As a territory of the United States, visiting Puerto Rico is as easy as hoping on a short flight without the hassle of a passport or the need to exchange currency. Puerto Rico, which means “rich port” in Spanish, became the official name of the island after 1508, until which time the name was San Juan Bautista.
Delta offers daily non-stop service to San Juan from most major cities.
With almost 4 million residents, this tropical island does not only offer a great place to relax, but also a flavor-filled region with world-class gastronomy. Even the first inhabitants, which date back to 2000 BC, still have their say through the local food. For example, unlike most cuisines around Latin America, corn is not a major component in Puerto Rican culinary tradition. Due to hurricanes, corn crops were hard to keep, thus forcing the natives and European settlers to look for alternatives.
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The Island’s cuisine portrays a combination of centuries-old cooking. Traditional foods from the native Indians, Spaniards, Africans and Italians directly affected the produce distribution into and from Puerto Rico. Crops such as sugar cane, coffee, pineapple, tobacco and many tropical fruits are still produced, but to a lesser extent. Known as the Rum Capital of the World, Puerto Rico supplies more than 70% of the rum sold in the United States. There are many more reasons, besides rum, to visit this eastern Caribbean paradise. Various lodging choices for the gourmet traveler present the opportunity to cover the whole spectrum of tastes, regions and activity levels.
Here are some options for utter relaxation and great cuisine.
Hotel El Convento, Old San Juan
Restaurant El Picoteo features sumptuous tapas and an excellent wine menu served in a classically cool ambiance. There are two other dining options on the property plus the cornucopia of restaurants available throughout the medieval city. This 350-year-old former Carmelite convent is in the heart of San Juan. An alluring mix of Spanish colonial architecture and contemporary styling with a panoramic terrace on the rooftop invites to take a plunge into the pool.
Average rate: $270
El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Fajardo
With almost two dozen restaurants and lounges, serving a variety of culinary creations from steak to seafood, this enclave is the best place to immerse yourself in a flavorful paradise. Escape to your own private Caribbean hideaway and experience one of the most breathtaking views in the Island. A private beach in a small island off the coast is the perfect retreat inside this magnificent resort. Average rate: $179
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