A Rich Experience in Puerto Rico: David Rubin's Journey | ICONIC LIFE

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Experience in Puerto Rico girl in ocean

Photography courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

 Puerto Rico is making its comeback and is ready for luxury travelers.  Let’s learn about the island, plan a visit and help their economy. 

Christopher Columbus reached the island in 1493, which brought more than 400 years of Spanish rule. Spain eventually granted Puerto Rico the right to self-government in 1897. Just months later, however, the U.S. invaded the island during the 1898 Spanish-American War. Spain lost the war and ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. The political status of Puerto Rico is that of an unincorporated territory of the U.S. and is officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.   

As a traveler, I love that the Puerto Rican people are so welcoming and infused with their own brand of pride, style and national identity. A trip to Puerto Rico is a grand, easy escape to a beautiful Caribbean island. It is a trendy destination for weddings and milestone birthday celebrations with friends and family. Notably, U.S. citizens do not need a passport to travel between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Girls eating in their trip to Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico

Most visitors fly into Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico (IATA code: SJU). Each hotel and destination listed works well as a stand-alone, quick visit to Puerto Rico. Each has beautiful accommodation options, including home and villa rentals. Travelers may choose to visit for a few nights or several weeks or months at a time. Charmed by all the beauty Puerto Rico offers, visitors often choose to return. 

I am sharing several recommendations for a multi-destination Journey to Puerto Rico spanning one to four weeks with a focus on luxury and adventure. 

“Live Boricua”         

To begin your experience in Puerto Rico, I recommend starting with “Live Boricua.” A Boricua is a person from Puerto Rico by birth or descent or a Puertorriqueño. Boricua has come to embody a vibrant spirit, flavor, pulse and rhythm that you will feel in Puerto Rico. 

Experience in Puerto Rico - People dancing Live Boricua

Discover Puerto Rico

Rich with Activities

Enjoy the sun, pools and beaches at or near your hotel. Puerto Rico (PR) has more than 300 beaches. Nearby restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs abound for every budget, style and lifestyle. 

Exciting reasons to visit PR are the vast array of activity options: kayaking on a sparkling bioluminescent bay, enjoying a local rum tasting, hiking to see unique flora, fauna and waterfalls in the rainforest, experiencing diverse nightlife options, taking a helicopter tour, beach hopping around the coast, relaxing with a fresh cup of world-famous coffee at Hacienda Muñoz coffee plantation, tasting spectacular food, visiting historic lighthouses and viewing contemporary art in a museum that is its own architectural masterpiece, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC).

Old San Juan

Continue your experience in Puerto Rico by discovering the wonderfully maintained, historic Old San Juan—a “must-see” UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 74-block radius is rich with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture from the 16th-19th centuries. Staying here for one to three nights at the lovely Hotel El Convento or Palacio Provincial is highly recommended so you can stroll and wander as you please. Alternatively, a quick visit aboard a cruise ship shore excursion is great, too.

Ponce Seralles Experience in Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest

A highlight for me was a hiking exploration through the breathtaking El Yunque National Forest. This national gem is a perfect destination for those who want a total immersion into nature. It is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System and the largest public land in Puerto Rico, encompassing more than 28,000 acres. The highest mountain peak in the forest rises 3,494 feet above sea level.

Ample rainfall creates a jungle-like atmosphere. The forest is brimming with trails surrounded by rich flora and fauna. When planning your trip to Puerto Rico, be sure to bring a bathing suit to swim in the streams and waterfalls. 

Family trip to Puerto Rico playing in a waterfall

Discover Puerto Rico

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Bio Bays: Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande and La Parguera

Another highlight is a nighttime visit to one or more of the three bioluminescent bays (bio bays) in Puerto Rico. These bio bays are Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande and La Parguera. They contain a very high concentration of bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton. When these plankton are moved in the water, pressure is put on their cell walls, which causes a cellular chemical reaction that emits light (bioluminescence). A visit is magical for explorers of all ages.

The optimal time to check out the bio bays is when the moon is not bright in the night sky, exposing you to the world’s most luminous marine light show. To visit Puerto Rico’s bio bays, you must have a permit, and it is best to go with an expert guide.

Kayaking during a trip to Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico

Mosquito Bay, on the island of Vieques, is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Swimming is not allowed. A one or two-night stay on Vieques is recommended to enjoy visits to Mosquito Bay and nearby beautiful beaches, enhancing your experience in Puerto Rico. You can arrive in Vieques from San Juan Via, a small commuter plane from SJU, SIG in San Juan, or RVR in Ceiba.

La Parguera bio bay is located at the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive between San Juan and La Parguera. This is the only bio bay in Puerto Rico that allows tourists to swim among the glowing plankton. The visibility of the bioluminescence is best viewed while swimming in the water with a mask.

Laguna Grande bio bay is in Fajardo, about an hour’s drive east of San Juan. Visitors may kayak through the mangroves and see the bioluminescence in the bio bay. Nearby, located between the lush foothills of El Yunque National Forest and the crystal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, is Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park, an action-packed adventure destination with fun ATV and horseback experiences.

Rock adventure in trip to puerto rico

Discover Puerto Rico

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve 

Saving an exquisite destination to end your trip to Puerto Rico, check in to the top-rated resort, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. The property is a stunning world-class resort with a renowned five-acre spa sanctuary, fine cuisine, three pro golf courses and nature trails, all on a pristine beachfront. 

In 1905, this land was first developed as a pineapple, grapefruit and coconut plantation. In 1958, the tycoon Laurance Rockefeller developed it as a RockResort hotel and nature preserve. Later, the property was transformed into Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which opened in 2012. After severe damage from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation took place a year later, and Dorado Beach reopened looking better than ever.

Family at the beach during their experience in puerto rico

Discover Puerto Rico

The entry-level rooms are big, starting at nearly 1,000 square feet. The villas and residences are even larger. All rooms, villas, residences and public spaces are designed thoughtfully with a focus on tranquility, natural light, natural materials, indoor/outdoor living and true barefoot beachfront and sea view luxury. A stay of at least four to eight nights is recommended. Before arriving here, explore the island of Puerto Rico because once you arrive at Dorado Beach, you will not want to leave.

A “Best of the Best” recommended itinerary

  • 3-5 nights in San Juan at Condado Vanderbilt Hotel or Fairmont El San Juan Hotel
  • 2-3 night in Old San Juan at Hotel El Convento or Palacio Provincial
  • 3-5 nights in Río Grande at St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
  • 1-2 nights on Vieques Island at Malecon House, Casa de Amistad or Hacienda Tamarindo
  • 4-8 nights in Dorado at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Experience in Puerto Rico Vendor Woman

Discover Puerto Rico

Gift of Giving

Mentes Puertorriqueñas en Acción (MPA) is doing valuable community work to help enable and facilitate more accessible, inclusive and participatory workspaces for young people in Puerto Rico.

Their Program for the Empowerment and Retention of Change Agents (PARACa) is a social action internship program aimed at young university students and recent graduates recognized for their leadership and sense of responsibility towards Puerto Rico.

At PARACa, young people begin their careers through internships with a focus and hands-on high social impact. These internship centers help to foster a high level of social commitment. Interns are provided with real-life training and mentorship to help them achieve a lasting and supportive impact in their immediate communities, jobs and beyond. To learn more and help support, visit: https://en.mentesenaccion.org/ 

To Plan and Book Your Travel 

To book your business and leisure travels worldwide, call David Rubin and his team at DavidTravel. In 1996, Rubin moved from a successful law practice, followed a deep passion for travel and launched his travel company. For more than a decade, he has been on the Travel + Leisure Magazine “A-List” and the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine “Specialist List” of the best travel advisors in the world. DavidTravel delivers unparalleled style, attention to detail and insider access that uniquely responds to each client’s goals, budget, interests and dreams.


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