Why You Should Book a Trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico
Here, three reasons a quick trip to San Juan is worth putting the rest of your bucket list on hold.
While many parts of Puerto Rico are still without power in the aftermath of hurricane Maria, you shouldn't feel bad about visiting San Juan as a tourist instead of an activist. Spending money as a visitor can actually help the island recover.
"The injection of vital tourism dollars into Puerto Rico's economy impacts the island overall," says Carla Campos, acting executive director of the government-owned Puerto Rico Tourism Company. The progress Puerto Rico has made so far has largely been due to tourism, she says. "We're experiencing the direct impact of travelers coming to Puerto Rico right now. The tourism industry has recovered rapidly thanks to careful planning and collaboration with the private sector." (You should also consider visiting Dominica, the "Nature Island" of the Caribbean, which is also recovering from hurricane damage.)
Helping Puerto Rico recover certainly isn't the only reason to visit, though. San Juan has loads to offer its visitors. Below, three more reasons a trip to the city is worth your while.
You won't run out of things to do.
The most beautiful body of water I've ever touched. The main reason for our visit to Vieques [the bioluminescent island] It's an experience of a life time. Glad I was able to share this with my best fran. #mosquitobiobay #vieques #notmypicture Bioluminescent Bay is caused by dinoflagallates (type of flagellate) they are tiny micro-organisms that make their own food from photosynthesis #bioluminescentbay #puertorico #microorganisms
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If your ideal vacation is to park yourself on a beach and decompress, San Juan's got you. But there are also plenty of options for the hyperactive tourist in and near the city. You can get your adrenaline flowing by zip-lining and rappelling right outside the city. Companies like Campo Rico Trail Rides and Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park offer trail rides and ATV rentals right outside San Juan. In the way of water sports, you can snorkel, scuba dive, or jet ski, or for a unique experience, head to nearby Vieques island and book a night kayak tour of the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay. You'll see organisms called dinoflagellates illuminate under your boat. (Here are four reasons why adventure travel is well worth your PTO.)
The food is insane.
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Puerto Rico is worth visiting for its specialty cuisine alone. Plantains are featured heavily and mofongo, a dish with fried garlicky plantains mashed into a base for toppings, is a local fave that's earned its reputation. If you're looking for healthier fare, you can bank on plenty cafés serving up juice and grain bowls. (Related: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling Without Ruining Your Vacation) If you're a hard-core foodie, you may want to check out Saborea Puerto Rico, a multi-day "culinary extravaganza" of demos and tastings every spring.
The sightseeing is major.
No matter your tastes, you'll be impressed by the sights in San Juan. Nature lovers can head to the nearby El Yunque rainforest to take in waterfalls and wildlife. (The rainforest is still being repaired following the hurricane; head to fs.usda.gov for the latest info on areas that have reopened.) History buffs will love Old San Juan, home to the city's most noteworthy historical sites and brightly colored buildings (which don't show signs of damage). If nothing else, you'll get some incredible Instagram-worthy wanderlust pics from your visit.