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Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

By lmccra
Trip Plan Tags: 
arts + culture,
beach + island,
family,
outdoors + nature
Destinations: 
Camuy,
Caribbean,
Fajardo,
Puerto Rico,
Rio Grande,
San Juan,
Vieques

My parents and husband and me are going to stay in a beach resort property outside of San Juan. We plan to explore Old San Juan, some natural areas on the island and eat some wonderful food.

ITEMS

Eating

Pamela's Caribbean Cuisine, Puerto Rico

Numero Uno Guest House, 1 Santa Ana Street, Ocean Park
San Juan 00911, Puerto Rico
Tel: 787 726 5010
Website: www.numero1guesthouse.com

Like the Numero Uno Guest House, the hotel in which it's housed, Pamela's is both surprisingly high-end and reasonably affordable. In posh Ocean Park—one of the city's older residential districts—the restaurant dishes up creative Nuevo-Latino fare. Among the standout dishes are filet mignon teriyaki rolls; crab cakes served with lemon-lime aïoli; grilled prawns served with coconut curry sauce; and spicy pork loin served with pineapple sweet-and-sour sauce. Reserve a table at sunset and ask to sit as close to the waves as possible. They're open all day, but serve only a limited tapas menu between 3 pm and 6 pm.

Open daily from noon to 10 pm.

Eating

Kasalta, Puerto Rico

1966 Calle McLeary, Ocean Park
San Juan 00911, Puerto Rico
Tel: 787 727 7340
Website: www.kasalta.com

It's little more than a coffee shop, but Kasalta serves what may be the best café con leche in the Caribbean. The espresso has inspired a sort of communal local obsession—some early-morning habitués don't even bother to sit down when they knock back a cup. If you're feeling peckish, there are plenty of savory baked goods, like pastelillo de broccoli (broccoli tart), served any time of day.

Open daily 6 am to 10 pm.

Ajili-Mójili

See + Do

Reserva Natural Las Cabezas de San Juan, Puerto Rico

Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Tel: 787 722 5882
Website: www.fideicomiso.org

This nature reserve about 35 miles east of San Juan is crisscrossed with wooden walkways that lead to mangrove forests and other ecosystems. One of the best walks takes you to a lovely colonial-era lighthouse. And if you can't make it to the bioluminescent bay on the nearby island of Vieques, there's one here that shines nearly as brightly. The only way to see the reserve is by joining a guided tour; call ahead for reservations.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays.

See + Do

Snorkeling + Scuba Diving in Vieques

Crystal-clear waters (even by Caribbean standards) make Vieques a scuba and snorkeling paradise. Among the best dive companies is Nan-Sea Charters, which takes you for a day of diving off beaches that can't be reached by car. The company, which operates a 28-foot dive boat, can arrange to pick you up at the dock closest to your hotel (787-741-2390).

See + Do

Bioluminescent Bay

When the sun goes down—and before the moon comes up—head to Mosquito Bay, one of the world's brightest bioluminescent bays. When disturbed, billions of dinoflagellates (tiny, harmless organisms, more than 700,000 to the gallon) make the water sparkle. Dive in: You'll see your body outlined with a blue-green glow. Numerous island operators offer bio-tours. Island Adventures is one of the best, as its electrically powered double-pontoon boats don't pollute the water (787-741-0720).

See + Do

Parque de Las Cavernas del Río Camuy, Puerto Rico

South of Arecibo
Camuy, Puerto Rico
Tel: 787 898 3100

This stunning series of underground caverns, about 70 miles southwest of San Juan, encloses one of the largest subterranean rivers in the world. A tram takes you down a corkscrew trail to Cueva Clara, where stalactites and stalagmites resemble the fangs of some fearsome creature. Besides underground rivers and weird rock formations (including one a guide swears resembles Julia Roberts), there are otherworldly creatures like blue-eyed river crabs and furry-legged tarantulas. There are also more than 100,000 bats, but it's rare to see them during the day.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays 8 am to 4 pm.

See + Do

El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico

Río Grande, Puerto Rico
Tel: 787 888 1880
Website: www.fs.fed.us/r8/caribbean/

The 28,000-acre El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System, lies about 25 miles east of San Juan. It has dozens of well-marked trails (graded for difficulty) that lead to waterfalls, observation towers, and swimming holes. Most hotels arrange guided tours, but the park is easy to explore on your own, as there's only one major road. For a decent map or to talk with rangers about which trails you might try, stop at El Portal, the information center at the park's entrance. You can also catch a documentary here on the cotorras, the endangered indigenous green parrots that are slowly making a comeback.

Open daily from 7:30 am to 6 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.