There are few places on earth as enchanting as Puerto Rico and there’s no better time to experience its magic than right now. From basking in year-round sunshine to enjoying a slower, more sustainable adventure vacation, Puerto Rico offers an eco-conscious trip in paradise. Here’s why you should visit right now.
From cantering down powdery beaches on horseback to zip-lining above rainforest treetops, Puerto Rico is packed with exhilarating outdoor activities. Head north to explore the Río Camuy Cave Park, a network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways carved by one of the largest underground rivers in the world. Appreciate delicate ecosystems on a trek through El Yunque (the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest Service) or traverse mountains, waterfalls and ravines on a canyoning tour along the Tanamá River in Utuado.
If you’re a wildlife wanderer, Playa Flamenco on Isla de Culebra (14mi/22.5km east of Puerto Rico) is the place to go. More than a third of it is designated a national wildlife refuge – a unique ecosystem of forests, coral reefs (pack a snorkel), mangroves, lagoons and beaches. If you’re a surfer, there’s Playa Crash Boat, an ideal spot to frolic in the sea or catch waves. Cabo Rojo, on the southwesterly tip of Puerto Rico, is a quiet stretch of coastline with calmer waters. If you visit, catch the sunset from the lighthouse – the views are unbeatable.
You won’t be short on slow and sustainable adventures in Puerto Rico, starting with kayaking through magical bioluminescent bays. There are five places in the world where you can get up close with this fluorescent phenomenon and you’ll find three of them in Puerto Rico – Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande and La Parguera. Glide along the surface and watch as sparks light the water around you.
Puerto Rican cuisine is a celebration of culture. Expect fresh seafood in abundance, plus succulent meats, just-picked fruit and hearty stews (best washed down with a cold rum punch). For meat-eaters, a traditional loaded tripleta sandwich is as good as it gets; it’s commonly made with a triple serving of meats – marinated pan-seared steak, shredded or sliced pork, and sliced ham – doused in cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup. Mofongo is a must – it’s made with mashed plantains fried with lots of garlic and crispy pork skin – as are bacalaitos, deep-fried crispy salt cod fritters.
It’s not all about the beaches here – though they’re reason enough to visit. A lively atmosphere is the result of many wonderful cultures fused together over the last 500 years. Head to Old San Juan to see architecture that beautifully depicts the different eras. Expect bright colonial-style houses, plus neoclassical, gothic and baroque buildings scattered throughout the region (it’s home to more than 400 historic structures). If you want to learn more about the history of Puerto Rico, stop by the San Juan National Historic Site.
There’s a growing number of green hotels and resorts popping up in Puerto Rico, making it easier to leave a smaller footprint and travel more responsibly. Bask in barefoot luxury at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, on a former plantation. This premium resort promises a remote escape with a genuine respect for the environment. If you’re a foodie, there’s one place in particular that’s doing everything right, El Pretexto. It’s a farm-stay in the depths of the Cayey mountains that’s got the balance of green and glam just right. It’s all about the food here: the menu is exclusively for guests and is a celebration of Puerto Rican agriculture.
Every day is summer in Puerto Rico, and even when it rains on one side of the island, there’s always another part gleaming with sunshine. The reliable weather lends itself perfectly to outdoor activities. Go in search of paradise in Guánica, in the southwest, and explore a wonderful dry coastal forest. It’s home to hundreds of plant and animal species, some of which are endangered, including the Puerto Rican nightjar and the Puerto Rican boa. Here you can explore 9,000 acres (3,640ha) of land amid sandy coastal areas, mangroves and dense forest. If water activities are more your thing, grab a snorkel and explore one of the many flourishing multicolored coral reefs.
There are many ways you can give back to the community and leave the Island of Enchantment better than you found it – from lending a helping hand with chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, an organization that provides meals for victims of humanitarian, climate and community crises, to showing up at a local beach clean-up. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy paradise with a lighter conscience, to shrink your footprint and help preserve Puerto Rico.
Get planning your ecofriendly adventure in Puerto Rico at discoverpuertorico.com