The Enchanted Island

Puerto Rico, an island brimming with excitement and a haven for modern vacations. The Land of Ricky Martin, yes Puerto Rico. The music swings, the weather super, the beaches incredible and a place where everyone make you feel welcome. Itís capital, San Jaun offers world class restaurants, dazzling casinos and sightseeing attractions. Old San Jaun provides a contrast showing the island's fascinating Spanish heritage.

Puerto Ricoís 272 miles of coastline boast grand beaches with stunning and clear waters for swimming, snorkeling and diving.

Puerto Rico is the easternmost island of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, approximately a thousand miles southeast of Florida and just east of the Dominican Republic The island of Puerto Rico is almost rectangular in shape and is comparatively small, 3459 sq. miles, with a central mountain range reaching an altitude of 4390 ft at Cerro Punta, and surrounded by low coastal plains. In addition to the principal island, the Commonwealth includes: Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Monito and various others isolated islands.

Puerto Ricoís landscape ranges from palm-lined beaches, rugged mountain ranges, gently rolling hills, and dry desert-like areas. The islands boasts 20 designated forest reserves. The most notable is El Yunque the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Forest Service. A real must to visit.

The climate of Puerto Rico is most agreeable especially for us from the Northern Clime. The average annual temperature of 82 F. Puerto Rico enjoys year round summer temperatures. The dry season is December to March. But it is important to note that temperatures in the mountains are significantly cooler than the coast, so if you intend to travel inland bring a sweater for the evenings regardless of when you visit. Puerto Rico is easy to get to with flying times as follows: New York - 3 1/2 hrs. Miami - 2 1/2 hrs.

When in Puerto Rico do as the Puerto Rican do, a knowledge of Spanish will be very useful, although English is widely spoken.

Puerto Ricoís population is approximately 3.6 million, and is made up of various peoples. Their diversity is the result of the mixing of different ethnic groups, Taino Indians, Africans, Spaniards and others that settled on the island.

Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region and is a major producer of manufactured goods, high-technology equipment and pharmaceutics.

The Taino Indians were the first Puerto Rican inhabitants. The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 on his second voyage to the New World. In 1898 Puerto Rico was ceded to the USA at the end of the Spanish-American War. In 1917 Puerto Ricans was granted US citizenship and in 1952 the island became a self-governing Commonwealth in association with the USA.

There are many hotels and resorts on Puerto Rico but I recommend the San Jaun Marriott, directly on the beach and just 5 minutes from Old San Jaun. The San Jaun Marriott provides both a destination resort as well as business accommodation and facilities. The hotel boast itís own Casino, executive floors, lounge and meeting rooms

At the San Jaun Marriott you really feel the Caribbean flavor of Puerto Rico. The pool grill, beach bar makes this a wonderfully relaxed yet lively place to stay. The fine dining room, Ristorante Tuscany, adds an elegant touch while the, La Vista, 24 hours restaurant, boasts a magnificent buffet, stay away from the desserts they are just TOO Good. You will be pleasantly surprised with the array of music provided in the large lobby area.

But two things were outstanding for me, the handicapped room and the hotel staff. The total staff was excellent. Nothing was too much to ask and they certainly didnít treat me in any condescending way because I was handicapped. The Handicapped room with its roll in shower and balcony over looking the pools and ocean was just excellent. One of the best rooms I have seen The beach has steps to get down too, but Iím sure you will see a ramp soon. If you have some mobility then you can us e one of their 2 beach wheelchairs...

Going out on the town can really be fun in Puerto Rico and a restaurant I found within easy walking distance of the hotel was the Ajili Mojili. Though this restaurant is somewhat crowded ( a very popular place) it is accessible, the food was great and the atmosphere real Puerto Rico.

Rico Tours, a tour company, has an accessible van with a back lift. Their drivers made the tours very enjoyable. Though there is much to see in Puerto Rico I recommend the Tour of Old San Jaun. As with many old cities getting around by wheelchair can be difficult but a Van tour is a way to see it and hear the history. El Morroí Fortress is accessible and is very fascinating.

Another tour is to the rain forest, called El Yunge. This is something to experience, though an hour drive from San Jaun, well worth it and good to see some of the countryside along the way. The walking trails are not accessible but the information center with its short movie and displays are.

On e of the most intriguing tour for me was to Luquillo Beach about 45 minutes from San Jaun, with itís Handicapped accessible beach area. One of the only beaches in the world that has an area designed for the handicapped. My prime reason for going to Puerto Rico was to see this beach. I did and had a wonderful swim in the very warm water. Now the last hurricane has done some damage to the handicapped facilities but once youíve seen it you will wonder why every beach doesnít have an accessible area like this !!!

Puerto Rico is a great place to visit where you can enjoy the sights, sounds and bask in the sun and feel the rhythm of this enchanting land.

San Jaun Marriott 787.722.7000 Rico Tours 1.800.844.2080

Restaurant- Ajili Mojili- 1052 Ashford- 787.725.9195 Sea Without Barriers- Luquillo Beach- 787.721.2800 Puerto Rico Tourism Company

Jane Danielson is a Freelance Writer for the Disabled and Poet and has been published in extensively in Canada and United States. She became mobility disabled 13 years ago and uses a cane, wheelchair and electric scooter. Jane believes that traveling is a prescription for a healthy optimistic outlook, especially for the disabled but really for everyone. Some of Janeís articles include Camping in a National Park, Whale Watching on Brier Island, Fun in Florida and the Healing Powers of Hawaii. Her travel articles always look at the positive experience of traveling, with a realization of the obstacles that must be overcome to achieve this experience. Web Page : www. Email:

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