Eastern Puerto Rico rivals San Juan in its importance to the Island’s tourism industry. This area of Puerto Rico has the only rain forest under the U.S. National Forest System. The marinas of Fajardo and Ceiba serve as the gateway to the Virgin Islands and all the Lesser Antilles. Two of Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent areas are in the east, and Las Cabezas de San Juan Reserve promises to become a huge attraction for ecotourism fans.
El Yunque National Forest, one of the earth’s rainiest spots, offers the visitor 28,000 acres of unblemished splendor. Even in Spanish colonial times, it was protected from development, making El Yunque one of the first protected natural areas in the New World. As soon as you start climbing the road that takes you virtually from the sands of Luquillo Beach to the Visitor Center at the Reserve, you notice why El Yunque is Puerto Rico’s jewel of the crown. Majestic ferns, roaring waterfalls, dense clouds and, most of the year, a persistent mist that evokes some tropical exotism akin with lands afar when you are 20 minutes away from Fajardo’s shopping centers and cinemas. El Yunque is just as it was when the Spaniards came looking for gold in its streams. There are plants, trees, and fauna that can only be seen in this unspoiled reserve. El Yunque deserves many visits to grasp the importance of its magnificence. But if you are in a touch-and-go mode, make sure you make the 45-minute hike to La Mina Falls and go for a swim in its fresh waters.
From the top of El Yunque, you can see one of Puerto Rico’s most visited beaches, Luquillo Beach. It is crescent shaped. Its sand is white. Its waters are crystal clear. And its background is made up of the clouded peaks of El Yunque. What else can you ask for on a beach? Food? Plenty. Next to the entrance of Luquillo Beach there is a whole strip of restaurants and food kiosks. All kinds. For all tastes. The place is always packed, and the ambiance is casual, informal, happy and full of salsa, merengue, and bachata.
East of Luquillo, the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, promises to become an important magnet to eastern Puerto Rico. It has a historic lighthouse and a trail that takes adventurous hikers around this corner of the Island through gravity defying cliffs. During the day, the beaches of this reserve are a perfect spot for snorkeling. At night, kayaks roam the gleaming waters of its bioluminescent Laguna Grande (Big Lagoon).
The east coast of Puerto Rico is the gateway to the Lesser Antilles and its very own Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra and Vieques. These island municipalities have some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and a beach town atmosphere that is unique to each of them. When in Puerto Rico you really should add Vieques or Culebra, or better yet both, to your schedule, you won’t regret it. Getting there is easy and inexpensive. Just go to Fajardo and take a ferry to the island of your choice, you can even bring a bike with you. Once you get there, you can rent a car, a scooter or a golf car, or get into any of the buses that take passengers to the beach for a very modest fee. You can also take a plane from San Juan or Ceiba.
The island is the Caribbean paradise for those who need to heal..
Read more »
There is so much to crave in Puerto Rico's traditional cuisine - outstanding flavor at the right price, often in unmatched mountainside, or beachfront ambiance.
Read more »