Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Exotic, Diverse Puerto Rico

In two-and-a-half hours--the time it takes to slog through security lines at most airports--you can fly from Miami International to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Relax and dip your toes into the frothy waters of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Order a plate of mofongo and wash it down with a refreshing mojito!

On arrival at this island paradise, it's a short taxi ride to the center of the original capital, which covers seven square blocks. Take a walking tour of city center and wander over blue cobblestone streets made of bricks originally used as ballast on wooden trade ships. Did you know that Old San Juan was established in 1492?

Visit La Fortaleza, the Governor's Residence, built as a fort in the early 1500's to fend off invaders from the sea. Today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can tour its gardens Monday through Friday from 9:00 until 3:30 pm, for a $3 donation.

Did you know that the famous explorer, Ponce De Leon, is buried in the San Juan Bautista Cathedral, a 450 year-old church? Daily Mass is still celebrated inside.

Be sure to schedule an afternoon, or day-long visit the lush green El Yunque Rainforest, 45 minutes drive from the capital, where you can see mist-covered mountains, ponds, flowers and coqui frogs up close. The tour guide will take you to the La Coca waterfall and the Yokahu Observation Tower.

Next trip, I'm going to see Arecibo, the world's largest radio telescope.

Puerto Rico offers a variety of activities: golf, sailing, catamaran snorkeling, hiking and zip lining. Whether you're looking for nature adventures, sandy tropical beaches, exciting night-life, interesting culture--a mix of Taino, African and Spanish influences--or great food, it's all here. Visitors can reach the island by direct flights from several State-side gateways, and no passports are required for U.S citizens.