This post brought to you by Puerto Rico, The All-Star Island. The content, photos and opinions expressed below are that of Caroline in the City. puerto rico Puerto Rico wasn’t really on my radar in terms of places to travel, but last year my family wanted to fit in one last family vacation before we all got too busy to do it. So my mom did her research and booked us a week on the main island and Vieques. I couldn’t have imagined how much I would fall in love with the commonwealth and its food, people and landscapes. It’s such an easy vacation from the continental United States, especially from Atlanta as we did, and passports or foreign currency weren’t necessary. Islands Vieques and Culebra aren’t yet overrun with tourists like many other Caribbean islands, so you’ll have a more authentic, local experience. While there are hundreds of things to do in the varied towns of the islands of Puerto Rico, here’s ten items on my must do itinerary for visitors. puerto rico 1. Walk the cobbled streets of Old San Juan. The walled city was officially founded in 1521 and served as one of the Caribbean’s most significant ports. It’s continued to be such for the last nearly fifty years. The winding streets lead you through shops, restaurants and to Castillo San Cristobal, which has sweeping views of the ocean. puerto rico 2. Sip the world’s finest rum at Bacardi. Their name is synonymous with rum for good reason. The family-run empire began in Cuba before the revolution, but really grew once they moved to Puerto Rico in 1937. You can visit the distillery, where the majority of their rum is made, and try samples of their selections of classic and flavored rums. puerto rico 3. Order a plate of mofongo, one of the island’s most well known dishes. Carb loading is a way of life on Puerto Rico, so don’t expect to eat light. This delicious dish is made up of a cake-like substance from plantain or yucca, topped with any delicious protein you like. My favorite was this grouper, which comes with rice for you to mop up the sauce with. puerto rico 4. Explore El Yunque National Park. Puerto Rico’s most well-known park can be packed with visitors during parts of the year, like when we went, and cars line every inch of the road. But don’t let this discourage you. Start at the visitor’s center to learn about the park’s history, before going on a hike to see the waterfalls and the nation’s only tropical rainforest. puerto rico 5. See Puerto Rico from above. The blue oceans are bluer and the green forests are greener than you could ever appreciate from ground level. Hop onto one of the ten seater planes that travel between parts of Puerto Rico like from San Juan to Fajardo and to Culebra and Vieques. If you’re afraid of flying, don’t worry. Most of these flights only hast a few minutes. puerto rico 6. Get out to one of the barrier islands. There’s so much more to Puerto Rico than the big island. While I loved my time on Vieques, Culebra is also another favorite for its world class beaches. Culebrita is a short water taxi away, completely uninhabited, and makes for a good day trip. There are over 140 other islands and atolls that make up the area. puerto rico 7. Spend as much time as possible in the water. No matter where you end up in Puerto Rico, make sure your visit includes some time in the ocean. My favorite of the trip was Sun Bay, a paid beach on Vieques with the most crystalline waters, pictured above. And you can rent snorkeling gear and head over to Mosquito Pier to get up close with sea life. 8. Paddle through the bioluminescent bay. One of Puerto Rico’s most amazing natural experiences is the bioluminescent creatures that light up the ocean at night. While I didn’t get to kayak through the bay due to scheduling conflicts, the pictures are out of this world. Just make sure they’re running tours during your visit, as it depends a lot on the weather and conditions. My week in Puerto Rico was the perfect chance to relax, riding in the open topped jeep, sipping beers on the porch and reading books. Island time is a way of life here and I know I’ll be back as soon as I can.

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