Weekend Getaway: San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan - the capital of Puerto Rico. Located along the coast, this city has a lot to do and offer. Whether you are looking for a place to just be a beach bum, drink a lot of rum, or explore the historical component of the island, there is plenty for everyone to do! Lucky for us, flights from the United States are convient, frequent, and most importantly cheap! Airlines like JetBlue run regular sales to the island from major cities all over the continental United States. You can get a fight from the northeast for as cheap as 148$ one way, the south for as cheap as 70$ one way, or the west coast for as cheap as 194$ one way.
Travel Tip: Booking a flight with your Jetblue Credit card will earn you 6 times the points per dollar (600 points for 100$ and there is no black out dates.)
Old San Juan is rich with culture. First settled by the Spanish in 15th century, the island still is comprised of some of this original architecture built by the Spanish . For example, the bright red doors and framework of the original gate to the forts still stand today. There are two forts that were built by the Spanish that stand on the island: Castillo de San Cristobal, which is the largest Spanish fort built in the New World, and San Feipe del Morro. Both are apart of the National Park Service and for only a few bucks you can explore both of them.
Fun Fact: The city of Old San Juan has a bunch of stray cats. The city provides water and food for them and the cats can be found all around the walls of the fort. They are very friendly!! Check out the cat Sheila played with in our video of San Juan!
If you are looking to explore...
Rent a car! The island is not very big, about the size of Rhode Island, there are a lot of day trips you can take. If you are looking for a jungle adventure, the El Yunque rain forest is just a short 40 minute drive from San Juan. The rainforest has numerous hiking trails that lead to some secret waterfalls or if walking isn't your thing, you can opt to soar through the rainforest at the tree tops via zip line. There is also plenty of wildlife and indigenous plants preserved in the rainforest. The rainforest actually does not have any poisonous snakes. If you are feeling extra adventurous, the rainforest does allow you to acquire a free camping permit. Be warned: there is no facilities or designated camping areas, so only those who live " off the beaten path" should look into this.
For those who are night dwellers, like myself, the Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico is truly a sight to see. Mosquito is the largest bioluminescent bay in the world. It was given the Guinness Book of World Records award for the brightest bay in 2008. There is also the Laguna Grande in Fajardo and La Parguera in Lajas (but this bay has been suffering due to poor conservation. The bay gets its light from these tiny organisms called Pyrodinium Bahamense. These tropical Dinoflagettates are often referred to as "Dinos" and produce the bright blue light when they come in contact with other organisms.
Travel Tip: If yo are planning on going to any of the bays, it is best to go see it when there is a "New Moon".