San Juan Puerto Rico
Sunrise and sunset are both worth waiting for when you’re vacationing on Puerto Rico. The pinks and yellows that hang in the early-morning sky are just as compelling as the sinewy reds and purples that blend into the twilight. It’s easy to compare them, as Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles.
At 110 mi (177 km) long and 35 mi (56 km) wide, you can easily have breakfast in Fajardo, looking eastward over the boats headed to enchanted islands like Vieques and Culebra, then settle down for a lobster dinner in Rincón as the sun is sinking into the inky-blue water. That leaves you plenty of time in between to explore and travel the southern coast, perhaps stopping to see the fanciful firehouse in Ponce or the charming colonial chapel in San Germán.
Known as the Island of Enchantment, Puerto Rico will surely put you under its spell. Here, traffic actually leads you to a “Road to Paradise,” whether you’re looking for a pleasurable, sunny escape from the confines of urbanity or a rich supply of stimulation to quench your cultural and entertainment thirst. On the island you have the best of both worlds, natural and urban thrills alike; and although city life is frenetic enough to make you forget you’re surrounded by azure waters and warm sand, traveling a few miles inland or down the coast can easily make you forget you’re surrounded by development.
Puerto Rico was populated primarily by Taíno Indians when Columbus landed in 1493. In 1508 Ponce de León established a settlement and became the first governor; in 1521 he founded what is known as Old San Juan. For centuries, while Africans worked on the coastal sugarcane fields, the French, Dutch, and English tried unsuccessfully to wrest the island from Spain. In 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the island to the United States. In 1917 Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens, and in 1952 Puerto Rico became a semiautonomous commonwealth.