10 Favorite Puerto Rico Finds From Locals in Our United Voices by AFAR Program
What better way to tell travel stories than by locals on the ground? Meet the Puerto Rican storytellers in the first-of-its-kind travel content summit and learn some of their top tips for visiting the Island.
Want local recommendations for the best things to do in Puerto Rico? The inaugural United Voices by AFAR program focuses on deeper storytelling, particularly by Boricuas—a welcome surprise to me as a participating content creator when Google- and Instagram-based itineraries are the norm.
AFAR handpicked Puerto Rican writers, a video director, and a photographer to attend a three-day summit on the Island with AFAR editors. Check out the resulting multimedia content from parts of Puerto Rico not typically highlighted on tourist routes, from articles to social media posts. And keep reading to meet the United Voices program members and get a glimpse of the Island through our eyes.
Otherworldly water experiences
I’m a bestselling author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning travel journalist, the solo female traveler behind Jen on a Jet Plane, and I was selected as one of the writers for United Voices by AFAR in Puerto Rico.
I’m drawn to the natural wonders of the Island. Taking a glass-bottom kayak on the bioluminescent bay in Vieques during the new moon is pure enchantment. The dinoflagellates in the water light up upon touch, so it looks like you’re paddling across the night sky. I also recommend soaking in the Coamo Thermal Baths. The hot springs are world-renowned for their therapeutic effects and only cost $5 to enter.
Photographer and art director Jesse Echevarria started his career in advertising. Today, , he works as a freelance art director and associate creative director when not shooting travel and adventure photography around the world. Echevarria is a free spirit who often drives his van in the mountains of Orocovis.
“It’s one of the few places where you feel the presence of La Cordillera,” he says, referencing the vast mountain range that runs east to west. Another reason to venture out to Orocovis is Cerro Mime, a mountain in the center of the Island and one of Echevarria’s favorite spots to camp and stargaze.
Wonders from East to West
Author, professor, photographer, lawyer, and podcast host Herson Guerrero has dedicated more than 10 years of his career to travel, publishing work in Vogue and National Geographic, and leading group trips to Iceland and Peru. Yet Guerrero has a deep love and nostalgia for his homeland. Of Levittown, a small subsection of the San Juan metro area, he says, “This is where my grandparents raised me. I grew up seeing the local vibes of a community where everyone knew each other.”
Guerrero recommends a trip to the west coast to dip your toes in the sand and enjoy epic sunsets. And, no trip to Puerto Rico would be complete without exploring El Yunque on the eastern side of the Island, which he calls “the lungs” of Puerto Rico.
Street food, microbreweries, and cigars
Francisco Gutierrez is a professional video director and the founder of El Cuervo Films, with more than 15 years of experience creating music videos, concerts, documentaries, and other audiovisual work. Known by his friends as Fran, he likes to drink craft beer from an experimental microbrewery called Dragon Stone, located in Río Grande.
Gutierrez is also a frequent patron of Don Rey in La Placita of Santurce, a bar and cigar boutique. And located right by his house, Playa La Posita in Piñones is where he enjoys spending time for the street food galore and a breakwater that forms a large natural pool.