Although only a fraction of the size of most countries, Puerto Rico pulses with enough life and culture to rival any nation. While Puerto Rico is renowned for its beautiful natural landscape, between the pig roasts, salsa and reggaeton-blasting nightlife and lasting historical sites, the active visitor will not want for entertainment. The activities of Puerto Rico are perfect for the wandering backpacker, but the island has a lot of luxury in store for the discerning visitor as well, they just need to know where to look for it.
For the greatest shopping in Puerto Rico, it's best to head to its capital of San Juan where the country's most eclectic shopping experience dwells. In Old San Juan, visitors can find the marketplaces that permeate the country while modern San Juan hosts all the modern shopping malls and boutique stores a shopping maniac could want. While Ashford Avenue in the Condado neighbourhood is home to famous brand name fashion such as Gucci, Mont Blanc and Cartier, it is best to skip all of them. After all, shoppers can get those brands anywhere. Ashford Street is better for shopping the home-grown fashion labels like Luis Antonio and Stella Nolasco, which have been showcased during the Mercades Benz Fashion Week as well as seen on Hollywood stars. These are the kind of famous labels that can't be found just anywhere.
Those on the hunt for some of Puerto Rico's most quality souvenirs will want to head to Old San Juan and explore the markets. Here visitors can find some of the most prized goods from the country including wood carved crafts, carnival masks, silkscreens and beautiful woven textiles. Some of the best souvenirs to bring home from Puerto Rico, however, are its culinary creations. Puerto Rico is home to both high quality coffee and rum, both of which will make excellent treats to enjoy after the vacation is over.
Taming the Deep Seas
The seas around Puerto Rico are absolutely teeming with game fish. However, landing that big one is no easy task either, they are feisty and will require the skilled hands of native Puerto Rico fishermen to lend aid. The port towns of Fajardo and La Parguera are great bases for those who seek the thrill of deep sea fishing. Visitors can have any type of experience with it that the desire as well, from super luxury yachts from well established charter companies to the shabbier looking charter boats that often don't prioritize comfort, but do get results. Fishing in Puerto Rico has different seasons that are perfect for different kinds of big game fish, but regardless of the season, visitors will be able to land massive tuna, wahoo and sailfish that are sure to provide a sporting challenge. Those who are visiting in September can even throw in for a championship trophy in the International Light Tackle Blue Marlin Tournament.
Those with diverse tastes are in luck, the cuisine in Puerto Rico is among the most varied of the Caribbean. Restaurants combine the influence of a number of cultures including Spanish, French, American, Italian, Chinese, Mexican and Asian cuisines to create true variety to their meal times.
Although Aguaviva may translate into the more off-putting name of "Jellyfish," there is nothing off-putting about this restaurant. The ultramodern restaurant utilizes blue dim blue lighting to create a space like the tranquil blue ocean, a perfect setting for the extensive, fresh and ever-changing seafood menu that Chef Hector Crespo consistently serves up. Between its world class ceviche and tantalizing truffle tuna tartar, discerning diner are unlikely to leave with an unsatisfied palate.
For those that crave something more seductive and distinctively more Latin, they will find what they desire at Dragonfly. This popular restaurant, all done up in Chinese reds, feels more like an after-hours lounge rather than a restaurant, but that is all part of its appeal. The cuisine focuses on Latin-Asian cuisine with generous portions that are meant to be shared. The peking duck nachos and pork and sweet plantain dumplings represent the perfect blend of this unique fusion cooking that Dragonfly does so well.
While quality hotels can be hard to come by in some of the smaller towns, those who pay of visit to some of Puerto Rico's big cities will find not only the hotel chains that specialize in luxury, but some surprisingly sumptuous boutique establishments in which to rest their heads.
Those seeking something historically beautiful will not be disappointed with the Hotel El Convento that, like its name suggests, is set in a 350-year-old convent building. While the building may be old, it certainly doesn't show its age. The rooms are incredibly lavish, decorated with a mix of wrought iron and wood furnishings, shuttered windows and mahogany-beamed ceilings while still boasting all the high-tech amenities that travellers have come to expect.
If a tropical stay in Puerto Rico is what visitor's desire, every single detail in the La Concha Hotel delivers a tropical island feel to it. The property itself is a shrine to Tropical Modernist architecture and is the perfect chic Caribbean resort. Visitors will be treated to open and airy rooms, with views overlooking the ocean that will make certain visitors remember that Puerto Rico is a valuable part of the Caribbean.