Major tourists attractions are
- Chic resorts and high-rise hotels.
- Jet Ski, parasailing, scuba diving, and banana boat rides.
- Casinos, Mist Club Lounge and nightclubs.
11. Seven Seas Beach
This beach is 30 miles away from San Juan. Major tourist attractions are –
- Calm and crystal clear water beaches with brown sand and gentle slopes.
- Picnic tables, restrooms and concession stands.