In every corner of the island, you will find something to do with your family, particularly with the kids. When planning your itinerary, take into account that our pleasant warm climate and the obviously festive atmosphere will be your best allies. And you can certainly enjoy beautiful, sunny beach days. What more could you ask for!

Indoor Entertainment

Easy-to-reach places with safe and accessible parking fall into this category that includes the following items. Go enjoy them right now!

Museums

Fun combined with education is the main purpose of these facilities that feature very interesting attractions.
Museo del Niño, Carolina (787-257-0261) Its more than 100 exhibits are housed in a two-level building that is full of fun, educational items, and more. The exterior has a go-cart track and a real plane that children can climb on and explore.
Luis A. Ferré Science Park, Bayamón (787-740-6868) It is an educational and recreational attraction that makes it possible for visitors to learn more about various branches of science in an interactive manner.
Wildlife Museum, San Juan (787-480-5440) It has about 200 species of animals from different parts of the world exhibited in exact replicas of their respective habitats.
Maritime Museum, Old San Juan (787-977-4461) It features a collection of objects related to the merchant marine and the sea.
Center for Caribbean Science and Technology (C3Tec) (787-653-6391) This is an exciting interactive attraction where adults and children will find the most exciting aspects of science at their fingertips. Regardless of age, everyone can actively participate in the exhibits, programs, and innovative events designed to provide simply sensational experiences.

Ice Skating

Did you know that in Puerto Rico—right smack in the tropics—you are able to go ice skating? If this is one of the activities in which you usually engage during the holidays back home, you can do it here as well! While in the area, make sure you also visit one of the nearby beaches.
Aguadilla Ice Skating, Aguadilla (787-819-5555)

Outdoor Enjoyment

Puerto Rico encourages you to enjoy its magnificent sites and places of interest. And if you do it as a family, then much better! Explore some of these options that are sure to captivate everyone.

Gardens

While adults will bask in the beautiful greenery, kids will be able to interact with nature. These attractions offer entertainment for children as well as beautiful spots that adults will enjoy immensely. Plus, you’ll have tons of opportunities to take great photos and videos!
Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden (787-653-8990) The extensive variety of tropical plants happily coexist with works of art. The site also has a small lake, stream, lagoon where you can pedal boats, and a replica of a local farm.
Río Piedras Botanical Garden, San Juan (787-758-9957) Its more than 289 cuerdas of land are home to over 30,000 plants. Visitors will admire the lakes, waterfalls, trails, sculptures, native species, and endangered species on-site.
San Patricio Forest, San Juan (787-273-0722) Its trails full of vegetation are ideal for hiking, riding a bicycle, and skating.

Theme Parks

The great thing about these parks is that they feature a great variety of entertainment alternatives for everyone. Visitors will find everything from learning about the history of Puerto Rican sports and playing in water attractions to exploring trails.
Germán Rieckehoff Olympic Village, Salinas (787-824-2200)
Aquaventura, Coamo (787-424-5500)
Monte Frío, Bayamón (787-740-4005)
Surf’N Fun Water Park, San Germán (787-659-7440)
Ramey’s Skate & Splash Park, Aguadilla (787-890-7277)
Juliá de Burgos Park, Carolina (787-257-4635, 787-257-4388)
Parque Familiar, Jayuya (787-232-1731)
Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park, Arecibo (787-880-7540)
We suggest you call in advance to check out each site’s schedule.

Miniature Golf

Does any family member, especially the kids, have a penchant for golf? This could be the beginning of a great adventure.
Aguadilla Bowling Center & Mini Golf, Aguadilla (787-891-3495)
Fajardo Inn Resort, Fajardo (787-860-6000)
Fantasy Island Mini Golf (Rincón Inn), Rincón (787-823-7070)
Parque Familiar, Jayuya (787-232-1731)
Taíno Mini Golf & Café, Aguadilla (787-658-6480)

Bike Riding and Roller-Skating

Admiring nature from a bicycle or while roller-skating allows you to appreciate it from a different perspective. Wearing safety gear is highly recommended.
Piñones State Forest, Carolina (787-791-7750)
Juliá de Burgos Park, Carolina (787-257-4635, 787-257-4388)
Paseo Lineal del Río Bayamón, Bayamón (787-288-0562)
Julio Enrique Monagas Park, Bayamón (787-721-2800)
Muñoz Rivera Park, San Juan (787-721-2800)
Luis Muñoz Marín Park, San Juan (787-480-7777)

All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Adventures

Perfect for those who enjoy riskier rides—but always complying with all safety rules—here are several options:
Frontier Adventures, Carolina (787-974-6717)
Carabalí Rainforest Park, Luquillo (787-889-5820)
Campo Rico Adventures, Carolina (787-629-0222)

Did Someone Say `Beach’?

A visit to Puerto Rico would be incomplete without going to one of our beautiful beaches—especially during this period of pleasant temperatures and bright sunny days! In our “Attractions” section, you will find beaches featuring Blue Flag certification by region. Enjoy your vacation!

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PUERTO RICO’S BEAUTIFUL BEACHES REPRESENT PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST DESIRED ATTRACTIONS FOR THE LGBTTQI COMMUNITIES. HOWEVER, WE CAN OFFER SO MUCH MORE SINCE THE ISLAND’S GREEN COUNTRYSIDE, VARIED CUISINE, CULTURAL WEALTH, ABUNDANT SHOPPING VENUES, VIBRANT NIGHTLIFE, AND THE WARMTH OF OUR PEOPLE MAKE US AN EVER-GROWING LGBTTQI-FRIENDLY DESTINATION.

By Robert Colberg Orengo

And how could it be otherwise when diversity is more than welcome on our island! Nature lovers will find the perfect place to admire our plentiful scenarios within the central mountain region’s forests. Add the white sandy beaches that invite you to bask in the sun, the San Juan metropolitan area’s vibrant nightlife, our restaurants’ delicious fare, and our fantastic shopping centers.

In an informal poll conducted by ¡Qué Pasa!, the top five destinations among participants were:

Supreme Cabo Rojo

A vast majority of our visitors fall in love with the attractions found in the municipality of Cabo Rojo, located in the island’s southwestern region. Boquerón is home to one of the most-visited beaches and a popular beachside village featuring themed restaurants, kiosks selling delectable fritters, and a laid-back atmosphere. You’ll have a grand time here!

If you want to take stunning photos, you must go to Los Morillos lighthouse. In addition to the stunning structure built in 1882—and still in operation—there are trails to be explored on foot or while riding a bike. Other places you should not miss are:

La Playuela – You will find this jewel of nature at the foot of Los Morillos lighthouse. You can happily spend all day here at this pristine beach.
Las Salinas – The site includes lagoons, salt marshes, mangroves, and a dry forest. Its natural diversity allows visitors to observe regional birds, trees, and plants.
Combate Beach – If you want a day of absolute relaxation while watching the horizon and allowing yourself to be caressed by the gentle breeze, this is the place!
Joyuda – This area is known as “The Golden Mile of Good Food” due to its numerous restaurants. Most have dining rooms from which you can watch the sea, the mangroves, Ratones Island, and the lagoon.

Legendary Old San Juan

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You will find so much cultural richness within the walls of the San Juan islet! Hundreds of years of history and tradition attract thousands of visitors each year. All because there is just so much to do in Old San Juan!

Whether as part of a tour or on your own, a walk along the cobblestone streets to admire historic buildings is an experience you shouldn’t miss.

A visit to Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal will take you back to the times when the Spanish ruled Puerto Rico. Going down Del Cristo Street means enjoying one of Old San Juan’s most emblematic areas while shopping in its quaint stores. And visiting one of the many museums will allow you to appreciate art and history from a different perspective.

San Juan Gate – Its location gives tourists the opportunity to visit other attractions such as Plaza de la Rogativa, Paseo del Morro, and Paseo de la Princesa. It’s a great spot for taking pictures.
Paseo de la Princesa – The Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s headquarters—whose structure was once used as a prison—is among the most visited sites by both tourists and locals. The building has an art gallery presenting temporary exhibits, as well as historical areas. At the end of the promenade is the Raíces (roots) fountain, which is part of the beautiful view of the Bay of San Juan. It is a very romantic spot enjoyed by many couples. On weekends, it is common to see artisans along the promenade and live music shows.
Palacio de Santa Catalina – Also known as La Fortaleza, it is the official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico. Along with the San Juan Historical Archives, La Fortaleza was declared a world heritage site by Unesco. Beautiful gardens welcome visitors, who should call 787-721-7000 extension 2211 or 2323 to make reservations to tour the grounds.
Museums – You will be so fascinated by Old San Juan’s history that you’ll definitely want to visit a museum. Take your pick from the San Juan Museum, Felisa Rincón de Gautier Foundation & Museum, La Casa Blanca, Museum of the Americas, Pablo Casals Museum, and La Casa del Libro Library Museum. Visit our Museums page to see a list of museums in both San Juan and the rest of the island.

El Yunque: Green Majesty

In Puerto Rico’s eastern area, a preferred destination is El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest under the U.S. National Park System. Begin your experience by going to El Portal visitors’ center, where you can get information on the forest trails and available tours. Even more detailed information is available at www.fs.usda.gov.

La Coca Falls, Palo Colorado information center, and La Mina trail and its refreshing waterfall are mandatory stops on this adventure. The area’s greenery and the tranquility you will experience there become evident upon reaching the observation tower located at Mt. Britton. The view is simply spectacular—and one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see!

Additional attractions for your consideration include:
Baño Grande – It is an artificial pool built in 1930 that features a stone trail and a structure formerly used as a bathhouse. Although people are no longer allowed to bathe in it, its surroundings are perfect for taking spectacular photos.
Big Tree – This is one of the two trails that reach La Mina waterfall.
Baño de Oro – You will be surrounded by unique beauty as you walk along this trail bordered by numerous trees, plants, and shrubs.
Puente Roto – It is a quiet area where you can spend the day enjoying a segment of Mameyes River.
Angelito – This is a short and easy trail that is usually less congested than others. Your great reward: the natural pool that is formed by Mameyes River.

Partying at La Placita

Located in Santurce, La Placita—the name given to the Market Square area—is an almost mandatory stop to begin enjoying the local nightlife. The gastronomic variety available in the area’s restaurants and bars is ample and ranges from criollo local food to gourmet delicacies. Most establishments and their environments are LGBTTQI-friendly. It is one of the most recommended destinations to become acquainted with the party ambiance within the metropolitan area and to witness how locals have fun. Visit our Dining Section to see a list of restaurants located at or near La Placita.

From there, many people go on to entertainment venues in a hotel lobbies in Condado or Isla Verde. Others tour different LGBTTQI venues in San Juan.

La Parguera

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A small village in the island’s western region that is big on LGBTTQI tourism offerings. The boardwalk has artisans, food kiosks, and restaurants specializing in a wide range of cuisines: seafood, criollo dishes, burgers, vegetarian fare, tapas (small plates), and gourmet delicacies.

This area is home to La Parguera Natural Reserve that features coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and the world-renowned Bioluminescent Bay—which you can visit by boat or kayak. La Parguera’s keys are also popular with visitors and include Mata La Gata, Caracoles, and Cayo Enrique. There are operators who offer rides to these sites.

Another place you should visit while at La Parguera is Playita Rosada Pool. This is the Caribbean’s largest natural pool and has earned a Blue Flag designation. Walk down to the dock to the pool and on the shore you will find tables, barbecue, restrooms, and showers. This attraction is free. Call 787-899-1855 for more information.

Endless Possibilities

Puerto Rico features a world of possibilities for tourists from the LGBTTQI communities. Take advantage of your trip and allow yourself to be seduced by our island’s charm! Go to www.seepuertorico.com and begin planning what is sure to be an unforgettable and fun-filled vacation.
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Consider getting married here!

As if the beauty and variety found in Puerto Rico weren’t enough, same-sex couples can tie the knot on the island. From north to south and from east to west, including the central mountain region, you will find spectacular natural settings to celebrate your union with an official wedding and a lovely reception.

Many reasons make the island the perfect destination for your nuptials. According to event coordinator Rosalina Torres from Momentus Special Events & More, “the tropical climate that prevails throughout the year is extremely attractive for outdoor weddings.”

Other reasons that will help convince you include:
• No laboratory tests are required for non-resident couples, thus making the process of getting legally married on the island so much easier.
• Puerto Rico is a bilingual (Spanish and English) island so communication between foreign clients and wedding service providers also becomes easier.
• There are superb locations for destination weddings throughout the island, including beautiful beaches, stunning colonial structures, superb mountain sites, stately haciendas, and modern hotels.
• Our gastronomic diversity can satisfy any palate. In addition, there are many entertainment venues where you can have fun day or night.

Take note of the requirements you must meet to get married in Puerto Rico—just go to www.seepuertorico.com/es/ experiences/lifestyle/weddings. You can get additional information by calling toll free: 1-800-866-7827 (for English-speaking representatives) or 1-800-981-7575 (in Spanish).

Wedding Coordinators

When planning your big day, get in touch with any of the wedding coordinators endorsed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Tell them your wishes, and they will do their best to make them come true.

AMK Events, Anne Marie Kleis Weddings & Parties Inc.
• 787-721-1285
www.amkevents.com
amkevents@gmail.com

All Events P.R.
• 787-556-8961
www.alleventspr.com
alleventspr@gmail.com

Chezelle Dezines Weddings
• 787-919-0532
www.chezelledezines.com
info@chezelledezines.com

Creating Weddings Group
• 787-225-4008
www.creatingweddingsgroup.com
maribel@creatingweddingsgroup.com

Krizia Díaz Event Planner & Designer
• 787-451-2475
www.kriziadiaz.com
info@kriziadiaz.com

Maité Canela
• 787-397-2277
www.maitecanela.com
francachelapr@hotmail.com

María A. Lugo Wedding Planner
• 787-548-5561
www.marialugopr.com
mariaalugo@gmail.com

Milly Centeno Coordinators
• 787-717-1808
www.millycenteno.com
millycenteno@yahoo.com

Momentus Special Events & More
• 787-391-1366
www.rosalinamomentus.com
momentusspecialevents@gmail.com

Naya’s Idea Event Coordinator
• 787-533-7544
www.nayasidea.com
info@nayasidea.com

Puerto Rico Destination Weddings Inc.
• 939-238-3664
www.prdestinationweddings.com
ashley@prdestinationweddings.com

Tropical Weddings Puerto Rico
• 787-671-1690
www.tropicalweddingspr.com
tropicalweddings@yahoo.com

WedAffair (Gets/Grand Events)
• 787-775-9500
www.wedaffair.com
info@wedaffair.com

Weddings by Silversilke
• 787-633-5509
www.silversilke.com
silversilke@hotmail.com

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A FASCINATING ASPECT OF PUERTO RICAN CULTURE IS OUR MIX OF TAÍNO, SPANISH AND AFRICAN HERITAGES. TAÍNO INFLUENCE IS HIGHLY PRESENT IN EVERYDAY LIFE—IN THE USE OF WORDS AND PHRASES AND IN OUR WORLD-RENOWNED ATTRACTIONS. THIS CONTRIBUTION IS HONORED IN A SCENIC TOUR BRIMMING WITH HISTORY: THE TAÍNO ROUTE.

By ¡Qué Pasa! Staff

While vacationing in Puerto Rico, make sure to include this magical journey that will take you through several towns. We recommend that you wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

People who have enjoyed this unique tour recommend starting off in Arecibo and ending it in Ponce. There are two options: you can devote three consecutive days to the entire tour or you can visit each town individually. Go back to the days of Taíno splendor by exploring the towns that are part of this new route:

Arecibo

This municipality on the island’s northern coast owes its name to indigenous chieftain Arasibo, as this is the region where he once resided. Located less than an hour from the San Juan-metropolitan area, it is a destination you must consider. Some of the attractions you will find while touring this region include:

Cueva del Indio Natural Reserve – This coastal underwater reserve has a cave that features the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Puerto Rico. We advise caution because it is a rocky and steep area—so it is not recommended for visits with children. Endorsed tour-guide services are highly recommended to enjoy one of the most spectacular views in Puerto Rico. You will find a list of providers at the end of this story. Located on PR681 at km 8.1.

Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park – Featuring an indigenous village replica, this theme park highlights Puerto Rican culture. It has a water park and a small aquarium. The breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean is one of its biggest attractions. Located at the intersection of roads PR681 and PR655 / 787-880-7540 / www.arecibolighthouse.com

Viejo Caney Abacoa (Old Abacoa settlement) – This is the ancient settlement where Chief Arasibo lived. It overlooks the mouth of Río Grande de Arecibo.Located on José de Diego Ave., Del Abacoa Square

Monument to the Indigenous Fisherman (Indio Pescador) – Situated at the entrance to Río Grande de Arecibo bridge, the site pays homage to an indigenous fisherman. Located on PR2

René Marqués Museum of Art & History, Archaeological Hall – It is home to a collection of indigenous artifacts found in archaeological sites in Arecibo. Open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. Located at 298 Santiago Iglesias Ave. / 787-510-6529 / 787-333-1063, extension 1500

Ventana Cave – This cave system, whose tour includes Cueva Clara, has petroglyphs and indigenous trails, in addition to one of the most breathtaking views on the island. Located on PR10 at km 75 / 787-322-3554

Río Abajo State Forest – The tour includes a walk along the ancient indigenous forest trails and a visit to a cave with petroglyphs. Groups larger than nine people require permits from the Department of Natural Resources. Located on PR10 at km 4.4 / 787-999-2200, extensions 5612 or 5613

Utuado

This mountain town in central Puerto Rico is named in honor of Chief Otoao, whose name means “between mountains.” The following attractions are a true reflection of the Taíno heritage in Puerto Rico:

Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center – It is the most important attraction within the Antilles. It has a museum displaying archaeological artifacts and a handicrafts shop. It also overlooks the iconic Mount Cemí, a sacred mountain of the Taínos. Open Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located on PR111 at km 48.7 / 787-894-7325

Río Tanamá National Park – An exotic adventure and nature tourism experience. It includes river rafting, caves with petroglyphs, indigenous trails, and a heavenly landscape. Reservations required. Located on PR111 at km 48 / 787-484-3860

Piedra Salto de los Morones Petroglyphs – A petroglyph mural near Río Grande de Arecibo. Touring the river requires caution. Located off PR10 / 787-894-3460

Yacimiento Batey de Salto Arriba – It was an ancient indigenous village where a unique geoglyph in the West Indies stood. Resembles the Nazca lines in Peru. It features a stone wall showing the famous Utuado Sun petroglyph. Located at the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado Campus, PR123 / 787-894-2828

Monument to Don Alonso Chieftain – Built in honor of Otoao, the indigenous chieftain of Utuado whose name means “between mountains”. The name of this municipality derives from his. Located at the Utuado Public Square / 787-894-3460

Jayuya

Also known as the “Indigenous Capital of Puerto Rico,” its name is derived from the Taíno word Hayuya. Visit the following attractions to complete your vacation experience:

Nemesio R. Canales Square – Here you will find the monument to chief Jayuya, the Jayuya Sun mural, and First Tomb of the Puerto Rican Indigenous Inhabitant. 787-828-1241

Jayuya Cultural Center – Its indigenous artifacts exhibition hall is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Located at 25 San Felipe St. / 787-828-2220

La Piedra Escrita Recreational Area – Here you will find the monumental stone that features a mural of significant petroglyphs. While in the area, take a dip in Saliente River and also try delectable local dishes. Located on PR144 at km 2.3 / 787-828-1241

Maboití Arts & Culture Center – It is the home of Cemí Museum where archaeological artifacts can be seen, as well as the first Taíno burial site that includes an indigenous ancestor’s tomb, bateyes (patios), and a shop selling handicrafts. Enjoy the breathtaking view of Tres Picachos Forest. Open Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located in the Coabey district on PR144 / 787-828-1241

Zama Mural – See petroglyphs with the iconic Jayuya Sun at the highest point in Puerto Rico, Cerro Punta. An appointment is required to tour the area. Located on PR527 at km 9.3 / 787-718-1838

Adjuntas

This town in Puerto Rico’s central mountain region is known for its coffee plantations and pleasant temperature during this season. The following attractions feature clear indigenous elements:

Batey Vegas Arriba and Bosque del Pueblo – An indigenous courtyard overlooking a forest that offers a spectacular view. Appointment required. Located at Casa Pueblo / 787-829-4842

Adjuntas Sun Mural – It re-creates petroglyphs depicting the Adjuntas Sun. Located at Arístides Moll Boscana Square / 787-829-3310

Ponce

Puerto Rico’s second-largest city is also known for its Taíno heritage.

Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center – It is one of the oldest and most important indigenous archaeological sites in the Caribbean. It has a museum with archaeological artifacts found on-site. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located on PR503 at km 2.5 / 787-840-2255

EXPERTS AT YOUR SERVICE

Do not miss a detail of our indigenous culture by requesting a guided tour from our expert operators:

Anthony Negrón
939-640-8080
negronanthony79@gmail.com

Armando Navarro
787-934-9373
anavarropr@gmail.com

Clemencia Cepeda
939-244-7911
clem_cepeda@yahoo.com

Frankie Aponte
787-309-9826
frankie@prtourdesk.com

Gonzalo de León
787-377-6911
papalion@gmail.com

Hiram Sánchez
787-649-6112
hisama1953@gmail.com

Héctor Negrón
787-529-9567
negron.hjose@gmail.com

Israel de la Rosa
787-638-2301
idelarosa25@yahoo.com

María del Valle
787-405-0032
mariamdelvalle@gmail.com

Maritza Villanueva
787-955-7621
sol_arena21@yahoo.com

Rafael Quiles
787-612-7150
caribe787@msn.com

Rubén Ramos
787-903-7708
pepekotours@gmail.com

Víctor M. Martínez
787-605-1269
martinezv682@yahoo.com

Wilma Ríos
787-661-1402
wilriosb@gmail.com

TAÍNO CURIOSITIES

• Puerto Rico is known worldwide as Borinquen—which is derived from the indigenous word Boriken, which means “great land of the brave and noble lord.”
• Another place-name used to refer to Puerto Ricans is “Boricua”—which for the Taíno inhabitants meant “brave people of the Sacred House.”
• Nearly half of the names of the island’s municipalities have an indigenous origin: Arecibo (Arasibo), Jayuya (Hayuya), Utuado (Otoao), and Luquillo (Lukiyo), just to mention a few.
• The coquí, our tiny frog, is one of our national symbols. In Taíno language, coki means “spirit of the land’s tree.”
• Canoa (small boat) was the first Taíno word adopted by the Spanish language.
• Hamaca, huracán, iguana, piragüa, maraca, and múcaro are some words Puerto Ricans use every day and come from our Taíno ancestors.
• Our local cuisine has considerable indigenous influence in terms of the names of the ingredients, artifacts, and foods we use: ají, arepa, barbacoa, batata, guanime, and guayo.

LEGEND SAYS…

Archaeologist Norma Medina says there is a legend among indigenous cultures in Mesoamerica (Maya) regarding the destruction of Mother Earth (Atabeyra) by humans at the “end of times.” The “Mujer degollada” (slit-throat woman) petroglyph—the most popular at the Jacanas site in Ponce—is shown as a Taíno symbol of the prophecy about the destruction of nature. Its similarity with the “Mujer de Caguana” (Woman of Caguana) petroglyph in Utuado shows how much Taínos loved and venerated nature.

 

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Where to Stay

The Taíno Route provides an opportunity to discover some of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful landscapes. That is why we recommend you set aside at least three days in which to live a unique experience. Enjoy the wonders of the mountain region by staying in one of the facilities recommended below. This will allow you to visit other attractions brimming with beauty.

Arecibo
Caño Tiburones Guesthouse
158 Julián Sánchez St. / Calle Julián Sánchez #158
787-563-0062
www.facebook.com/ctguesthouse/

Utuado
Hotel Casa Grande
PR612 / Carretera 612
787-894-3939
www.hotelcasagrande.com

Centro Vacacional Lago Caonillas
PR140 at km 27.9 / Carretera 140, km 27.9
787-814-7005

Jayuya
Hacienda Gripiñas
PR527at km 2.5 / Carretera 527, km 2.5
787-828-1717
www.haciendagripinas.tripod.com

Adjuntas
Parador Villas de Sotomayor
PR522 at km 0.2 / Carretera 522, km 0.2
787-829-1717
www.facebook.com/ParadorVillasSotomayor/

Ponce
Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort
1150 Caribe Ave. / Avda. Caribe #1150
787-259-7676
www3.hilton.com

Holiday Inn Ponce & Tropical Casino
3315 Ponce Bypass / Ponce Bypass #3315
787-844-1200
www.ihg.com/holidayinn

Hotel Bélgica
122 Villa St. / Calle Villa #122
787-844-3255
www.hotelbelgica.com

Hotel Meliá
75 Cristina St. / Calle Cristina #75
787-842-0260
www.meliacenturyhotel.com

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SALSA LOVERS WILL HAVE AN ADDITIONAL REASON TO VISIT PUERTO RICO: EXPLORING LA RUTA DE LA SALSA (SALSA ROUTE), A JOURNEY THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS TASTY RHYTHM OF GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE.

By Sergio Sebastián Irizarry

Assisted by knowledgeable tour guides certified by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, you will discover the sites that mark the fascinating history of Puerto Rican Salsa. The journey includes visits to specialty collector-oriented record stores, monuments, and even the tombs of famous Salsa artists. You can also eat at the places they frequented. And if that weren’t enough, you will hear the fascinating stories of the genre’s greatest interpreters and their hits, and also visit the places where they once lived.

One story, two ways of learning more

a-salsa-journey-image-03The Salsa Route currently features two destinations. The first tour—called “De Barrio Obrero a la 15”—covers San Juan’s Santurce neighborhood and includes the following attractions: Las Americas Park Sports Complex, the mosaic in honor of Tite Curet, Placita de los Salseros (Salsa Artists Square), Rafael Cepeda Foundation, San José Cemetery, Ismael Rivera Foundation, the former residence of Tito Rodríguez, the Walk of Fame at Plaza Ventana al Mar, Placita de Santurce (Produce Market), Trastalleres Cultural Center, the Conservatory of Music, La Cerra Musical record store, Cerra Street, La Esquina Watusi bar, and the Salsa Museum.

The second tour—called “Calle Luna, Calle Sol”—focuses on Old San Juan sites. Places you can visit and take pictures include: the Popular Culture Foundation, the sculpture of Tite Curet Alonso in De Armas Square, Manuel Tisol antique home, the former home of Manuel Gregorio Tavárez, the Popular Arts and African Heritage halls in the Museum of the Americas, María Magdalena de Pazzi Cemetery, Ismael Rivera Square in La Perla neighborhood, the former residence of Giovanni Hidalgo, the former residence of Humberto Ramírez, Luna Street, Arturo Somohano Square, and souvenir stores on Fortaleza Street, among others.
For more details, visit Facebook/RutadelaSalsa. You can also call 787-721-2400, extension 1704, or send an email to maria.morales@tourism.pr.gov.

Go with the Pros

If you want to enjoy the route to the fullest extent, it is highly recommended you take a tour with a certified guide. Contact any of these professionals listed bellow to include one or both tours during your itinerary.

Alexis Agostini
787-459-5880 / alexisagostini@yahoo.com

Ángel Bula
939-640-2659 / albertobula17@gmail.com

Anthony Negrón
939-640-8080 / negronanthony79@gmail.com

Astacio Santiago
787-344-9133 / astaciosantiago@gmail.com

CL Tours
787-414-2025 / cltourspr@gmail.com

Christopher Vélez
787-550-3223 / chrisvelezpr@gmail.com

Félix González
787-717-5963 / felgon@hotmail.com

Héctor Sánchez
787-960-3060 / elturistologo07@gmail.com

Kenneth Rodríguez
787-485-0337 / kenny.21@icloud.com

Leopoldo Rosso
787-210-2096 / leopoldorosso@gmail.com
Marcos Hurtado
787-448-4616

Modesto Velázquez
787-219-9829 / modesto1956@yahoo.com

Nelson Oliveras
787-996-4491 / go4atour@hotmail.com

Omar Ruiz
787-391-0706 / expertourspr@gmail.com

Rafael Quiles
787-566-0611 / caribe787@msn.com

Salvador Castro
787-638-3755 / salvadorcastropr@gmail.com

Five Facts all Salsa Lovers Should Know

Salsa is the most-danced rhythm in the world.
• Puerto Rico is the ultimate exponent of Salsa worldwide and is the country that has generated the most Salsa artists.
• With a musical career spanning over 60 years, La Sonora Ponceña is one of the world’s oldest Salsa bands. Its founder, Quique Lucca, conducted the orchestra until his death at age 103, making him the musician with the longest career in the tropical genre.
• El Gran Combo is considered the world’s most famous Salsa orchestra. The many international awards received throughout its more than 50 years of musical history prove this fact.
• Marc Anthony, winner of several Grammy Awards, holds the Guinness record for being the tropical music lead singer who has sold the most albums in music history.

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Let’s Dance!

There are many places where you can enjoy Salsa music. Hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs are great places for a free Salsa lesson. If you’re one of the people whose feet get going as soon as you hear the first chords, you will also find the right place to go dancing as well as the best days to attend.

Hotels

Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort. 7012 Boca de Cangrejos Ave., Carolina / 787-791-0404 Friday and Saturday, 8:00 p.m.
InterContinental San Juan Hotel. 5961 Isla Verde Ave., Carolina / 787-791-6100 Friday, 10:00 p.m.
San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino Red Coral Lounge. 1309 Ashford Ave., Condado / 787-722-7000. Friday and Saturday, 8:00 p.m.

Clubs and Restaurants with a Salsa Ambiance

Blue Martini Paseo Caribe, San Juan. (35 Muñoz Rivera Ave., next to the Caribe Hilton hotel) / 787-923-5406. Tuesday and Thursday evenings
Code Bar & Lounge. 137 Roosevelt Ave., Hato Rey, San Juan / 787-225-5568. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:00 p.m.
La Factoría. 148 San Sebastián St., Old San Juan / 787-412-4251. Friday and Saturday evenings
La Neurona Pub & Restaurant. 983 Américo Miranda Ave., Río Piedras, San Juan / 787-754-7321. Monday and Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. (seasonal)
Mijani, The Club. 252 Dos Hermanos Ave., Placita de Santurce, San Juan. Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
Nuyorican Café. 312 San Francisco St., Old San Juan / 787-977-1276. Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 p.m.
Océano Bar & Lounge. 2 Vendig St., Condado / 787-724-6300. Free Salsa lessons on Tuesday, 10:00 p.m.
Overtime. K-6 San Patricio Ave., Guaynabo / 787-221-1010. Wednesday evenings
Restaurante Triana. 251 Recinto Sur St., Old San Juan / 787-725-8819. Free Salsa lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
Sal Pa’fuera. Plaza Shopping Center, Punta Las Marías, Isla Verde / 787-296-9665. Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
The A Bar & Lounge. 1412 Ponce de León Ave., Santurce / 787-922-5041. Thursday, 9:00 p.m.

To find other places that offer Salsa lessons, check out these Facebook pages: SanJuanEsSalsa, BayamónCiudadSalsera and EssenceDanceAcademy. You can also go to www.SalserosEnClave.com.

Sit Back & Listen

Salsa lovers have an additional option: visiting a picturesque bar, sipping your favorite drink, and listening to Salsa classics of while chatting with your friends–or making new ones. Here are a few local bar suggestions:

Local Bars

El Adoquín del Patio. Tanca St., Old San Juan. Saturday, 5:00 p.m.
El Balcón del Zumbador. At the end of Barbosa Ave., Santurce / 787-728-6323 / Facebook/CambioEnClave. Friday and Saturday evenings
El Boricua. 5 Saldaña St., Río Piedras downtown area / 787-429-0260. Wednesday and Thursday evenings
Taberna Los Vázquez. Dos Hermanos St., Placita de Santurce / 787-996-2253. Wednesday to Sunday
El Coabey. S-2 1 St., Puerto Nuevo, San Juan / 787-297-2416. Thursday to Saturday, 8:00 p.m.
El Naza Pub. Puerta de Tierra neighborhood, Old San Juan. Weekend evenings
La Esquina Watusi. 1003 Cerra St., Santurce / 787-388-7434. Monday to Saturday afternoon and evening.
Los Almendros. PR169 at km 1.8, Camarones district, Guaynabo / 787-948–0959. Friday, 6:00 p.m.

Time for Everything

Are you entertaining the idea of creating a journey in which you can dance to your heart’s content, enjoy our delectable Puerto Rican cuisine, and learn more about Salsa? Then you will be pleased to know that there are packages available that include transportation, lodging, visiting the route, lessons, and a Salsa night tour! Learn more at Facebook/VancentiveGroup page Corp. and HB Travel.

ONE OF THE ASPECTS THAT DISTINGUISHES PUERTO RICANS IS THEIR SPIRIT OF JOYFUL CELEBRATION AT ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. THEREFORE, IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT THE ISLAND HAS THE WORLD’S LONGEST HOLIDAY SEASON SINCE LOCAL HOLIDAY EVENTS KICK OFF IN EARLY NOVEMBER AND END IN MID-JANUARY.

By ¡Qué Pasa! Staff

You will find celebrations practically everywhere during the season. The atmosphere is filled with vibrant colors, festive music, and yummy local delicacies. Visiting every corner of Puerto Rico becomes a unique experience as municipalities provide great events for both tourists and locals.

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Festivities begin with events called Encendidos Navideños (tree-lighting celebrations) in which municipalities showcase their holiday decorations and offer free shows and musical performances. By mid-December, trullas (the local equivalent of caroling) are seen in town squares, filling them with traditional rhythms. Aguinaldo Masses (music-filled early-morning worshipping at Catholic churches) are also an essential component of the holiday celebrations. Should you arrive on the island in January, know that several world-known events that reflect Puerto Ricans’ festive nature will be waiting for you.

Are you preparing your holiday schedule? The following list will be very helpful in planning your itinerary once you arrive in Puerto Rico.

Metro Region

OLD SAN JUAN AND SANTURCE
December 1-4: The Nutcracker
The grandeur, set design, costumes, and magic of this staging by Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico have made this a must-see presentation of the world-known holiday classic at the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center. 787-724-7032

December 10: Holiday Boat Parade
Organized by Club Náutico de San Juan, this colorful parade features boats decked in holiday decorations and lights. The event starts in the Isla Grande area and ends at Pier 6 in Old San Juan. The best spots to watch the parade are Bahía Urbana and Paseo de la Princesa. 787-722-0177

December 17-23: Aguinaldo Masses
They begin at 5:30 a.m. at different churches in Old San Juan. Schedule: December 17 at the Cathedral, Dec. 18 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Dec. 19 in La Puntilla neighborhood, Dec. 20 at the Siervas de María convent, Dec. 21 at the San Conrado chapel, Dec. 22 at the Santa Ana church, and Dec. 23 back at the Cathedral. 787-722-0861

January 19-22: San Sebastián Street Festival
During this weekend the streets of Old San Juan come alive to the rhythm of Bomba and Plena music kicking off grand parades with masked dancers and local characters who will stroll through Old San Juan streets all the way to San Sebastián St. There will be artisans, food kiosks, and local music in nearby courtyards and squares, and also inside the Ballajá Barracks building. 787-725-7559 / 787-723-7800

North Region

DORADO (787-796-6001)
December 10: Holiday Festival

Gran Parque El Dorado, 7:00 p.m. There will be kiddie attractions, children’s shows, musical performances, and food kiosks serving typical dishes and snacks.

December 10: Municipal Band Concert
Juan Boria Arts Center, 7:00 p.m.

December 15: 4th Handicrafts Fair
Casa del Artesano, 11:00 a.m.

December 17: El Mejor Regalo play
Juan Boria Arts Center, 7:00 p.m.

HATILLO (787-262-2093 / 787-262-3561)
December 27: Innocents’ Day Festival

José Ramón Millán Square. Children are the guests of honor in this religious festival that includes music, gifts, snacks, and more.

December 28: Masks Festival
José Ramón Millán Square. Hundreds of Hatillo residents take to the streets in pairs or in groups wearing gauzy and colorful costumes with their faces covered with masks. The parade starts in different neighborhoods and ends in the town square, where you can enjoy food, handicrafts, and live music.

the-party-keep-going-02West Region

MOCA (787-877-1080)
December 2-4: Parranda Los Enchaquetaos (Caroling Event)

Juan D. Quiñones Square. That’s what they call the group of gentlemen who attend all events wearing jackets, ties, and their distinctive Italian hats. Visitors enjoy caroling, music, and local foods.

December 25-29: Masks Festival
Capá Community. People with colorful masks and costumes run or ride on horseback through the streets from the early morning hours. There is food, handicrafts, and music.

LAJAS (787-899-1335, Extensions 1660 and 1665 / 787-899-1450)
December 3: Holiday Troubadour Festival

La Parguera, 7:00 p.m.

QUEBRADILLAS (787-895-1070)
December 3: Güiro Festival

Luis Muñoz Rivera Square.

SAN SEBASTIÁN (939-640-9506)
January 15: Heifer Festival

Cruz Salto Neighborhood, PR111. A parade of floats decorated with different scenes from Puerto Rican folklore and customs.

CABO ROJO (787-254-2358)
December 31: New Year’s Eve Party

Parador Combate Beach

South Region

VILLALBA (787-847-2500)
December 9-11: Pigeon Pea Festival

Town Square. Attendees will enjoy delicious dishes made with pigeon peas. Traditional music performances, exhibitions, and children’s attractions are part of the event.

COAMO (787-825-1150)
December 17-23: Aguinaldo Masses

San Blas Illescas Church, 5:00 a.m.

JUANA DÍAZ (787-260-0817)
January 6: Feast of the Three Kings

Casa Museo de los Santos Reyes. Numerous families attend the event wearing costumes and playing different instruments to create their own joyful rhythms. There are also artisans who specialize in creating works inspired by the Magi. The tradition is so strong that it has produced the first themed museum devoted to the Three Kings in all Latin America.

Central Region

OROCOVIS (787-867-5000 / 787-867-2718)
December 18: National Woodcarvers Meet

Ramos Antonini Street. This cultural event focuses on the tradition of carving wooden saints. There will be local food kiosks and entertainment.

JAYUYA (787-828-0900)
December 2 to January 8: Holiday Forest

Municipal parking, 9:00 a.m. Exhibits include holiday scenes and light sculptures. There will be live music and traditional foods.

East Region

RÍO GRANDE (787-888-2828)
December 1: Jíbaro Holidays

Palmer Square. The event features handicrafts, music, farmers, free workshops, food kiosks, and more. Wearing jíbaro (country-folk) garb is encouraged.

LAS PIEDRAS (787-733-2160)
December 9-11: Roast Pork Festival

Paseo Artesanal. Delicious dishes made with pork; guest artists, and children’s attractions.

CAGUAS (787-653-8990)
December 16-January 8: Holiday Garden

Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden, 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Traditional scenes, decorations with lights, seasonal dishes, and shows.

CULEBRA (787-742-1033)
December 31: Happy New Year

Town Square. Welcome 2017 with a fun local party.

We recommend calling in advance for more information on schedules and other details.

Holiday Family Fun While Shopping

Shopping centers across the island—as well as urban markets and downtown stores—celebrate the Holiday Season in style. That is why they often hold events that include live holiday music on weekends. Children will have a blast welcoming Santa Claus and the Three Kings. All shopping centers have extended hours during this season. Check out the list on Shopping.

Make the most of the Holiday Season and your trip to Puerto Rico by purchasing beautiful handicrafts made by Puerto Rican artisans. A good idea is to visit Old San Juan, enjoy its magnificent architecture, dine in one of its restaurants, and acquire that special something that will remind you of the best holidays of your life.

Merriment in Hotels and Restaurants

In Puerto Rico, the joy of the Holiday Season is also present in most hotels and restaurants, which feature live holiday music on weekends. On key dates (December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1) they also offer buffet dinners, shows with guest performers, dance music, Salsa lessons, disc jockeys, and surprises. We recommend you contact the hotel or restaurant of your choice for details and reservations. See our lodgings list on Lodging  and our restaurant list on Dining. You can get additional information at www.seepuertorico.com.

AS YOU APROACH TO GUAYAMA, THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF ITS GREEN FIELDS, AN IMMACULATE DOWNTOWN AREA, AND A COAST OF UNPARALLELED APPEAL HERALD AN ADVENTURE FULL OF HISTORY, CULTURE, AND FINE DINING. THESE ARE PART OF THE HALLMARKS THAT MAKE RESIDENTS AND VISITORS ALIKE FALL IN LOVE WITH GUAYAMA’S UNIQUE CHARM.

By: Robert Colberg Orengo
Photos: Yoel Parrilla and Juan José Rodrígue

Past and Present Go Hand in Hand

The architecture that surrounds the Ciudad Bruja’s (Witch City) downtown area showcases the historical wealth of a coastal area that flirts with the mountain region. Other facilities brimming with evident modern air coexist here, adding variety to Guayama’s many tourism-oriented offerings. Wear light clothing and comfortable shoes, and get ready to have a great time with your whole family! The photos and videos you’ll capture to perpetuate your visit here will be simply spectacular. You can explore locations on your own, but it is advisable to take advantage of the free trolleybus tour. An expert guide will provide information on the tourism attractions that are located in the downtown area. Call the Municipal Tourism Office at 787-866- 2506 for more details about available tour schedules.

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SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA CHURCH

The only neo-romantic style church in Puerto Rico took 40 years to build (1827-1867). Here’s an interesting fact: two clocks are displayed on the façade; one is a hand-painted timepiece that marks the time when the church was baptized, and the other was brought from Switzerland.

CRISTÓBAL COLÓN SQUARE

In its center rests the water fountain donated by former Mayor Genaro Cautiño in 1918. Around it, 16 gardens featuring leafy laurel trees (planted in 1895) provide cooling shade to the 118 benches and the three monuments you’ll find there: two in honor of the Guayama-born soldiers who perished during different wars and one that highlights the life and work of writer Luis Palés Matos.

One City, Three Gastronomic Routes

The culinary wealth of Guayama is evident in its Gastronomic Routes. Whether in the downtown area, on the coast or while enjoying the mountains’ greenery, you will find a restaurant endorsed by this program. Puerto Rican treats have their place on this route, as do international dishes. Did you know that Puerto Rico’s most delicious pastelillos (fried turnovers) as well as the island’s largest alcapurrias (meat- or seafood-filled fritters) are found in Guayama?

The event known as Noches de Encanto (Enchanting Nights)—which is held once a month in the Cristóbal Colón Square—will allow you to sample the local gastronomic varieties, as well as enjoy art exhibits, performances, and shows.

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CASA CAUTIÑO MUSEUM

This majestic building built in 1887 is located on one side of Cristóbal Colón Square. It was designed by Guayama-born architect Manuel Texidor and served as the home of three generations of the prestigious Cautiño family, known for their contributions to the town’s culture and development. Casa Cautiño, one of the best examples of of neoclassical architecture with evident criollo influences, exhibits much of its former inhabitants’ furniture and belongings.

 

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EL LEGADO GOLF COURSE

A beautiful 285-hectare valley surrounded by the Central Mountain Range and caressed by the Caribbean Sea is the setting for this 7,200-yard 18-hole course. At its Guamaní restaurant you can sample exquisite dishes from our local cuisine and enjoy a great variety of drinks while basking in the breathtaking view. Learn more about the restaurant’s hours of operation and prices by calling 787-866-8894.

PUNTA POZUELO

This is one of those places where you feel so comfortable that you will want to come back again and again. The impressive view of Jobos Bay is the top attraction, followed closely by the restaurants where you can enjoy tasty Puerto Rican and international delicacies. You can take a boat trip through the bay and the nearby mangroves that are part of the Jobos Bay Reserve.

ADOLFO PORRATA DORIA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

It originally housed the Superior Court of Guayama. This classic ionic building built in 1927 now features an art exhibit room, expo-theater, and a hall for cultural events. In the lobby you can admire a collection of 180 Bibles from different parts of the world, including the smallest known to date.

Other Places to Visit

• Town Hall
• Guayama Theater
• Casa del Rey
• Casa del Poeta
• Totem: Urban Memory
• Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso Convention Center
• Carite Forest
• Yacht Club
• Club Náutico

At www.visitaguayama.com you can get more information about these and other attractions to include on your tour.

Interesting Facts

• Guayama comes from “Guamaní,” a Taíno indigenous word given to the area or the river, which means “our path” or “big place.” Another version points to Guayama, an indigenous chieftain captured by the Spaniards and exiled to the Dominican Republic. That is why the town is also known as “La Ciudad del Guamaní” (“The City of Guamaní”).
• The town’s nicknames “Pueblo de los Brujos” (“Witches’ Town”) and “La Ciudad Bruja” (“Witch City”) come from Moncho el Brujo, a well-known local baseball pitcher. Legend says that Guayama’s inhabitants brought candles, magic powders, and wild herbs to the games to intimidate opponents.

The richness of Puerto Rican cuisine is evident during the Holiday Season. The fusion of ingredients grown locally using modern elaboration techniques has earned the island a privileged reputation within international gastronomic circles.

By Robert Colberg Orengo

The so-called “fusion cuisine” integrates different ingredients and various processing techniques for a creative, tasty, and memorable end result. In that sense, our guest chefs are true masters, as Puerto Rico’s traditional holiday dishes take on a different dimension in their hands.

Chef José Santaella

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For this renowned national gastronomy expert, the Puerto Rican delicacies he would recommend during the Holiday Season include the well-known pasteles, accompanied with rice with pigeon peas and lechón. An exquisite classic that can also be had year-round!

In fact, this would be part of the menu created by the owner of Santaella restaurant if he caters a banquet for a group of visitors. The complements would be morcillas, fresh-picked green bananas, tembleque for dessert and coquito as a beverage. An ode to Puerto Rican cuisine!

Codfish Fritters

Ingredients:
• 1/2 pound cod fillet
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 cups water
• Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions:
1. Boil cod in water for two minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and immerse immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process. Once it is cold, crumble cod.
2. In a separate bowl, place cod and add flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, garlic, cilantro, two cups of water, and mix well. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a deep, heavy frying pan. Use a ladle to pour the dough into the boiling oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove fritters from the frying pan and place in a dish covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve immediately.


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Chef Luis R. Piñeiro

chef-luis-r-pineiroThe owner of Piñeiro’s Latin Cuisine & Seafood bets on the gastronomic choices in Puerto Rico’s western region when treating a tourist to dinner. “I would definitely take them to the Porta del Sol region, specifically to Cabo Rojo. There I would offer them the best of the local catch of the day, a mofongo stuffed with seafood or a fried fish with caramelized onions and tostones,” he said. As a highlight for this season, he presented a roasted leg of suckling pig, mamposteado rice with pigeon peas and chorizo with pickled green bananas, apple puree, and cilantro oil.

From the local cuisine available all year long, he would recommend “rice with pigeon peas, ribs, and chorizo.” The best side dishes, in his opinion, would be lechón (spit-roasted pork) marinated with local spices, pork morcillas (blood sausages), and grilled yucca empanada (longer and thinner than a pastel, it is wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked over an open fire).

¡Qué Pasa! (QP): Suppose a visitor hires you to cook a delectable dinner to ring in the New Year. What would it include?

Luis R. Piñeiro (LRP): “As a starter, I would offer some almojábanas (rice flour fritters) with butter and local cheese along with some celeriac fritters. The main course would be rice with fresh pigeon peas and pork ribs cooked over firewood, lechón with crunchy golden skin, and green banana pasteles. To drink, we would have sesame horchata (a milky drink made from ground nuts), and chocolate pitorro (strong artisanal liqueur). For dessert, coconut and cinnamon tembleque.”

Spit-roasted Leg of Piglet

Ingredients:
• 8 ounces of suckling pig’s leg
• 2 cloves garlic
• Salt to taste
• Pepper to taste
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• 3 ounces olive oil

Process:
Season the suckling pig and refrigerate for 12 hours. If you do not have a grill or barbecue, you can cook it in the oven. To do this, heat oven to 350° F and cook for four hours or until the meat is juicy.

Pigeon Pea Mamposteao Rice

Ingredients:
• 4 ounces stewed fresh pigeon peas
• 8 ounces white rice, previously made
• 1 teaspoon chopped onion
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
• 1 ounce chorizo
• 1 teaspoon grated green banana

Instructions:
In a pan over medium heat, combine rice, stewed pigeon peas, along with the rest of the ingredients. Remove from heat when all are mixed and the onion has become transparent.

Pickled Green Bananas

Ingredients:
• 3 boiled green bananas
• 1 ounce chopped onion
• 1 ounce chopped green peppers
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 clove garlic
• 2 ounces olive oil
• 2 ounces vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Peel the bananas and boil them. When soft, remove from heat. Let them cool and cut into slices about one-half inch thick. Pour into a bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Let stand at least one day for all flavors to combine.


pasteles

Chef Wilo Benet

chef-wilo-benetPasteles (tamale-like boiled delicacies) are the beloved Puerto Rican holiday dish that the owner of Pikayo restaurant would recommend tourists sample. Therefore he chose this tasty dish to represent him. Pasteles’ usual rectangular shape has been reinterpreted in a cylindrical form—that’s quite an unexpected twist! Benet’s pasteles are made with yucca (cassava), green bananas, and pumpkin and are stuffed with pork confit. An emulsion of sweet peppers and local tomatoes serves as a complement.

¡Qué Pasa! (QP): Where would you take a tourist who has never tasted any Puerto Rican delicacy?

Wilo Benet (WB): “I would take them to El Cuñao restaurant in Cayey or to the Don Candy fish market in Fajardo.”

QP: If you had to design a typical Puerto Rican menu for a New Year’s Eve event, what would it include?

WB: “I would do it but with a different twist: pigeon pea soup with green banana balls and chicharrón (pork cracklings); pasteles made with yucca, green bananas, and pumpkin with pork confit; an emulsion of sweet peppers and local tomatoes; organic local watercress salad. As a beverage, I would serve DonQ white rum with passion fruit. To complete the experience, my dessert would be a terrine of tembleque (coconut milk-based chilled custard) with grated sesame and chocolate sauce.”

Pasteles

Ingredients:
• 1 pound pork loin
• teaspoon adobo (island seasoning)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small onion cut into small cubes
• 4 cloves garlic, ground
• 1/2 cubanelle pepper cut into small cubes, without seeds or the inner white bark
• 2 tablespoons of sofrito (tomato and herb based sauce)
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
• 1/4 cup tomato sauce
• 1/2 cup green olives stuffed with peppers
• 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1 cup of water
• 8 banana leaves cut into 12” x 12”
• 5 cups of taro root dough (To prepare the dough: “After peeling, grind them in the food processor or grater.”)

Instructions:
1. Clean meat; cut and discard excess fat from pork loin. Cut pork loin into cubes, season with adobo, and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add pork cubes and sauté for about three minutes, stirring sporadically. Stir in the onion, garlic, cubanelle pepper, sofrito, and cilantro. Mix well and cook for an additional two minutes until onion is translucent and has lost its raw flavor.
3. Add and stir in tomato sauce, olives, chickpeas, raisins, and then a cup of water. Lower heat to medium and, stirring sporadically, continue cooking for 30 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed, flavors are concentrated, and the meat is very tender. Remove from heat and set aside until it reaches room temperature.
4. Meanwhile, loosen banana leaves and remove any hard stalks left from the edges. Using kitchen tongs, hold leaves over a gas flame or an electric burner for about 20 seconds on each side. Be sure to move them continuously while over the heat source to avoid burning the leaves. This operation makes them more flexible and promotes the release of their natural oils, which imbue pasteles with flavor.
5. Form the pasteles. In a bowl, combine the taro root dough with the pork preparation and mix well. Place the banana leaf on a flat surface. Pour a cup of the pork mixture over the center of the leaf, leaving at least two inches on each side. Fold the bottom edge over the mixture and fold it over itself twice, as if it were a package. Using your hand, push the filling of the open side inward to compact the “package,” and fold over the open parts of the leaf. Set aside and repeat the process with the remaining banana leaves and filling.
6. Steam the pasteles on a bamboo steamer for 20 minutes, to the point the dough retains its shape and is well-cookedl. To serve, remove each pastel from its wrapper. To experience as the locals, if desired, pack the wrapped pasteles with butcher’s thread and freeze them. To prepare them, just place them in a pot, cover with water, and boil for 45 minutes.


mallorca-bread-pudin

Chef Mercedes Grubb

chef-mercedes-grubb“Of the many holiday dishes made in Puerto Rico, one is essential: pasteles. The technique, the elaboration, and the taste show the affection we have for this seasonal gift,” said the chef of Gallo Negro restaurant when we asked her what delicacy is an integral part of the Puerto Rican culinary tradition.

The Piñones beach sector, located between Isla Verde and Loíza, would be the area selected if she were to take a visitor to become acquainted with our local cuisine. “By going there, you cover all bases: alcapurrias (meat or seafoodfilled fritters), bacalaítos (cod fritters), pinchos (kebabs), fresh fish, and mofongo (fried, mashed plantain)—which is mandatory—accompanied with cold coconut water with Ron del Barrilito rum,” our interviewee said.

QP: What do you believe is the perfect menu for the Holiday Season?

Mercedes Grubb (MB): “It would include tostones (fried green plantain slices) stuffed with rabbit fricassee as an appetizer. The main course would be a pigeon peas risotto with pernil (roasted pork leg) confit, onions, and avocado mousse. For dessert, I would consider a pudding made with mallorca (sweet and airy bakery specialty) bread and coquito (coconut-based eggnog) made with Ron del Barrilito with Chantilly crème and nuts, which is what I present here.”

Mallorca bread pudding á la Ron del Barrilito

Ingredients:
• 2 eggs
• 2 tablespoons melted butter
• 2 vanilla beans (scrape the pulp with a spoon)
• 2 cups coconut milk
• 1/2 cup Barrilito Rum
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 cups mallorca bread, diced into cubes
• 1/2 cup nuts of your choice

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Beat eggs along with butter, vanilla, coconut milk, Barrilito Rum, sugar, and salt.
2. In a pan covered with butter, add the bread to form a layer. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and add nuts. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top of the bread pudding is golden.

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