Puerto Rico is also known as “The Spanish Virgin Islands,” and it’s not hard to see why!
Old San Juan is one of the best places in all of Puerto Rico,with over 500 years of history, beautiful colonial architecture liberally splashed with tropical colors and a timeless magic that makes it one of the most enchanting destinations in the Caribbean. You could spend many happy hours just walking around the walled city.
Perhaps nothing captures the history of Puerto Rico more than Old San Juan’s massive fortresses. El Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal are among the most visited attractions on the island, for good reason. Their cannons, ramparts, and layered defenses have guarded the walled city for centuries.
Paseo La Princesa is a broad promenade that stretches from near the docks at the foot of the city and leads to the lovely Raíces Fountain. You’re likely to find all kinds of stalls lining the road, and maybe even a free cultural performance to enjoy. Paseo La Princesa hugs the old perimeter wall of the city, and beyond the fountain continues around Old San Juan to the San Juan Gate, the only remaining of five entry points into the old city.
The old city is known as a shopping destination, as it is a haven for artists, and it houses numerous art galleries that are well worth a look. Leading the list is the outstanding Galería Botello, but it’s not the only place to showcase fine local and regional works.
One of the earliest structures in the old city, La Casa Blanca was both its earliest fortress and home to its earliest ruling family. You might have heard of the man who made his legacy the search for the mythical Fountain of Youth, Ponce de León. Before he went chasing immortality he built this home, and his family lived here for 200 years. Today, the home is a wonderful trip back through the ages, and one of the cultural highlights of Old San Juan.
Dining in Puerto Rico is usually a rewarding experience, whether you’re after local Rican classics, gourmet international cuisine, or a delightfully inventive fusion of Caribbean and global flavors. In Old San Juan, Fortaleza Street has carved out a reputation as a Restaurant Row that includes some of the best restaurants in town. In fact, South Fortaleza, or “SoFo,” as it’s known, even has its own biannual culinary festival. Here, you will find places like The Parrot Club, Dragonfly and Aguaviva. Of course, you don’t need to restrict yourself to Fortaleza Street to enjoy good food in the old city. One great example of this is Carli’s Bistro, with it’s excellent cuisine and live jazz music, classy atmosphere, top notch service and Fausto, the Mojito Award winning bartender.
Old San Juan is a city known for its active nightlife. Whether you prefer the chic lounge scene (try Dragonfly or Marmalade), or multi-level discos (Club Lazer), Old San Juan doesn’t feel so old once the sun goes down.
Outside of San Juan, there are many destinations for nature and spa lovers. You can enjoy one of the spas at the many world class resorts, explore the cave system of Cavernas Camuy, enjoy a beach walk and swim at the stunningly beautiful Mar Chiquita, and learn about the ancient Taino Indian culture.
La RutaTaína runs north to south, from Arecibo to Ponce, passing through the towns of Utuado, Jayuya and Adjuntas. Along the way, visitors will discover the oldest ceremonial centers in the Caribbean, indigenous petroglyphs, villages, tombs, museums and legends, as well as caves, beaches and natural reserves.
Home of the world’s longest zipline, Toro Verde Ecological Adventure Park is an exciting day trip for thrill-seeking family visiting Puerto Rico. Toro Verde (“green bull”) is an ecological adventure park that offers some of the most breathtaking views of Puerto Rico’s mountainous jungle. Explore via ziplines, American Ninja Warrior-style mazes and suspended bridges that look like something out of Indiana Jones.
Icacos Island is the perfect place to go to when you are looking to get some quiet time or go on a snorkeling adventure. The coral reefs are packed with interesting aquatic life – you’ll see tropical fish and stingrays by the dozen.
The Cape San Juan Light was first lit up in 1882 and is also located within the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. In 1898, the lighthouse played a major role in the Battle of Fajardo during the Puerto Rican Campaign of the Spanish–American War. The reserve has rare flora and fauna, a bioluminescent bay and a research center. There are also several trails and boardwalks that make exploring the reserve easier. Seven different ecological systems can be found here, including beaches, lagoons, dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves.
The waters within Las Croabas Lagoon are home to a natural underwater light show. There are about 500,000 to 700,000 bio luminescent plankton swimming within the lagoon and just simply running your hand through the water sets off their glow.
El Yunque National Rainforest is the only rainforest that can be found on United States soil. At the elevation point of 3,088 ft there is a lookout tower that has a view that’ll take your breath away. You have the option to drive through the forest, or take the Mount Britton hiking trail, which has three rest stops where you can relax and take pictures of the rarely seen Puerto Rican parrot or the indigenous coquis tree frogs.
Experience the Zen of the Caribbean at the world-renowned Waldorf Astoria Spa. Choose from a selection of unique services, packages and treatments. Invigorate the senses with a Rainforest Facial, indulge in a sensual Asian-Inspired Massage, or rejuvenate your mind with a meditative stroll along the Labyrinth. Spend a leisurely afternoon in a traditional Japanese bath or challenge your fitness in the state-of-the-art Fitness Center.
Play a round of golf on the luscious greens of the 18-hole, par 72 Arthur Hills designed golf course. Take in the natural beauty of the azure ocean and lush landscape, test your skills with challenging elevation changes, and seek expert instruction from a PGA instructor.
The Cordillera Reef Nature Reserve is formed by a string of small islands, keys and coral reefs off the eastern-northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, covering nearly 18 nautical miles and an area of 120 square kilometers. Warm and clear waters in La Cordillera allow the presence of a great variety of fish species in the area. Sea grass beds provide nursing and feeding grounds for many marine organisms such as the Queen Conch, sea cucumbers, starfish and many juvenile fish. The coral reefs at La Cordillera, are considered among the highest quality for the diversity of species present, and the level of live coral found. Manatees and sea turtles can also be found in La Cordillera.
The ultimate tropical paradise has to be Culebra Island, a quiet little island that is loved by sailors, beach-goers, and snorkelers alike. Known to locals as Isla Chiquita (little island), miles of gorgeous coastline make it hard to remember just how small this island really is. One of the few islands in the Caribbean to remain untouched by the effects of tourism, Culebra is a luxurious and beautifully green place to relax for the day.
Today, the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 1,480 acres across the 23 barrier islands of Culebra, as well as four distinct sections of the mainland. The refuge is noted as a major seabird and sea turtle habitat and tropical ecosystem preserve. The one-mile Culebrita Island is a y-shaped coral island divided into three branches, located along the Frailes area of Culebra’s barrier islands. As an uninhabited wildlife preserve, the island is only accessible via private boat for day excursions.
More than ninety-seven plant species are found within the island. Thirty-eight animal species are also native to the island, including the endangered brown pelican, white-cheeked pintail, and green and hawksbill sea turtles. Passerine bird species, reptiles, and waterfowl are also common to the island and use it as a seasonal nesting habitat.
The island’s natural landscape is diverse, featuring a variety of beach, forest, lagoon, and cliff areas. Six beach areas are located on the island, including the Playa Tortuga area, also known as Turtle Beach, located on the island’s north side. Named for its large population of sea turtles, the beach features a white sand cove and offers snorkeling opportunities for visitors. Two shallow lagoons, Laguna de Molino and the Eastern Tidal Flat, are located on the island’s west side, and two rock formation tidal pools are part of the island’s eastern area, offering jacuzzi-like opportunities for swimming, lounging, and relaxation.
There are many wonderful beaches on Vieques Island, along with great snorkeling and scuba diving. This tropical getaway is more than just its natural beauty and aquatic adventures. There are colonial-era ruins, abandoned naval facilities, wonders of nature, and plenty of other activities to enjoy on this island. If you want to go horseback riding, Penny at the Sea Gate Hotel is a wonderful resource — she established the Vieques Humane Society and organizes riding tours of the island.
Vieques has the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. The ‘Bahia Fosforescente’ could be listed as the eighth natural wonder of the world. Bioluminescence is a natural defense system. When the protozoans are being attacked, the movement in the water excites them resulting in a chemical reaction that produces light. The light attracts bigger predators that feed on the smaller creatures that eat the protozoans.
Sun Bay beach is a 2-mile crescent of light-colored sand with blue Caribbean water separating you from the little islands off in the distance. It has all the makings of a picture-postcard and a lovely day. There are palms and other types of trees that provide shade all along the beach. A roped-off swimming area with lifeguards allows for easy and safe swimming. It has been designated a prestigious Blue Flag Beach.
You can choose to do marina-based game fishing from San Juan Bay Marina and/or Puerto Del Rey, cruise the “Spanish Virgin Islands” (Puerto Rico, Culebra, Culebrita and Vieques), or enjoy a combination of both fishing and cruising.
One Net’s crew will meet you at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport with the owner’s traditional champagne welcome. After settling in aboard One Net, you can enjoy lunch as we head out for a day of fishing offshore, river fishing for tarpon, or enjoy some of the many activities in the area. You can have dinner aboard, before experiencing Old San Juan at night, or we can arrange for you to dine at one of the many fine restaurants here.
We leave San Juan and drop anchor at Icacos Island, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, a beach walk and lunch. From there, we head for an anchorage at Ensenada Honda, in Culebra, where you can have dinner aboard, or in Culebra. There are casual restaurants, like the Dinghy Dock, a local favorite, or you can choose “island”fine dining at El Eden.
You can enjoy one of Culebra’s beautiful beaches, like Playa Flamingo, or take an eco-tour of Culebrita, have lunch aboard One Net, then take a scuba or snorkeling tour, followed by dinner aboard or shore side!
Leaving Culebra, we make way for an anchorage at Sun Bay in Vieques. After lunch aboard, or on the beach, you can enjoy the award-winning Sun Beach and go for a horseback ride, followed by dinner aboard or at El Quenepo, then a night time kayak or electric boat tour of the ‘Bahia Fosforescente’!
We leave Vieques, and head for Puerto Del Rey, near Fajardo, where you can explore El Yunque, the rain forest, have a spa day at the Waldorf Astoria, play a round of golf at the Arthur Hill designed 18-hole golf course, or we can anchor at Cayo Lobos and spend the day fishing, swimming and snorkeling at La Cordillera Natural Reserve. As always, you can choose to dine aboard One Net, or we can arrange for you to dine ashore.
We depart Puerto Del Rey and fish our way back to San Juan Bay Marina. Here, you can get in any “last minute” shopping before you leave to catch your departing flight, or you may want us to arrange shoreside lodging for you, so you can explore Old San Juan more in depth before you leave!