Maps* & Destinations in the Spotlight:
Map of Caribbean Basin, Map Showing All Virgin Islands,
Map Showing the US Virgin Islands, Map of St. John USVI,
St. Thomas: Map & Visitor Info, Puerto Rico: Map & Visitor Info,
Water Island: Map & Visitor Info, Wallmaps & Guidemaps
Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra
Puerto Rico is a territory (Commonwealth) of the United States of America and Puerto Ricans have common citizenship, currency and defense. The 3.950 million people that inhabit the island of Puerto Rico make it one of the most densely populated islands in the world. [Read more]
In addition to the principal island, the American Territory includes: Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, the Spanish Virgin Islands, Mona, Desecheo and several other isolated islands. Puerto Rico consists of 78 municipalities and many villages and towns. The major cities, apart from the port of San Juan, are the following: Ponce, Caguas, Mayaguez, Bayamon, Carolina, Arecibo, Buaynabo, Cayey, Aguadilla and Fajardo.
The people of Puerto Rico represent a cultural and racial mix. Today's population consists of a mixture of the descendants of the original indigent Taino Indians, Spanish explorers, African slaves, and imported Chinese immigrants, and more recently American expatriates, Cuban refugees, and Europeans in general. The latest addition to this incredible mixture have come from the economically depressed Dominican Republic. This historic intermingling has resulted in a contemporary Puerto Rico without racial problems. [Puerto Rican Culture]
The island was populated with Taino Indians when it was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, and as a result of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US. In 1917 Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship and have elected their governors by popular vote since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In referendums held in 1967, 1993, and 1998 voters chose to retain commonwealth status.
Located specifically at: 18 15 N, 66 30 W, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean Island situated just east of the Dominican Republic. Not quite 3 times the size of Rhode Island it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The temperature on Puerto Rico is consistent to other Caribbean Islands: mild with very little seasonal temperature variation.
Puerto Rico is mountainous, (the highest point is Cerro de Punta rising 1,338 m), with a fertile coastal plain belt in north. On the west coast steep mountains rise from the sea. The north coast tends to be lush, but the south, separated from the North by the central mountain region (Cordillera Central) which breaks the rain pattern, is much dryer and quite hot. Most of the coastal areas have sandy beaches.
There are many small rivers on the island as well as lakes. However all the lakes in Puerto Rico are man made, built to catch water and/or make electricity. Most have good fishing but because of the presence of a harmful parasite they are not for swimming
YUNQUE RAINFOREST: The Caribbean
National Forest -
Eastern Puerto Rico
28,000 acres of tropical rainforest with dramatic ecological extremes including an average annual rainfall of 240 inches, many species of rare wildlife and the towering Pico del Toro, rising 3,523 feet above sea level. It is popular for picnicking, camping, birdwatching, hiking and viewing foliage. [more]
Caribbean National Forest: EL Yunque - the oldest Forest Reserve in the Western Hemisphere
CAVES - (1 1/2 hours
from San Juan)
This extensive subterranean cave system is the third-largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere and the only one with a tropical underground river running through it. The Camuy Caves are open everyday except Monday: 8:30 AM - 6 PM.
Going Underground An Article by Michael deFreitas
Tucked away in the lush northwest corner of Puerto Rico, about 50 miles west of San Juan, is one of the island's best kept secrets; the Rio Camuy Caves. [read more]
OBSERVATORY - (1
1/2 hours from San Juan,
near the Camuy Caves)
Arecibo Observatory is the site of the worlds largest electronic radiotelescope. The huge dish is 1000 feet in diameter, and is suspended above an underlying karst sinkhole. It is in use 24 hours a day in search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
OF PUERTO RICO
Explore the Bioluminescent Bays of Puerto Rico.
La Parguera near Guanica, Las Croabas Lagoon in Fajardo (Brighter) and Mosquito Bay in Vieques (Brightest). Wondering what Bioluminescent is? An explanation of bioluminescent.
LIGHTHOUSES: Puerto Rico has a great many (15) surviving lighthouses, all worthy of visiting. For a descriptive listing, photos and links to further resources on the lighthouses of Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and the smaller commonwealth islands visit The Lighthouse Directory - Puerto Rico
BEACHES: White and sandy the beaches of Puerto
Rico all rank high on the Great
Beach Scale. For
a review visit the Frommer's
Best Beaches of Puerto Rico page.
The government-run public beaches are called Balnearios. They are equipped with dressing rooms, showers, cafeterias, picnic tables and gazebos, pay phones, lifeguards and other emergency personnel, police and guarded parking lots. Most are open every day except Monday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and select holidays
SURFING: Rincon is the original surfer community of the 50's, and then 60's, although its uniqueness is starting to fade with the influx of development and tourists. The ocean is quite rough lessening its popularity for swimming or snorkeling, however in storms and during winter its incredible waves still attracts surfers from around the world. If you do go to Rincon be sure to visit the Rincon Surf Museum.
WHALE WATCHING: Humpback whales may be seen in the winter (late December through late March) from the observation park at the Rincón Lighthouse. You may see them a few hundred meters off the lighthouse during the peak season which is February.
Finca del Seto, a small coffee farm in Jayuya, offers visitors an eco-tour walk on the two lower acres of the five acre coffee farm Finca del Seto is located about 15 minutes from "downtown" Jayuya; about an hour from either Ponce or Arecibo using HWY. 10.
Take the Guanica Ferry to Gilligans Island for some magnificent swimming, and snorkeling around the mangrove roots and on the reefs. The waters are clear and cool. There are no facilities. The ferry boat makes this short crossing constantly throughout the day until 5 PM.
Camping in Puerto Rico is terrific: mild weather, tropical breezes, and destinations that include mountainous rainforest, fabulous beaches, dry forests and caves.
[Read informative article by Elena]
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
Buen Provecho or "bon appetite" is Experience-PuertoRico.com's guide to dining and eating in Puerto Rico once known primarily for its historic architecture & fabulous beaches is now known for its fine dining. Puerto Rico is truly a culinary capital.
After Dark: Whatever it is that you're in the mood for after the sun goes down, whether it's a lively pub, a pulsating dance floor, or an action-packed casino, you'll find it here-and better than you ever imagined. Read this guide to nightlife in San Juan.
EXPLORING PUERTO RICO
Welcome to Puerto Rico: Whatever
your idea of paradise is you
may well find it in Puerto
Rico. Discover its past and
present as you explore its 78
Elena's Puerto Rico Safaris: 7 Night Drive yourself Safari Itinerary
Essay: Driving in Puerto Rico
COMPREHENSIVE PUERTO RICAN WEBSITES
to Puerto Rico you can
find a wide scope of information
pertaining to the island,
its culture and people,
and every detail that makes
Puerto Rico, a magnificent
and unique island...
Enjoy your visit to Puerto Rico! A 5 Star Site
Puerto Rico Boriken A comprehensive and passionate view of Puerto Rican people, culture, music, history..and so much more. A 5 Star Site
Puerto Rico Online Magazine: Puerto Rico's first travel guide since 1996.
El Boricua: A monthly bilingual, cultural publication for Puerto Ricans
INTERESTING PERSONAL PUERTO RICAN WEBSITES
Puerto Rico by Island Mon Jim Sims: "This (site) is about Rincon, Puerto Rico, Surf images, Hurricane tales, Sea Stories, Bikes, Boats, and Broads as well. (Well, there are no broads, but I couldn't resist the alliteration.) ..."
You could spend weeks, months, a lifetime exploring the historic port of San Juan. Old San Juan itself consists of hundreds of restored buildings originally built in the 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial period.
The variety is endless - a sprinkling of attractions include the San Juan Museum of Art and History; the San Jeronimo Fort, a small military museum which was originally built in 1786; the Casa Blanca, an historical home built in 1521; the historic Tapia Theater; and the Aquatic Plaza a water and amusement park.
For night life try the Parrot Club on Calle Fortaleza said to be the hottest bistro in Old San Juan, or the Cafe Carli Concierto on San Justo and Recinto Sur where you can listen to the renowned Jazz pianist Carli Monoz - who is also the proprietor.
Juan Nights: fine dining,
tropical drinks, Latin music
and Island social life. Even
the timid can experience
Old San Juans nightlife
to its fullest by joining
the San Juan Nights tour.
Their tour guides are well
informed of the restaurants and
lounges nightly events,
ensuring your San Juans
nights will be memorable
Escape to Puerto Rico has a comprehensive list of restaurants in San Juan.
Points of Interest in San Juan: This page covers a great deal of interesting, not to be missed, places to visit in San Juan. A great description of the plazas, parks, forts, historic buildings, theaters, museums, churches, the San Juan Cathedral and so much more.
Articles on San Juan
2 hours from San Juan is the "Pearl of the South", Ponce. It is the 2nd largest city on Puerto Rico, population almost 190,000, and is brimming with attractions ranging from fine restaurants and a great night life to historic plazas, Spanish Colonial architecture and Art Museum.
Information on Traveling between the Islands by Air & by Ferry. Ferry service between Vieques & Culebra, Fajardo & Vieques and Fajardo & Culebra. Taxi information and Public Transportation
Bits and Pieces About Vieques
Vieques is a laid back, relaxing island with many great beaches set in secluded coves most of which are deserted - the best snorkeling is found at Blue Beach. Vieques is only 21 miles by 5 miles across (at its widest point) and up until May of 2003 two thirds of it was occupied by the US Military. Since then that land has become a US Fish and Wildlife refuge. The island's name"Vieques" is a derivative of the Taino word "bieques" meaning "small island"; it was annexed to Puerto Rico in 1854; and currently has under 10,000 inhabitants. The biobay in Vieques is the healthiest and brightest of all the Puerto Rican biobays. Camping is permitted at Sun Bay, and accommodations are available. You can rent a car to explore, however one great way to discover the island is by horseback.
ViequesTravelGuide A comprehensive travel guide about Vieques Island Puerto Rico. Facts for the traveler, attractions, lodging, unbiased reviews, how to get there, getting around, pictures, a free newsletter and much more.
Vieques Island: an informational page describing Vieques and its attractions.
Vieques Island Travel Guide: Listings of accommodations, rentals, services and beaches.
Elena's Vieques Island Travel Guides: This is a well written, well presented site with a diverse series of topics relating to Vieques: beaches, birds, kayaking, maps, satellite and Aerial Photo, services and local information and more.
Vieques & Culebra Lodging & Dining Guide : Maps showing the locations of restaurants and lodging on the islands of Vieques and Culebra.
Information on Traveling between the Islands by Air & by Ferry: Ferry service between Vieques & Culebra, Fajardo & Vieques and Fajardo & Culebra Taxi information and Public Transportation
Bits and Pieces About Culebra
Located 17 miles off the east cost of Puerto Rico, Culebra is even more peaceful than Vieques. It is a much smaller island, (7 by 3.5 miles) almost half of which is a national reserve. There are less than 4,000 inhabitants. The landscape is similar to the US Virgin islands (it is actually closer to St. Thomas than it is to Puerto Rico) with beaches, tropical forest and shady palm groves. The beaches are beautiful, sandy and white, with clear water and a coral reef. The best known and most popular is Flamenco Beach which can be almost deserted during the week but overcrowded on weekends. There is camping on Flemenco Beach, also popular are kayaking, and bicycling.
Culebrita and Luís Peña are two small cays offshore with beaches. Both are wildlife sanctuaries.
IslaCulebra.com is a guide to Culebra travel... an attempt to give you enough information to intrigue you, whet your appetite and decide whether this is the Caribbean destination for you.
THE OTHER ISLANDS
Mona island is two times as large as Culebra, 7 miles long and 4 miles wide, has semi-arid, sub-tropical climate with temperatures in the 80s. Apart from the DNR (Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources) resident biologist and rangers there are no permanent inhabitants.
The Mona Island Forest is a unique island nature reserve 50 miles west of Cabo Rojo and is popular for hiking, camping, fishing and diving. There are no bathroom facilities, water or electricity and Permits required from the Department of Natural Resources. The beaches along the southwest and lower west coast are some of the best of the Caribbean.
Desecheo Island: Northwest of Rincón, about 12 miles out, the uninhabited 360 acre island of Desecheo. A Federal Wildlife Preserve this island has some of the clearest waters and best diving in Puerto Rico. Snorkelers will find plenty to see in the pristine coral reefs off Desecheo.
Caribbean's Best Kept Secret:
Mona Island Article
by Harry Angus
Dazzling coral reefs, breathtaking cliffs and a multitude of caves make Mona Island the perfect habitat and the best kept Caribbean refuge to more than a hundred endangered species.