The Rum is Flowing and the Beaches are Calling
It has been more than a year since the double wallop of Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept across Puerto Rico. But the island’s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous—now, the island appears nearly as lush and inviting as the pre-storm version. The foliage is thick and green (in the tropics, everything just... grows). Young entrepreneurs have returned to the island to open new restaurants and shops. The electricity is flowing and so is the rum. If you’re looking for a convenient and culturally rich island escape this winter—a 3.5-hour flight from New York, no passports or currency exchanges required—this is your place.
Did You Know?
San Juan’s kaleidoscopic street art scene provides a vibrant backdrop for some of its coolest neighborhoods. Check out Calle Loíza (between Isla Verde and Condado) and Calle Cerra, in Santurce, where the annual Santurce es Ley street art festival brings DJ’s, food trucks and thousands of revelers every November.
This 500-year-old barrio is a UNESCO World Heritage Site beloved for its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, many of them restored and now occupied by chic restaurants and boutiques. Start with a visit to El Morro, the huge stone fortress built by the Spanish in the 16th century, then have lunch at Verde Mesa, a farm-to-table Caribbean restaurant with a vegetarian-friendly menu. Grab a coffee at Café Cuatro Sombras, which roasts beans harvested from a hacienda in the island’s interior. Finish your night with an expertly mixed cocktail at La Factoría -- home of the checkerboard dance floor featured in the Despacito music video!
"If you’re looking for a convenient and culturally rich island escape this winter—a 3.5-hour flight from New York, no passports or currency exchanges required—this is your place."
Come Sail Away
The best way to experience the coast of Puerto Rico? From the water! East Island Adventures runs outings on high-speed catamarans from Fajardo, on the island’s northeast corner, to Culebra, a tiny, unspoiled island with picture-perfect beaches. They’ll take you snorkeling on an offshore reef to see brightly colored coral, fish and turtles, and then drop you on the sand for an afternoon of chilling. Or opt for their sunset cruise around Old San Juan’s harbor aboard their 83-foot schooner.
A multiple James Beard Award finalist, Jose Enrique opened his namesake restaurant in 2007 in a hot-pink house just off La Placita, a lively square in the Santurce neighborhood. It’s a low-key place with plain wooden tables and the day’s dishes written on a big whiteboard, but the chef’s deft hand with classic Puerto Rican dishes (empanadas, skirt steak, fried snapper) is the reason the rich and famous of San Juan society are willing to wait for a table every night.
Villa Dorada d'Alberto
This locals-only restaurant on the waterfront in Dorada, just outside the Ritz compound, is the place to experience cocina criolla—homestyle cooking like abuelita used to make. The specialties include super-fresh seafood, such as tender octopus salad and whole roasted chillo (red snapper), filleted tableside. Chuleta can-can is a decadent pork chop, pounded and fried, and arroz con gandules arrives as a pyramid of garlicky rice with pigeon peas and diced ham. Their golf ball-size spheres of mofongo (mashed plantains stuffed with seafood or pork) are almost dainty, and absolutely delicious.
STAY: @Olive Boutique Hotel, @Dorado Beach
INDULGE: @Jose Enrique, @Villa Dorada d'Alberto