I have been a proclaimed travel addict since the ripe age of ten. It was then that my family moved to England and spent the better part of two years traveling Western Europe.
Bavaria's flower-filled forests were the stuff of my childhood fairytales. Quaint English villages jumped from the pages of Dickens and Beatrix Potter. Spain's palatial cathedrals left me in awe of classical architecture. That move was seminal. It left me with a fervent desire to cover the globe with my footsteps.
Visiting la isla del encanto, or "the island of enchantment," is like going home for my family and I. We were most recently there during Christmas 2008 and visited Old San Juan, El Yunque National Forest, the surf beaches of Rincon
and the coffee plantations in Maricao.
Tourists expect emerald waters and pristine beaches, but Puerto Rico offers a wide variety of topographical climates. The eastern side of the island boasts tropical flora and beaches, whereas the western side of the island is desert. The mountain range in the center of the island blocks precipitation from moving to the west and is home to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. To learn more about the rainforest, visit the El Yunque Web site.
There is something for everyone in Puerto Rico. The island provides a relaxing beach experience for those looking to lounge, but it is also a paradise for sportsmen. Scuba diving, fishing, rock climbing, caving, horseback riding, boating, hiking, golf and tennis are among the most popular outdoor activities.
The food itself is worth a visit. A typical meal would include slow-roasted pork (lechon) served with red beans and rice. Fried, salted plaintain cakes (tostones) are a staple, as is the local coffee and spiced rum. Visit the Puerto Rico Tourism Company site for more information about the "island of enchantment."