The Paradores of Puerto Rico
By Michael DeFreitas
Affectionately known as the "Isle of Enchantment," Puerto Rico attracts millions of visitors to its shores each year. Most come to savor the island's spectacular palm-fringed beaches, championship golf courses, luxurious resorts and casinos, world-class shopping and the quaint cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.
But to really experience the enchantment of this tropical paradise, you must sample Puerto Rico's countryside or as the locals call it "en la isla." Venturing beyond the big resorts of San Juan reveals a tranquil beauty -- the envy of other Caribbean islands -- and scattered throughout the countryside are an array of charming inns called Paradores Puertorriquenos.
Best known for their hospitality, affordable rates, traditional Puerto Rican cuisine and picturesque locations, paradores are the favorite choice of Puerto Ricans when they travel "out on the island."
Here are a few recommended paradores around the island.
Greater San Juan Area
The quiet neighborhoods of Ocean Park, Condado and Isla Verde, just east of San Juan, are fringed with great beaches and offer an alternative to the hustle and bustle of the resort areas. These neighborhoods are rich in old colonial homes and a few of the larger ones have been converted into small inns and guesthouses.
Casa del Caribe Guest House
57 Caribe St., San Juan, PR 00907
Tel: 787-722-7139, Fax: (787) 787-723-2575
A true Caribbean bed & breakfast inn nestled in the heart of Condado. Close to the beach, casinos, dancing, quaint restaurants and shops, but in a quiet neighborhood. Huge wrap-around veranda overlooking a tropical garden. $55 - $125.
Casa de Playa
4851 Isla Verde Ave., Carolina, PR 00979
Tel: 787-728-9779, Fax: 787-727-1334
A lively 20-room inn nestled on beautiful Isla Verde Beach. A beach bar and the renowned, Freddo's Restaurant round out the amenities. $127 - $213.
Number One Guest House
Calle Santa Ana 1, Ocean Park, PR 00911
Tel: 787-726-5010, Fax: 787-727-5482
Located on Ocean Park beach this family owned and operated 8-room inn has all the comforts of home and a great restaurant. $92 - $288.
2212 Park Blvd., Isle Verde, PR 00913
Tel: 787-727-4617, Fax: 787-727-5434
This Spanish 12-room inn fronts Isla Verde Beach and its owner Manuel Peredo keeps it in immaculate condition. Oceanview sun deck and tropical jacuzzi pool. Great value at $73 - $175.
The rugged northwest is karst country with rolling limestone hills called mogotes. For this reason most of the paradores are located along the narrow coastal plain. Two of the islands major attractions, the Arecibo Observatory (the world's largest radio-dish telescope) and the Rio Camuy Caves are located in this region
Road #2 Km 103.8, Quebradillas.
Tel: 787-895-3070, 800-964-3065, Fax: 787-895-3589
Set on beautiful Guajataca beach about 70 miles West of San Juan, Parador Guajataca is a complex of small cottages. Each cottage has two rooms (38 in all) with private balconies overlooking the blue Atlantic. $78 - $152.
Road #102 Km.14, Playa Joyuda, Cabo Rojo. HC 02 PO Box 16310, Cabo Rojo, PR 00623.
Tel: 787-851-3131 or 800-435-7197, Fax: 787- 851-0560
This modern, 3-story, 41-room inn is caressed by cool ocean breezes and its award winning restaurant serves up traditional island delicacies. $90 - $112.
Puerto Rico's south side is the driest and least populated area on the island. The historical city of Ponce is rich in colonial architecture and contains a number of world-class museums. Just north of Ponce is the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center an ancient Taino Indian village.
Parador Banos de Coamo
Road #546, Coamo. PO Box 1867, Coamo, PR 00769
Tel: 787-825-2186, Fax: 787-825-4739
From its perch on the lower slopes of the Cordillera Central mountain range, this rustic 48-room inn is built on the site of the most ancient hot thermal baths in the Americas. $85 - $90.
Parador Villa Parguera
Road #304, La Parguera, Lajas. PO Box 273, Lajas, PR 00667
Tel: 787-899-7777, Fax: 787-899-6040
On the beach at Phosphorescent Bay and adjacent to the largest dry tropical coastal forest in the world, this large parador (62 rooms) still maintains a cozy feel to it. $100 - $155.
Puerto Rico's mountainous and windblown east side offers breathtaking scenery and the islands main natural attractions. The Caribbean National Forest and El Yunque are the most visited sites on the island. This is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest Service and it contains two of the islands highest peaks: El Toro (1,075 m) and El Yunque (1,065 m). Many of the paradores in this area cater to hikers and nature lovers.
Road #3 Km 112 Patillas. PO Box 8490, Guardarraya, Patillas, PR 00723.
Tel: 787- 839-6339
Thirty-two studio rooms right on the beach, will make your stay very comfortable. Great for families. $85 - $135.
Villa del Carmen
Route 3, Km 113 Patillas PR 00723
Tel: 787-839-7536 or Fax: 787-839-4711
On a secluded beach surrounded by tall palms, this intimate 12-room property features apartment like accommodations with wide balconies and stunning ocean views. $120.
Parador Palmas de Lucia
Road Panor mica #901 Int 911, Camino Nuevo, Playa Luc¡a, Yabucoa. PO Box 1746, Yabucoa, PR 00767
Tel: 787-893-4423, Fax: 787-893-0291
Located on Lucia beach, just east of Yabucoa, this parador boasts oceanview balconies in all its 27-rooms. $140 - $175.
The least explored, but most rewarding side of Puerto Rico is its interior. The cool mountain air, panoramic vista and the friendliness of the people make this a must experience. A scenic road called the Panoramic Route runs east to west along the island's Cordillera Central mountains and there are many paradores and attractions along the way.
Parador Hacienda Gripinas
Road #527 Km 2.5 Barrio Veguita Final, Jayuya. PO Box 488, Jayuya, PR 00664
Tel: 787-828-1717 or 800-453-1063, Fax: 787-828-1719
High in the hills above Jayuya in the Cordillera Central sits the fully restored Hacienda Gripinas. This beautiful historic 19-room coffee plantation house was built in 1858 and offers a true Old World experience in a classic tropical garden setting. $95 - $125.
Parador Hacienda Juanita
Road #105 Km 23.5 Maricao. PO Box 777, Maricao, PR 00606
Tel: 787- 838-2550, Fax: 787-838-2551
A traditional coffee plantation house with 21 rustic rooms surrounded by wonderful tropical gardens. Nature trails, local cuisine and friendly staff. $96 - $171.
Casa Grande Hotel
Road #612, Km 1, Utuado. PO Box 1499, Utuado, PR 00641
Tel: 787-894-3939. Fax: 787-894-3900
Transplanted New Yorkers Marlene & Steven Weingarten welcome you to their 20-room mountain retreat. This former coffee plantation is as far away from everything as you can get and their Jungle Jane's restaurant serves some of the finest local cuisine on the island. $80 - $95.
Villas de Sotomayor
Road #10 Km 36, Adjuntas. PO Box 661, Adjuntas, PR 00601
Tel: 787-829-1774, Fax: 787-829-5105.
This modern 20-room villa deep in the mountains, is located in a private valley just west of the town of Adjuntas. They even have their own private airstrip. $110 - $246.
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