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A Puerto Rico travel guide – miles of white sand beaches, luxury resorts and shopping bargains

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A holiday in Puerto Rico combines pampered beachside days with old-world culture and rainforest hikes. Book a Puerto Rico hotel and discover an island of gorgeous sandy beaches, preserved colonial neighbourhoods and hearty food.

Get your bearings

Puerto Rico sits in the north-eastern Caribbean, just east of the Dominican Republic. Windswept white-sand beaches ring the island and volcanic mountains and lush rainforests fill its interior. San Juan, the island’s buzzing capital, preserves Puerto Rico’s Spanish heritage in its colonial neighbourhoods, especially in Old San Juan. In the north-west, rivers flow down from the mountains past tiny towns like Rincon and Arecibo. Here, surfers ride waves and cavers explore Rio Camuy Cave Park. East of San Juan, the verdant El Yunque National Forest draws hikers to cascading waterfalls. The southern part of the island is home to natural wonders like the tiny glowing plankton of Phosphorescent Bay.

Activities in and out of the water

San Juaneros head to the golden sands of Isla Verda Beach to swim and snorkel in the calm, clear waters. At nearby Luquillo Beach, windsurfers jump the blues waves. Those with surfboards head west to the clean breaks of Rincon. Scuba divers opt for the south-eastern coast where underwater caves and unspoiled reefs reveal a rainbow of colourful sea life. Rare birds and varied flora draw hikers to the sprawling jungle of El Yunque National Forests.

Eating and drinking local

Local vegetables dominate the menus in Puerto Rican restaurants. There are fried green plantains, red beans and rice, and yams baked or stuffed and peppered in garlic, onion and oregano. Meat eaters opt for the enceballado (steak smothered in onions) or sancocho (beef and tuber soup). For seafood lovers, Caribbean lobster is softer and sweeter than its Maine counterpart. Finish with coffee con leche or a dark Puerto Rican rum on ice. 

Bargain shopping

Expect to find myriad bargains in Puerto Rico among the luxury goods and local crafts. Avenida Ashford in Condado in San Juan is bursting with couture emporiums and bookshops; jewellery boutiques fill Old San Juan. Special treasures and colourful carnival masks are best found in the craft shops of the outer hamlets. 

Luxury living

Pamper yourself on a break in Puerto Rico with your own villa on a private beach in San Juan or Ricon. Most have an onsite spa, where you can indulge in tantalising treatments like massages for couples or body wraps. Stylish colonial terraces serve up mouth-watering mahimahi (dolphin fish) dinners. Play 18 holes on groomed greens overlooking the sparkling blue Caribbean or enjoy a romantic swim in a private plunge pool for two.