I don’t know about you, but I was bit by the travel bug a looong time ago. And I mean, bad. There is nothing like traveling to a strange land and wandering through unfamiliar streets drinking in the culture, the sounds, the food. I think in my past life, I must’ve been some sort of explorer.
For those of you with the same kind of need to get out and see everything – or maybe you just have an appreciation for beautiful beaches – Puerto Rico would make a fabulous destination for a wedding or honeymoon. I recently had the pleasure of spending a little time in our little almost-state (officially a U.S. territory). Because it is technically a part of the U.S., Puerto Rico does not require a passport from U.S. citizens and the national currency is the dollar, which makes travel there super easy. But it totally feels more like visiting another country. Most native Puerto Ricans, or puertorriqueños, speak both English and Spanish fluently. It’s amazing to hear them switch back and forth so quickly and easily and there’s quite a bit of “Spanglish” that takes place as well.
So, ease of travel, language and currency aside, why might you want to consider a destination wedding or honeymoon in Puerto Rico?
A flight into San Juan is pretty comparable to other flights within the U.S. and the city has all you need for a vacation/wedding/honeymoon: history, beautiful beaches, gourmet restaurants and all night salsa clubs to name a few. The options for weddings are endless, from a ceremony in one of the centuries old cathedrals or forts in Old San Juan or on one of Puerto Rico’s pristine beaches at the many beautiful resorts dotted up and down the coast.
If slower-paced and relaxing is more your style, Culebra and Vieques are two smaller islands located off the coast of Puerto Rico that are inhabited year round. They can be reached by a ferry out of Fajardo (about 2 hours southeast from San Juan) or you can hop one of these bad boys from San Juan:
There are several airlines that operate flights on these eight passenger planes to and from the islands. A flight is only $40 – $60 and takes about half an hour. It’s a super fun, although loud, flight and you’ll get some awesome views of the crystal clear Caribbean water.
The island of Culebra is only a total of 11 square miles and home of the famous Flamenco Beach, which is listed as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. And the water there is BLUE. I mean like electric blue-razzberry kool-aid blue. Dewey, the island’s one town is speckled with simple guesthouses and a few small bars and restaurants. There are a couple of small companies that run snorkeling and other boat excursions from the island. The snorkeling is killer with views of all kinds of tropical fish and other sea life as well as huge rays (the owner of our guesthouse had seen a manta ray the day before that was the size of a car!) There are a few resorts on the island as well, but they tend to be spread farther out from town.
Vieques is slightly larger than Culebra at 52 square miles. It has two towns, Isabel Segunda and Esperanza. Esperanza is where most of the tourists go as it is a fabulously lazy little beach town with a one-sided main street (the Malecon) that faces the ocean. Along this little strip are open-air, laid back beach bar/eateries with cheery guestrooms tacked onto the back. At night these places pump up the salsa and the nightlife is a bit more present than in Culebra.
Vieques is home to wild horses that you will see trotting through the streets or playfully romping around the beaches. Sun Bay beach is a short walk from Esperanza and is freckled with lots of lovely palm trees that offer plenty of shade for you and your honey to plop down a blanket and enjoy the view.
One of Vieques’ most famous attractions is Mosquito Bay (they’re not too bad, despite the name) which is the worlds largest bioluminescent bay. The luminescence in the bay is created by dinoflagellates, tiny micro-organisms that glow when the water is disturbed. The effect is so incredibly neat – the fish near the surface make little glowing trails and you can scoop water into your hand and just watch it glitter like stars. No photos of this one, unfortunately the camera couldn’t capture it. There are several companies that offer night-time kayak tours of the bio bay; one even has clear canoes (which are totally worth it). What could be more romantic than paddling with your love under the stars while watching the water below you twinkle right back at the sky?
These three locations are just scratching the surface of all of the beauty and fun that Puerto Rico could bring to your wedding or honeymoon. Information on obtaining a marriage license for Puerto Rico can be found on the Puerto Rico Department of Health’s website here.