Puerto Rico – A Caribbean Gem

Oma H. Barnett

Puerto Rico is considered by some as the best island in the Caribbean and others as the best destination for weddings. The island offers a large variety of recreational options that range from coastal spots and ocean activities to the inland adventures found beyond their shores. Explore Puerto Rico’s beautiful landscapes, hundreds of years of history, four distinct cultures and – above all- friendly and good-spirited people who leave their mark on the hearts of everyone who visits.

Distinctive Municipalities

With 78 distinctive municipalities, virtually any type of special interest can be found in Puerto Rico. From hiking in a forest or exploring a cave, to superb cuisine, sizzling nightlife and exciting casinos, to romantic walks on a moonlit beach. Renting a car lets you discover small towns, fishing villages and an amazing variety of cultural activities; to an island escape with a stay in a Parador – Puerto Rico also has it all, including the perfect settings for weddings and honeymoons, and spectacular venues for meetings. The Puerto Rico Convention Center is the largest facility of its kind in the Caribbean.

Six Regions

The island is divided into six regions, each with its own unique characteristics and attractions.

San Juan Metro

Greater San Juan is one of the top-25 metropolitan areas in North America bustling with big-city business, culture and entertainment. However, the cobblestone streets have visitors traveling 500 years back in time. The massive fortifications of San Juan have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a seven-block museum, but also contains living neighborhoods, with plenty of places in which to party, dine, shop and stay.

North “Porta Atlantico”

Filled with historic sites, beaches, lagoons, lakes, caves and forests. In the heart of the island’s fourth-oldest city, Arecibo, settled in 1616. This region is home to the famous Rio Camuy Cave Park, Arecibo Observatory and Barceloneta Outlets.

West “Porta del Sol”

Visitors can explore 17 small towns; discover some of the world’s greatest surfing areas and beaches, excellent seafood, outstanding coastal forests and unique coffee and sugar farms, numerous regional festivities, and several golf courses and marinas. The important secondary airport in Aquadilla (BQN) is located here with stateside direct air service, serving major eastern cities such as New York, Newark, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale year-round.

South “Porta Caribe”

Twelve towns with beautiful beaches and enchanted forests, freshwater lakes for fishing, golf courses, fishing villages, carnival-style festivities and stately Victorian homes in the area’s major city of Ponce. Flights from Orlando and New York are available all year to Ponce Airport (PSE).

Central “Porta Cordillera”

This is an important agricultural area with unique mountainous terrain world famous for its coffee and noted for its outdoor adventure opportunities and numerous natural attractions, including its beautiful waterfalls. The area is also rich in archaeological sites, annual festivals and shopping opportunities for unusual items from noted local artists.


There are fantastic beaches, golf courses, nature reserves, impressive underwater reefs and small cays. This area boasts the quaint off-shore islands of Vieques and Culebra. Vieques was named among the Top 10 Islands in the Caribbean and Flamenco Beach in Culebra was voted among the Best Beaches in the World in 2014 by Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Hotels and Resorts

There are several spectacular resorts on the beach to a great variety of value-packed hotels on or hear the beach, in the mountains, towns and villages, near historical sites and nature preserves, as well as at or near the airports.

Small hotels, inns and guest houses (many offering bed-and-breakfast arrangements) along with a number of eco-lodges can be found in the metropolitan area as well as throughout the island. These are family-oriented inns with ocean views, a Mediterranean-style boutique hotel in a restored Spanish villa, small European-style bed-and-breakfast hotels a short walk from the beach, a hillside villa with a panoramic forest view, full-service facilities with pools and direct beach access, a restored 16th-century former convent in the hear of Old San Juan, a former Spanish sugar plantation great house, one and two-bedroom villas set in 40-acres of nature preserves – the choices are endless.

Paradores de Puerto Rico

Let’s now forget these little gems. Best known for their affordable rates and picturesque, out-of-the-way locations, each of their 15 country inns offer a comfortable starting point for nearby exploration outside of metropolitan San Juan.

Paradores range from centuries-old haciendas to small properties in local fishing villages. Quite often, the Parador’s restaurant is also part of the Mesones Gastronomicos program which designates restaurants featuring genuine Puerto Rico cuisine with the highest level of quality, high standards, and the best local dishes at reasonable prices.

As you drive around the island you often see the Parador symbol. The word Parador in the name of the property is reserved for properties meeting and maintaining the required standards for this program.

There is a lot more to learn about Puerto Rico. If you liked this information and would like more, please contact me and I would love to help you.

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