February 18, 2011

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898 when Spain lost it to the US during the Spanish-American war. Keeping this history in mind, one of the coolest things you’ll see in Old Town San Juan (the capital) is the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, an ocean-facing 16th century fort with super-thick walls (as thick as 18 feet / 5.5 meters) and cannons for defence against seabourn attackers.

We also got our ATVs on in the rainforest, which was not very far at all from San Juan. Really most of the Island has rainforest-like topography so this is not too difficult to find.

We had rented a car which made moving around the Island all the easier, and we recommend doing this because it’s relatively cheap, the roads and traffic are easily navigable and it affords you flexibility that is especially precious on short trips (4-5 days in our case).

A rental car was especially useful to make it to the famous bioluminescent lagoon which is in Fajardo, nearly 40 miles from San Juan. We kayaked in the lagoon which is full of dinoflagellates, tiny plankton that emit light when the water around them is disturbed. This meant the water around your kayak oar appeared to be full of glittering diamonds as you rowed through the lagoon. It also meant you could see fish swimming through the water even in pitch darkness! I’m a fisherman so when I saw these submarine comets flying all around our kayak, I was ready to fish! Alas, no rod rental facility was available so maybe next time. You could even tell the size of the fish based on the size of the underwater comet! Sigh! On another note, kayaking is hard! Definitely requiring better synchronization than canoeing.

All through the trip, we sampled pretty decent food at the more-hyped restaurants of San Juan and did alot of strolling. I brought fins and a snorkle so took in some snorkling, launching from the beach in front of our hotel. With the exception of a lone stingray, I didn’t see anything exciting but at least there were fish. Puerto Rico receives strong and consistent Northeastery trade winds so I got my basic Kitesurfing certification over two days, issued by IKO. We also took a tour of the Bacardi factory.