destination is definitely not for the traveler who likes to conquer an entire island in a
10-day vacation, for it would probably take months to experience the extraordinary variety
of sights, sports, and sensations packed into Puerto Rico's 3,500 square miles. Likewise,
it would be wasted on the dedicated beach potato who desires nothing more than a hammock
and a shady palm.
Admittedly, Puerto Rico is skirted by
nearly 300 miles of grand sparkling beaches, including - for those who want a Miami-style
getaway with a Latin twist - an ample supply of self-contained luxury resorts. But the
wise visitor to this cosmopolitan commonwealth takes time out from the ever-present sun to
pursue the island's other charms, beginning perhaps with the historic majesty of San Juan
(the capital) and Ponce. Cathedrals, museums, and stately Spanish squares abound - many
sumptuously restored for Puerto Rico's 1993 quincentennial. Shopping and dining combine
the best of Old World and New, while the nightlife, both in the cities and at the finer
resorts, is a neon kaleidoscope of casinos, discos, and shows.
weather here is near perfect: rarely too hot, with breezes cooled and scented by the
florid mountain interior. Spring months are driest, though even at wetter times the
rainstorms are fleeting. And roads have improved in recent years, so getting around is
fairly easy. (Encourage clients visiting southern sites to sample Puerto Rico's
astonishingly scenic Ruta Panoramica, more than 150 miles of tropical pageantry.)
Botanists and birdwatchers flock to El Yunque, a 28,000-acre national forest worthy of
Brazil, and Mona, an uninhabited island paradise west of Mayaguez. Diving devotees prefer
the unspoiled islands off Puerto Rico's east coast. Are your clients armchair astronomers?
Arecibo Observatory houses the world's largest radar-radio telescope. Music lovers? Send
them in June, for the Casals Music Festival. Surfers? The heady waves north of Rincon have
a loyal following.
lodging and sports are varied. Far from the glamour of the high-rise resorts, sweetly
secluded countryinns - paradores - nestle amid mountainside coffee plantations, complete
with stables, while clubby retreats command beaches all their own. There's no shortage of
tenniscourts and golf courses, and the wide array of aquaplay includes deep-sea fishing,
snorkeling, and sailing. If there's any place tropical that's truly a
something-for-everyone cure-all, Puerto Rico is it.