I was recently on a media trip to Puerto Rico to explore the amazing San Juan Marriott. The resort wasn’t the only new place for me to explore, it was also my first time in Puerto Rico and I was hooked right away. I was surprised by a lot of things, but here are five reasons why I wish I had known about these great Puerto Rican qualities a long time ago.
1. Easy to reach – Intellectually I knew Puerto Rico wasn’t very far away from the Continental United States, yet it never, ever occurred to me to travel there. I’m not sure why, it’s a short flight, there aren’t any entry requirements for Americans and it’s a Caribbean paradise. San Juan is a major hub for the islands, which means there are plenty of flights from all over the United States and the world. San Juan is also a large city and all of the expected conveniences are there found in abundance.
2. Very Caribbean – For the most populated American territory, Puerto Rico has done a masterful job of retaining its unique, Caribbean culture. Yes, there are McDonalds and large retail stores, but there are also beaches, restaurants and bars that are quintessentially Caribbean. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to enjoy that unique, indefinable quality of the islands, San Juan is one of the best places to start. The photo above was taken at the amazing San Juan Marriott. Read my review of the property to learn why it’s the perfect resort from which to base your exploration of the city.
3. Amazing food – The continental United States enjoys a large and vibrant Puerto Rican community, so I thought I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. The reality of delicious Puerto Rican food and drink though was so much better than anything else I’d ever expected. The most unique dish I enjoyed was a mofongo. While it sounds like a slang expletive, mofongo is generally made from fried green plantains, mashed together with a variety of spices and filled with your choice of meat or vegetables. If mofongo isn’t your thing, than a classic meal of pork, rice and plantains is an easy and delicious option. These are just a couple of the quintessential Puerto Rican dishes that are both homey but delicious and instantly let the diner know they’re in the Caribbean.
4. Similar but different – San Juan isn’t like many of the other Caribbean locales I’ve visited. It is a large, modern city that has every convenience any other large, US city enjoys. While parts of it seemed familiar, there is more than enough that makes the city stand apart as completely unique and without equal. Whether it be strolling through the Spanish style neighborhoods of Old San Juan or watching late night samba enthusiasts dance the night away at a local haunt, San Juan is familiar but wonderfully exotic and new.
5. Adventure travel – A lot of destinations like to label themselves as being an adventure travel destination, but Puerto Rico really lives up to this moniker. I’m not sure if it’s a proper adventure travel activity, but kayaking at night through the biobay was one of the most unique activities I’ve ever enjoyed. The lagoon is teeming with bioluminescent organisms that respond to any movement, instantly illuminating darting fish or the oar of the kayak. Floating along the mangroves with lights appearing below like thousands of wet stars is something only Puerto Rico can give you.
Have you been to Puerto Rico? What are a few things you enjoyed most?