Puerto Rico Feature

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Top Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Hang 10 in Rincón

The laid-back beach town of Rincón, on the west coast, is Puerto Rico's capital of wind-and-wave action. Winds off the Mona Passage whip up whitecaps year-round, especially November though March. Serious surfers will want to bring their own boards, but outfitters are aplenty. El Rincón Surf Shop can also supply cool beach duds. The crowd is predominantly young and party focused, with dozens of bars and restaurants for après-surf action. Nearby Playa Jobos, at the northwest tip of the island, gives Rincón a run for its money.

Try Your Hand at the Big One

When talk turns to the big one that got away, forget it! The waters off Puerto Rico teem with feisty game fish. Take your pick of where to set out from: Fajardo and La Parguera are both great bases. Regardless of the season, there's sure to be tuna, wahoo, and sailfish to wrestle. In September you can cast for a champion trophy during the International Light Tackle Blue Marlin Tournament.

San Juan National Historic Site

The U.S. National Park Service maintains this huge colonial military complex, which includes Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. A visit to Old San Juan is not complete without exploring these twin fortresses. Park rangers offer fascinating tours of the tunnels, cannon batteries, and barracks, which today feature museum pieces recalling a once-glorious past.

El Yunque National Forest

Pack your raingear and hike the crown jewel of Puerto Rico's national parks—carpeting the slopes of the rugged Luquillo Mountain Range. From the El Portal Visitor Center, the Sendero El Yunque climbs 1,365 feet through an eerie cloud forest. This 2.6-mile trail puts you atop the summit at 3,496 feet. When it's clear, the 360-degree views are spectacular. Add a twist to your return hike by diverting along Forest Road 10 to the Mt. Britton observation tower, resembling a castle turret. A spiral staircase leads to a viewing platform.

Playa Flamenco

Puerto Rico's best beach? Ask the thousands of sanjuaneros who fly or ferry out to the isle of Culebra on weekends and holidays. Long and broad enough to absorb the masses, this visual stunner tempts disbelief with its bright white sands and waters of Maxfield Parrish blues and greens. Snorkeling is tops thanks to an offshore reef, and when the wind is up surfers are thrilled by the action.

Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy

Puerto Rico has some of the deepest and longest caves in the world, and it's a special thrill to rappel down a cliff face to enter Cueva Camuy. Donned in life jacket and lamped helmet, you'll never forget the 250-foot rope descent, Spider-Man style, into the gaping mouth of the Angeles cavern. Dripstone formations take on surreal forms in the cool, moist depths, where you slide down mud chutes and body raft in the care of experienced guides. Aventuras Tierra Adento offers trips. Less adventurous travelers can take a tram tour of the caves.

Bioluminescent Bay, Vieques

A remarkable natural wonder, Vieques's world-famous Puerto Mosquito bay's surreal glowing waters inspire childlike delight in all who visit. Microscopic organisms that live in the lagoon light up around your kayak, enveloping you in a neonlike spectral glow. Choose a moonless pitch-black night for best effect. The experience is well worth the journey to Vieques, even if you do nothing else here. Several operators on the island offer trips.

Arecibo Observatory

If this space-age facility deep in the mountains of northwest Puerto Rico looks like something from a sci-fi movie, it is. Contact, with Jodie Foster, was filmed here. The view over the 1,000-ft.-wide dish (the largest such telescope ever built) is a jaw-dropper. The visitor center doubles as a superb museum on astronomy and the atmosphere.

The Ruta Panorámica

Puerto Rico's interior is a beautiful mountainous region with cooler climes and splendid climbs. The Ruta Panorámica is a network of roads that snakes through the entire region. Some are nicely maintained, others less so. But the "Panoramic Route" lives up to its name, providing eye-catching vistas around every bend of the road. It's an exciting journey that reveals an enthralling vision of Puerto Rico undisclosed to those who don't venture beyond the city and shores.

Updated: 10-2013

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