Americans don’t need a passport to visit this tropical U.S. territory, which takes the sting out of pandemic travel.
Within the complexities of travel these days, it’s nice to know there’s a tropical island escape right in your own backyard. I’m talking about Puerto Rico, of course – that safe and sound little slice of paradise in the northeast Caribbean Sea.
Despite the havoc of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico is mostly back up to speed. A combination of resilience, hard work, and determination has revived not only the island’s buildings and infrastructure, but also its open and friendly cultural vibe, the luxury travel offerings on par with some of its fancy neighbors – the U.S. Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Barthélemy included.
After even one day in Puerto Rico, it becomes very apparent how easy-going it is – not in an irksome “island time” kind of way, but in a chill cosmopolitan style. Things to do here hit all the right notes – waterfront fun, luxurious beach clubs, great restaurants, historic charm, a café culture. There’s so much going on that taking it all in is the challenge, one remedied by splitting up your time into three fun-sized bites.
1. Wander about town. Get in tune with Puerto Rico’s history by strolling the blue cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, by yourself, or with a walking tour. Tully Travel Designers can arrange for a guided food tour, which tells the story of the city and the island through its cuisine, delivering a fun and delicious history lesson. Private art tours can also be arranged, letting you discover the vibrant street art of Santurce, which reveals the neighborhood’s intriguing history while showcasing local and international muralists.
2. Head for the hills. Hiking in El Yunque National Forest is a rite of passage for all visitors to Puerto Rico. This stunning rainforest is a rejuvenating nature bath, a diverse ecosystem explored through various trails, breathtaking waterfalls and natural pools.
3. Relax by the water. Finish your trip with a few days of nothing but sand and surf. Having someone bring you food and drinks while you just ponder the waves does wonders for the soul. For a little exercise, take a snorkeling adventure, learn how to surf, or hop on a boat to the nearby islands of Vieques or Culebra. Be sure to stop at Flamenco Beach, one of the world’s top-rated stretches of golden sand. Puerto Rico is also lucky enough to have three bioluminescent bays, a rare ecosystem wherein microscopic algae produce glow-in-the-dark light and color from the splash of your kayak paddle.
Where to stay?
Mix up your accommodations so you get the flavors of old and new, a week in town and a week out. Tully Travel Designers can easily secure a private villa in the hills or on the shoreline, or a suite at one of the luxury resorts. In Condado, the hip Condado Ocean Club is a small splash of elegance mere steps from the Atlantic Ocean. The same goes for Fairmont El San Juan, an oasis of calm a little farther along the coast in Isla Verde. And in Old San Juan, the sister properties of Palacio Provincial and Hotel El Convento are restored historic magic, offering the flavor of the past in a new-world setting.