Officially, Puerto Rico is part of the United States of America but than with lots of added Caribbean flavor! An ideal combination of culture, nice climate and easy access.
In this 360 we are at the San Felipe del Morro fort on a land tong at the entrance of the harbor of San Juan. Building started in 1539 by the Spanish to defend the water entrance and was named after king Philip II of Spain. In 1898, after repelling many intruders, it changed hands with the United States of America in the treaty of Paris. Until 1961, it remained an active military base and then turned into the national park that it is today.
The fort is well maintained but keeps its old historic feeling. It has a view rather large iguanas as inhabitants. One unfortunately just scattered away before taking this picture. You can visit this fort and the castle of San Cristobal on the other side of historic San Juan – about a 20 minute walk away – for just 5 dollar
Behind me is the lighthouse which was build in 1908 (a replacement of the bombed one that was build in 1843). In my background you can see the Atlantic Ocean and if you turn left you see the water of the harbor in a lighter shade of blue. Believe me, it is a most admirable view to enter the harbor passing this fort. I can imagine its mighty sight must have scared of plenty of unwanted visitors.
These days the fort is a lot more tourist friendly as you can see by the white van parked in front of the fort if you turn slightly to the left. This train-like van brings visitors (free!) in between different tourist sights in San Juan and runs regularly. San Juan is slightly hilly with the fort being on the highest point. But the streets are definitely worth wondering through to see old colonial buildings mixed with tourist and American brand shops. So my tip would definitely be to get the little van-train to the fort and wonder downwards on feet towards the harbor.
If you turn with us to the left you see the large green fields where you can enjoy the sun and the sights around you. But mind your hat because it is very windy. That is why it is also used as a large field for flying kites. While we were there a few classes of kids where running around with their kites dancing through the sky.
Down the yellow path you see about half way a small dark statue. This is a monument for Juan de Amezquita who defended San Juan in 1625 against an attack from the Dutch. And further to the left, the building with the red dome near the sea is the entrance to the Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi.
El Yunque Rainforest – Puerto Rico
A different site to Puerto Rico is the El Yunque Rainforest. The only Tropical Rainforest in the national park system of the United States makes it special already. And it truly is a amazing place. After about an hour drive from San Juan up a mountain, you find yourself surrounded by all shades of green. We were lucky with a sunny day, but being a rainforest you can expect rain or at least moist.
The narrow but well maintained pathways have been constructed in the 30’s by Civilian Conservations Corps. So as you can see you have to walk behind each other and carefully pass oncoming traffic. Since the forest lays on a mountain the best suggestion is to get dropped of at the top and walk your way down where your driver will pick you up.
We did a guided tour so we were told about all the wonderful things nature showed us. But even on your own it is a really good walk. Very peaceful with parts of the trail beside rippling rivers like the one on the picture. At other parts you are surrounded by trees and ferns as big as yourself.
All around you, you hear bird life and the local frog -named Coqui- which sounds like a cricket. And you can spot some birds and lizards along side the path in the trees. A true tranquil afternoon to actively relax on your trip to Puerto Rico.