Puerto Rico, Isla del Encanto
Article written with the collaboration of Gabriela del Mar Ortiz Nieves
Photos by Gabriela del Mar Ortiz Nieves and Miriam Arizmendi
Follow Gabriela on Instagram: @gabrieladelmar90
Puerto Rico, Isla del Encanto
The enchanted island is the translation for Puerto Rico, Isla del Encanto. Nestled east of the Dominican Republic, west of United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico is called "Isla del Encanto" because of it's enchanted beauty.
This island was discovered in 1943 by Christopher Columbus. He baptized the island with the name of San Juan Bautista. Later on, the name was changed to Puerto Rico (rich port)because of the gold the Spanish found in it. It is the name up to the present time. In contrast to what is believed, Columbus was not the first one to have discovered the island. Inhabited by Indians, named Tainos before been discovered by Columbus. The Tainos came from South America establishing their home in Puerto Rico and therefore becoming the first inhabitants.
Defining the heritage of the Puerto Ricans: The race and culture are for the most part comprised of three major races: Indians, Spanish, and Africans. But throughout the history of the island, from the time of its discovery, additional races have been eventually added. Among those included are the Dutch, English and the Germans. Then later came the Americans. All the races have added to the makeup of the island and to the Puerto Rican race, traits, and customs. This race is therefore pretty unique.
Puerto Rico was a province of Spain until the Spanish-American war when U.S. forces invaded the island. Consequently, in 1898 and under the Treaty of Paris, Spain gave up the island of Puerto Rico (along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam) to the U.S., As a result, the island became a colony of the United States.
The citizens of Puerto Rico were awarded U.S. citizenship in 1917. Later on, in 1952, Puerto Rico became a U.S. Commonwealth. Spanish and English are the official languages and the currency is the U.S. Dollar.
Today, Puerto Rico is a leading tourist destination. The island has developed into a major manufacturing center and as a result, produces high-tech equipment and many major American pharmaceuticals manufacture their products in the island. Check this site for more on the island history.
The island of Puerto Rico is a beautiful destination for a Caribbean vacation. For the United States citizens is an easy ride from major airports. A great factor for american tourists: it does not require any special documents or money exchange to travel to the island, therefore this makes the trip more attractive.
What places do you want to visit when in Puerto Rico? There are many. Additionally from the beaches, spas- hotels, historic sites and cities you have plenty to do, see and enjoy. Here are a few favorites.
Places to visit
East of the island
- Bahía Bioluminescent - Fluorescent Bay - Located in Fajardo. This natural wonder is created through the Ecosystem. The Plankton is a living organism. Its light is produced by a series of oxidation reactions set off by a catalyst called luciferase. This organism releases energy in the form of a neon green light when the water is shaken. Illuminates everything it gets in contact with. Although this kind of fluorescent lagoon wonder exist in other parts of the world, there are three in Puerto Rico. Two more are located: one in the Southwest of the island in La Parguera. Another one is in Vieques - small island belonging to Puerto Rico. A tour like no other, you do not want to miss this unique rarity. Keep these destinations in mind in the event that you visit the island.
- Hotel El Conquistador - Beautiful hotel located on a cliff East of the island in the town of Fajardo. The hotel was restored to a magnificent splendor a few years ago by the Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts. It has one of the biggest and most luxurious spas of the Caribbean. This beautiful hotel offers the best of the east side of the island: aquatic park, 20 different restaurants, private villas. It is located 17km from the Rain Forest and the famous Seven Seas is 2km from the hotel. You can also sail away and sightsee the East side of the island.
- Other areas to visit East of the island:
- Las Croabas - located in Fajardo
- The East side of Puerto Rico is home to the "Yunque" rainforest, located in Luquillo. A beautiful green paradise with waterfalls and amazing exotic plants.
More to see and more to do in "La Isla Del Encanto"
Best Restaurants by Fajardo, Las Croabas, and the East side:
- Las Vistas Cafe - American, Caribbean, European and vegetarian dishes, seafood and Puerto Rican cuisine.
- Di Yukas Caribena - Contemporary, Puerto Rican, Latin and Sushi (amazing)
- Rest. El Calizo - Spanish, Latin, Caribbean and seafood
- El Verdadero - Seaside Grill
- Las Brisas
From the metro area to the old city
If you are staying in San Juan, the capital of the island, there is plenty to do and places to visit. The major historic landmarks are also found in San Juan and its surroundings.
Condado - a Principal area of hotels, big known retailers, casinos, and nightlife.
Old San Juan - Capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan and the city of Old San Juan are the places to go shopping and find history. Art galleries, high-end jewelry, Spanish time architecture. Historic places like El Morro, La Fortaleza, where the Governor of the island lives. Here you will also visit the second oldest cathedral in America The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista.
There are plenty of high-end restaurants in the area with all the exotic cuisines and flavors to please the most demanding gourmand. Some to try:
- Patio del Nispero
- Cafe Manolin
- La Bombonera
Last, but not least, if you are a coffee lover, Puerto Rico has one of the best coffees ever tasted. Coffee connoisseurs will attest to the smooth and sweet flavor of the island's coffee.
Old San Juan
Other sites around the island - West and South
From Aguadilla to Ponce
End of the tour
When visiting "La Isla del Encanto" do not forget to try the typical dishes: Mofongo (you can have it with anything: lobster, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, squid...). Other plates and side dishes to try:
- Tostones - mash and fried green plantains
- Asopao - Chicken stew - prepared in a special latin tradition
- Surullitos - Corn sticks
- Pastelon - Sweet Plantain with ground meat and marinara sauce
- Empanadillas - pastry filled with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese, or with meat, chicken, cheese or seafood and either fried or baked.
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