There's an extraordinary amount of awe-inspiring experiences to be had on the invigorating island of Puerto Rico. Whether you visit to sample the local gastronomy or you're a history buff looking for story-rich landmarks, there's an overwhelming number of experiences compacted in Puerto Rico’s 100 x 35 miles. Then, of course, there are the beaches — and the list of inviting coastal sojourns is blissfully long. A holiday in Puerto Rico is a holiday out of the ordinary, with this tropical island truly offering the best of all worlds.
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White Sand Beaches and World Class Waves
Located in the heart of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has more than a few breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Around the island, you’ll find white sand, clear waters and a whole host of exhilarating experiences to be had below the surface. One of the island’s most popular west coast adventures involves grabbing a board and paddling out into the ocean to experience world class breakers.

Surfers converge along the west coast of the island in the town of Rincón. Maria's Beach is a particularly popular destination, while Domes Beach to the north is known for hosting major annual surfing competitions. Both are iconic for surfers and anyone who loves to watch them — if you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale far offshore, too.
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The southern end of the west coast, however, boasts one of the island’s most unique attractions in Las Salinas, located in Cabo Rojo. This area is home to the salt flats, part of the area's National Wildlife Refuge, where a high concentration of salt gives the lagoon a surreal pink hue. From the watchtower nearby you can get a panoramic view of the area, and maybe even spot some tropical birds. Don't leave Cabo Rojo without checking out La Playuela , a strikingly beautiful beach that has been voted as one of the top 25 beaches in the Caribbean for years. It’s easy to appreciate the beach’s natural crescent shape that offers a secluded haven for swimming and soaking, where you can take in the stunning cliffs and the historic Los Morrillos Lighthouse in the distance.

While the west coast is a mecca for surfers and sunbathers alike, the east coast offers more than its fair share of incredible beaches as well. Along the resort-lined stretch of Isla Verde, you’ll find soft white sand and water perfect for swimming in. In Old San Juan at Escambrón Beach park, clear waters are set against the Bateria del Escambron, a small fortification built in the 18th century. And in Piñones, about 30 minutes east of San Juan, you can explore well known surfing spots like Aviones, Tocones and Chatarra, or simply sunbathe between trips to kiosks for iconic fried foods and ice-cold coconuts to sip from.
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Traditional and Innovative Food Experiences
Food trucks and kiosks are a much-loved staple of the Puerto Rican culinary scene. Wherever you are, a late-night tripleta — a popular sandwich packed with layers upon layers of meats — is never far. And over the past few years, the food culture has expanded immensely to include virtually every style of eats you can imagine. Foodie havens like Lote 23, in the San Juan neighborhood of Santurce, and the Miramar Food Truck Park make it easy to sample a jaw-dropping and mouth-watering variety of local, authentic eats.

And while traditional comida criolla is available everywhere, historic Old San Juan boasts some of the island's longest-standing favorites. Café Manolín, for example, is a Creole food restaurant established more than 70 years ago, while El Jibarito offers a colorful and traditionally decorated setting in which to enjoy mainstay dishes like mofongo, meat turnovers and staple rice and beans. Cap off your visit with cocktails at La Factoría, an award-winning spot that feels like a speakeasy — except it's extremely popular — where you can come for the drinks and stay for the salsa dancing.

For an energetic cluster of restaurants offering innovative twists on Puerto Rican cuisine, head to Santurce to check out La Placita. Don't let the nightlife activity deceive you — the restaurants here offer world-class cocktails, local brews and top-notch dining. You'll find the seafood centric restaurant Tasca El Pescador, which is an ever popular haunt with the locals, plus creative newcomers like JungleBird, which delivers Asian fusion eats in a tiki-style setting. Off La Placita on Juan Ponce de León, you’ll find Vianda, a new and exciting restaurant with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, while hearty Caribbean fare (featuring a superb Taco Tuesday) can be discovered at Chicharrón, too. Whatever you’re craving, you will find it here.
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A Rich History Still Evident Today
The San Juan National Historic Site in Old San Juan attracts history and architecture buffs alike, and will stun even the most well-traveled visitors. Atop an expansive grassy meadow is the imposing Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 400-year-old fortress that offers views over the entrance to the San Juan Bay. On the opposite side of the National Historic Site lies Castillo San Cristóbal , another spectacular historic fort. Built about 225 years ago, this fort reaches a height of 150 feet above sea level and features a preserved chapel and soldiers' living quarters inside its massive stone walls. Castillo San Cristóbal is one of San Juan’s hidden gems, and therefore you won’t have to fight the same crowds that Castillo San Felipe del Morro attracts to get a good photo. So, take your time here, and enjoy this historic gem in peace.

For all ages and interests and from coast to coast, there's so much to be captivated by in Puerto Rico. Explore the island with these points in mind for a dynamic experience, but keep an eye out for unexpected adventures. Enchantment abounds on this small yet surprising island, and you are guaranteed to find beautiful outdoor sights, rich history and tempting eats around every corner.
No matter your ideal travel experience, Puerto Rico is guaranteed to have a destination that will enchant you.