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In April this year I had the fortunate chance to spend a week in Puerto Rico with my partner. Apart from the famous West Side Story references, I wasn’t too familiar with this Caribbean Island and knew nothing of the exotic natural treasures awaiting me. To put matters straight, yes, Puerto Rico is technically part of the USA. However it has a distinctly Latin American essence to it and I felt more as though I were back in Colombia or Costa Rica than any American state. Salsa music, rum, colonial architecture and lively Spanish conversation are all quintessential aspects of the Puerto Rican culture.
Our first five days were spent relaxing on the beaches of the north eastern coast of Puerto Rico. This was idyllic Caribbean dreaming at its best. The bright blue sea and striking white sand were like something straight off the pages of a holiday brochure, and experiencing the view from our private balcony for the first time was a real pinch-yourself moment. We stayed at El Conquistador resort which gave us the added option of spending our days on the resort’s private island – Palomino Island. This is a hotspot for sunbathers and watersports enthusiasts alike, and there are plenty of beachside games such as crazy golf, boules and basketball to keep guests entertained.
One fantastic experience in this region was the night-time kayaking in the bio-luminescent bay. This involved kayaking through mangrove in the pitch-black of night, following only the twinkling tail lights from the kayaks in front of us. Finally we reached a vast, clear lagoon. As we ran our hands and oars through the warm water the bioluminescent plankton sparkled like fireflies. Visibility for us was low, and this was not the glowing turquoise water that we had seen in pictures, however the night-time kayaking excursion as a whole was an exhilarating experience nonetheless.
To end the trip on a high, we spent the last two days in the capital city of San Juan. The Old Town district is a picturesque maze of narrow cobbled streets and colourful colonial buildings where we spent several hours wandering around and soaking up the history. With its strategically-important coastal location, San Juan has been fought over by many a navy over the centuries. This history is evident in the remaining fortresses, town walls and look out points that can still be visited. San Juan is not short of nightlife either, and from many of the city’s rooftop bars it is possible to have an almost 360 degree view over the surrounding ocean, ideal for a sunset cocktail. This was the perfect way to spend our last few hours in this most culturally vibrant of Caribbean Islands.