10 Sep Puerto Rico Beyond the Beach
If you’re headed to Puerto Rico for vacation, chances are you have already researched the best beaches on the island. You’ve probably come across names like Playa Caracas, Playa Peña Blanca and Flamenco Beach. However, man and woman cannot live by beach alone, so if you want something else to do while visiting this magical place, consider some out-of-the-way, not-so-touristy activities.
Catch a Game
If you happen to be on the island during baseball season, grab your best baseball gloves and try to catch one of Puerto Rico’s five local teams – all part of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente league, originally founded in 1938. The winner of the league play goes on to compete with other Latin American teams in the Caribbean Series. For an intimate game, go root for the Aguadilla Sharks who play in the 5000-seat Luis A. Canena Marquez Stadium on the northwestern edge of the island.
Commune with Aliens
Set in a limestone sinkhole, the Arecibo Observatory is a world-renowned radio telescope which first opened in 1963. While not as flashy or as well-known as optical telescopes, these 40,000 aluminum panels collect data on planets in our solar system as well as pulses emitted from galaxies millions of light years away. Famous American astronomer Carl Sagan even used the Arecibo telescope to send a friendly message into space just in case there was anyone else out there. Enjoy a 30-minute tour and various educational displays while visiting the observatory.
Observe the Monkeys
If you prefer a more earth-bound science, consider taking a short trip to Cayo Santiago Island, half a mile off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Founded in 1938 as a research island for hundreds of rhesus macaques, the island, now run by the Caribbean Primate Research Center, is a haven for their descendants. It’s a rare treat to visit this island, so if you’re intrigued at the idea of observing this intelligent species, get in touch with CPRC weeks before your planned visit.
Slake Your Thirst
Just a ferry ride across the Bahía de San Juan from the El Morro citadel, sits Casa Bacardí, the mother of all rum distilleries. The building itself is an excellent example of Caribbean Art Deco architecture, but the real fun lies within the variety of tours available. On the historical tour, you start with a drink, and then learn all about the Bacardí family’s arrival in Puerto Rico by way of Spain and Cuba and some of the secrets of the distilling process. The rum tasting tour needs no explanation, and the mixology class puts you in the center of the action where you learn to craft your very own rum-based drinks. Pick up a few bat-themed gifts for your friends who didn’t get to come on this awesome trip.
Heal Your Pain
After a day of drinking rum, a quick visit to Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud might be just the thing to make you feel better. Founded on the spot where a young man survived an unfortunate trip over the cliff in 1753, the small chapel is supposed to offer miracles of health and healing to the faithful. The church is kept sparkly clean by local ladies who open its doors on Tuesdays and religious holidays.
Find a Spirit
To continue your spiritual journey through Puerto Rico, visit El Cemi Museum dedicated to sacred Taíno artifacts You can’t miss the unusual stone building and the mouth-shaped entrance. A little farther down the road are some real Taíno stone carvings known as La Piedra Escrita.
Contrast Man and Nature
A failed US Navy evacuation of the population of the tiny island of Culebra left a lasting impression. Now sitting among the white sand beaches are a collection of tanks, too heavy to move when the Navy withdrew in the 1970s amid local protests. These heavy metal objects have become a palette for local artists.
Discovering the unexpected is half the fun of taking a vacation. Puerto Rico is just what you would expect in terms of beautiful beaches, but it has so much more to offer off the beaten path.