"San Juan, Puerto Rico" Top 5 Page for this destination San Juan by starship

San Juan Travel Guide: 717 reviews and 2,390 photos

El Viejo San Juan - Vestige of Spain

I first visited San Juan in the later 1980's when we sailed from the wharfs in Old San Juan twice on the old Cunard Countess. Although a somewhat "strange new land", San Juan failed to leave a lasting image on my memory except for the sight of El Morro rising above San Juan Bay. I vaguely remember "El Yunque Rainforest" and Loquillo Beach."

When another cruise we were taking was also scheduled to port in San Juan, my husband and I thought it would be good to concentrate, this time with our children in tow, on a self-guided, walking tour of Old San Juan! One thing I definitely will remember on the occasion of this visit will be the sight of Christmas decorations in the public plazas in November under the blazing sun and the 89 degree temperature!

Fortunately this time around we were able to do quite a bit of exploring in the narrow little lanes with cobblestone streets and it was quite pleasant. It was very scenic along the waterfront. It would also have been a beautiful day just to enjoy the beaches if you were so inclined!

A Brief History.....

The Taino Indians ruled the island when Christopher Columbus "discovered" and claimed the island for Spain in 1493, and named it San Juan Bautista in honor of St. John the Baptist. At one point in history, the name San Juan came to be regarded as the name of the town only while the name "Puerto Rico "(rich port) settled on that of the island as a whole. Today, Old San Juan is considered to be that which lies in the castle walls from Fort San Cristobal on the east to the turrets of El Morro on the west and which is roughly comprised of 7 square blocks.

During the 400 year domination of the island, the Spanish left their imprint on the language, architecture and religion of the people there. The Spanish built fortresses, churches, roadways and cultivated the island. When the Spanish imported slaves from Africa to work in the fields, Puerto Rico became a point at which the confluence of the 3 cultures (Spanish, Indian and African) blended together to give Puerto Rico the character it enjoys today.

Puerto Rico has been part and parcel of the United States since 1898 and inhabitants were given U.S. citizenry in 1917. Puerto Rico became a self-governing U.S. Commonwealth in 1952.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Spanish flavor in architecture & food! Beaches & Rainforest!
  • Cons:Watch out for careless drivers, Safety Concerns!
  • Last visit to San Juan: Nov 2004
  • Intro Updated Nov 30, 2013
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Reviews (17)

Comments (22)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Nov 30, 2013 at 3:36 AM

    To stroll around in the old part of San Juan sounds to be nice!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Nov 30, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      Malena, thanks so much for visiting my San Juan page. It is in need of some serious updates. Still Old San Juan is an attractive place to visit!

  • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Isn't the old San Juan lovely?! Great page! I also got my postcards at the Walgreens!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    I never knew El Yunque was the rainiest of all the National Forests -- I would have guessed it was someplace up in the Pacific Northwest. But with proper raingear El Yunque sounds like a fascinating place to visit and go hiking.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Dec 15, 2009 at 10:23 PM

    Nice page, Sylvia. The El Yunque forest looks great. Birdlife would be good. I also like those blue cobbled streets. San Juan- another dream destination

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2009 at 4:46 PM

    Your experiences with cruises is so valuable for the rest of us! Your pages are never boring because of your enthusiasm, honesty, brilliant photographs, and helpful, information. A pure pleasure to read and reread.

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    Very good page about San Juan. I'd like to visit there some time. Thank you for visiting my Honduras page, and for the kind comments.

  • scottishvisitor's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2007 at 1:13 PM

    Nice look at San Juan :) enjoyed my virtual tour!!

  • Nov 16, 2007 at 8:54 PM

    El Morro was also the site of the first shot fired by Americans during the First World War. Soldiers posted there shot at a German Supply Ship to prevent ammunition headed to warships to leave the harbor.

  • Apr 7, 2007 at 8:11 AM

    Thank you for the tip. btw...what section is considered "La Perla"? Dezel

  • wooper's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2007 at 7:28 AM

    spaniards!

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