Celeste Forrest, Staff Writer
Are you tired of winter, dry legs, chapped lips, chilling winds and pitiful snow that does not give you snow days? If you answered yes to one of those questions, all of those questions or none at all, you sound like a person in need of a vacation!
A vacation, you say? Exactly where, you ask?
Well, look no further than the luscious jungles and sparkling, aquamarine waves of the “Island of Enchantment”—also known as Puerto Rico! If you’re not convinced that a tropical island paradise is for you, here are the top eight reasons why you need to pack your bags and take the next flight down to the Caribbean as soon as (realistically) possible.
1. The Geographical Location is Perfect!
Puerto Rico is a tiny rectangular island on the far east side of the Caribbean with plenty of rain forests, beaches and mountains to explore. Puerto Rico’s next-door-neighbor on the west side is the Dominican Republic, and far across the Atlantic Ocean on the east side is Africa! Because it is so far out in the Caribbean, the waters on each side of the island are very different. On the north, the ocean is very wild and perfect for surfing, while the waters to the south are warm and calming.
2. Go for the Weather!
The weather averages around 80 degrees year around. However, with the temperate, misty mountain winds mixed with the mild breezes of the ocean, it never gets too hot, nor too cold. If you love the sweet smell of fresh mountain rain, feel free to travel to the lush mountains, where you can sit back and relax to the sound of the rain falling on palm leaves.
3. One word: FOOD!
One thing you will never get enough of is Puerto Rican cuisine. Many Puerto Ricans can trace their roots back to Spain, Africa and the Tainos (the natives of the island), and the food is a fine reflection of the island’s rich culture and diversity. In typical Puerto Rican food, you will find many seafood dishes flavored with garlic, cilantro and a bit of a special seasoning called sofrito (a special sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and other herbs). Also you will find lechon asado (marinated pork, often roasted over a fire), platanitos (sliced, fried plantain chips) and pasteles (similar to the Mexican tamale, but made with plantains and stuffed with minced meat or potatoes).
4. Picture Perfect Beaches!
The beaches in Puerto Rico will take your breath away. Imagine lying under a palm tree as the sun kissed air tussles your hair. The cerulean blue waves lap against the surface of sparkling white sand decorated with colorful shells and polished stones while you’re sipping freshly squeezed mango juice with a little pink umbrella. Now that’s paradise!
5. The Culture is Beautiful!
Puerto Rico is rich with culture. There is not one “pure” Puerto Rican in Puerto Rico, because everyone is a mix of European, African and Native American ancestry. Because of this, Puerto Rico is a multicultural world, and you will find a little bit of everything in their traditional dance, music, food and art. If you are a lover of cultures, Puerto Rico is the place to be.
6. Be Captivated by Nature!
Puerto Rico is extremely photogenic, and that can be proven by the vibrant, colorful flowers that grow in the mountains, the cascading waterfalls, the tropical rainforests and, of course, the beaches! One spectacular must-see place is El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s largest rainforest reserve and home to some of the rarest and most exotic wildlife of the Caribbean. If you’re looking for a magical night, visit The Bioluminescent Bay, known for a special kind of plankton that triggers a chemical reaction in the water. The chemical reaction creates an emerald and ultramarine glow in the ocean!
7. Walk in their Footsteps!
One of the abounding mysteries of Puerto Rico revolves around the people who first lived there—the Tainos. In Puerto Rico, you can walk in the footsteps of the natives that once dominated the island. Visit The Cemi Museum and immerse yourself in the world and daily life of the Taino Indians.
8. You will feel at home!
The people of Puerto Rico are very generous and friendly and will embrace you not only as a visitor but as a friend. Puerto Ricans are very open and will freely talk with you about anything. There is a reason why Puerto Rico is called the “Island of Enchantment:” its scenic ocean views, diverse history and flavorful culture are sure to leave you spellbound. Whether or not you are a native, a returning visitor or complete stranger, Puerto Rico will sure make you feel at home.