Puerto Rico is Bursting With Culture, History and Good Eats—Here’s Why you Need to Visit

Celebrating its 75th year, the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico is the perfect blend of vibrant culture, rich history, and new beginnings

Soft ocean waves rush over my toes, and the sun is a blanket of warmth. I can hear music playing softly, and if I close my eyes, I know I’ll be drifting off for potentially the most delightful afternoon nap achievable. If this is a dream, please don’t pinch me.

Relaxation like this is top priority when staying at the Caribe Hilton in sunny Puerto Rico. Originally opened in 1949, the hotel was the first Hilton outside of the continental United States and served as a hot spot for Old Hollywood elite, with guests like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren frequenting the resort. Today, in Caribe’s 75th anniversary year, the beachfront accommodation continues to be a historically rich home base when visiting beautiful Puerto Rico.

Located just 15 minutes from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, the hotel is a treasure trove of happenings. Fuel up at one of 10 culinary concepts—from authentic Puerto Rican eats, to Italian-American fusions—before practicing your swing at the Monica Puig tennis courts, then head to Zen Spa Océano for a full-body pamper. Guests are hard-pressed to find a reason to leave thanks to the resort’s 17-acre oceanfront setting that includes a three-tier swimming pool, beachside hammock garden, tropical gardens, secluded beach, and more.

When ready for sightseeing, visitors will feel a buzz while wandering the vibrant Old San Juan. Colorful homes line cobbled streets and local musicians fill shady plazas with charming tunes. There’s something to be discovered around every corner—whether it’s the abundance of local artwork and historical statues placed throughout the city, the canopy of umbrellas on Calle de la Fortaleza, or La Casa Estrecha (The Narrow House), a two-story house measuring only 5 feet, 3 inches across.

For those seeking more adventure, thrilling activity awaits on the island. Slide down natural water slides in the El Yunque Rainforest, or visit the local manatee conservation center where guests can be a “caretaker” for a day. Back at Caribe, Aqua Adventures hosts an array of underwater activities, including Sea Trek, which puts participants in weighted helmets that allow them to walk freely beneath the waves to explore the local marine life.

Food lovers will relish in local delights. Take a break from a guided bike tour for lunch at La Casita de Rones, where oceanfront views and world-class rums beckon. Another day, immerse yourself in Puerto Rican culture by making a visit to La Ruta de Lechón, or “pork highway.” A scenic hour-long drive from Old San Juan, Highway 184 is dotted with open-air restaurants serving slow-roasted whole pigs and other traditional cuisine, earning past praise from culinary experts including Anthony Bourdain.

At the resort, sunset is perhaps the best part of the stay. Head to the beach and sip on a refreshing piña colada (the iconic specialty cocktail was created by Caribe bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero in 1954—and they have the government certificate to prove it) before waking up to start another fantastic day in paradise. caribehilton.com