About San Juan
Traces of the Old World – cobblestone streets, wrought-iron balconies, 17th-century Spanish architecture, an old cathedral, a fortress – still linger here.
Puerto Rico is a blend of urban and natural delights. It boasts El Yunque, the only US tropical rainforest outside Hawaii. Balneario de Luquillo is the quintessential beach but there are sandy shores to suit everyone from sunbathers to surfers. In the evening the island sizzles with the gyrating sounds of reggaetón and Salsa music. San Juan is a popular port of embarkation for Caribbean cruise holidays.
Fountain of Youth searcher and first governor, Ponce de Leon, founded Old San Juan.
Besides the beaches, the island’s major attraction is Old San Juan. The US National Landmark is located within walking distance of the port. Over 400 renovated buildings house shops and cafes, close to parks and monuments. The apex of the isle’s natural beauty, on the eastern side, is the sprawling El Yunque with its 240 tree species, rushing cascades and colourful birds. A stay in Puerto Rico is not complete without a day at the beach alongside its azure waters.
• Bosque Estatal de Guánica
• Casa Blanca
• Catedral de San Juan
• Fuerte San Felipe del Morro
• Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
• Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy
Puerto Rico Tourism Company
La Casita Plaza Dársenas, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tel: +1 787 722 1709.
Though San Juan has a wide range of shops, they aren’t duty-free. So, forget the electronic, jewellery, china and crystal bargains. Concentrate on the artwork and crafts like santos (carved religious figures), mundillo (homemade lace), vejigantes (masks worn during Carnival), guayaberas (men’s shirts) and hand-rolled cigars. Though there are several malls, San Juan is the shopping hub.
The island’s cuisine runs the gamut from upscale gourmet and ethnic Thai and Italian to pure Puerto Rican – typically beans, rice and mofungo (fried, chopped plantains) served with meat, seafood or pork.
When to go:
This is the tropics so the weather is naturally hot and humid. The rainy and hurricane seasons run from late May to early November.
1.5km (0.9 miles).