By ¡Qué Pasa! Staff

Plan a trip whose purpose is to live a pleasant experience, either with your partner or with your family or friends. The ambiance is relaxed and brimming with the certainty that you will find perfect places to make this one of the best vacations of your life. If you add the fact that you will be in direct contact with the locals, good and helpful people waiting for you with open arms, the experience becomes even better.

Take as a starting point the privileged location of the family-run inns that are part of the Paradores Puertorriqueños (country inns) program. Consider staying in one of them to enjoy a great location with a family-friendly atmosphere and affordable prices. At the end of this story, you will see the list of participating hotels as well as their contact information.

Diversified North

How about we begin the journey along the north coast? Parador El Buen Café in Hatillo is close to the Río Camuy Cave Park as well as the Arecibo Observatory—featuring the world’s second-largest radio telescope—the Arecibo Lighthouse, and the imposing statue of Christopher Columbus. Cueva Ventana is also located nearby, as are Sardinera Beach, Cueva del Indio, and the historic Stone Church built in 1912 in the town of Camuy.

Western Countryside and Coastal Area

As you head to the Guajataca area, you’ll discover impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as an old railroad tunnel and the San Antonio de Padua hermitage. We also recommend a visit to the Guajataca Forest as it is a subtropical rainforest in which unique flora and fauna coexist. La Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind) is another natural site to consider.

Great attractions will be much closer if you choose to stay at Parador Villas del Mar Hau in Isabela. This municipality has beautiful sand beaches—including Middles and Jobos, two world-known surfing sites. Visitors should be cautious since the surf is sometimes strong. In the area, you can enjoy delectable food, as well as fried fish and local seafood dishes.

From Isabela go to Aguadilla, where Parador El Faro awaits you. Make it your home base to enjoy superb beaches such as Crashboat, Wilderness, and Surfer Beach, perfect for watersports. Nearby, you’ll find Paseo Real Marina, Aguadilla Iceskating Arena, and Las Cascadas Water Park. The gastronomic choices have grown in this part of the island, so it will be easy to satisfy your demanding palate.

Head on to the town of Rincón, a mecca for surfers and the home of Parador Villa Antonio. If you want to watch a beautiful sunset, you can do so at the Rincón Lighthouse Park. Snorkel at Tres Palmas Marine Reserve or enjoy scuba diving on Desecheo Island. There are different certified operators who will gladly take you there. Find them on the Having Fun / Scuba Diving section.

Cabo Rojo is the town where Parador Boquemar and Parador Combate Beach are located, very close to internationally acclaimed attractions. The eateries located in the Boquerón area will give you a better idea of just how tasty the local seafood really is. The Caribbean Sea amazes great visitors with beautiful beaches such as Joyuda, Buyé, La Playuela, and Isla Ratones. The salt marshes and Los Morrillos Lighthouse are must-see sites due to their surroundings of indescribable beauty.

Access to this part of the island is easy since there are direct flights to Aguadilla from some U.S. destinations. Therefore, the western region is an excellent option to begin your stay in Puerto Rico.

The Southwest and Head to the Central Region

In the island’s southwestern region, you will find the attractions of La Parguera, home to a world-acclaimed bioluminescent bay, the beautiful Caracoles and Mata La Gata cays, and Parador Turtle Bay Inn, which is ready to welcome you. La Pared Beach is a highly recommended diving destination. Playita Rosada, which boasts a Blue Flag distinction, is also highly recommended, as is touring the lovely mangrove canals.

Just a few minutes away, you will find the town of Guánica and Parador Guánica 1929. Take advantage of your stay and visit the nearby attractions: the Guánica Dry Forest, the ruins of the Ensenada sugar mill, Hammock Bridge, the Fort Capron ruins, and Gilligan’s Island, one of the area’s most frequented beaches.

Once you get to the center of the island, visiting the town of Adjuntas will allow you to appreciate another side of Puerto Rico: its beautiful rural setting. Parador Villas de Sotomayor could become your home-away-from-home while exploring Las Garzas waterfall and reservoir, El Ataúd natural pool, Guilarte Forest, and Cerro Guilarte peak.

Spectacular East

Have we mentioned that Puerto Rico’s eastern region will captivate you with its spectacular cliffs, dream spots, and seductive beaches? Take note when planning your visit!

To explore El Yunque rainforest at a leisurely pace, consider staying at the nearby Parador Yunquemar. Continue your journey in Puerto Rico’s eastern region by visiting the town of Yabucoa, whose peaceful surroundings will disconnect you from the everyday hustle and bustle. Parador Palmas de Lucía is located on the beach bearing the same name, while Parador Costa del Mar offers panoramic views and is close to places of interest such as the Wildlife Park and the Inés María Mendoza Reserve, among others.

The cliff near the Maunabo Lighthouse is a spectacle of nature that must be witnessed. Maunabo’s Bohíos Beach is favored by locals and tourists looking to capture images of impeccable beauty. If you want to hike, the place to visit with a certified guide is the majestic Sierra de Guardarraya. Bring your day of adventures to an end by resting peacefully at Parador MaunaCaribe.

As you can see, Puerto Rico could very well be described as a wonderland, thanks to its charming natural resources, its hotels that provide impeccable service, and its people who can’t wait to shower visitors with friendly assistance.

See our list of Paradores in the Lodging/ Paradores section.



By Robert Colberg Orengo

For senior citizens, “More than a matter of age, it’s about addressing the need to fulfill one’s wish list and discover places that make you feel full of life and health,” said Maruja Roger, a consultant and expert on this particular population segment.

Many Places From Which to Choose

Puerto Rico fully complies with the abovementioned premise. Whether on a short trip or an extended stay, there are many possibilities available to Baby Boomers that will allow them to enjoy an unforgettable vacation. “They can do whatever they want on the island since the advantage is that everything is so close; you can devote a full day to Old San Juan or spend time in any of our casinos. Our beaches are ideal for family or solo outings,” our interviewee said.

Additional places that will appeal to Baby Boomers include:

  • Old San Juan – The Walled City contains centuries of tradition, culture, and history. Walking along its cobblestone streets is quite magical as it allows you to be in direct contact with our colonial architecture. It’s a great shopping destination and the best place for grabbing a bite! Palacio de Santa Catalina (La Fortaleza) and the San Juan Historical Archive were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, as were the forts and walls that characterize the city. La Fortaleza (the official residence of the island’s governor) offers guided indoor and garden tours free of charge. Call 787-721-7000 for more information.
  • El Yunque – Along its trails you can observe the exuberant flora, admire fabulous views, and watch the many birds that call the area home. It is recommended to have a certified tour guide accompany you when visiting this tropical rainforest. Begin your experience at El Portal Visitors Center. For more information go to our Destinations / East section.
  • Bioluminescent Bays – These marvels can be admired in Lajas (La Parguera), Fajardo (Laguna Grande), and Vieques (Mosquito Bay). On our Having Fun / Nature & Adventure section you will find a list of tour companies who can take you on a tour. This is an experience you simply cannot miss!
  • Río Camuy Cave Park – The world’s third-largest underground river awaits you to discover its incomparable beauty. You can also explore the Tres Pueblos Sinkhole, a natural depression located within the municipalities of Camuy, Hatillo, and Lares. There is also Cueva Clara de Empalme, which amazes visitors with its impressive formations. In our Destinations / North section you will find the number to call and learn more about schedules and tours.

For Action Lovers

Take advantage of the vast sea that surrounds the island and enjoy it from a different perspective. How about a trip on a catamaran? You will find many tour operators under the Having Fun / Nautical & Watersports section. You can also watch a sunset in Old San Juan from a boat or while strolling around the bay. For those who prefer to immerse themselves in the crystalline waters off the Puerto Rican coast, there are plenty of aquatic activities available: paddleboarding, diving, kiteboarding and fishing. You will have a terrific time! Several companies can help you plan a fun day. Go to our Having Fun / Nature & Adventure section to find certified operators.

Cultural Outings

  • Museum visits – On the Having Fun / Museums section you will find a list with more information.
  • Coffee plantations – Their privileged location will allow you to see a different side of Puerto Rico.
  • Gastronomic tours – If you want to take a different kind of tour, try those specializing in dining destinations. You will be fascinated by the gastronomic variety available on the island! Go to the Dining section for more information.

Affordable Entertainment

Hotel casinos are excellent daytime and nighttime entertainment alternatives for Baby Boomers. Try your luck at the Jackpot del Encanto (Jackpot of Enchantment) game that allows players to opt for a prize of $20,000 or more with a minimum bet of just 36 cents. A dinner at a restaurant—there are so many to choose from—is the beginning of an evening that can continue in the lobby of one our main hotels. On weekends, they feature live music, a perfect opportunity to show off your dancing skills. You can even learn to dance Salsa! On the Dining section you will find a list of restaurants and on the Having Fun / Casino section, a list of casinos.

Baby Boomers will definitely have a marvelous stay on the island thanks to our great attractions and abundant entertainment options for every taste and budget. And if you add the fact that you will receive excellent service and that airfare rates are affordable, it’s time to reward yourself with a dream vacation in Puerto Rico!



More Advantages!

  • An 85°F “winter”
  • No passport required for mainland USA residents
  • Local currency: U.S. Dollar
  • The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. offers a promotion called “Escape the Cold” that allows you to book and save up to 60% on hotels. Go to for more details.

By Robert Colberg Orengo

Photos: Puerto Rico Tourism Company

As part of their travel plans, tourists should consider adding another item to their lists: visiting a casino. Besides being places where you try out your luck, Puerto Rico’s casinos have become excellent entertainment oriented locales.

Casinos’ formerly rigid atmosphere has turned into “a pleasant ambiance where visitors will be greeted with a smile and treated cordially, as they rightfully deserve,” said Ismael Vega, manager of Casino Sheraton Convention Center. “Unlike other destinations, the ambiance in the island’s casinos is more personal and friendly,” said Miguel Vega from the Hyatt Place Casino in Bayamón.

casino-2And so it is. In addition to the slot machines and gaming tables, visitors can find different forms of entertainment in local casinos.

Whether you are an avid gambler or a novice player, going to a casino is an experience you shouldn’t miss. Many casinos have their own bar, so your visit can begin with a house specialty drink. Feeling hungry? A light fare menu is available at an additional cost.

Everything from Dancing to Comedy

Entertainment alternatives are plentiful. At local casinos it’s possible to hear songs by a traditional folk music group, as well as catchy tunes by live salsa or merengue orchestras. Feel like dancing? Go right ahead! And if you need to learn, you can take the dancing lessons offered by some casinos. Want a good laugh? Casinos also frequently feature comedy shows.

“These are other offerings that appeal to people. Perhaps many of our visitors came to their hotel and never ventured into the casino. Now they see the bar, check out the ambiance, come in and stay because they find it quite appealing,” said Ismael Vega.

A Safe Environment

People attending a casino can rest assured that they will have a great time in a fun and, above all, very safe environment. “At the casino you can have fun, play, eat, and drink without leaving the premises,” Miguel Vega pointed out.


An Enchanting Jackpot!

Try your luck at the “Jackpot of Enchantment.” There are 84 special machines that allow players to vie for a prize of $20,000 or more with a 40-cent minimum and $2 maximum bet. The “Jackpot of Enchantment” machines are spread across 13 casinos throughout the island (see list below).casino-3

  • Sheraton Convention Center
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • Wyndham Río Mar
  • Wyndham Garden at Palmas del Mar
  • Four Points by Sheraton Caguas Real
  • Ponce Hilton Hotel & Casino
  • Ponce Plaza
  • Holiday Inn, Ponce
  • Mayagüez Resort
  • Holiday Inn, Mayagüez
  • Courtyard by Marriott, Aguadilla
  • Hyatt Place, Manatí
  • Hyatt Place, Bayamón

Five Reasons to Visit a Casino in Puerto Rico:

  1. Entertainment choices are plentiful: from live bands to comedy shows and sporting event broadcasts.
  2. In addition to the chance of winning at slot machines and gaming tables, casinos often hold raffles whose prizes include everything from trips to cars and cash.
  3. Casinos are excellent venues for social interaction.
  4. You can have fun, try your luck, and even grab a bite—all at a single location.
  5. You can play the “Jackpot of Enchantment” slot machines.

Photos: Supplied

Puerto Rico features 22 golf courses—many of them known the world over for their different levels of difficulty and their exquisitep-023-cred-pr-tourism-co communion with nature. They are favored by the hundreds of players who attend the international-caliber tournaments held locally each year. It’s no wonder that we are known as the Island of Golf!

Puerto Rico has excellent golf courses that attract local and international golfers. Add to them other attractions such as our tropical climate that allows people to practice the sport year-round, plus excellent hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. Furthermore, each local golf course showcases the island’s beauty from different perspectives.

Along with a growing number of local golfers, there is increased participation by top-ranking international professional golfers in major local tournaments such as the Puerto Rico Open—which every year attracts renowned professional players and focuses worldwide fans’ attention on our island through tournament broadcasts on the Golf Channel, as well as through event coverage on traditional and social media.

p-022-cred-pr-tourism-coLast year this sporting event made it possible for Czech athlete and Germany resident Alex Cejka to win his first Puerto Rico Golf Association PGA Tour title. According to the data provided,the prizes for last year’s Puerto Rico Open were $3 million and the winner received a $540,000 prize.

Everything is in place for the next Puerto Rico Open to be held in March 24-27, 2016 at the Coco Beach golf course in Río Grande. This event has earned our island an enviable spot among the top golf destinations in the Caribbean and around the world.

Another important tournament is the Puerto Rico Junior Open, which takes place in Río Grande and promotes golf among young people. Last year, young golfer Andrew Kozan from Florida, and a member of the Eagles Dream Golf Academy, won the event. This sport not only acknowledges the pros’ feats but also offers opportunities for amateurs and those who are developing their skills. As a matter of fact, the team of young amateur players representing Puerto Rico in the 2015 Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf tournament won the Hanks James award for the eighth year in a row.

By: Robert Colberg Orengo

Photos: Supplied

Puerto Rico’s palm trees, beaches, and countryside are bearing witness to the promises of love made by thousands of couples who choose the island on which to tie the knot. Our attentiveness, service, and beautiful landscapes make more and more couples choose our island to celebrate their weddings.

According to professional event coordinator Rosalina Torres, from Momentus Special Events & More, tourists who decide to get married in Puerto Rico decide to share vows in places that are a true reflection of Puerto Rico’s culture and architecture. “Most couples want to hold their ceremonies at historic sites in Old San Juan, specifically at Castillo San Cristóbal and El Morro. Another popular request is to have their wedding on the beach at sundown,” she said.

Throughout the island you will find beautiful haciendas where you can have the wedding of your dreams. They include Hacienda Siesta Alegre in Río Grande and Hacienda Campo Rico in Carolina. In the southern region, specifically in Ponce, Serrallés Castle is the preferred location due to its spectacular gardens and city views. In the west, Rincón’s beaches are ideal wedding locations. The central, east, and west regions have rustic hotels favored by tourists who want to tie the knot on the Island of Enchantment.

Torres pointed out the reasons that make Puerto Rico the ideal destination for a wedding:

  • The year-round tropical climate is extremely attractive for outdoor weddings.
  • The recent elimination of lab tests for nonresidents helps make the process of getting legally married in Puerto Rico much simpler.
  • Puerto Rico is a bilingual (Spanish and English) island, so communication between overseas clients and wedding service suppliers is easier.
  • Most local wedding providers are educated, professional, and highly trained people who offer attentive service to visiting couples.
  • The Island of Enchantment has wonderful locations for destination weddings that include beautiful beaches, colonial-style structures in Old San Juan, sites within El Yunque National Forest, and charming haciendas in lush mountain landscapes, among others. Add to these the many hotels available throughout the island.bodas-1
  • Puerto Rico’s great gastronomic diversity can please most everyone’s palate and culinary tastes. In addition, there are many daytime and nighttime entertainment venues available.

Getting married in Puerto Rico is a simple procedure. You can check out the requirements posted at As of June 2015, couples of any gender or sex can get legally married in Puerto Rico.

Want to tie the knot on the Island of Enchantment? Get additional information about weddings in Puerto Rico by calling tollfree 1-800-866-7827 (in English) or 1-800-981-7575 (en español).

By Robert Colberg Orengo

Each spring, thousands of students and families from the continental United States select Puerto Rico as their perfect Spring Break destination.

And how could they not choose us, as unlimited fun is readily available on our island! Here you’ll find entertainment for everyone—including sun worshipers, art lovers, and even those who prefer to live unforgettable moments by conquering the challenges brought on by extreme sports.

Passive Entertainment

A walk through Old San Juan is a must! Centuries’ worth of tradition can be found within the walled city—and as you discover it you will be transported back in time to the days of the Spanish conquest. The colonial ambiance is particularly strong at El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. Do coordinate a visit to La Fortaleza, which together with the San Juan National Historic Site were declared a UNESCO

World Heritage site.

Idyllic Beaches

The vast majority of visitors prefer to allow the sun, sand, and sea to caress their skin. Popular beaches located in the western region are favored by those who enjoy surfing. However, beaches in the metropolitan area—as well as those located in the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra—receive thousands of locals and tourists. Thanks to their impressive views and white sands, they are sure to become some of our visitors’ favorite spots.

Nature Encounters

Some people prefer to go inland to discover the wonders of Puerto Rico. Different tours to underground caves are available, as well as visits to countryside locales that are best enjoyed on foot or on bicycle tours. El Yunque National Forest, the Río Camuy Cave ParkToro Verde, and the Humacao Nature Reserve are some of the many outdoor options available. 


Whether in the lobby of a hotel, on a town square’s surroundings or any other place you prefer, in Puerto Rico you’ll find the perfect nighttime entertainment so that your Spring Break includes a good dose of partying. Visiting La Placita in Santurce or the bars in Old San Juan will allow you to mingle with the locals. Check out our Events section to see many alternatives. For more information, go to



  • Museum of Art of Puerto Rico– The structure is the perfect combination of traditional and modern influences. Touring the gardens is well worth it.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art– Featuring exhibits that give wings to the imagination of those who admire them.
  • Museo de Arte de Ponce– Located in the southern portion of the island, it is the home of the claimed Flaming June painting.

Nature & Adventure

  • Toro Verde– Its new attraction “El Monstruo” (“The Monster”) promises to raise the adrenaline levels of even the most courageous visitors.
  • Castillo Sightseeing Tours &Travel– The catamarans will turn you into the king or queen of the sea and master of all watersports.
  • Hacienda Campo Rico– If you prefer something less extreme but equally exciting, a horseback ride through a beautiful site is highly recommended. 

By Robert Colberg Orengo

Photos: Supplied

Children love discovering the wonders of the Island of Enchantment so parents have almost endless possibilities when it comes to keeping them entertained.

An excellent idea to entertain children is to create a themed road trip. For example, take a map of Puerto Rico, identify all the lighthouses found throughout the island, and set off on a driving expedition. You can also choose to visit local children’s museums. Old San Juan and Carolina have specialized museums most kids will love. There they will be entertained and have fun as they learn.

Get Creative

Use your imagination, take your children’s tastes and preferences into account, and create a fun journey together. Your morning can start with a stop at a historical place brimming with tales and anecdotes. The streets of Old San Juan offer a perfect setting as its colorful houses and colonial buildings are full of history.

wyndham-gran-rio-mar-beach-resort-and-spa_marianella-godoyHow about letting your little ones venture into the fascinating world of photography? Visit the town squares near your hotel and allow your kids to take pictures. At the end of your stay you can print the photos and make a scrapbook, allowing your children to share the experience with their classmates. Photographs can also be posted on social media for other family members and friends to enjoy.

Additional Options

At Museo del Mar (Maritime Museum), located in Old San Juan, you’ll find a collection of sea- and merchant marine-related objects. The Bayamón Science Park is an educational and recreational attraction that allows visitors to learn more about different branches of science in an interactive manner. Also, Luis Muñoz Marín Park, located in the heart of the San Juan metro area, is brimming with vegetation and possibilities for children to have a great time.

Check with your hotel or goto for suggestions on suitable venues for children who prefer more dynamic activities. There you will find everything from walking tours along the coast or up in the mountains to paddleboard classes and more.

Water-Based Fun

Who enjoys Puerto Rico’s warm climate the most? Kids, of course. So it’s no surprise that water attractions are among their favoriteparque-de-las-ciencias choices for having fun while visiting the island with their families.Many of our water parks have slides, crazy rivers, and other attractions that the whole family will enjoy. Some of them are:

  • Aquasol, Carolina (787-633-3457)
  • Las Cascadas, Aguadilla (787-819-5555, ext. 221)
  • Albergue Olímpico, Salinas (787-824-2200)
  • Surf N’ Fun Water Park, San Germán (787-659-7440)
  • Monte Frío, Bayamón (787-740-4005)
  • Arecibo Water Park, Arecibo (787-597-5257)
  • Parque Acuático Infantil, Humacao (787-622-5200)

In addition, some hotels feature swimming pools with extra attractions that their guests can enjoy:

  • Courtyard Marriott, Aguadilla (787-658-8000)
  • Coquí Water Park, El Conquistador Resort, Fajardo (787-863-1000)
  • Coco’s Park, Fajardo Inn (787-860-6000)
  • Mayagüez Resort & Casino (787-832-3030)

The following places combine water attractions with other fun activities:

  • Skateboard and Splash Park, Aguadilla (787-891-1460)
  • Parque Julia de Burgos, Carolina (787-710-9300)
  • Parque Familiar, Jayuya (787-232-1731)

By Elsa Fernández-Miralles

The Three Kings: protagonists of Puerto Rico’s celebration

What Santa Claus is to the U.S. mainland, the Three Kings are to Puerto Rico. Every year on Jan. 5, children in Puerto Rico collect grass and put it under their beds so that when the Three Kings visit the home and leave gifts they can also feed their weary camels.

Although the real reason for the popularity of the Fiesta de Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) in our local tradition is unknown, its influence is so strong that we have even coined the term reyar (to engage in Three King’s Day celebrations) as synonymous with folk songs in honor of the Magi accompanied by local instruments.

The Magi, also referred as the Wise Men or the Three Kings where, in the Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus of Nazareth, after his birth bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and mirrh. They are important figures in traditional Christmas celebrations and to Christianity itself.

The Promesa de Reyes (Three Kings’ Day Pledge) is still observed to this day. On the eve of Jan. 6, a devout Catholic makes a wish and vows to pay a promise. During the promise, a group of believers usually gathers and sings aguinaldos (local carols) whose main themes are Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Although aguinaldos are interspersed with prayers, the tone of the celebration is undeniably festive.

The event includes children and adults as the feast, in honor of Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar—the Magi who found Jesus after following a guiding star—is open to all.

January 6 is an official holiday in Puerto Rico. Here are examples of how different municipalities celebrate Three Kings’ Day.

Juana Díaz – With nearly 130 years’ worth of tradition, Juana Díaz has become the capital of the Three Kings in Puerto Rico. In the 19th century, the town held a parade featuring the Three Kings and shepherds, followed by a Mass. After Mass, the Kings brought gifts to Baby Jesus. In 1983, when Spanish priest Valentín Echevarría arrived in town, the celebration regained its religious tone with an ecclesiastic theater presentation followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. Juana Díaz’s current Three Kings continue traveling to several locations throughout the world, including the Vatican.

Isabela – The Feast of Isabela’s Kings (also known as Isabela’s Singing Kings) is coordinated by the Casa de la Cultura Isabelina (Isabela’s House of Culture) and is known for the Kings’ beautiful costumes and their message of faith, hope, and charity. The two-day event is held Jan. 5 and on the Epiphany (Jan. 6) and consists of four different celebrations. First, the Kings arrive in town and a Kings’ Promise is held.

Then, they parade to the town square so they can meet with Baby Jesus. Later they worship Jesus and bring Him gifts as representatives of the people. Lastly, a town festival is held.

Las Marías – Every Three Kings’ Day, local children and even visitors await the distribution of gifts at a prearranged location. At the event, there are bounce houses, snacks and candies, clown shows, and live music.

Guaynabo – The Trulla de Reyes (Three Kings Caroling) is an event that takes trullas (caroling parties) through different town sectors. Shows featuring troubadours and other performers are held at a designated location.

San Juan – For years, the distribution of Three Kings’ Day gifts for children was conducted at La Fortaleza, the Puerto Rico governor’s residence, and now takes place in several municipalities. Ask your hotel concierge about the designated locations for 2016.

By Elsa Fernández-Miralles

Photos: Supplied

Enjoy the unique San Sebastián Street festival

If you are planning to come to the island in January, you shouldn’t miss one of Puerto Rico’s most emblematic celebrations: the San Sebastián Street Festival. On Jan. 14-17, 2016, youngsters and adults will attend this festival that attracts thousands of people to Old San Juan—particularly to San Sebastián Street and surrounding areas—for a weekend full of customs, traditions, and numerous events.

It’s been said that this festival began in the 19th century. However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century— specifically in 1954—that Father Juan Manuel Madrazo, the parish priest of San José Church in Old San Juan, organized it to raise funds intended to restore the church and the street itself.

When Father Madrazo was transferred to another parish outside San Juan, the festivities were suspended until Rafaela Balladares, who along with painter Antonio“Tony” Maldonado created the San Sebastián Street Residents Steering Committee, whose aim was to generate funds to help improve area residents’ quality of life.p-25-cred-pr-tourism-co

Balladares met with Ricardo Alegría, director of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, who told her to revive Father Madrazo’s former celebration. Balladares heeded the advice and in 1970 street residents held the first contemporary festival—which included a reveille, a Mass, the procession of the saint, a paintings exhibit, and a period ball. Local dishes and beverages were sold, and neighbors built the stage where musical acts were performed and the kiosks for the arts and crafts fair.

The cabezudos (festive big papier maché heads) seen during Father Madrazo’s time were replaced by others with closer links to Puerto Rican culture. Over the years, these festive heads—which represent different characters in popular culture—have become the symbol of the San Sebastián Street Festival.

Forty-five years later, the once-modest neighborhood celebration has become a grand annual event that attracts more than 500 artists and artisans and nearly half a million visitors. This year’s proceeds will go toward the cathedral’s restoration fund.

The festival begins on Thursday with a Mass in honor of San Sebastián. On Friday there is a cabezudos parade where historical tableaus come to life and we see representations of public figures as well as characters from our traditional stories. The parade ends at the San Juan Cathedral. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there are shows featuring popular singers and bands. During the weekend you can also enjoy all kinds of family-oriented entertainment—including arts and crafts exhibits, dancing, shows, and food and drink kiosks, among other options.

Since the festival’s attendance is just massive, local authorities provide transportation from specific spots near parking structures and lots, so people can hop on a trolley or other type of public transportation that will take them straight to the festival site. Your hotel can tell you what to do to avoid the dreaded traffic jams and provide tips on the best way to get to the festival.

We invite you to experience a unique celebration in Old San Juan. Wear cool clothing and comfortable shoes, and enjoy the eagerly awaited San Sebastián Street Festival with us!

By Elsa Fernández-Miralles

Photos: Supplied

Say “I Do” at a romantic beach setting

Puerto Rico is a wonderful place in which to get married. There are countless wedding venues and many options for all tastes and budgets. How about a beachfront ceremony, surrounded by family members and your closest friends? Your dream wedding can be held anywhere on the island and at any time of the year. Need guidance about where, how, and how much? Stop worrying! Any of our endorsed wedding coordinators can help arrange your event.say-i-do-at-a-romantic-beach-setting-den-el-si-en-un-romantico-ambiente-playero-foto-suministrada

If you prefer a more conventional and/or traditional wedding in Puerto Rico, there are alternatives ranging from a small chapel to a spectacular church or temple of the couple’s chosen denomination.

Puerto Rico is also the perfect setting for theme weddings. You can say “I do” in Old San Juan’s historic atmosphere, amid the greenery of our unique rainforests or at charming countryside venues, among countless other alternatives. More adventurous couples can choose to marry in caves carved out by underground rivers or on a zip-line platform for an undeniably unique and adrenaline-filled ceremony.

In terms of reception venues, existing options are almost limitless: historic mansions, centuries-old forts, intimate antique churches, majestic mountains, hotel ballrooms, outdoor terraces, gazebos and pristine beaches in 5-star resorts with celebrity chefs. Puerto Rico is also perfect for the couple’s honeymoon as hotels throughout the island offer special-package deals for newlyweds. Talk to our wedding coordinators; they can also help you here.

Getting married in Puerto Rico is very easy—and certainly less complicated than in other destinations. Go to to learn more about local requirements. As of June 2015, couples of any gender or sex can get married in Puerto Rico.

Celebrate the happiest day of your life with us! For additional information about weddings in Puerto Rico, call 1-800-866-7827 toll free from the continental U.S. or Puerto Rico. From Latin America, the number is 1-800-981-7575. Representatives are available weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight and weekends and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight.