Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Puerto Rico Vacation: What to do when On An Exotic Island Surrounded By Beaches / Video: Scuba Diving Gran Canaria

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San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico, a popular tourist destination island in the Caribbean. The city of San Juan was founded in 1521 and is known as La Ciudad Amurallada, meaning the walled city. San Juan is the biggest natural harbor in the Caribbean and the second oldest city in the Americas. The city is a major port and tourist resort and the oldest city under the flag of the United States.

The Spanish made San Juan the focal point for trade during the 16th century and fortified the entire city, now known as Old San Juan. The city has now expanded beyond its walled confines and incorporates suburban Miramar, Santurce, Condado, Hato Rey and Rio Piedras. Today, San Juan is the largest processing center for petroleum, as well as known for sugar refining, brewing and distilling. Cement, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries have been set up, which make it one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean, and the second largest sea port in the area, after New York City. San Juan is also the financial capital of Puerto Rico with many U.S. banks and corporations having set up offices there in recent times.

The city of Old San Juan was originally a military stronghold. It is now a charming residential and commercial district with streets paved with cobbles of blue stone. Over 400 carefully restored 16th century Spanish colonial buildings line the city. Tourists seeking an experience of old world charm flock to the city every year.

What is there to do when you are on a Caribbean island and practically surrounded by beaches? If you're a perfectly rational human being, then the ideal answer would be to throw off those shoes and go crazy in the water.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, there's so much room for beach adventures. For one, the tropical climate is on your side. The average annual temperature is 82 F (28 C) and it almost never goes below 64 F or above 97 F. With a great weather, it's almost impossible not to enjoy San Juan's clear waters and white sand.

Isla Verde is the premier beach destination in San Juan. Stretching for miles along the city coastline, Isla Verde Beach lies in front of numerous luxury hotels, condominiums, restaurants, clubs, guesthouses, upscale apartments, parks, and even a cemetery.

Although you can still read or take a nap here, this beach is not your ideal location if you're looking for a tranquil and deserted getaway. There's not much crowd on weekdays but people come in droves during the weekends and Isla Verde becomes a hub of water activities. The surf is good enough for body surfing or you can venture further into the sea with parasailing, jetskiing, and water skiing. Nearby sports shops offer equipment for rent. Beachfront hotels and resorts in Isla Verde also feature various facilities for water sports.

Fishing is another popular water sport in San Juan. Most anglers here practice the catch-and-release system though so the farthest you can get for a souvenir catch is a picture of the fish. A common style here is deep sea fishing. The most abundant species in these parts of the Caribbean are allison tuna, sailfish, wahoo, and mackerel. Thanks to the island's tropical climate, fishing is good all year you have more chances of catching tuna, dolphin, wahoo, sailfish and other species during the months of October to early March.

San Juan has a lot of marine charters that offer a half-day or full day fishing trip. Boats often range from 32-50 feet and can take in about six passengers along with two to four fishing crew. Deep water is close to shore so you can usually start fishing within half an hour of leaving port. A half-day tour package can cost $480-$500, a six-hour trip ranges from $650-$700, and a whole day of fishing costs anywhere from $850 to $1,000. These fees are already inclusive of fishing equipment, beverages, and services of captain and mate.

Scuba diving and snorkeling are must-do activities as well in Puerto Rico. The visibility is at least 60 to 75 feet in areas nearer to the beach but it can be up to 100 feet offshore. Diving sites in San Juan feature awe-inspiring marine diversity and picturesque geographical formations. Other impressive dive sites are 50 miles west of Mayaguez, near Desecheo Island off Rincon, off Mona Island, and off Culebra and Vieques. There's no reason to panic even if you're a newbie in diving. Some hotels and resorts offer diving lessons for beginners. As for snorkeling, the shallow reefs in San Juan are more than enough to dazzle you with awesome underwater scenery. A good snorkeling location is in the bay marina near the Caribe Hilton hotel.

Imagine visiting a place with exotic flair, stunning beaches, and a rich and varied culture, and being welcomed as an American citizen at the same time. You’ll have the chance to sample the food, language, music, and architecture of what has become the melding of several continents without having to acquire a passport or learn a new language. In Puerto Rico, everything is here, and it couldn’t be easier to take it all in.

Located in the southern Caribbean Sea southeast of Florida, this U.S. commonwealth contains a richness of elements unparalleled by most other places of its size. Nearly four million people call Puerto Rico home, and most are able to trace their lineage back through hundreds of tumultuous years. Whether their ancestors hail from Spain, France, Scotland, The Dominican Republic, Cuba, or somewhere else, the citizens of this densely populated territory all proudly call themselves “Puertorriquenos.” A visit to this island will give you a glimpse of an indisputably colorful tale of immigration, hopefulness, and ultimately, racial and ethnic harmony.

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