Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics

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5 Tropical Getaways for Active Adventures

Some of us travel for relaxation, others for food, but for many of us — travel is about finding active adventures. We want to hike mountains, explore ancient ruins, snorkel to new depths — anything to keep us moving and excited. If you’re a body constantly on the move, we have 5 tropical getaways to satisfy the most active adventurers.

Nosara, Costa Rica, active adventures, travel, adventure, surfing

Nosara, Costa Rica – Surf, Paddle, Snorkel

Nosara (Playa Guiones), Costa Rica is a hidden gem in the surf community that is not quite as tourist driven as Tamarindo or Jaco beach. With over a dozen surf schools available, Nosara Beach rivals among the best surf beaches in Central America for both advanced and novice surfers. Here you will find protected forest full of wildlife, quiet beaches, and long stretches of shore break.  Among the multitude of outdoor activities offered Nosara is also a yoga meca.  Yoga retreats and practices are easy to find as the sounds of the jungle or ocean are only steps away no matter where you practice.

Belize – Best of Land and Sea

Belize will keep you moving throughout your trip with plentiful activities on both land and sea. Along its coast you will find snorkeling and scuba-diving among multiple areas including Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, Laughing Bird Caye, one of Belize’s National Parks, and World renowned diving at The Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef. Travelers can also rent kayaks along its beaches or partake in a cave kayaking tour in Belize City.

Back on land, strap on a helmet and tour Actun Tunichil Muknal “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” where you will hike, climb, and swim your way through these pristine caves. There are over a thousand pieces of pottery, skeletons, and ancient artifacts left just as they were discovered to maintain its unique presence in time. Belize is also home to the Xunantunich Temple and Lamanai Mayan Temple where you can hike ancient temple ruins and gaze at the wonderment of the Mayan Era. Take a tour or hike on your own, this experience is an unforgettable sight.

Machu Picchu, Peru – The Advanced Explorer

Machu Picchu is a historian’s dream. Most travelers are so consumed with the intricate details left from the Incan culture that they leave wanting more. Tours are available to grasp the most of this ancient civilization. You can customize trips to Machu Picchu to last a day with use of buses and tour guides, or a week by camping the original Inca Trail through mountains and jungle terrain of Peru. To see the lost civilization that remains is worth the time and hike no matter your skill level.

albatross, Galapagos Islands, active adventures, travel, tropics

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – The Wildlife Adventurer

The place where Darwin developed his theory of evolution is a must see in South America for the wildlife adventurers. In the Galapagos Islands will you will find a wide range of wildlife. Due to the lack of predators in the area, you can find blue footed boobies, albatross, and even penguins roaming around the Islands. Hike craters and volcanoes, kayak, surf, or snorkel around Santa Cruz where you will be sure to see sea turtles, sea lions, and exotic fish. Dive around the Darwin Islands to see even more amazing creatures like the hammerhead shark and the whale shark. Guides are available or rentals are located all around the Island. If you are feeling extremely adventurous you will find packages that offer trips from Machu Picchu to the Galapagos island, a great way to kill two birds with one stone!

active adventures, travel, Maldives

Maldives – Paddle your heart out

One of the most beautiful places to stand up paddle board is along the Maldives of South Asia. Known for having beautiful reefs home to exotic wildlife, it is comprised of over 1,000 islands with beautiful lagoons and beaches along its coasts. The Maldives are famous for  vibrant teal-blue color waters with clarity that allows you to view wildlife up to thirty feet deep. Rentals for a full day is only thirty dollars and will get you a total body workout.  Not only known for paddle boarding you can take part in other fitness experiences such as pilates and yoga classes or retreats, clear bottom kayaking, scuba, and snorkeling adventures, and the pristine white sand beaches host rentals for jet-skiing, water skiing, and parasailing.

 

4 Protein Bite Healthy Snacks for Travel

Lets face it, it is hard to find healthy snacks at a gas station or cost conscious eats at an airport. So, before setting off on your next big trip try making one of these super infused energy bites for your travels. These 4 recipes are easily modifiable, energy packed, and made with pantry-friendly ingredients that will keep well packed in your bag without refrigeration. The hardest part will be to ration them until you reach your destination!

Coconut Bites

1 C. Coconut Cashews

3 Tbs. Chia Seeds

1 C. Dried Dates

1/2 C. Natural Peanut Butter

1 C. Oatmeal (uncooked)

Optional Topping: Coconut Flakes and Honey

 

Directions: In a food processor add coconut cashews and chia seeds, blend till it is a fine rice consistency. Add dates, peanut butter, and oatmeal and blend until all ingredients are mixed and stick together. Roll into ball formation, dip top in honey, and then into coconut flakes. Refrigerate for at least an hour for balls to really solidify. Pack balls into a sealed plastic container to avoid squishing and you’re ready to fly! 

Will make ~16 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 18g Carb/4g Pro/5g Fat

Cocoa Peanut Butter Bites

1 C. Almonds

3 Tbs. Chia Seeds

½ C. Oatmeal (uncooked)

2 Tbs. Cacao

½ C. PB2

½ C. Honey

Optional Topping: Cinnamon

 

Directions: In a food processor mix almonds and chia seeds until rice consistency. Add oatmeal, cacao, PB2, and honey until fully combined and mixture sticks together. Roll into ball formation and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Put bites into a sealable container and get hiking! 

Will make ~14 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 7g Carb/18g Pro/6g Fat

 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

1 C. Oatmeal (uncooked)

½ C. Natural Peanut Butter

2 Tbs. Chia Seeds

2 Tbs. Honey

Dark Chocolate Chips as Desired

Directions: In bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until thick. Roll into ball formation. Refrigerate for a few hours for really solid balls. Then bites can be stored in a sealed container, unrefrigerated. 

Will make ~14 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 8g Carb/4g Pro/12g Fat

Cranberry Peanut Butter Bites

½ C. Almonds

1 C Oatmeal (uncooked)

⅓ C. Natural Peanut Butter

⅓ C. Dried Dates

2 Tsp. Honey

½ C. Dried Cranberries or Other Dried Fruit

Directions: In food processor mix almonds until fine rice consistency. Add oatmeal, peanut butter, dates, and honey until mixture becomes thick. Add dried cranberries and pulse a few times until all is evenly combined. Roll into ball formation and enjoy. To travel, put in a sealed solid container. These will keep under almost any conditions. 

Will make ~16 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 9g Carb/3g Pro/4g Fat

 

 

 

5 Wedding Ideas Pulled from Southeast Asian Traditions

Finding wedding ideas can be a challenging and rewarding experience. A surefire way to throw an event to remember is to incorporate traditions from cultures outside your own. Steer clear of cliche ceremonies and take a peek into some Southeast Asian wedding traditions for some inspiration for your own nuptials. Each tradition is founded in history and heart — you’re sure to find something that speaks to your own love story. 

Wedding, Wedding Traditions, Wedding Ideas, Southeast Asia

 

Vietnam – Dam Hoi (Tea Ceremony)

A common tradition in Vietnamese weddings is the Dam Hoi ceremony. After the exchange of rings couples will pour wine or tea into the cups of attendees as a symbol of respect and sharing. The couple will serve their respective in-laws as a thanks for raising their children and to their new grandparents to show respect and to embrace of their new family. The family return congratulate the couple with jewelry and gifts. Some unique gifts are received among the Vietnamese couple such as nuts and betel leaves, these are to be chewed to symbolize dialogue between the couple and parents. Other more common gifts include wine, tea, fruits, pastries, a whole roasted pig, and sticky rice.

 

Laos – Baci Ceremony (Spirit Calling)

In Laos, betrothed couples prepare for the big day in a 30-60 minute ceremony held days before the actual wedding.The Baci Ceremony is meant to honor the spirits and reinforce harmony. Otherwise known as “spirit calling,” the Baci Ceremony gathers family and friends to prepare for the upcoming nuptials and to wish well upon the couple.

A handmade ‘pha khuan’ centerpiece made of marigolds, bamboo sticks, banana leaves, thread, and rice will hold folded banana leaves and candles placed within. Known as the ‘maak beng’, folded banana leaves will be the foundation of white string to be tied among the couple and guests. The pha khuan is placed on a white linen in the center of the room where the Baci Ceremony is held. The master of the ceremony will present a small amount of whisky and money wrapped in a banana leaf along with candles and flowers to the couple to invite wellbeing.

He then ties the white strings attached to the maak beng to connect all participants to form a continuous bonding of all attendees to the couple to offer blessings and wishes for the couple. Rice is thrown to represent the spirits and to wish good luck. Finally, as the procession finishes, an elder will make future predictions by looking at a formation of chicken wings and claws. This ceremony is then followed by the invitation to eat, drink, and dance in typical Laos fashion.

 

Cambodia – Hai Goan Gomloh (Groom’s Parade)

Traditionally, Cambodia is known for arranged marriages, the giving of dowry, and having weddings that last from one to three days. They hold multiple ceremonies to symbolically unite the couple and their families. One common tradition is the Hai Goan Gomloh, or “Groom’s Parade”. The Groom, along with friends and family bring silver and gold trays of fruit, desserts, and gifts to the house of the bride’s family. Gifts are then showcased throughout the house to show pride and richness brought from the Groom.

Another common Cambodian wedding ritual is the “Sien Doan Taa” or Tea Ceremony where families bow, burn incense, and offer tea to honor and call upon their ancestors to bestow good wishes and blessings upon the couple.

Malaysia – Berinai Ceremonies (Henna Staining)

Henna staining ceremonies called “Berinai” are very important in Malaysian culture. Henna is extracted from the henna leaf, regarded as a blessed item to cleanse and protect from evil, and is applied to represent unity in marriage. Typically henna is applied by close relatives, usually women and special friends of the couple, and takes place over three days. The first day is applied by close relatives called, “Berinai Curi.” On the second night, “Berinai Kecil,” henna is applied by neighbors and friends. Finally the most important henna ceremony “Berinai Besar” is held after the marriage ceremony. Family members on both sides take turns applying henna and  a mixture of rice and flour to the palms and foreheads of the couple as a blessing.

Thailand – Rod Nam Sang (Shell Ceremony)

Before the wedding ceremony in Thailand, many couples have white string draped between their heads to symbolize independence of each person and their destiny of becoming one. Afterwards, an elder fills a conch shell with holy water and guests —  starting with immediate family and ending with friends —  pour the holy water over the hands of the couple to symbolize unity. The ritual is known as ‘Rod Nam,’ meaning to soak with water. After the Shell Ceremony each guest places a gift into a basket, typically the gift is a symbol of social status, the higher the status the more wealth they give to the couple.

5 Coffee Shops Worth Instagramming

Coffee shops are no longer just for those with newspapers in hand looking to relax or to gossip with your friends on the couch like an episode of Friends. Shops today are not only trying to satisfy customers with their product but are looking for the total package appeal. From engaging interior design, beautiful gardens, and unique exterior appeal you can now find some of the most eye catching, photogenic, Instagram worthy spots to have a cup of joe. This article is going to name a few of the best coffee shops worth stopping at to capture unique photos that will have all your coffee enthusiast Instagram followers beaming with envy.

Truth Coffee, Cape Town, South Africa

Truth Coffee has been recognized as one of, if not the best coffee shop in Cape Town, South Africa. Its outdoor scenery might not be at the top of the list, but its indoor charm is one for the books, simply beautiful. It is so unique and detailed in its decor and not lacking one bit in its quality of food and coffee. It has a distinct modern industrial design with exposed piping, beams, and lighting, displayed typewriters and singer sewing machines, and a vintage cast iron drum for hand roasting coffee. The intention of its interior design matching the quality of their coffee is both unique and detailedly magnificent. Many simply state, Truth Coffee, is THE Truth!”.

Salvaged Ring Cafe, Nha Trang City, Vietnam

The Salvaged Ring Cafe was ranked in the top 20 of the world’s best architectures in 2014 at The World Architecture Festival. This economically friendly and all around beautiful cafe is located among the countryside of Nha Trang City in Vietnam. The cafe was eloquently designed by the architects of a21 studio and constructed primarily of scrap wood, coconut leaves, and locally sourced rocks. The circular flowing architecture blends into its natural surroundings and provides a feeling of being one with the outdoor scenery. Its open contoured design encourages refreshing air flow and natural light, and its curves provide a beautiful outpouring from the highway where you arrive down to a flowing river and lush courtyard. The natural allurement of this cafe will help you relax while you enjoy a cup of coffee in a tropical oasis.

Dreamy Camera Cafe, Yangpyeong, South Korea

The Dreamy Camera Cafe in South Korea is a dream Instagram post for the photograph enthusiast. A bold red Rolleiflex camera makes the shape for this unique cafe that sets among the grandiose South Korean landscape that is picturesque in all four seasons. Inside its camera exterior this cafe also provides a museum where you can interact and marvel at evolving photos and technology.

Take a few polaroids to leave behind and enjoy the view of the rolling hills outside of Seoul, South Korea. There’s good reason why this Cafe is ranked #10 by Buzzfeed’s “Coffee Shops Around the World You Have to See Before You Die.”

Fair Folks & Goat, New York City, United States 

An entrepreneur and coffee addict’s paradise, Fair Folks & Goat describes itself as a “membership cafe.” For $25 a month customers can enjoy unlimited coffee and tea including signature cold brew imported from New Orleans. The funky cafe is also a clothing and accessories shop that helps deliver inspiration to the artists, start-up staffers, writers, and other laptop warriors you’ll see in inside. The turquoise exterior is too cute for words. Oh, and the goat-themed items will be a hit on your Instagram feed.

Open Farm Community, Singapore

Among the open air and lush greenery this farm to table restaurant and cafe has so much beauty inside and out. This is not only a quaint spot for lunch or coffee but a total dining experience. If you’re into Instagramming your food — this is your place. Each plate is a work of art almost too beautiful to eat. You can also take a tour of the farm from its local farmers and immerse yourself in herbs and vegetables soon to be transferred to the table through the Open Farm culinary experience. A cafe, gift shops, and kid-friendly exterior houses activities for all ages.  Enjoy a hot mug in the cafe or sit out on the patio and observe the wonderful 35,000 square feet of charming terrain.

 

Skip the Stuffing: 5 Alternative Side Dishes to Try This Holiday

Skip the stuffing, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole this holiday season and spice up your menu with these 5 Alternative Side Dishes from around the world. These unique and flavorful side dishes are a custom in many homes and will surely please the taste buds and spark conversation when your guests arrive.

Atkilt Wot – Ethiopia

Swap out the scalloped potatoes for this unique Ethiopian dish. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also healthy! Primarily made with cabbage, carrots, onions and potatoes the seasoning combination and ease of preparation will keep you making this side dish all year.

Atkilt Wot
 
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Ingredients
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ head cabbage, shredded
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cook the carrots and onion in the hot oil about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, and cabbage.
  4. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the potatoes; cover.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are soft. Approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
 

Asopao – Puerto Rico

If you are looking for a comfort food or have some leftover chicken you need to get rid of after the crowd has left, try Asopao. This Puerto Rican chicken and rice dish is a great chicken noodle soup alternative and is just as delectable. Both satisfying and filling, this flavorful item is suer spice up your side dishes menu. 

Asopao Con Pollo
 
Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 serving light adobo seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1½ cups medium-grain rice
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • 1 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Season chicken thighs with black pepper and adobo seasoning.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook and soften green pepper, red pepper, onion, garlic, and tomato paste in the hot olive oil for approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Remove vegetables from the pot and set aside.
  5. Pan fry chicken in the olive oil until browned, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
  6. Return cooked vegetables to the pot.
  7. Add rice, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is tender and chicken is no longer pink inside. Approximately 20 minutes.
  9. Stir in peas and olives and cook for another 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
  11. Stir in cilantro and serve.
 

Congri – Cuba

This red or black bean and rice recipe is so simple and easy, if you are in a rush you will not be disappointed by this Cuban side. Many of the ingredients you likely already have in the cabinet and it can easily be prepared ahead of time. Also, it’s a great way to sneak in a few more vegetables and fiber to an indulgent meal. 

Congri
 
Cuisine: Cuban
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper, chopped
  • small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 15 oz can black beans (don't drain)
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil on medium heat in a heavy, medium sized pot (if possible. Any medium sized pot will do)
  2. Add onions, peppers and garlic and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes
  3. Add rice, beans, water, cumin, bay leaf, oregano and salt and pepper
  4. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice absorbs most of the water
  5. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes
  6. Removed from heat and allow to sit, covered, for another 5 minutes
 

 

Banh Chung – Vietnam

This Vietnamese dish has been enjoyed for centuries as part of the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Made with rice, beans, and pork, it is served at room temperature. Make a day or two in advance to save time the day of the event.  Enjoy as an appetizer or snack. 

Banh Chung
 
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups sticky (glutinous) rice, preferably long-grain
  • 1 drop of green food coloring (optional)
  • ¼ cup dried split mung beans
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces pork shoulder or butt, cut into ¼-inch-thick chunks
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 (14" x 16") sheets plastic wrap plus extra
  • 1 (14" x 16") sheet aluminum foil
  • 2 (14" x 14") pieces banana leaf
Instructions
  1. Place the sticky rice in a large bowl and cover it with 3 inches of water. Stir in the food coloring, if using, and let the rice soak overnight. Add the salt to the rice and stir to blend.
  2. In a separate bowl, soak the mung beans for at least 4 hours.
  3. Drain both just before using and set aside in separate bowls.
  4. Combine the shallots, fish sauce, black pepper and pork pieces and let marinate for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over moderate heat. Add the pork pieces and all the marinade and stir just until the meat is brown around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  6. Using a steamer basket, steam the mung beans until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  7. To make the packet, neatly lay down the wrappers in this order: 1 sheet of plastic wrap (leave the other for use later), the aluminum foil, 2 sheets banana leaves (one perpendicular to the other). Place one cup of the rice in the center of the banana leaf, spreading it to cover a 5-inch square. Place half of the mung beans on top, then add the pork pieces. Cover with the remaining mung beans and place 1 cup of rice on top. Bring the narrow sides of the wrappers together. Fold the gathered edges over twice, then flatten against the packet. (You now have two open ends.) Fold one end over and hold the packet upright. Add half of the remaining rice, tapping it and pushing it down so the packet will be an even square. Fold the end over and repeat on the other side.
  8. Place the packet with the folded sides down in the center of the remaining plastic sheet. Wrap tightly so that water will not seep into the packet during cooking.
  9. Tightly tie the packet with two parallel strings in both directions (as in a tic-tac-toe pattern).
  10. Fill a large stockpot with water. Add the packet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Place a colander or something heavy on top of the packet to keep it submerged in the water. Cook uncovered until done, about 6 hours, adding more water if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 1 hour.
  11. To serve, cut the packet (without unwrapping) into ½-inch slices. Remove the wrapping and arrange the slices on a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
 

 

Tamales – Guatemala

Tamales of Guatemala date all the way back to ancient Mayan culture. Preparation can be made into a group activity by gathering the family together to build a tamale assembly line. Tamales are usually made of corn meal, chilies, and beans hand-wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk and steamed to perfection. Try different variations and sauces to make the side dishes unique to you.

Tamales
 
Cuisine: Guatemalan
Ingredients
Mole Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 pasa or pasilla chili pepper, toasted and seeded
  • 1 guaque chili pepper, toasted and seeded (or other chili pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs, toasted
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup water
  • 1-1/2 lb boneless chicken
Dough
  • 1-3/4 lb masa harina
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ lb butter or shortening
Tamales
  • 16 banana leaves or aluminum foil (about 12×12 in)
  • Raffia (or butcher’s string) to close the tamales
  • 16 small pitted prunes
  • 32 raisins
  • 32 pitted green olives
Instructions
Mole Sauce
  1. Put all the sauce ingredients (except chicken) in a blender and blend for a few minutes until obtaining a smooth sauce.
  2. Cook the chicken with the sauce in a covered pan over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken and cut into thin slices or cubes.
  4. Set aside the chicken and sauce.
Dough
  1. Mix the dough ingredients together and simmer in a saucepan over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often, until the dough is thick and smooth. Add water if necessary.
Tamales Assembly
  1. Hover banana leaves over a flame for a few seconds on each side. Rinse each one.
  2. In the center of each leaf, place a handful of masa and spread over a rectangle of 4×5 inches and 1 inch thick.
  3. Place prunes, raisins and olives in the tamale.
  4. Pour 2 tablespoons of sauce and a few pieces of chicken in each tamale.
  5. Fold the leaf toward the center, seal, then fold the other end.
  6. Tie the package with raffia (or string) as pictured.
 

 

How to Spend 5 Days in Puerto Rico

If you only have 5 days to spend in Puerto Rico, you need to make the most of your time. Two adventurous friends and I planned this day-by-day trip and found it was just what we needed to get away from a seemingly never-ending Midwest winter. We chose to spend the first two nights in San Juan with the help of the wonderful hosts of Airbnb, one night in the tranquil El Yunque Rainforest at El Hotelito, and one night on Culebra Island in a Vacation Villa on Flamenco Beach. Feel free to add or take away anything to make this trip your own.

Day 1

Fly into San Juan, plan to rent an off-road vehicle when you arrive or make arrangements to have one before you leave for your stay in El Yunque Rainforest. Roads in Old San Juan are narrow, but traveling elsewhere on highways is a breeze. Make sure to check with your accommodations ahead of time to arrange for parking if needed.

Spend day one day walking around Old San Juan and exploring the attractions at the San Juan National Historic Site. The San Juan National Historic Site will take you back five hundred years while you walk through Castillo San Cristóbal, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Fortín San Juan de la Cruz and the City Walls of San Juan. Bring your camera for some great photo opportunities and make sure to fly a kite in the ocean breeze in El Morro Park.  

After the historical sites, enjoy the city of Old San Juan with the architectural character of New Orleans mixed with a Caribbean flare. Shop local artist boutiques. Eat at small quaint restaurants that offer everything from Americanized dishes to ceviche and scallops served with rice and beans, topped off with fried plantains. Wander around and see where the city guides you.

 

Day 2

Wake up and seek out some Puerto Rican coffee, fresh squeezed juices, eggs, and french toast. Check out the farmers market at the courtyard of Museo de San Juan on Saturday morning if your schedule permits. Take the day to rent paddle boards along Laguna del Condado for a few hours, relax at Condado Beach and walk to local tourist shops, or head to the more secluded Sandy Beach  to enjoy the sound of the waves and take a surf lesson.

 

Day 3

Wake up and prepare yourself for a trip to El Yunque Rainforest with the off-road vehicle you rented earlier, roads are rocky. Leave early and take time to visit La Coca Falls and hike 25 minutes to the La Mina waterfall where you can take a dip. There’s a variety of eco hotels in or close to the rainforest that operate like a tropical bed and breakfast with great food and wonderful company. Enjoy being completely off the grid, as it’s likely your cell phone won’t work in this secluded locale.

 

Day 4

From the rainforest take a quick trip to the small town of Fajardo. For $5.00 round-trip, you can catch a 45-minute ferry to spend the next 24 hours at La Culebra Island. Make sure to get your ticket and to rent a Jeep or off-road golf cart for the Island ahead of time.

On La Culebra  you can rent snorkel gear from the local gift shop and explore different beaches along the coast. Swim with sea turtles, admire the local coral, and gaze at tropical fish. Spend time at Flamenco Beach, ranked by Tripadvisor 2016, Travelers Choice as the sixth most beautiful beach in the world. Splurge at the local donut shop for a snack, lunch at Zaco’s Tacos, and have dinner by the water with fresh fish and cocktails at Dinghy Dock.

 

Day 5

Catch the morning ferry back to Fajardo. If you have time, plan on sightseeing along the way back to San Juan before your flight leaves in the afternoon. Stop along Playa Fortuna Beach, check out the Cave at Cueva Maria de La Cruz, or just unwind from the wonderment of your trip on the way back to San Juan. Finally, secretly plan your next trip as you return your vehicle and head to the airport. Happy travels.