Puerto Rico

Published: January 7th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

We visited the Puerto Rico in December 2012 and really enjoyed the diversity of the activities/sights. These are few high lights from the trip- must see places if you are planning a visit to Puerto Rico.

Old San Juan- San Juan is the capital city; old San Juan is the older part of the city, has one of the biggest and best natural harbors in Caribbean. It is a walled city that makes up the most historic and picturesque part of Puerto Rico's capital with cobblestone streets and historic landmarks. While walking around, we observed hundreds of cats. The cats are very much a part of the Old San Juan experience.

El Morro- Located at the most northwestern point in San Juan, it was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan. Site of many attacks during Spanish rule and American occupations, El Morro is now a national historic site. Reminds very much of Galle Fort in Sri Lanka.

Fort San Cristabol- Fort San Cristobal was built to protect Old San Juan from land attacks, is the largest fort ever built by the Spanish in the New World. Fort San Cristobal saw its final military action in 1898, during the Spanish-American War.

Rio Camuy Caves: With 220 caves and 17 entrances this cave system is one of the largest cave systems in the world. Experts believe there are still 800 caves left to be discovered. Home to 13 species of bats; a hidden river that come to surface before going under again. The caves are 45million years old, is massive and dramatic with sinkholes and cathedrel like caverns and massive formations of stalactities and stalagmites.

Arecibo Observatory: Operated by Cornell University, the observatory has the single largest aperture telescope ever constructed. Reflector is placed on top of a huge natural sink hole. It has played a key role in many astronomical discoveries, including the rotation period of Mercury. It's location near the equator allows Arecibo to view all of the planets of the solar system. Final and climatic scenes of recent 007 movie “Golden Eye” is filmed on top of the reflector, but we were told James Bond was too scared to go on top of the reflector, so they used a body double.

El Yunque (Forest of clouds)- Located in Eastern Part of Puerto Rico, El Yunque is the only rainforest in US forest system, very rainy (go prepared to get wet), considered equivalent to a visit to Amazon. Climb to peak was long and tiring, but well worth to feel like you are inside a cloud. Many beautiful waterfalls (you can take a dip if you wish), picturesque walking paths, interesting flora and fauna, and observation towers make the hike more enjoyable.

Cruceta del Vigía: 100-foot-tall cross located atop Vigia Hill in Ponce (second largest city in Puerto Rico) across from Serrallés Castle. The cross supposedly sits at the same spot on Vigia Hill where early Spanish settlers looked out for merchant ships and would-be invaders, including pirates. Beautiful Japanese garden is built adjacent to it and can be visited during the visit to Cruceta del Vigia.

Serrallés Castle:The Serrallés mansion was built as the exclusive residence of Don Juan Eugenio Serrallés, a leader in the sugar cane industry during the early part of the 20th century. The family produce Don Q, the best selling rum in Puerto Rico (Bacardi is not as popular in Puerto Rico).

Bio bay (Bioluminescent Bay): This is one the most unique experiences that should not be missed. There are three bio bays in Puerto Rico, we visited one in Fajardo – "La Laguna Grande".Biobays are rare ecosystems that occur when microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates thrive in large numbers to produce a glow-in-the-dark effect when they are stirred to action - The luminescence is caused by micro-organisms which leave a glowing trail of neon blue. We were asked to use long sticks to stir water, the beautiful glow around the stick was observed due to luminescence.

Bacardi Factory: Enjoyed the visit the Bacardi Rum Factory (Casa Bacardi), learned about the history of the sugar cane and the origins of rum making. By the end of the tour of the factory, you'll learn how to make a few drinks and also sample few drinks (free!!)

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