Spotlight on Puerto Rico
Enchanting Puerto Rico has it all... 272 miles of pristine beaches, exotic natural wonders, the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest Service and oldest city in the US. By day, a variety of water sports, championship golf and world-class shopping await you. Then get ready to feel the nightlife sizzle... from gourmet dining to glitzy casinos, live salsa bands, discos and nightclubs. If you haven't been to Puerto Rico before, it was worth the wait. If you haven't been there recently, it's time to go back and discover the NEW Caribbean Luxury! *No passport required for U.S. Citizens!
San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an old city of cobblestone streets, colonial architecture and shaded courtyards. It reflects its Spanish past in such famous fortresses as El Morro and San Cristobal. San Juan is also a modern world capital -- a cosmopolitan metropolis of wide boulevards, lively cafes and highly regarded shops and galleries. San Juan is two unique destinations -- and you'll be fascinated by them both.
Old San Juan commands breathtaking views of the Atlantic as it celebrates over 500 years of well-preserved Western culture. Standing on the bluffs of Old San Juan, it is easy to imagine the conquests that the island’s earliest explorers must have envisioned.
In Old San Juan—one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations—more than 400 carefully restored 16th- and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings line narrow streets cobbled with blue adoquine—furnace slag used as ballast on Spanish ships. Tidy houses painted in bright pastels are occupied by open-air cafes, art galleries, jazz clubs, shops and tiny museums that open a window onto the past.
Old San Juan has the quaintness and exotic flavor of a Spanish village plus the ease and comforts of U.S. travel—no passports required—but there’s much more to see on this appealing island. Pristine white-sand beaches lead to forested landscapes and small townships, while contemporary San Juan has all the bustling activities of a major international city.
Vieques Island, also called "La Isla Nena" (small girl island), is a tropical Caribbean island with so many pristine beaches you are likely to find one just for yourself any day of the week. Crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and secluded bays abound.
Vieques sports the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. If there is something you must do during your lifetime, it is to dive from the deck of a boat on a moonless night into the dark and serene Caribbean waters. You will see the water splash up in a burst of millions of lights like fireworks from undersea. As you move through the water you glow like a diving angel, and when you resurface, thousands of sparkling lights remain on you, if only for a brief moment, as if you were part of the magic. This natural wonder is still around for your enjoyment.
Culebra is the smallest of the Spanish Virgin Islands and is located about 18 miles east of Puerto Rico. In the 18th century, pirates used its cays as secluded hideaways. Snorkelers wonder through coral kingdoms. Coral reefs in this area are considered some of the most spectacular of the Caribbean. Culebra's rugged countryside, outrageous beaches and small-scale tourist industry make the island a Caribbean treasure. Mount Resaca Refuge ensures preservation of dry sub-tropical forest on Culebra. Puerto del Manglar is surrounded by mangroves, which form a unique habitat for coastal wildlife. It is known as a favorite roosting site for the endangered brown pelican. Visit surrounding cays by chatting up local fishermen or by arranging dives through local operators. The ferry from Dewey to Fajardo takes two hours, and air connections to Culebra from both Fajardo and San Juan. The surrounding cays require special use permits available from the Fish and Wildlife Service. The island's most popular beach is Flamenco Beach, because of its soft white sands.
Mayaguez - Called "La Sultana del Oeste", Mayaguez derives its name from a local Taino Indian Chief Mayaguez, which means "place of great waters". Today, Mayaguez is the third-largest city and one of the most important cities in the island. The city itself is centered around the impressive Spanish-style Plaza Colon, a tribute to Christopher Columbus, whose statue stands in the middle of the square, surrounded by 16 bronze statues. Among Mayaguez's main attractions are the Yagüez Theater and Mayaguez Post Office, which are considered historic landmark buildings, both located on McKinley Street. Mayaguez is home of the only Zoo in the island, Juan A. Rivero Zoo, home Bengal tigers and Andean condors, among others.
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