Puerto Rico’s small size belies the wealth of culture and energy overflowing within this Spanish influenced Caribbean Island affectionately referred to as the “Island of Enchantment”. Regardless of whether you visit at two o’clock in the afternoon or two o’clock in the evening, chances are there will be a celebratory event or party of some kind taking place on the island.
Puerto Rico is believed to be one of the first Caribbean islands inhabited by humans. The Taino tribes lived peacefully on the island for several years until Christopher Columbus’ 1493 discovery eventually lead to the 1508 takeover by famous Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce De Leon disrupted their existence and eventually forced them out of their island.
After establishing the outpost of San Juan (currently the capital of Puerto Rico), the Spanish took considerable efforts to ensure its protection from French and British takeover and established a totalitarian regime which continued throughout the 1600s and 1700s as tobacco, cotton and sugar surged in demand.
It wasn’t until the 1800s that this authoritarian administration began to crumble due to revolution, paving the way for Puerto Rico to establish its own identity while simultaneously allowing a greater diversity of people to come and live on the island. During this period, Puerto Rico enjoyed autonomy for several years until it was invaded and subsequently taken over by the United States during the Spanish-American War. Even today, some Puerto Ricans continue to push for independence from the U.S. but such a decision has yet to receive nationwide approval.
It may not be rich in terms of its economy but Puerto Rico has a number of historic natural sights and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, over 250 miles as a matter of fact. It’s also recognized for its elaborate and quite extensive underground cave system which is the third largest of its kind in the world. A large amount of nature preserves which are inhabited by a diverse array of wildlife live peacefully on the island in the Guánica Biosphere Reserve and “El Yunque” is the only rainforest on United States terrain. One of the more unusual features on the island is the giant radio telescope (the largest in the world) at the Arecibo Observatory which constantly sends out signals in order to try and connect with extraterrestrial life.
Spanish is the predominant language on the island but the culture of Puerto Rico is influenced by the Taino tribes that originally lived there in addition to facets of African and American culture. Music also plays in major role in Puerto Rican culture, the “bomba and plena” genre (a mix of maracas and percussion along with a signature dance) being one of the favorites among residents. Baseball is extremely popular, Roberto Clemente being one of the more famous Puerto Ricans to play for a major league baseball team.
Puerto Rico is widely regarded as a nation of diverse and dynamic culture. The nation's fusion of Spanish, Caribbean, African and North American cultures has made it especially diverse and contributed to its success and tourist appeal. Additionally, Puerto Rico's intriguing urban areas where contemporary development stands side-by-side with traditional design and historic buildings gives the island nation a modern twist on Caribbean lifestyle.
Homes in Puerto Rico range by region, western Puerto Rico has cities like Arecibo, Cabo Rojo and Mayaguez which are known for their beautiful landscape and relative isolation. The western region of Puerto Rico has a lower population and has less urban development which makes larger plots of vacant land available. Oceanfront homes with private beachfront are available for sale or for rent in the western region of Puerto Rico and vary from six bedroom mansions to two bedroom beachfront vacation villas.
The eastern section of Puerto Rico offers a larger variety of real estate options. With a larger population and more popular attractions the eastern section of Puerto Rico is known for its vibrancy and high-end property. The coastal regions offer beachfront homes and resort-style property for sale or for rent. The homes are elegant and incorporate modern conveniences with traditional Caribbean-style. These Puerto Rican oceanfront homes often have patios, pools, wraparound terraces with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. Resort-style property on the other hand offers a completely different kind of Caribbean living. High-end amenities and features from renowned resorts like the Ritz Carlton San Juan Hotel, Hyatt and Wyndham include in-house restaurants, live entertainment, spas, saunas, poolside attendants and comfortable pool and beachfront cabanas.
El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa
Horned Dorset Primavera Hotel
Ritz-Carlton San Juan Spa & Casino
The official currency of Puerto Rico is the U.S. Dollar (US$).
Calling Code: 1 (787)
Top Level Domain: (.pr)
Puerto Rico is a self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States headed by a Republican three branch government system.
Valid Travel Documents: Required upon Exit and Entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
Climate: Puerto Rico is balmy year round, with daily highs averaging between 27-30°C (80-86°F).
Tips when you get there:
Puerto Rico is a particularly accessible island with one of the few international airports (Luis Munoz Marin International Airport) that could be considered a hub for travel in the region. Most countries have direct flights to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport so getting to Puerto Rico is mostly hassle free. Upon arrival the best method of transportation around the island is to rent a car. The island is relatively large and seeing it all by taxi is a less practical option and the mass transit system, while operational, is not very reliable. If you want to travel out to one of Puerto Rico's famed sub-islands, government operated ferries provide daily transportation.
What to do
Puerto Rico has a s never ending list of attractions like festivals, historic sites, restaurants, water sports, beaches and local shopping but for the sake of being succinct here are some of the more popular Puerto Rican attractions.
Places to see while visiting include the Arecibo Observatory, practically hidden within the lush foliage of the Puerto Rican forest which has the largest single dish telescope in the world. Visiting the Arecibo Observatory is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allows you to be a part of human history as scientists explore the outer edges of the universe. Puerto Rico also has two national parks Guianica Biosphere Reserve and El Yunque which are perfect for avid nature watchers who want to see untouched natural habitats and exotic wildlife. A quintessential place to visit for shoppers and those seeking Puerto Rican cultural experiences is Plaza Las Delicias, full of shops, live entertainment and fine dining.
Puerto Rico's diverse culture shines through its elaborate celebratory festivals both vibrant and refined. From Carnival to famous cellist performances Puerto Rico is an island that is well known for its quality festivities. Some events include Fiesta de San Juan Bautista in late June, Mayaguez's twinkling La Virgen de la Candelaria in early February and Festival San Sebastian in January.