With its ethereal natural attractions, rich historical wonders, delicious traditional gourmet and tropical climate together make Puerto Rico the happening tourist hotspot it is. This gorgeous Caribbean island is a self-governing commonwealth of the United States of America. Puerto Rico is characterized by long stretches of palm-fringed beaches, colourful and vibrant colonial buildings and a mesh of Caribbean, Hispanic and American cultures co-existing beautifully together.
Kick-start the trip by heading out to its dynamic capital - San Juan. It has one of the biggest natural harbors in the Caribbean. Do stroll around the lanes of Old San Juan and admire its pretty colonial architecture and intimidating forts. It is a unique blend of Spanish colonial history mixed with present day Puerto Rican life. The entire place is a UNESCO Heritage Site, with several resrtored 16th-and-17th-century Spanish colonial buildings. Some of the attractions include the El Morro Fort, San Cristobal Fort and the San Juan Cathedral.
Nature lovers can spend quality time at El Yunque National Forest - the only rainforest in the US Forest Service's system. Spanning across a mountainous expanse of northeast Puerto Rico, some of the famous trails comprise of La Mina, which leads to a waterfall and natural swimming pool. SOme of the other highlights include La Coca Falls, Yokahu Tower, Bano Grande and Bano de Oro.La Coca Falls displays a 85-foot cascade onto boulder formations and is said to be the first striking attraction visitors will glimpse in El Yunque.
Do head over to Rincon for it is one of Puerto Rico's main areas for whale watching excursions. The prime whale watching season is mid-January through to March, when humpback whales are spotted in the area. Puerto Rico features three of the planet's bioluminescent bays (also called phosphorescent bays): in Fajardo, the town of La Parguera, and at Mosquito Bay on Vieques. One can take night-time tours in any of three locations and view the natural lights dancing in the water, created by illuminated dinoflagellates, small sea creatures.
Space enthusiasts can take a trip to northern Puerto Rico to visit the Arecibo Observatory. It is the site of the biggest single-aperture radio telescope in the planet, in the middle of the unique Karst landscape of limestone peaks and sinkholes. One can catch a glimpse of the 8-hectare (20-acre) dish from an observation platform in one such sinkhole at Arecibo's visitors' centre. Drop by at the Rio Camuy Cave Park for it is home to a massive cave system encompassing some 268 acres and is believed to be the third biggest cave system in the globe. The caves comprises of different rooms, and is some instances, with extremely high ceilings, stalagmites, and stalactites, and rivers rushing along the base.
When it comes to shopping, be on the lookout for cigars, coffee, hammocks, rum, straw weavings, sculpture, lace, santos (carved religious figures), festival masks (called vejigantes) and stringed musical instruments. As for cuisine, it would be a shame to not gorge into their local delicacies while visiting. Dig into Mofongo (Afro-based dish of mashed plantain, stuffed with bacon, chicken or seafood and served in a broth), Tostones (Thick sliced plantain, fried as chips) and Maduros (Sweet plantains; served fried or baked as a side dish).
The stay options in Puerto Rico are abundant with the best luxury hotels, rental accommodations and cheap accommodations available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste. The best time to visit Puerto Rico is during the dry season (December to April) for the temperatures are pleasant during that period.