AMERICANS SO OFTEN FORGET there’s an absolutely beautiful Caribbean island that’s super close and that they can travel to with zero need for a passport. Puerto Rico is stunning, and it’s not just the beaches — it’s the rainforest and the varied scenery, but also the people, the architecture, and the culture.
A few years back I was lucky enough to spend a day and a half in Puerto Rico. And in that short period of time, I was able to visit a colonial fort, have a piña colada at the place that invented piña coladas, and go nighttime kayaking in a stunning bioluminescent bay. You just don’t get that sort of variety anywhere else, and these pictures are here to prove it.
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Park system. It sits on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains, and while it’s one of the smallest national forests, it’s also one of the most diverse in its flora and fauna. Find it a quick drive east of San Juan.
The coquí, a small frog native to Puerto Rico, has a chirping call that’s the de facto soundtrack of the island. You’ll find tons of other incredible animals, like parrots, lizards, and turtles, hiding in the forests, too.
Puerto Rican cuisine combines the culinary influences of the indigenous Taíno, Africans, and the Spanish. You can get a good taste for it all at the many lechoneras, chinchorros, and fondas (casual eateries that specialize in roast pork, fried goodies, and traditional dishes, respectively) you’ll find around the island.
20 Images of Puerto Rico