Puerto Rico: Avoid Winter In The USA

13 November 2015
Read Time: 1.7 mins

With its lavish hotels and spellbinding beaches, Puerto Rico historically has been North America's winter playground. Seaside sojourns range from time-warped smugglers' ports to superb snorkelling, and the Caribbean coastline is bashed by smashing surf.

Inland, densely forested mountains lure adventure seekers away from the crowds, while the cultural scene embraces spectacular museums alongside world-class cuisine.

 The rugged interior of Puerto Rico

Sensational Surf

At this time of year, Puerto Rico's wild, wondrous and world-famous waves are peaking at their absolute best, frequently cresting at eight metres high.

The town of Rincon is the chic surf capital – it even gets name-dropped in the Beach Boys song Surfin' Safari. There are upwards of a dozen sublime surf beaches hereabouts: Tres Palmas gets those eight-metre breaks, while Steps is known for its snorkelling as well as its surfing.

Island Flavours

San Juan is arguably the Caribbean's greatest dining destination and the food is up there with the history as an obligatory indulgence.

What locals call cocina criolla (Creole cuisine) combines Spanish, Latin American, native Taino and African influences.

San Juan Food Tours offers three-hour Old San Juan tours that take in architecture and top-notch eateries. Wash it all down with a stop-off at the excellent Old Harbor Brewery, which brews Puerto Rico's finest beers.

Second City

The plush, modern resorts ringing the coast wouldn't suggest it, but in parts Puerto Rico still resembles the quintessential centuries-old pirates' hangout: cobbled alleyways, fortresses and colourful colonial character.

Old San Juan is the obvious crown jewel, but Ponce, the island's fiercely proud second city, exhibits some bombastic 18th- and 19th-century architecture.

 Ponce's Plaza Las Delicias (Image: Getty)

Check the sights around the pretty, central Plaza Las Delicias, such as Ponce's most-photographed edifice, the Moorish red-and-black-striped former fire station Parque de Bombas.

Afterwards, ascend to the best local viewpoint, the Cruceta del Vigia, where the opulent Museo Castillo Serralles makes for an intriguing tour – and, with a café and terraced gardens, the perfect place to absorb the city's atmosphere.

Active Adventure

Few visitors brave the bad roads rearing up to the island's rugged, mountainous interior, but those who do catch it at its most unspoilt.

Start on a high note with a heart-in-mouth visit to Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park, near Orocovis, where one of the world's longest zip lines whooshes you more than 2 kilometres above a stunning swathe of forest. In the same park is the island's best mountain biking.

Off the Caribbean's beaten track. Unlocking The Caribbean’s Adventurous Side

Want more on the Caribbean beaches? Top 5 Caribbean Beaches – Relax, Rejuvenate, Explore

Dive In

When Puerto Ricans aren't skimming over the top of the ocean on boards, they're under it on a dive.

Based out of Rincón, Taino Divers has an outstanding reputation and takes clients out to the stunning reefs around Isla Desecheo, situated 12 kilometres miles west of Rincón. Two-tank dives cost A$160.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Puerto Rico.

This article was written by Luke Waterson from The Independent and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

The Independent

The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. Nicknamed the Indy, it was launched in 1986 and is one of the youngest UK national daily newspapers.