Visiting new places as a cruiser is different: we are traveling around islands as opposed to within them. In Puerto Rico we are trying to do both. Of course we sail, but we try to see as much as possible inland too.
Since our first weekend here, we have covered a lot of ground on this gorgeous island. We’ve been busy touring Puerto Rico.
The second biggest city on the island, Ponce has a pretty nice anchorage too. There are a lot of boats here, and we made some new cruising friends who are living aboard catamarans with their young kids.
Right along the shore of the anchorage is an accessible dinghy dock near a huge parking lot and a boardwalk with bars, restaurants and huts selling knickknacks for tourists.
Called La Guancha, this was the cruiser meetup spot for cheap beers and fruit flavored mojitos. It’s also a popular destination for locals to spend their free time, especially on weekends.
And then we went to San Juan
We only had a limited time to visit San Juan. 18 hours was nowhere near enough, but we didn’t want to leave Domino for long and had a lot of shopping to do.
There’s a lot to see and do in this part of Puerto Rico.
Rain forest El Yunque
Located within an hour’s drive of San Juan, the only rain forest in the U.S.’ national forest system, is a popular destination. It is truly beautiful and very green.
The rain forest is free to visit, but note you have to drive pretty far in before you can park and see anything. A lot of the park, including some trails and the visitor’s center, is closed, we think because they are still recovering from Hurricane Maria.
Still, we got to see some stunning views of the surroundings and beautiful waterfalls. The tree frogs and native parrots eluded us, but it was a nice visit.
We continued sailing this weekend with a short 20 miler from Ponce to Salinas along with buddy boats 5 Knots and Belle Marie.
Salinas is a busy seaside town with a marina, boaters, and lots of restaurants. It’s one of those towns people drive to for waterfront views and good seafood. It doesn’t matter which boîte you stop in, you’ll get fresh fish and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, at least, that was my impression.
The harbor in Salinas is nice and big but it was crowded. There are a lot of derelict boats there, probably from Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria is not a topic that comes up often with the locals, but some have discussed it. In the areas we’ve visited, we have seen wrecked buildings, demolished roofs, and broken down boats. One of the local boaters we met was out of power for months. The infrastructure we’ve seen here is very good: the drinking water is safe and the roads are in excellent condition, especially compared to the Dominican Republic; so for things to go that bad, Maria was devastating.
If you are interested in stories post-hurricane, get this book. A portion of proceeds go to the ongoing relief effort.
We are still in Puerto Rico, slowly moving eastward in the mornings when the wind isn’t howling. We plan to move to the islands off the east coast, the Spanish Virgin Islands, as we keep touring Puerto Rico.