Destination: Puerto Rico part 2

I covered food, lodging and relaxing in Puerto Rico earlier in part 1. If you plan to visit the island, I recommend putting these activities on your itinerary for adults and families alike.

Old San Juan

We spent half a day exploring Old San Juan. It is the second oldest city in the Americas, so it's well worth a visit. There you will find churches, plazas, museums, restaurants and many historical sites from the Spanish empire. Because our time was limited, we strolled around the town's very narrow windy roads -- some with original cobblestones -- and took a tour of Fort El Morro, which was Puerto Rico's chief defense site for several centuries. It is now maintained by the U.S. National Park Service.

The fortress stands 140 feet above the Atlantic with 40-foot thick walls. 

 {sentry box}

{U.S., Puerto Rico and Spanish Empire flags float over the fort}

 {inside the fort -- a room with an incredible view}

At the fort base you get a nice view of the Caribbean-style row houses painted vibrant colors.

My fave…

Some interesting architectural details…

Mermaids are popular…

{nice patina on door hardware -- love the mermaid knocker}

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

Located in Fajardo just a few miles down the road from our hotel,  Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is a great way to learn about Puerto Rico's ecology, especially for school-aged children. Tours cover three important ecosystems: mangrove swamp, dry forest and rocky coastline. We took two tours  -- a day tour and a night tour. You are transported through the park in open trams and hop out at several points to walk on boardwalks around the lagoon, the beach and lighthouse. The mangrove swamp is one of the most diverse and predominant ecosystems on the island. The night tour covered pretty much the same route as the day tour, but focused on light pollution and bioluminescence with a stop at a sandy beach. The bioluminescent bay is a must see if you travel to Puerto Rico. You can visit bio bays in Fajardo, as well as Vieques and Lajas. Unfortunately, it was too dark to get any good photos. Star gazing from the lighthouse observation deck at night is spectacular.

My favorite part of both tours was visiting the Cape San Juan Light House located within the reserve. Built in 1880, it is one of the many lighthouses Spaniards built around the perimeter of Puerto Rico. In addition to its setting, it is an architectural gem now owned and recently renovated by the Puerto Rican Conservation Trust.

{as first glance, this logo has a striking resemblance to the City of Decatur's -- my home town}

Let's take a look.


{i love the color palette of the facade -- vibrant green and blue grays}

{the tower -- notice the green door up top leading out to the observation deck}

Come on in...

{beautiful view of the lagoon -- with a few modern conveniences added, I could see myself living in the lighthouse}

You can handle sea creatures in the touch tank on the first floor...

After an educational program, you are free to climb the antique winding iron staircase to the observation deck. From there you can view the 316-acre reserve, as well as the ocean dotted with islets. On a clear day you can see St. Thomas.

{beautiful staircase}

A closer look…

Next stop: the stunning, unspoiled rocky beach...

Lush sea grape bushes surround the area. They are so pretty and the grapes are edible, although I didn't sample any.

{rocky coastline -- important ecosystem}

Sea treasures abound. Perfect for kids to build with…


{brain coral}

{sea fans}

That's it. There are many more things to do in Puerto Rico. Researching the area will help you make the most of your time on the island.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

1 comment:

  1. You have a great eye! Such lovely photographs. Totally adding Puerto Rico to the travel list!


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