With its rainbow casas and its lively terraces, San Juan shows off to cruise passengers and visitors who come to visit. Halfway between Caribbean charms and American comforts, there is an array of offered activities, from its festive capital to humid and tropical areas around the rest of the island of Puerto Rico, home to a rich fauna and dense flora, as well as coffee plantations at the foot of the Cordillera Central. Let’s explore picturesque San Juan for your next short stopover!
About San Juan, Puerto Rico
East of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico is a free associate state of the United States made up of a population of 4 million Puerto Ricans who speak English and Spanish. Spanish, African and, of course, American influences offer it a captivating island mix.
San Juan, the capital, is often the starting point for cruise passengers to the Caribbean, particularly because of its proximity to the US and British Virgin Islands. San Juan’s harbour area is popular for its convenient location at the foot of the old town. It’s only a short taxi ride to reach your ship from your hotel or airport!
Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, colonial San Juan can be visited on foot, to the rhythm of the music that leaks through the windows of its many bars, restaurants, shops and trendy art galleries. The salsa notes ignite the discos at night and tasting the local flavours is a must, such as roast pork or seafood of unparalleled freshness. Admire the Spanish Gothic church of San José or continue your hike along the Paseo de la Princesa promenade to reach La Fortaleza, the official residence of the Puerto Rican governor. Wander aimlessly along its streets lined with multicoloured facades and soak up the atmosphere that makes San Juan such a pleasant port of call.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Perched on its panoramic promontory, the military stronghold of San Felipe del Morro dominates the bay of San Juan. Its foundations date back to the sixteenth century, but it was not completed until two and a half centuries later. Attacked many times, it was well preserved and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Focal point of a stopover in San Juan, an incursion between its walls is essential!
El Yunque Rainforest
Travellers with a love for insects, plants and animals in the jungle will appreciate El Yunque Park, a 29,000-acre protected area that is a pleasant one-day getaway (45-minute drive from San Juan). Peaceful site perfect before or after a lively cruise, it’s a completely different side of Puerto Rico!
For a break from the warm rays of the sun or on rare days of rain, the smallest island of the Greater Antilles also offers excellent museums, such as the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, which host international exhibits. It is also possible to visit the distillery of the famous Bacardi rum or set off on a zipline at Toroverde Nature Adventure Park.
Cover photo credits: Prayitno