Country guides Caribbean
Puerto Rico is simply paradise, replete with pristine beaches lined with coconut palms, azure oceans and topped off with a gorgeous tropical climate. A Caribbean island with a difference, Puerto Rico's unmistakable Spanish colonial heritage mixes with its status as a United States territory. Its American customs dovetail nicely with its rich traditional Latin American culture, typified by the fact that hamburgers are as endemic as such island dishes as sancocho.
The second thing that makes Puerto Rico different from other Caribbean holiday Meccas is that it remains largely underdeveloped except for its coastal region around the capital, San Juan. The island's beaches are magnificent and mostly non-commercialised, meaning there's a chance for a more rustic island getaway. They're easily reached from San Juan and its myriad large resorts thanks to the island's relatively compact size.
Exploring Puerto Rico's coast and interior is a delight. Roads are excellent and there are numerous interesting attractions and unrivalled experiences, from one of the world's largest radio telescopes to the magical experience of swimming at night among tiny phosphorescent creatures on the offshore island of Vieques.
Puerto Rico, like many other Caribbean islands, was originally inhabited by Taino Indians until the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the instigation of Spanish rule and settlement. The island's capital and larger towns have preserved their Spanish heritage as tourist attractions, full of old charm and interest.
Along with its breathtaking scenery and wonderfully laid-back island atmosphere, Puerto Rico is a hybrid of old and new, which makes it an intriguing cultural destination rather than just another tropical island paradise.