The town of Loiza has a long and interesting history. The African heritage of the area is seen all around town — in the music, dance and art. The Loizeno people are proud of their ancestry, and the local artisans often use it as a primary theme in their artwork. If you really want to take home a meaningful and authentic hand-crafted souvenir from Puerto Rico, skip the Made in China stuff that you’ll find at the airport. Instead, take a short trip to Loiza where you can learn a little history, and buy directly from the artists.
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If you are looking for something to do on Vieques other than go to beaches, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has made 3 new hiking trails. Called Vereda Cerro Playuela, they opened these trails in mid-2013. The trails offer the experience of going through a few different types of forests, great views, and remote beaches that are so beautiful you will be so happy for this diversion.
Archaeologists have found evidence of pre-Taino people living in what is now Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo. They have uncovered human skeletons, bones, shells, tools, and clay pots that date back to 300-600AD. But now, this historical site is at risk of being lost due to actions of the waves and wind, and the rise in sea level. It is a race against time to save the remains – and they need your help!
Vieques is known for it’s beautiful, white-sand beaches with calm, sparkling blue water that are perfect for sunbathing and swimming. There are other beaches on the island that have rugged beauty and seem to go on for miles. Playa Grande is that kind of beach. It’s perfect for long walks, sunbathing, and countless photo ops.
What do you do when you’ve had too much sun or are simply tired of lounging around on beautiful beaches? You take a road trip! Even though Vieques is known for it’s beautiful beaches, there are still some non-beachy things you can do to pass the time. Here is a list of things you can do on the north side of Vieques that don’t involve a beach blanket.
Moonshine, White Lightning, Hooch, Tennessee White Whiskey — call it what you will. Here in Puerto Rico, alcohol made in your backyard is called Pitorro or Cañita. Destilería Cruz produces a brand of legal Pitorro, called PitoRico, that is available plain or in various local fruit flavors. Their factory is in Jayuya, and the public is welcome to stop by to see them making it, have a taste of local moonshine, and pick up a few bottles to take back home.
Vieques is a small island located in the Caribbean. And guess what? It is loaded with beaches! And not just any beaches – some really amazing beaches. They come in all shapes, sizes and sand colors. I bet everyone that visits Vieques has a few that stand out for them as favorites. With so many beaches to choose from, it is hard to choose which one is the best!
Maria de la Cruz cave in Loiza is a historical monument that contained evidence of some of the earliest inhabitants of Puerto Rico. This small, historically significant cave is a short drive from Isla Verde, and is worth a quick visit if you happen to be in the area.
Puerto Rico is full of natural beauty, from the beaches and coastline, to the mountains, rivers, and forests. These can really be appreciated when you are able to visit some of the most remote and unspoiled parts of the island, and immerse yourself in the wonders that abound. Kalichi Adventures offers an amazing canyoning tour that puts you right in the middle of what we think is the most beautiful part of the island.
I love old, historic buildings and rum, so of course I had to make a point to visit Hacienda Santa Ana – the home of Ron del Barrilito, one of the local Puerto Rican rum producers. Their rum is made and aged here, on the family’s property, which used to be an old sugar hacienda. Though they don’t offer a factory tour, nor offer rum samples, it’s a quick stop where you can get some good photos of a historic site.
We recently went on a tasting tour at Café Gran Batey in Utuado, and we fell in love. We got to see coffee growing in their fields, and how they process the coffee at every step … all the way up to bagging the freshly-roasted, warm beans for sale. This is not to be missed if you are in the area and have a couple hours to spare.
There are only a few bioluminescent bays left in the world, and Puerto Rico is fortunate enough to have three of them. The biobays in Puerto Rico are Laguana Grande in Fajardo, Mosquito Bay in Vieques, and La Parguera in Lajas — with Mosquito Bay being the brightest of the three. We visited Mosquito Bay recently with Black Beard Sports, and had a great time!
Vieques to known for it’s remote and secluded beaches. Now, thanks to some relatively recent road improvements on Vieques, Playa Caracas (aka Red Beach) is a beautiful white-sand beach in the US Fish & Wildlife reserve that is accessible by the local public transportation. No Jeep required!
Beaches and rain forests are usually at the top of most people’s to-do list when they plan a trip to Puerto Rico. For something a little different, you can try a cheese-making workshop offered by Casa Lila in Old San Juan. You’ll make your own artisan cheese, and you’ll learn how you can try making your own cheese at home.
If you are a classic car buff, or if you are just interested in the history of transportation in Puerto Rico, you might want to check out the Museum of Transportation in Guaynabo. From horses, to trains, planes, and automobiles, this museum has a little bit of info on a lot of things related to moving people and things around Puerto Rico.