The Most Popular Destination This Summer May Surprise You
New research shows that Americans are searching for flights to one sunny destination in droves this summer say the experts at TravelPulse: Puerto Rico. Using data from the flight-comparison site Jetcost, TravelPulse found that the sunny island to our south and its San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) was at the top of traveler's search lists. With a remarkable recovery effort from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in the fall of 2017, the island is ready to welcome visitors this summer. What makes Puerto Rico so special?
Easy to visit
The ease of traveling to Puerto Rico, a U.S. Commonwealth, is undeniable for Americans: No passport is needed, no currency exchange required, no roaming cellphones, and no language barrier. Visitors also enjoy warm temperatures all year round averaging 80 degrees. Plus, there are more than 100 daily flights from U.S. cities to the island. All of this may explain why The New York Times ranked Puerto Rico number one on its 52 Places to Go in 2019 list. Puerto Rico is also where you can have a life-changing experience without leaving America.
With more than 300 miles of coastline, Puerto Rico can offer up a unique sandy spot almost every day of the year, and the array of water sports is nearly endless, with scuba diving, snorkeling, SNUBA, and surfing, not to mention swimming. For golden sand easily accessible in San Juan, Condado is a top pick, and the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is perfectly situated on the golden sand here. Here are 11 more amazing beaches you must visit this year.
History around every corner
Old San Juan is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year, and to stroll the cobblestone streets and visit the towering El Morro, a UNESCO site, feels like you’re stepping straight into history. The San Juan National Historic Site also includes the Castillo San Cristóbal, the city’s ancient stone walls, la Puerta de San Juan, and the Fort San Juan de la Cruz. Wandering and immersing yourself in the history of the island is a fabulous way to spend a day here.
With more than 4,000 restaurants open island-wide, Puerto Rico is a foodie’s paradise. The entire island has been experiencing an exciting farm-to-table movement and chefs are encouraging locals and travelers to savor the island’s amazing local ingredients. One to try: Metropol Restaurant in Isla Verde for authentic Puerto Rican and Cuban dishes. Or head around the island to explore tastes such as the famed lechón asado (roasted suckling pig) in Guavate, south of San Juan, or seafood plucked straight from the sea in the southern towns of Salinas or Ponce.
Puerto Rico feels like it was custom-made for kids with hundreds of miles of soft sand beaches, cool attractions like the Children’s Museum in Carolina which has a full-size airplane to explore and the Firehouse Museum in Ponce, and fabulous waterparks around San Juan and the entire island. There are plenty of family-friendly lodging options, too, including San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino which offers complimentary bicycles, two outdoor swimming pools complete with double-helix waterslide and whirlpool, and even a gelateria serving an array of homemade gelatos. San Juan is also one of our favorite warm winter getaways for families.
Green scenery in the rainforest
The only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forests system is located right here in Puerto Rico. El Yunque National Forest is 29,000 acres, making it one of the smallest national forests, yet it’s one of the most biologically diverse and is home to hundreds of animal and plant species, some of which are found only here.
Three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays are located in Puerto Rico, an illuminating reason to get out on the water at night! You’ll be able to witness this remarkable natural phenomenon of dinoflagellates creating glow-in-the-dark trails in the dark ocean waves in the following bio bays: About an hour south of San Juan in Fajardo, on the southwest corner of the island in La Parguera, and on the outer island of Vieques at Mosquito Bay.
Pina colada anyone? The frosty frappe of pineapple, cream of coconut, and rum was invented in San Juan! For a deep dive into all things rum, you can visit the Bacardi factory just outside San Juan where you can learn about the entire sugar cane to cup process and taste some of the delicious product which you can also order up in cocktails such as mojitos around the island.
Summer sizzles with unique celebrations all season, including everything from Apollo 11 Moon Landing Anniversary (July 20) at Arecibo Observatory, home to the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope to Por Amor Al Arte Festival (August 24 to 25) in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s first national music, art and culture festival.
The west of the Island has a unique “surfer town” flare that many locals opt for when seeking a staycation and surf aficionados head to in droves to catch waves, especially in Rincon. Base yourself near the ultimate surfer bar, Tamboo, voted the best beach bar in the entire Caribbean by USA Today. Relax right on the sand where you can either watch the experts hang ten or get ready to catch the perfect curl.
According to Discover Puerto Rico, the island has a cornucopia of unique courses ranging from luxury properties on the north coast near historic San Juan, to an array of courses out west, down south, or on the east coast. Some highlights include TPC Dorado Beach East, where Jack Nicklaus proclaimed the 4th hole to be one of the top ten in the world and the celebrity-designed courses at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Peurto Recio Golf & Beach Resort with pedigrees ranging from Greg Norman (River Course) to George and Tom Fazio (Ocean Course). Next, read on for 12 of the best all-inclusive Caribbean resorts.