The sign says it all: Residents of the town of Humacao have replaced their once infamous “SOS” message, which went viral after 2017’s Hurricane Maria, with a hopeful “Bienvenidos!” As the U.S. territory continues to welcome visitors back, tourism is proving a vital force in spurring its recovery, says Stephen Adair, a Dallas-based Virtuoso advisor. Adair, who spent his teens living in the Cayman Islands, calls Puerto Rico one of his favorite vacation spots and encourages travelers to visit soon because, quite simply, “they need our support.” Inexpensive airfares to the capital of San Juan, more cruise-ship calls than ever, and refurbishments at hotels add even more impetus to go in 2019.
What You’ll Love: Old San Juan quickly got its groove back, and Adair notes that its cobble stoned streets and leafy plazas are as lively as ever – and (bonus) slightly less crowded. The Santurce Farmers’ Market turns the Condado neighborhood into a giant block party on the weekends. Beyond-the-capital pursuits range from treks in El Yunque – the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. – to a paddle through Vieques Island’s bio luminescent Mosquito Bay.
Star Power: Astronomy geeks will want to visit Arecibo Observatory, home to the world’s second-largest single-dish radio telescope, which takes up 20 acres; the refurbished visitor center offers VIP tours.
Puerto Rico is alive and well and here are a few tips are from guide Chiara with Flavors of San Juan Food and Culture Tours in Puerto Rico.
Eat at favorite restaurants around the island:
- Mountains of Ciales – Casa Vieja. It is only open on Saturday and Sunday. Order a half pound of pernil (pork) al caldero, an order of tostones, and pastel al caldero. You will not regret it!
- San Juan – La Casita Blanca, Molini’s, Acapaulco, Jose Enrique is fine dining.
- Barceloneta – Playa Brava. Try the lionfish.
- Cayey – El Cunao
- Lares – Lechonera Rancho T
- Rincon – The English Rose for breakfast and La Cambija for delicious seafood – try the lionfish turnover.
Best Bars of Old San Juan:
- The Steinway Piano Bar at The Cannon Club & The Gallery Inn – Beautiful chandelier-lit piano room and interior patio.
- Hidden Rooms of La Factoria – listed as Top 50 bars in the world
- La Cubanita
- The Mezzanine
- Carli’s Piano Bistro
- La Taberna Lupulo – great place for beer lovers
- La Verguenza – salsa dancing
Colors & Corners of Old San Juan:
- Walk around Caleta Monjas
- Callejon Hospital
- Calle Sol
- Calle Luna
- Sunset at El Morro is a must
- Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cementary
- Gardens of La Casa Blanca
- Bastion de San Sebastian by Castillo San Cristobal
Notes from My Trip to Puerto Rico
I recently enjoyed a 6-night cruise onboard the grand Celebrity Summit. The highlight of my trip was Puerto Rico!
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