The Island Less Traveled 4

Why Puerto Rico should be on your must-travel list

Puerto Rico is the island for everyone. It has beaches, rain forests, amazing food and drinks, historic monuments, and a vibrant night life. It’s a U.S. territory so no passports are needed and this diverse, colorful island is only a three-hour nonstop flight away. There’s no wonder Puerto Rico tops many Atlantans’ vacation lists.

History

San Juan, the capitol of Puerto Rico, is one of the world’s greatest cities. A bustling commercial center, the city is ablaze in neon signs from hotels, restaurants, dance halls and shops. The highlight of this city is Old San Juan with its narrow cobblestone roads leading to the Castillo San Cristóbal fort built in 1793 by the Spanish to thwart pirates, the English, the Dutch and others. It’s the largest fort built by the Spanish in the New World and visitors can still see it today.

Food

Puerto Ricans are proud, passionate people and food is high on their list of life’s enjoyments. One of the best new restaurants in Old San Juan is Marmalade. It’s famous for its white bean soup and red snapper ceviche. Looking for pizza? Piro Pizza Rustica puts its own spin on the pie by adding plantains!

Drink

The Bacardi Rum plant is accessible via a short boat ride from San Juan and is among the island’s top attractions. Guests can see how Puerto Rico’s most famous product is made, taste it for themselves, and bring some home to share.

Puerto Rico is also a leading coffee-producing region as well. In the mountain regions of Toro Negro, about a two hour drive from San Juan on intimidatingly twisting roads, there are a number of boutique coffee haciendas that offer tours. These tours will start and end with a steaming hot cup of the freshest, richest coffee anyone has ever tasted, making the mountainous drive worth the trip.

Beaches

Naturally, Puerto Rico is also known for its beaches. Visitors can choose from more than 270 beaches. Among the best are Flamenco Beach, Condado Beach Playa Sucia, and Sun Bay Beach, which is on Vieques Island. All of them feature soft, pristine sand with perfectly-hued blue green water ready for swimmers, boaters, snorkelers, and sight-seers alike.

Rainforest

Many people will focus on the fantastic beaches in Puerto Rico, however the island has an amazingly diverse ecological system as well. El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. It is a virtual paradise with lush foliage, waterfalls, rivers, flora, palm leaves the size of a man and beautiful — and loud — animals. The best way to experience the rain forest is to take a tour that starts at the El Portal Rain Forest Center.

Adventure

For those who want a little more excitement in their travels, head to Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park, about an hour drive from San Juan, in Orocovis. The park is 316 acres and features one of the world’s longest zip lines. The Monster zip line is equivalent to 28 football fields, as high as 850 feet  and one could go as fast as 95 miles per hour! There are other zip lines and even a ropes course that are sure to bring out anyone’s inner Ninja Warrior.

Puerto Rico is a friendly, safe, eclectic island with plenty to offer singles, families and couples. With easy access from Atlanta via Delta (three to six flights daily), there’s just one question left to ask: When will you go?