This past February, I skipped out on the damp, frigid weather for a few days in favour of la isla del encanto, Puerto Rico. It was my third trip to the island, and I was thrilled to explore some new regions, particularly Guanica, Caja de Muertos, and Cayo Icacos. “Isle of Enchantment” is a fitting moniker for this beautiful place, still welcoming and resilient after Hurricane Maria.
The view from Caja de Muertos (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
I am always enthralled by Old San Juan, the historic heart of Puerto Rico’s capital. Colourful, Spanish colonial houses and shopfronts, winding cobbled streets, a dramatic fort and a leisurely waterfront promenade- what isn’t to love?
Cobbled streets in Old San Juan (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
A cheery storefront in Old San Juan (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Of course, one would be amiss not to explore Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches. We didn’t have to go far; by staying in the Condado district, the beach was an easy two-block stroll from our lodging. Much of San Juan is like this, with public and easily accessible beachfront. But if you’re feeling adventurous, or just need a break from the city, you still don’t need to travel much to find white sand and clear waters. Cayo Icacos is an easy half-day trip from San Juan, located in Fajardo. You can take a catamaran, or charter a smaller motor boat, to take you from the shore over to the island.
The view from Cayo Icacos (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
If you have more time and feel like braving the roads (note: many street and traffic lights still don’t function due to the hurricane), Guanica, in Ponce, is only a two-hour drive from San Juan. Famed for its dry forest and crystal blue beaches on the Caribbean Sea, Guanica is also home to Gilligan’s Island, a sheltered little island with mangroves, gentle water, and a spectacular array of fish. The best way to get there? By kayak.
Mangrove forests on Gilligan’s Island (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Ponce is also the departure point for the catamaran that will take you to Caja de Muertos. Visiting this stunningly beautiful island, parts of which are a protected nature reserve, was a highlight of the trip for me. It also requires some planning ahead of time, but doing so is well worth it!
Paradise at Caja de Muertos (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
I can’t wait to detail my experiences in Puerto Rico and relive my tropical getaway whilst waiting (impatiently) for spring to begin creeping in at home!