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An Enchanting Pastiche: Puerto Rico

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A tiny speck in the Caribbean Sea with a big heart. A splash of peacock, deep earth, corn, and tomato colors. A melting pot of identities, but an island very sure of itself. A land of rich food, refreshing waters, majestic views, vibrant music, deep-rooted traditions, and spirited people. My island. Everyone's island. Puerto Rico.
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Guavate, Cayey, Puerto Rico
Guavate, a section of Cayey better known as the Ruta del Lechon ("Pork Highway"), bursts into a rush of food-infused ecstasy every Friday and Saturday. People from all parts of the island come to watch someone roast a whole pig over the open fire...
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PR-191, Río Grande, 00745, Puerto Rico
Due to Hurricane Maria, El Yunque National Forest is currently closed. Please check the Forest Service website below for updates.

Few visitors to Puerto Rico leave without having visited El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. national...
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I know Las Marias as my dad's hometown. But generally, the tiny town of Las Marias is known for being tiny. Oh, and for its oranges. The Festival de la China Dulce (an annual sweet orange festival) lets you savor oranges cake, orange flans, orange...
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Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
El Dia de los Reyes Magos celebrates the Three Kings that in the Bible bestowed gifts upon Baby Jesus. In Puerto Rican tradition, on the night of January 5th, the kings come to every household to leave presents for the children. As a child, I...
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Guanica, Guánica 00653, Puerto Rico
My boyfriend and I are like fish: We don't do well when we're out of the water for too long. When we went back home last Christmas, we decided to go kayaking. My friend told me people had spotted whales near Isla Ballena (Whale Island), so we...
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María Antonia, Guánica 00647, Puerto Rico
La Isla de Guilligan (Gilligan's Island, though not the one from the television show) is a popular hangout for Puerto Rican locals. I myself am only home for several weeks a year and I still go once or twice every year. The island is sometimes...
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La Parguera, Lajas 00667, Puerto Rico
Feel like wading in the water at night? There's no better place than the Bioluminescent Bay in La Parguera. I had been countless times a child and a couple of years ago, I remembered it as a magical spectacle decided to take some of my non-Puerto...
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Playa Sucia, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Five years ago, my friends and I found a secret beach near the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse. To this day, we've never seen anyone else there. Ignore the beach's misnomer—Bahia Sucia (dirty bay)—and plan on an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. outing to this natural...
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PR-466, 00662, Puerto Rico
Owning my horse is a dream that has yet to come true, so I've settled for the next best thing: horseback riding for two hours along tree-lined trails and by a beach in Isabela. Not too shabby. More than ten years after my first ride, I still...
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Calle San Sebastián, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's biggest party, Las Fiestas de La Calle San Sebastian are Puerto Rico's equivalent of Carnaval. Every third weekend in January, people gather in and around the cobblestone San Sebastian Street to make noise—and drink, and eat, and...
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Old San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico
A piragua is shaved ice with syrup. Piragueros (the piragua vendors) and their colorful wooden pushcarts used to be ubiquitous in Puerto Rico many years ago. Now they're few and far between (usually found in town squares) and with the heat bearing...
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Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Tino's opened on the Day of the Magi (a sort of Puerto Rican continuation of Christmas) decades ago, and it has been a staple in Cabo Rojo ever since. Tino's is the place I went after dance recitals, the go-to spot for Mother's Day dinner, the...
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109 Calle Jesus Cortez Torres, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico
La Poza del Obispo (Bishop's Pool) is a hidden treasure near the Arecibo Lighthouse in Puerto Rico. This beach is loved for its contrast. You will find a calm spot (though it can get rough in bad weather) where you may float, swim, or simply stand...
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Campamento Piñones, Cangrejo Arriba, Loíza, Puerto Rico
Doña Olga* is a large kiosk in Piñones, from which the smell of fritters wafts all the way to the beach. I often find myself getting a large order of bacalaitos (round cod fritters), empanadillas (turnovers), alcapurrias (dough of plantains or...
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Cabo Rojo, 00623, Puerto Rico
Take it from a local: If you're looking to bond with the locals and enjoy some simple fare with lots of taste, drive down to Williche. The family-owned sandwich shop in a street corner in Cabo Rojo is just a block from the town square and a...
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251 Calle San Justo, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
I've often taken the eight-minute stroll down the cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses from La Fortaleza (the governor's residence) for a simple lunch in the 60-year-old Cafe Manolin. When my family and I need a break from the sun...
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The Heladería de Lares, a 45-year-old family business, sells about 50 unusual flavors of ice cream up in the mountains. Salvador Berreto, known to the locals as Yinyo, founded the shop to commemorate the Grito de Lares, a battle for freedom that...
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Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián, PR, Puerto Rico
In Calvache, a smaller subdivision of Rincon, in Puerto Rico, is a house made entirely of bamboo. A labor of love by two artists living in the area, this place is up close and personal with nature. The house itself features two outdoor bedrooms,...
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Flamenco, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Suppose I told you there was a small, remarkably idyllic and fairly unpopulated island in the Caribbean just a short distance from the mainland United States, an island so immaculate, plans were in the works to make it a National Wildlife Refuge,...
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San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo, PR, Puerto Rico
This is my favorite hike by far. Cueva Ventana ("Window Cave") is a beautiful, scenic hole in the side of a mountain that opens up to a lush, green valley down below. You'll trample through mud, hunker down under low-hanging stalactites, dodge...
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501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Spend a lazy afternoon flying kites with the locals in the massive field in front of El Morro. Bring your own from a local shop, or purchase one on site from vendors. Nearby, explore the fortress itself, the Americas Museum, and Ponce de Leon's...
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PR-625, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico
For the science geek, this spot is well worth a visit during a trip to Puerto Rico. Forget beaches—who doesn't want to see a 1,000-foot radio dish that is humankind's best hope for communication with extraterrestrials?
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151 Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00902, Puerto Rico
While in the area of Old San Juan stop by this church and check out the interior details. The details and beauty of the stations of prayer and ceiling are a must see.
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Morovis, 00687, Puerto Rico
Puerto Ricans don't need an excuse to throw a party or celebrate a holiday. Along with their own festivals, they have adopted several of the States and many from international traditions as well. Naturally, Oktoberfest would be one. We traveled to...
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PR-617, Morovis 00687, Puerto Rico
In 1862, the Panaderia La Patria (The Homeland Bakery) was established in the mountain town of Morovis. One of the oldest bakeries in the island, La Patria offers a variety of traditional Puerto Rican sweets like flan and quesitos (a pastry filled...
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Km. 3.1, PR-102, Mayagüez, 00682, Puerto Rico
As I sipped my passion fruit mimosa by the beach while admiring my ceviche in plantain baskets, I knew mom had taken me to the new best restaurant in Puerto Rico. Costa has a fresh atmosphere no matter where you decide to sit (with paintings that...
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Cll Salvador Brau, Cabo Rojo, 00623, Puerto Rico
Puerto Ricans love tostones. Coming from the word tostar, which means "to toast", these slices of plantains are fried, pounded flat, and fried again. Many restaurants make them well, but I usually don't choose them as my side dish because I feel...
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Bahía Sucia, Puerto Rico
If you'd like to forgo San Juan for an equally beautiful but much less touristy area, head to Cabo Rojo and stay at Bahia Salinas. The resort, located off a road lined by cotton plants and salt flats, is also minutes away from Bahia (or Playa)...
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Anywhere breakfast is served all day usually scores in my book. At Caficultura in Old San Juan, the food is "farm to table" and is as delicious as the creative menu sounds. In addition to the mostly healthy options, the highlight is the maple...
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72 Caleta de San Juan, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Puerto Ricans dance to lively rhythms like bomba, merengue, and salsa—whether at home, at a festival, or on the streets—and they’ll be ecstatic to teach you how. To honor Puerto Rico’s Spanish heritage, Rosa de Triana...
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Cerro Gordo, Sabana, Vega Alta 00692, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has many balnearios, government-owned public beaches with restrooms, picnic tables, and other facilities that are aimed at campers. The Balneario La Monserrate, in northeastern Luquillo, is a good spot for aquatic activities like...
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Rincón, Puerto Rico
Many beaches have restaurants serving the best of island comfort food. In Cabo Rojo, scarf down sorrullitos (corn sticks), empanadillas (turnovers filled with seafood), or rice, beans, and fish at Ann’s Place on El Combate. Crashboat in...
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Bahía Bioluminiscente, Puerto Rico
This was the experience of a lifetime. We were fortunate to be there on the required dark night with no moon. We used see-through canoes to paddle to the middle of this inlet off the Caribbean at midnight. All wildlife in the very clear water was...
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Llanos Costa, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Lighthouses are common in any coastal town or island. Many are still in working condition, others are simply sites for the eyes. Cabo Rojo is a must-visit cliff on the southwest corner of Puerto Rico. From here, your view of the Caribbean is...
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1 Calle San Gerónimo, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
With its cool tropical coconut and pineapple flavors, the piña colada is one of the most popular drinks on the island. Two equally charming San Juan restaurants claim to have conceived this concoction. The elegant and historic Caribe Hilton...
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Cataño, Puerto Rico
Sugar cane and rum are big business on Puerto Rico. Locals love piña coladas, mojitos, coquitos (the Puerto Rican version of eggnog), and daiquiris—all of which are made with rum. Don Q and Bacardi both offer tours—complete with tastings—that will...
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299 Avenida José de Diego, San Juan, 00909, Puerto Rico
Arts in Puerto Rico range from lavish recitals to paintings of humble local scenes. The Luis A. Ferré Fine Arts Center in San Juan puts on various performances, including theater, concerts, ballet, and opera. The center itself is a work of art,...
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PR-156, Caguas, 00726, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican gardens are a delicate fusion of nature and art, and a perfect escape from urban life. The William Miranda Marín Botanical and Cultural Gardens in Caguas have exquisite palm trees from around the world and displays dedicated to native...
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Ponce, Puerto Rico

The Pearl of the South got its nickname from the beautiful scenery and architecture in and around the city. Visitors can easily walk the streets of the historic center, taking in the red-and-black-striped Parque de Bombas, a former...

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Sec Gozalandia, San Sebastián, 00685, Puerto Rico
As with many other natural wonders in Puerto Rico, there isn't a clearly defined marker. Normally, to find Gozalandia, you would first have to visit it with a local, because getting directions there can be complicated. Lately, there is talk...
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Vieques, Puerto Rico
On Puerto Rico, horses roam the farms, the mountains, the town centers—and also the beaches. A couples' horse ride at sunset is a perfect way to kiss the day good-bye. With Tropical Trail Rides, in the northwestern municipality of Isabela, you can...
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54 Calle Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
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Lares, 00669, Puerto Rico
The sun can shine relentlessly in Puerto Rico, but you can beat the heat with cool sweets. If you’re staying in town, your best bet is a piragua (shaved ice with a syrup of your choice) from a plaza vendor's cart. But if you’re escaping the city...
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Hatillo, 00659, Puerto Rico
Puerto Ricans seize every opportunity to gather and celebrate. Themed festivals are held year-round for people to watch traditional bomba and plena dances; buy jewelry, artisanal leather goods, and wooden toys and ornaments; and eat to their...
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202 Calle San José, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican plazas are laid-back gathering spaces where locals buy snacks, watch shows, play dominoes, and chat with friends. Take a seat on a bench to give your feet a break and soak up some of the everyday comings and goings. At the Plaza de...
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Estatua Juan Ponce de León, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
You can learn about Puerto Rico's history by visiting ancient citadels, churches, and Taíno ceremonial sites. The island, considered the "Key to the Antilles" by the Spanish, was fought over in many wars; the 1539 El Morro in Old San Juan—the...
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Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico
Sunny days should be cherished, and Puerto Rico offers plenty of them. Beaches are wonderful when you’re seeking to escape the heat, but Old San Juan will have you embracing the rays and feeling just as wild and free. The whole family will have a...
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Guánica, 00653, Puerto Rico
Escape the beach and explore the sea by kayak. Rent one in the southwestern town of Guanica and spend the day island-hopping. Gilligan’s Island—accessible by kayak or by ferry—is a popular destination, with lots of picnic areas and places to dive...
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San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you’re looking for a more diverse aquatic playground than a single beach can offer, try some of Puerto Rico’s water parks. Las Cascadas in Aguadilla features adult rides such as the intense serpent- and braid-shaped slides and the obstacle...
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1309 Avenida Doctor Ashford, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico
An alarm clock may wake you up, but windows overlooking azure waters and the prospect of a succulent breakfast will have you sprinting out of bed. After a day of tanning and swimming, simply walk up to your room in the Concha Resort in San Juan....
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San Juan, 00910, Puerto Rico
In order to relax and guarantee your kids have a blast, hit up a sandy beach with gentle surf. Reefs at Escambrón Beach and Playa Azul in the Balneario La Monserrate area of Luquillo keep the waters shallow and perfect for kids to swim in. As a...
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276 Mendez Vigo y Pirallo, Mayagüez, PR 00682
The customary dessert of Puerto Rico, the brazo gitano (gypsy arm), can be found at Franco's in Mayaguez. This place has been around for generations, preparing the rolls for local markets and grocers and also for their own store. The cake is...
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Rincon, Rincón 00677, Puerto Rico
One of the first things you will likely notice when visiting Puerto Rico (and many other islands) are the vast number of stray animals roaming the streets. The sato is the Puerto Rican word for stray, and there are many that need forever homes....
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PR-102, Mayagüez, 00682, Puerto Rico
El Mesón Español is locals’ go-to spot for real Spanish food in the southwest of Puerto Rico. Have them bring one of their 2005 Rioja wines as you peruse the menu. Last time, I went for the Spanish omelet, the Spanish pork sausage, the croquettes,...
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210 Calle San Francisco, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Cacao beans’ scientific name is theobrama cacao, which translates into “drink of the gods.” Casa Cortés in Old San Juan will truly please any god with its Cortés chocolate concoctions. This welcoming café...
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Isla Verde, Carolina, 00979, Puerto Rico
Made in Puerto Rico is more than a restaurant—it’s a testament to Puerto Rican traditions, idioms, and other cultural aspects. Signs commemorating historical moments, dominoes, straw hats, kites, and Christmas lights are strewn around. Servers...
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Carretera 493 km 0.7 Bo. Carrizales, Hatillo, 00659, Puerto Rico
This woman-owned artisanal aged-cheese producer was on the front wave of what is an increasingly vibrant local food movement. Wanda Otero, a microbiologist, decided to start her business in part to offer Puerto Ricans an alternative to expensive...
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1 Calle Gonzalo Marin, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico
The reason for the name of Mugs Restaurant remains a mystery to me, but I want its amazing food to be a mystery to no man. As soon as I entered, I was hooked at the sight of a wall filled with books about art, music, and literature. The menu...