Known all over the world for its beautiful beaches (there are 300) and the sun all year round, Puerto Rico in recent years has also become known for its naturalistic treasures, ideal in a historical period where social distancing and open spaces are important elements for safe tourism.
«Sustainability is a topic that is very close to our heart – explains Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico – an authentic green approach, which means protecting the country’s culture, traditions and wealth ».
The first pearl of the Caribbean island is the El Yunque National Rainforest, the only one of its kind in the United States. This natural treasure is an excellent destination if you want to immerse yourself in nature: it can be visited with various excursions following one of its many paths, bathing in the natural pools under the waterfalls or relaxing while enjoying the landscape. El Yunque, whose name derives from Yuke, a word used by the indigenous Taíno which means “white lands”, has an average rainfall of about 300 centimeters per year which guarantees a very diversified ecosystem and hosts hundreds of unique plant and animal species. , including the famous coquí frog symbol of the island. «It is a species of tree frog endemic to the island so named for the sound it emits – explains Dean -. In collaboration with the local environmental research and conservation organization Conservación ConCiencia, Discover Puerto Rico invites you to adopt this frog by making a donation to support the vast natural resources in which it inhabits.
The second pearl is represented by bioluminescent bays: in Puerto Rico there are three of the five in the world. The luminescence in the bay comes from a microorganism, the dinoflagellate Pyrodinium bahamense, which lights up every time the water is stirred, leaving a trail of blue neon. So when you paddle or splash the water, these organisms glow a neon blue-green color, and so does everything they come in contact with, giving the water a star-like reflection. Dinoflagellates can be found throughout the ocean; however, it is very rare that they live in concentrations high enough to be noticeable. To put this into perspective, there must be thousands and thousands of these single-celled organisms to make a liter of water light up.
The most important is the Mosquito Bay a Vieques, recognized in 2006 by the Guinness World Records as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. The lack of light pollution surrounding the Mosquito Bay Nature Reserve and the mangrove swamps that feed the plankton make this natural spectacle one of Puerto Rico’s true wonders.
The second destination for bioluminescence lovers is Laguna Grande to Fajardo, which of the three is the only one that is not technically a bay: the long, narrow channel that leads to the dazzling “glow-in-the-dark” water makes this body of water unique. It is the most visited bio-bay on the island because it is the closest to San Juan.
The third is the bay of La Parguera, located in Lajas on the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, the only one where speedboats can enter and exit. Some guided tours provide equipment for diving and swimming after dark. You can also take a glass-bottom boat ride and spend the night contemplating the organisms that make the bay glow.
Those who love nature and adventure cannot remain indifferent to Toro Verde Adventure Park: the park is located in the city of Orocovis, about an hour and 45 minutes from San Juan and hidden between mountains covered by a dense forest. The area boasts some of the most breathtaking mountain views on the island, and best of all, it includes two huge ziplines, The Beast nearly 1.5km long and The Monster, which with its 2.5 kilometers in length is the second longest in the world and the longest in the Americas.
Puerto Rico is also establishing itself as destination for golf lovers: the island can boast 18 playing fields of international level, some of these damage develop directly along the beaches and overlooking the cliffs. In addition, many of the most famous courses have been designed by some of the most important names on the green such as those of the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort which bear the signatures of Greg Norman and George and Tom Fazio.
Ideal destination for the LGBTQ + community
«The range of tourist offerings that Puerto Rico can provide can range from families to couples to singles. Many of our tourists belong to the LGBTQ + community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other people ed) – explains Dean -. Puerto Rico has embraced diversity for years, making it the Caribbean’s premier gay-friendly destination, with numerous activities and attractions across the island. “
As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico has adopted most of its laws that protect and grant rights to members of the LGBTQ + community: since July 2015, same-sex couples have been able to apply for marriage licenses and perform weddings on the island. Same-sex couples also have the right to adopt, following the Supreme Court ruling that ordered the Puerto Rico Family Department to consider “the best interests of the child without prejudice.” Among other laws and safeguards, civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, public transportation and facilities, commercial transactions and housing in Puerto Rico.
Also in Cabo Rojo, a popular city with breathtaking and spectacular landscapes and protected beaches on the southwest coast of the island, two gay prides are celebrated a year, one in summer and the other in winter when the weather is still warm. . November is scheduled for Puerto Rico Queer Film Festival, a week-long festival that focuses on local and international short films and feature films dealing with LGBTQ + themes.
An approach that recognized the award in Puerto Rico in 2018 Lgbtq+ Destination of the Year awarded by GayCities.com.
Vaccinated paradise and a lot of attention
In the fight against Covid-19, Puerto Rico is a flagship of the United States: while in the “stars and stripes” territory the vaccination campaign has not always been uniform in all states, on the Caribbean island the results they have been excellent with a percentage of vaccinated at the present time of 73 percent. A result, explains a recent CNN article, achieved thanks to a common front created by political, scientific and health forces: from vaccines to the use of mandatory masks, from restrictions to social distancing (which is really complicated for a people who culturally love physical contact), everyone understood that there was an emergency to deal with and as was the case with hurricanes and earthquakes, everyone did their part.
An effort that has rewarded the island: according to the health department, Puerto Rico has had 218,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 3,220 deaths reported during the pandemic. Connecticut, which is about the same size as Puerto Rico, has had more than 400,000 cases of Covid-19 and 8,739 deaths. In the past week, the island has recorded a daily average of 105 cases.
For international tourists the same provisions apply as for entry into the United States: from 8 November 2021 vaccinated travelers arriving from the 26 Schengen countries will no longer be required to be isolated upon arrival on the island, but the already existing obligation to carry out a Covid test (antigenic or molecular) with negative result 3 days before departure and to carry out a further test (antigenic or molecular) to be carried out between the third and fifth day of arrival in the country will remain. Vaccinated means both vaccinated with vaccines approved by the FDA (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson) and those vaccinated with vaccines included in the Emergency Use Listing (Eul) of the World Health Organization and which also includes the vaccine AstraZeneca. Those who have received a mixed vaccination are also considered “full vaccinated” provided that it has been carried out with vaccines recognized by the FDA or included in the EUL.
If you arrive directly in Puerto Rico without the aforementioned test you will have to carry it out at your own expense (at the Luis Muñoz Maríncosta international airport it costs 110 US dollars), and remain in quarantine until the negative result. Puerto Rico also requires you to complete a travel declaration form on the National Health Department’s online portal which generates a QR code to access the island.
On the island, masks are mandatory indoors, regardless of the vaccination status. Unvaccinated people or people between the ages of 2 and 11 should wear them in public areas when they are unable to maintain social distance. To access hotels or restaurants, you must prove that you have been vaccinated or have had a swab within 72 hours prior to arrival on the island. If you are staying longer than a week, a tampon should be taken every week.
Details on the protocols to follow and other information on the island can be found on the DiscoverPuertoRIco.com website
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