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Puerto Rico Tourism

On the Go or Taking it Slow, Puerto Rico's Variety Means One Visit is Not Enough.

Flying into San Juan, the rich variety of Puerto Rico lies below like a visitor's buffet. There, to your left, the ancient Spanish fortress of El Morro juts into the Atlantic Ocean, symbol of centuries of history. Ahead, the modern hotels of the Condado and Isla Verde areas rise along the sands of the beach, and to your right, the gleaming glass towers of the Hato Rey banking district reflect the sun. In the distance, cool green mountains promise the option of an escape to small towns and country roads reminiscent of earlier times. And you haven't even landed yet.

Puerto Rico's practical advantages are obvious. The average annual temperature is 82 degrees, and in this U.S. commonwealth you won't be slowed down by Customs inspections or foreign currencies.

What quickly becomes just as obvious is the variety of options a visitor can choose from to arrange the kind of vacation you want. The first enjoyably difficult decision is where to stay, and a brief coast-to-coast comparison lends an idea of the wide array of choices.

On the northeast tip of the island lies El Conquistador Resort and Country Club, which offers a choice of rooms in the main hotel, at a waterfront marina or in comfortable townhouses styled in a colonial Spanish design, all set in beautifully landscaped gardens. Golf, tennis, sport fishing or a boat ride to a deserted, unspoiled offshore islet for swimming and snorkeling are just a few of the activities to choose from.

 

At the other extreme, and on the opposite coast, is the luxurious Horned Dorset Primavera, a small hotel in the tradition of European elegance. Its brochure proudly lists "no activities," just the best in service, and few luxuries could match a seat in one of the comfortable chairs on the veranda, watching the sun dip into the ocean each evening.

Most visitors stay in one of the hotels lining the San Juan oceanfront, close to all the activities of the capital city. In the Isla Verde and Condado areas, many hotels are right on the beach. The larger ones offer casinos and all are near shops and restaurants. If the feeling of colonial Old San Juan draws you even more than the beachfront life, a few hotels in the Old City can let you stay in the heart of nearly five centuries of history.

Much of the city's nightlife is centered in the hotels, as well. Some, such as the Sands Hotel, offer ongoing shows, and others frequently add special events to the usual attractions of the casinos, discotheques and night clubs.

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