Spanish colonial architecture, a pulsing Latin beat and 580 kilometers of unspoiled coast- line have Kimberley Seldon saying, ‘Que Rico‘ to La Isla del Encanto. After all, they don’t call it the Island of Enchantment for nothing.
Opening my eyes just the tiniest bit, I let the bright sunlight sink into my brain slowly. ‘Right,’ I say to myself with a wee grin, ‘I’m in Puerto Rico.’ And just like that, I skip out on the end of winter in Toronto. ‘Well played,’ I think to myself.
The seaside setting of Ritz-Carlton San Juan Casino and Spa is unparalleled.
Casual boutique hotel, Hosteria del Marrents simply appointed beachside rooms. Its onsite Uvva Restaurantis good enough to return to nightly.
A former convent from the 17th century, Hotel El Conventois ideally situated beside the Catedral de San Juan.
True luxury is what guests find at St Regis Bahia Beach Restort. Close to El Yunque National Forest, there’s an adjacent golf course as well.
St Germaine is the kind of casual cafe, where locals gather to linger over coffee and gossip. Come for lunch or brunch.
La Mallorca is a not-too-fancy local haunt for sweet buns and hot coffee.
Lusty describes the setting and menu at Dragonfly, Puerto Rico’s first Latin- Asian restaurant. Red walls, beaded curtains and fringed lamps are right out of Shanghai Surprise, but the food is memorable.
Tuna kebobs with cucumber slaw are a perfect match to chilled sangria at Torro del Salao Enjoy both in the lantern-lit courtyard patio.
In perfect harmony with the vibrant white and candy-hued interior, the menu at Marmalade is full of flavour. The white bean soup is muy popular.
Enjoy a rare and blissfully quiet dining experience at 311 Trois Once Cent. As the name suggests, the menu is French.
Foodies will rush to reserve a table at Fern, whose chef is world- renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Order the pechuga relleno de queso blanca y guayaba, aka chicken stuffed with guava and cheese at Dulce Fruta Bistro y Cafe and thank us later. Yum.
Stories above Plaza de las Delicias (Ponce’s main square) is the modern interior of Archipielago. The food is a fusion of Creole and continental. The halibut with coconut rice and vegetable curry is exceptional.
Cueva Clara, the largest of the Camuy River Park caves, has visitors arriving early to see the spectacular site. Step onto the tram and journey down to the natural wonder.
If you’re travelling with children, a trip to Arecibo Lighthouse Park can extend the day’s adventures. The small theme park is well kept and its replicas of Columbus’ ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, remind you of all that history you learned back in school.Head to Puerto Rico’s Riviera, Luquillo Beach. This public beach is a crowd pleaser with dozens of the picturesque kiosks nearby so popular in Puerto Rico.
Adventurers will want to explore Puerto Rico’s other islands, Vieques and Culebra. Situated off the eastern shores, head to Fajardo and catch the ferry to either island.
A must see, the phosphorescence or bioluminescence generated by microscopic organisms (dinoflagellates) causes the water in La Parguera to glow with an eerie blue light whenever the surface is disturbed, an effect that is particularly powerful on moonless nights.The month of February is peak season for Humpback whale watching off the coast of Rincon.
If you’re looking for Panama hats, hand-made cigars or folk art, then El Galpon is the place. Dabble Savvy: Above the Calle del Criston shop is an apartment to rent.
Handmade tote bags line the walls at Eco Eco.Owner, Angie Ortiz Rivera is on site and eager to serve.
The owners are rightfully proud of the original, contemporary Caribbean art on display at Galeria Exodo.
Board games are popular in Puerto Rico. At Kamel International Bazaar we found a chess set with nearly naked Ta ed no Indians squared off against the fully armed Spanish army. Not much of a match.
As it turns out, racking up rewards points is a breeze in Old San Juan. Flight, hotel and rental car garner double points, and I still earned a point for every dollar spent on shopping. In total, I earned 8,000 points on my trip to Puerto Rico simply by using my American Express Gold Rewards Card.