Officially known as the Capital City, San Juan is the most populous municipality in Puerto Rico. It was founded by Spanish Colonists during the 16th century and is the second European colony established in North America after Santo Domingo. San Juan is also one of the most important seaports in Puerto Rico and a major Tourist destination. Experiencing a tropical monsoon climate, the sea-side city gets plenty of sun and rainfall throughout the year with temperatures generally ranging between 16 to 33 degrees celsius throughout the year. Beaches, Spanish architecture, rich history and a great cuisine, San Juan has several things to offer to the tourists. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting things one can do in San Juan.
1. Wander Through the Old Town
Photo by Margalit Francus, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
If you want to travel back in time and revisit the Spanish colonial era, then surely visit the Old town of region of San Juan. Upon arrival, you will experience the walled city of San Juan with its several forts and understand why it’s been called the Gibraltar of the West Indies. The city walls remained unbreached till the arrival of the US during the Spanish- American war in 1898. Nevertheless, the historical buildings remain mostly undamaged and preserved till date. Today, the Old San Juan remains one of the most visited places in Puerto Rico and displays a wide array of Spanish Colonial Architecture.
2. Hit the Beach
Located in the Caribbean, San Juan is home to several pristine beaches and exotic beach fronts. Beaches can get really crowded during the summers owing to the sunny weather and mild climate but are sparsely populated during rest of the year. Condado Beach, which is also nicknamed as Little Miami by several visitors due to the similarities between the two, is a great spot for snorkeling and sunbathing. But if you want to be where the party is, then you might want to visit the Ocean Park Beach which has more than a mile long shore and is mostly visited by younger crowds. The beachfront has several luxury condos and attracts a lot of kite surfing, windsurfing and body surfing enthusiasts. The Isla Verda Beach is the largest and longest beach in San Juan with several eateries, cafés and luxury hotels on the beachfront.
3. Try the Local Cuisine
Puerto Rican cuisine combines influences from the Spanish and West African recipes along with the use of several indigenous herbs and ingredients. ‘Cocina Criolla’ is the local name for Puerto Rican cuisine and mostly consists of plantains, tropical fruits and seafood with the addition of beef, pork, and olive oil that were originally brought by the Spanish and vegetables like okra and taro that were brought from Africa. Main course dishes are mostly comprised of chicken, seafood, eggs, and meats which are prepared alongside a variety of vegetables. Dessert dishes are usually made up of some sort of custard or of tropical Puerto Rican fruits. Don’t forget to try coffee, beer and rum which are also a specialty of San Juan. Or discover them all with a walking food tour.
4. Snorkel Your Way To Deserted Islands
Snorkeling is one of the major water sports offered in San Juan. With several luxury beaches with sparkling blue waters with a warm climate, one can literally snorkel their way to far off locations, caves and deserted islands. The best time to snorkel is summers when the waves are the most calm with several protected areas that provide access to coral reefs, mangrove cays and the presence of several tropical fish. San Juan is indeed the snorkeling haven which acts as a gateway to some of the most exotic undiscovered locations in the Caribbean.
5. Experience Nature in a Tropical Rainforest
Located in a cool, mountainous terrain, the El Yunque rainforest is a natural getaway that provides access to the beauty of Puerto Rico. The El Yunque rainforest is situated in the northeastern region of Puerto Rico on the slopes of the Sierra De Luquillo Mountains, 900 meters above sea level. It rains all year round in these rainforests making them home to several endemic species of flora and fauna. One of the main attractions is a tropical tree dwelling frog which is found only in Puerto Rico, known as the coqui. There are also several endemic and migratory bird species that visit the rainforests.
6. Charge your Adrenaline With Adventure Tours
San Juan not only provides a great place to relax and refresh you with the beaches and natural hideouts, but is also a great adventure hotspot that makes sure that your adrenaline meter always remains on an all time high. San Juan offers several activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, rappelling, surfing, watersports, wind surfing, kite surfing, and zip lining. Name the adventure and you will get it at San Juan with its long list of adventure tours that are conducted under the supervision of highly trained experts. Puerto Rico is not just an exotic beach paradise with several hidden lagoons, islands and bays but is also equally inviting to those who want to live life dangerously.
7. Visit the Bizarre Laguna Grande
It should not be surprising to find that Puerto Rico contains several natural wonders and is known for its rich natural beauty accentuated by the beaches, rainforests and the Caribbean waters, like the biomes of the Mosquito lagoon and the bioluminescent bays at Laguna Grande. Taking a tour is almost like an underwater mosaic of lights that make Puerto Rico one of the hottest tourist locations across the globe. The lights are created due to the presence of a special variety of plankton which glows due to a chemical reaction. The Bioluminescence in Laguna Grande is greater than most places on the planet due to the higher salt concentration in the water which allows these microscopic organisms to flourish in higher quantities.
San Juan is one of the most visited tourist locations across the Caribbean and is indeed a hidden gem. Do not forget to visit the above places to experience San Juan’s history, culture, cuisine and scenic beauty.
Rohit Agarwal is a traveler who likes to visit the most far off and undiscovered locations across the globe. He also pens down his journey details and travel suggestions at www.transindiatravels.com which offers some great insight on the various places of interest in India. Follow her journey http://www.transindiatravels.
Post edited by Flavors Manager Mikol Hoffman