Puerto Rico Photo Album
& Scene Articles

March 2002

Global-Scene -
Puerto Rico

   San Juan is similar to Miami but with a heavy Spanish flavor and better weather. Rain showers pass quickly due to the strong trade winds and the temperature remains a consistent 83 degrees even in the winter. Great hotels, casinos and restaurants are plentiful throughout the city. A particularly unique and charming factor is the cities great history. San Juan is the second-oldest city in the Americas, discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. And despite its age, it is young and hopping.
    Old San Juan is my favorite area of Puerto Rico, narrow cobble stone streets, barely maneuverable by car, and colorful small stucco buildings with huge balconies that hang over the street. Get off the beach early if you plan to do any shopping as everything closes at 6 p.m. Shopping is good with bargains galore. Be sure to check out the Coach and Ralph Lauren outlets, because there is no sales tax in Puerto Rico. The walk along the harbor at the city's main gate is a romantic and gorgeous stroll lined with royal palm trees. At the farthest point in the old city is El Morro, a huge park. At the far end of the park is a fort from the early 1500's. Notable restaurants: Dragon Fly (Spanish-Asian Cuisine, no shorts allowed, reservations required), the quaint and charming El Picoteo for tapas in the El Convento Hotel, and definitely not to be missed The Parrot Club featuring live music and upscale local Puerto Rican fare.
   Completely renovated in 2000, The Caribe Hilton is situated on the Atlantic in the middle of Ruins from the old city. It features a tropical bird sanctuary, one of the island's best pool/beach complexes and a fabulous spa with beachfront massages and delicious cuisine.
   The trendy neighborhood, Isla Verde, is home to some very fine hotels including the El San Juan and the Ritz Carlton. The Water Club is one of the only boutique hotels in San Juan and feels like Miami Beach's Delano. Cool off in the Wave bar on the ground floor, or dine on the second floor's Tangerine. Bask in the warm evening breezes at the outdoor bar on the roof, reminiscent of LA's Sky Bar.
   The town of Fajardo in the Northeastern part of Puerto Rico is a 90 minute drive from San Juan and is where you can catch the ferry to either Culebra or Vieques Islands. If you are looking for a little private time these are the islands to visit. The ferry ride from Fajardo is about an hour and only costs $2.50.
   Vieques is best known for it's US Military Bombing range that covers about half the Island. On the island, checkout the tiny beach town Esperanza where the shops, cafes and guest houses front a spectacular bit of coast and are in walking distance of some of the nicest beaches and snorkeling sites. Culebra is the destination preferred by the locals.
   Fajardo is home to The Caribbean National Forest, 28 miles of lush greentrails, making it the best place for hiking in Puerto Rico. Hike up the mountains or down to the flowing springs.
    Travel Notes: United flies non-stop from Chicago to San Juan. The flight is about four hours and costs $350. Tap water is safe to drink. A passport is not required. Dress is casual except in the nightclubs. The island's food and drink that shouldn't be missed include the abundance of fresh seafood, fried plantains, Puerto Rican coffee, paella , and of course, the Pina Cola. Its birthplace is on this island. If you like rum, be sure to take the tour of the Bacardi plant, which is free and includes free libations! For more info on Puerto Rico visit www.Global-Scene.com.

 

Puerto Rico

  • Old San Juan
  • Isla Verde Miscellaneous