Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is a United States territory that is situated in the north-eastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic, and west of the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. As an archipelago, the country consists of the main island of Puerto Rico, along with smaller islands including Vieques, Culebra, and Mona – the largest of the islands. Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city is San Juan. Climate in Puerto Rico is described as tropical, with warm weather experienced year-round, and has a rainy season between April and November.
What to see & do
Eco-tours in Puerto Rico are a must, as the country boasts of endemic species – 239 plants, 16 birds, and 39 amphibians/reptiles – mostly found on the main island. The most iconic endemic species, and serves as a symbol of Puerto Rican pride, is the Coqui, a small frog that is easily distinguished by the sound of its call. Coqui species can be found in the El Yunque National Forest, previously known as the Caribbean National Forest, a tropical rainforest in the northeast of the island. El Yunque National Forest is also home to the critically endangered bird, the Puerto Rican Amazon.
When in Puerto Rico, tourists will notice the country’s wide range of traditions and national influences on its architecture, mostly consisting of Spanish colonial architecture, Moorish, art deco, post-modern, and many other architectural forms accumulated over centuries of Spanish and American rule. One popular tourism spot in Puerto Rico is Old San Juan, with its shops, historic sites, museums, open air cafes, restaurants, tree-shaded plazas, and its old beauty. Public plazas can also be found here, as well as significant churches such as the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which houses the tomb of the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Other notable features of Old San Juan are the historic fortifications that are part of San Juan National Historic Site.
Ferry and diving tours are also offered in Puerto Rico to reach the other islands of the country. South of the main island is the island of Caja de Muertos, a hotspot for hikers and beachgoers. The island is
protected due to its native turtle traffic. A guided tour of the cave system in Puerto Rico, the Camuy River Cave Park, is also available. The main cave, Cueva Clara, will give tourists a view of the third largest underground river in the world, as well as an enormous sinkhole.
How to get around within Puerto Rico
Renting a car to travel within Puerto Rico is recommended, especially when going to places outside the Metro Area, as there are no scheduled buses and trains. For a cheaper alternative, the country’s shared cab (publico) system can also be explored. Publicos have yellow licence plates with the word ‘PUBLICO’ on top of the plate. The main public station is in Rio Piedras in San Juan. If getting around by taxi, there are official tourism company-sponsored taxis in Puerto Rico that are easily identifiable and are reliable; just look for the white taxis with the official logo and ‘Taxi Turistico’ on the front doors. To reach the islands of Cataño, Vieques, and Culebra, there are ferries that depart from San Juan and Fajardo. The metropolitan area of San Juan is served by the Tren Urbano. The public bus transit system in San Juan is the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses.
How to get there
Puerto Rico has three international airports: the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, Mercedita Airport in Ponce, and the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, as well as 27 local airports. The largest airport in the Caribbean is the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, three miles or five kilometres southeast of San Juan. The airport is a hub for Air Sunshine, Cape Air, M&N Aviation, Seaborne Airlines, and Tradewind Aviation, and a focus city for JetBlue Airways.
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