Beverly Hills, California Travel Agent
The Many Faces of Puerto Rico
My love for Puerto Rico springs from a deep knowledge of the island’s world-class resorts and appreciation for the depth and diversity of its cultural, environmental and touristic experiences. Every year, I attend an annual tourism trade show to stay current. Plus, I have family there, so I have a personal connection.
Many Americans like that they do not need a visa or passport, and U.S. dollars are the currency. Most people are bilingual, so there is no language barrier, and Puerto Ricans are by nature, very welcoming and friendly. It is a place you can have an exotic five-star getaway, often for less than a half the cost of a comparable trip to Hawaii.
In addition to crystal-clear waters for snorkeling, diving and kayaking and luxurious resorts with service to match, Puerto Rico surprises adventurous visitors with an amazing zip-line course in the center of the island, coffee and banana plantations, and large caves with carvings from the indigenous Taino Indians to explore. At its two bioluminescent bays, the sight of water coming alive with light is unforgettable. I always check the lunar calendar and try to have my clients visit on a moonless night because the darker it is, the more vibrant the bioluminescence will appear.
Puerto Rico also has true African villages such as Loiza, first settled by enslaved people escaping from other Caribbean islands. While today’s residents speak Spanish, the feeling is still very African, and the art, music, and food reflect their African roots.
A whole different feeling permeates Old San Juan. From the moment you step into the walled city, you feel you are an ancient city in Spain. Packed with museums, restaurants, and boutiques, it also is a wonderful district for a fun evening. Street vendors sell traditional food and locals dance to salsa music.
Puerto Rico is also home to the largest rain forest in North America, El Yunque National Forest. On my latest trip, I joined a guided walk where we had the chance to see, smell and taste plants most people have never heard of. At one point, our guide stuck a bark stick into a huge termite mound and pulled out a bunch of them. And yes, I tasted them. No, they did not taste like chicken. The flavor was akin to walnuts. We also went to an area called Angelitos with a popular swimming hole, so we got a local’s view of the rain forest. I discover something new with every visit.
Puerto Rico offers far more than most people realize. My partner and I had visited Hawaii a number of times and loved it. When I suggested we vacation in Puerto Rico, he was not very excited because he wasn’t sure what to expect. By the time we left, he was saying he could not wait to return. Not surprisingly, that is how everyone I send to Puerto Rico reacts!