ESJ Towers Vacation Rentals by Owner - Isla Verde

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Isla Verde Beach - San Juan, Puerto Rico

Posted by Gilda Fisher on August 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Pull up a chair and umbrella, because Isla Verde is one beautiful beach. All the locals know the best place to go around the San Juan area is Isla Verde. It's a majestic, 200 feet wide strip of that genuine light tan sand and surf that is so gentle, you'll say you've found paradise. Most people tend to stay toward the El San Juan Resort & Casino and the ESJ Towers Condo Hotel. That's where the amenities.

Plus, this beach beats most for enjoyable swimming with nice wave action and the not too big surf. Sit for a little and you'll see people enjoying kayaks and jet-skis. Families trek here all weekend long, and hate to go back home.

When you're hungry, you'll find Isla Verde Avenue full of restaurants. Do yourself a favor and take a break from the fast food. Order some delicious take-out Cuban sandwiches or their awesome shrimp mofongo from the local Mi Casita which is in the Plazoleta de Isla Verde. Take the sandwiches to sea - and sit on tables oceanfront, or simply in the sand and watch the action.

Make sure you check out San Juan Waterfun with everything you can imagine in water sports. They have the kayaks and Hobies and everything in between, including the fun banana boat ride!

Isla Verde - Beach Index:
  • Sand - fine, and a little deeper here. Has a nice golden hue.
  • Facilities - abound with many rentals available.
  • Shade - some palms, otherwise choose umbrellas.
  • Sports - all, however snorkeling/diving is not great.
  • Notes - this is where it's at around San Juan.

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When to visit Puerto Rico - Best Deals

Posted by Gilda Fisher on August 27, 2015 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The weather in Puerto Rico doesn't vary much from season to season. The average annual temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit, so the high season for tourism is not dictated by the weather as it is in other Caribbean destinations. Winter in Puerto Rico is like May in most of the American southeast, with an average temperature hovering around 75 degrees . Most people visit in winter, getting away from the freezing temperatures of their home towns in North America.

Summer brings hotter weather and humidity, and the chance of rain is greater in summer and fall. The hurricane season officially lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30 but is no cause to worry. More hurricanes hit the U.S. mainland than Puerto Rico, and with today's meteorological technology, there is almost always more than enough warning to take proper precautions. Although crowds can be avoided if you stay off the beaten path, the most obvious difference between visiting in the tourist (high) season or the low season is the crowds. In some ways, visiting during peak season is beneficial, but if getting away from civilization is your vacation goal, the low season might be best.

High Season: November - April

Visiting Puerto Rico in the high season of tourism is quite an experience. The most popular tourist areas are filled with hustling, bustling vacationers from all over the world, reveling in the beautiful weather and the Caribbean experience. The crowds can be exciting, exhilarating, and even a little daunting. This is definitely a time for small groups; singles, couples, or groups of friends who can navigate the islands with ease.

Accommodations and flights should be booked at least two or three months in advance, and sometimes even farther ahead than that. Reservations are necessary, transportation is stretched thinner, and tours are generally more crowded.

Low Season: May - October

While the high season is exciting, the low season can be more indicative of the true spirit of Puerto Rico. With diminished crowds, a less-hurried, more ?Caribbean? way of life prevails. The midday temperatures can rise to uncomfortable highs, but the Atlantic trade winds keep the mornings, afternoons, and evenings extremely pleasant. 

Traveling in the low season
, especially during the months of September and October, can be more affordable and this is the time when you will find the best deals.  Hotels cut rates from 20 percent to 60 percent, and tours and shops often cut prices to remain competitive. Visitors will find easier access to public transportation, tee times and golf courses, tennis courts, water sports, and other enjoyable activities. Flights and accommodations often are easier to book during the low season. You may even be able to walk into a nice restaurant off the street and eat without a reservation. This is a good time for families to travel, because it's easier to keep track of children, and there are fewer crowds to fight. The atmosphere is more cosmopolitan in the low season as well because a higher percentage of tourists are European.

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Que Pasa in Puerto Rico - Shows and Events

Posted by Gilda Fisher on August 26, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Besides the beach and nightclubs, there are many special events that you can enjoy during your visit to Puerto Rico.Check out the following:  

*   Casals Festival from February to March at the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferre.  The Casals Festival is a renowned international classical music festival founded in 1956 by the legendary cellist, director and composer, Pablo Casals. This festival annually brings the most outstanding musical talent of the world including symphonic orchestras, chamber groups, guest conductors and soloists to San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

*   St. John the Baptist Celebration, week-long festivities, including religious processions, music, dancing, games and beach bonfire parties.  At midnight on June 24th, relers walk backward into the ocean or nearest body of water three or seven times to ward off evil spirits and renew good luck for the coming year.

*   The Le Lo Lai Festival in San Juan, from bomba to salsa, the weekly musical shows are enjoyed by both visitors and islanders. Time and Place: Tuesdays at 6pm at Fort San Cristobal. Sundays at 5pm at the Ballaja Barricks (Caurtel de Ballaja) which is across the street from El Morro.


*   Festival La Casita - Year round. Live music and dance shows take place at Darsenas Plaza next to La Casita Tourism Information Center every Saturday after 6 and every Sunday after 7.  Not only do musicians entertain the crowds, but dance groups stun the public with magnificent performances.  

*  San Sebastian Festival  in Old San San Juan, every year during the third week in January.  Live music and sound systems gear up to provide a party in which young and old gyrate to salsa, merengue and Puerto Rican classic tunes.

*   Club Brava - the hottest night club in San Juan can be found at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino, next door to ESJ Towers.

  * The Puerto Rico Open Golf Tournament offers a full program of excitement for both competitors and spectators, starting on March 21 to March 27, 2016 with professional practice rounds and tournament qualifier at the Trump International Golf Club's international course in Rio Grande. Website:  


Heineken Jazzfest, March 24 to 27, 2016. The annual Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest brings together some of the biggest names in Latin jazz at the Tito Puente Amphitheater in San Juan. Puerto Rico is a hotbed of salsa and merengue in the island's rich musical culture. Website:


For ticket information visit: 

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Puerto Rico Salsa Congress 2015

Posted by Gilda Fisher on June 15, 2015 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

July 14th  to July 18th

For all you fans of the exciting and vibrating Salsa music, you are in for a treat at the Congreso de la Salsa-"Congress of Salsa".  If you enjoy dancing until dawn this event is for you.  Past years events have included the "Dream Team" of Salsa performers:


            -La Sonora Ponceña

            -Willie Rosario

            -Maelo Ruiz

            -Yan Collazo


These are just some of the few the legends.  This event also features a global dancing competition.  Participants come from numerous countries: Argentina, Canada, Colombia, England, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Martinique, United States and Puerto Rico. 


The venue will be at the Sheraton Hotel.  Make your travel plans early and make sure that you acquire tickets timely as this event is sure to draw a big crowd.  See you there. Website: 

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The Bacardi Rum Distillery

Posted by Gilda Fisher on May 11, 2015 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The Bacardi Rum Distillery is the largest in the world, is only a 15-minute drive from San Juan and is one of the most popular visitors? destinations in Puerto Rico. Visitors are treated to a fascinating guided tour of the facilities at the "Cathedral of Rum." Everything from the vast fermentation vats to the high-speed bottling machinery is at work and on display. A trolley takes you to the Bacardi family museum, where a history of the product and landmarks in its development are seen.

The tour ends at the lofty, bat-like pavilion, which you may have seen if you have gazed across San Juan Bay from the southern walls of the Old City. Here you can sample the world-famous rum and buy souvenirs or a variety of Bacardi products at the gift shop. If you are lucky, your trip may coincide with the annual Bacardi Arts and Crafts Fair, a joyfully crowded, two-day event that features local artists and artisans and plenty of music. If not, vendors are often on the grounds and selections of artisans' products are always on sale in the gift shop.

Driving directions: Route #165 Km 2.6. For more information, please call (787) 781-4795.

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Walking Tour of Old San Juan

Posted by Gilda Fisher on April 3, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Wear comfortable shoes and light clothing, grab your camera, and get ready to marvel at the perfect marriage of the past and the present on the very lived-in streets. A walking tour is a wonderful way to get acquainted with the Old City. If you need a break, hop aboard the no-charge trolley cars that make the rounds to and from La Puntilla and Covadonga parking lots at one of the clearly marked stops.

La Casita - Your Old San Juan adventure begins at La Casita, or The Little House, the yellow building located in Plaza de la Darsena that houses a Puerto Rico Tourism Company Information Center. Open Mon. through Wed. from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM; Thur. and Fri. until 5:30 PM; Sat. and Sun. from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM. There is an outdoor crafts market around the building that is open Sat. and Sun. from 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM and Mon. and Tues. from 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM. The crafts market schedule may vary according to cruise ship itineraries. Tel. (787) 722-1709.

San Juan Bay - La Casita overlooks San Juan Bay. It is the busiest ocean port in the Caribbean, bringing in half of the region's trade and over one million cruise ship visitors a year. Bayside shops carry everything from gold jewelry to island arts and crafts. At Casa Don Q Puerto Rico, located across the street from Pier 1, you can learn about Destilerundefineds, a rum distillery established in 1865 and sample its award-winning products.

La Muralla - As the promenade continues, it follows the curve of the bay and leads you to La Muralla, or city wall. Built mostly between 1539 and 1641 using sandstone blocks up to 20 feet thick, the wall was completed in 1782. It protected the city against enemy attacks. At the western mouth of the bay you will see Isla de Cabras (Goat Island), and a small Spanish fort built in 1610.

Museo de Doundefineda Fela, the original residence of Felisa Rincundefineda Fela, return to Recinto Oeste Street and climb the hill to reach Plazuela de la Rogativa, a small plaza with a bronze sculpture by Lindsay Daen. The work recreates the day a bishop and his companions frightened away British troops during a 1797 attack on the city by carrying torches and chanting. The enemies thought the procession was local troop reinforcements.

Casa Blanca - Take the upper road along a plant-decked wall to a doorway above Casa Rosada. This is one of the five entrances to Casa Blanca, or the White House. For 250 years it was the residence of the descendents of Juan Ponce de Leundefinedno village. The garden is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Entrance fee is $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for senior citizens and children. Tel. (787) 724-1454.

Fuerte San Felipe del Morro - Exit Casa Blanca through Recinto Oeste Street. Straight ahead is Fuerte San Felipe del Morro or El Morro fortress, rising majestically 140 feet above the sea. El Morro (meaning "promontory" in Spanish), surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay, is the most striking of the city's military fortifications. It was built between 1540 and 1783 to protect San Juan from attack by sea. Among its many attractions is a maze of secret tunnels and dungeons, and a small museum with information on its history. Along with San Cristundefinederos, vendors who sell shaved ice topped with tropical fruit syrups. 

Paseo La Princesa - Near Plaza de la Marina and a statue honoring the Puerto Rican immigrant, you will find Paseo La Princesa. It is a promenade lined with trees, pocket parks, sculptures, and benches, and leads to a magnificent fountain with a bronze sculpture by Luis Sanguino depicting the island's cultural roots.

La Princesa - Midway through the promenade is La Princesa itself, a former jail and now headquarters of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. The restored building features a gallery of Puerto Rican art with permanent and visiting exhibitions. Tel. (787) 721-2400.

Puerta de San Juan - The promenade leads to the red-painted Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate, where you re-enter the city. This is one of six original massive wooden doors that centuries ago were closed at sundown to protect the residents.

La Fortaleza - Go through the doorway and make a right on Recinto Oeste Street to La Fortaleza. It is a palatial structure built in 1540 and the oldest governor's mansion in the Western Hemisphere still in use. Guided tours are available weekdays, except holidays, from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM; tours in English every hour, in Spanish every half hour. Schedules are subject to change. Proper attire required. Tel. (787) 721-7000, ext. 2358.

How to Get There
Take Road 26 towards Old San Juan. This will connect to Road 25, which leads directly to the Old City. Reserve your walking tour online.

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Puerto Rico's Phosphorescent Bays

Posted by Gilda Fisher on March 11, 2015 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Imagine the blackness of the sea on a moonless night.  Now watch it sparkle with the darting lights of a million fireflies. Hidden along the Caribbean coast is one of the most spectacular Bioluminescent Bays or Phosphorescent Bays in the world.  A trip into the bay is a magical experience. Fish flash by in dark water, and swimming is like floating through a glow in the dark picture. Nature lovers will not want to miss the phenomenal experience of visiting a tropical phosphorescent bay!

The phosphorescence is actually bioluminescence generated by microscopic organisms in the water. It is believed to be part of a natural defense system triggered by the movement of predators. Many scientists believe the tiny organisms light up so their predators can see more desirable prey ? and thus leave them alone.

The phenomenon occurs sporadically in warm seas around the world, but Puerto Rico is one of the only places on the planet where you can depend on it every evening at two different protected bays. The best known is at La Parguera, between Mayaguez and Ponce in the southwest of the island, a cottage industry village that is based on showing the bay to visitors.

The more spectacular phosphorescent bay is in Vieques, the island municipality off of the main island?s northeastern shore. To get to Vieques you may choose to take the ferry, which takes about an hour and is very inexpensive or, a small plane, which only takes a few minutes.

The most unique nights to go are the first and second nights after the full moon, as the moon rises an hour after sunset the first night and, almost two hours as the moon rises after sunset on the second night. This gives you time to experience the bioluminescence with no moon and then watch the moon rise.  The experience of seeing and being surrounded by this eerie light is nothing less than magical!

Note:  The photo above was re-created in the computer.  This gives a feeling of the real experience and it represents what you see there.  People often exclaim when they kayak at the bay: "Wow, we thought the picture was unreal but it really is like that!" 

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Arecibo Observatory

Posted by Gilda Fisher on February 21, 2015 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Arecibo Observatory

The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent federal agency whose aim is to promote scientific and engineering progress in the United States. NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. Additional support is provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Making Arecibo a very important part of the Space exploration for planet.

The Observatory operates on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day every day, providing observing time, electronics, computer, travel and logistic support to scientists from all over the world. All results of research are published in the scientific literature which is publicly available.

As the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, the Observatory is recognized as one of the most important national centers for research in radio astronomy, planetary radar and terrestrial aeronomy. Use of the Arecibo Observatory is available on an equal, competitive basis to all scientists from throughout the world. Observing time is granted on the basis of the most promising research as ascertained by a panel of independent referees who review the proposals sent to the Observatory by interested scientists. Every year about 200 scientists visit the Observatory facilities to pursue their research project, and numerous students perform observations that lead to their master and doctoral dissertations. 

Those who see the Arecibo radio telescope for the first time are astounded by the enormousness of the reflecting surface, or radio mirror. The huge "dish" is 305 m (1000 feet) in diameter, 167 feet deep, and covers an area of about twenty acres. The surface is made of almost 40,000 perforated aluminum panels, each measuring about 3 feet by 6 feet, supported by a network of steel cables strung  across the underlying karst sinkhole.

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The Camuy Caves-The 3rd largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere

Posted by Gilda Fisher on January 2, 2015 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)


Tucked away in the lush northwest corner of Puerto Rico, about 50 miles west of San Juan, is one of the island's best kept secrets; the Rio Camuy Caves. The cave system, which gets its name from the 13-mile-long Camuy River, forms the third-largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere. The process that created the caves started almost 160 million years ago when a great limestone plateau was thrust up from the Caribbean Sea to form the western half of the island. Over time rainwater and wind eroded the surface of the plateau forming large sinkholes. The process of erosion continues today, helped along by the dense vegetation that blankets the region. Some of this vegetation produces carbon dioxide which, when absorbed by rainwater, forms a mild carbonic acid which further dissolves the porous limestone.

The cave system remained mostly undiscovered until the late 1940s. In fact it was not until October 1958 that any modern day explorers decided to descend into the system of caves. Today, over 10 miles of caverns, 220 caves and 17 entrances to the Camuy cave system have been mapped.

Two other systems have been discovered: the Sistema del Río Encantada, a 10-mile system, and the Río Tanamá system. This, however, is only a fraction of the entire system which many experts believe still holds another 800 caves. The 300-acre Camuy site contains 16 large caverns including Clara de Empalme Cave, a massive 180-foot-high cavern decorated with huge stalagmites and stalactites.

The Río Camuy Caves Park is located 11 miles southwest of Arecibo on Hwy 129 and due to the ecological sensitivity of the area only a specific number of visitors are allowed into the park each day aboard open-air trolleys for the descent into the caverns. Visitor numbers are regulated by limiting the seats on the trolleys and the number of daily tours.

The trolleys snake down a concrete roadway through a steep-sided chasm with walls crowded in graceful ferns, tall mahogany trees and limestone formations, then into a 180-foot deep sinkhole before reaching the entrance of the Clara de Empalme Cave. Near the entrance, visitors leave the trolleys and descend on foot to the first cave where they are taken on a 45-minute guided tour through the immense cave network consisting of two large caverns. The informative tours are conducted in Spanish and English.

The first cave you enter is a huge dry chamber with large stalactites and stalagmites which grow at an average rate of about one inch every 300 years. At the south end of the main chamber is another large opening leading a 400-ft-deep sinkhole open to the sky. The return trip takes visitors through another small cave where visitors can hear and see the Rio Camuy--the world's third longest underground river--flowing 150 feet below.

Then it's back on the trolleys for a short ride to the Tres Pueblos Sinkhole (named because it lies at the convergence point of three municipality boundaries. The hole is gigantic. At almost 660 feet across and 360 feet deep, it is large enough to hold the entire El Morro Fortress. Viewing platforms, around the rim, allow visitors a good look at the Camuy River some 360 feet below.

For the more adventurous and those in good physical health, there is one especially adventurous trip which starts out with a 4x4 ride into the karst interior around Lares followed by a zipline ride down into a dense forest. The zipline ride consists of putting on a harness and sliding down a wire cable. At the end of the zipline, wanna-be spelunkers are outfitted with special harnesses and headgear and rappel 200 feet down into a sinkhole. A short swim across an underground pool at the base of the sinkhole, is followed by a slide down a mudslide to the waiting waters of the Río Camuy River. After an hour or so of body rafting through dark underground channels and caves you exit into another sinkhole where you climb back out into the light. Similar, but longer and more strenuous trips are available on the Río Tanamá. Groups are small (6-8 people) and the trips attract people of all ages who are in good physical health.


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El Yunque - The only Tropical Forest in the US National Forest System

Posted by Gilda Fisher on December 17, 2014 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)


El Yunque get its name from an Indian spirit, Yuquiyu, which means "Forest of Clouds" and is truly representative of all the diversity and beauty that Puerto Rico has to offer. Located approximately 45 minutes East of San Juan, El Yunque is easily accessible by car or by scheduling one of the many tours that originate in the tourist areas of Isla Verde or Condado.

The fauna is a truly amazing aspect of this area. There are about 240 native tree species, of those 23 are only found in El Yunque. Moreover, 88 are considered to be rare tree species. Another unique feature of the park is that it is home to the Puerto Rican parrot, an endangered species. Going back only a few years to 1990, there were 20 of these native birds. Today, their numbers have increased to about 85 and therefore would represent a very unique sighting to visitors of the park. Approximately 50 other bird species are found on the Forest.

The park also has very rare ecosystems that will make your visit memorable. Average annual rainfall is estimated between 200 to 240 inches; and usually spring and fall bring the most precipitation. Thus, you should expect to get wet during your visit. The forest is divided into four spectacular areas:

-Tabonuco Forest

-Palo Colorado Forest

-Palma Sierra Forest

-Bosque en las Nubes Forest

The average temperature in El Yunque is very pleasant all year around. The average temperature for the lower elevations (i.e., <3,280ft.) is 77.9 Fahrenheit and 65.3 for the higher elevations (>3,280ft). The park has several paved trails that make hiking safe and enjoyable for all. These trails will take you to beautiful waterfalls and rivers. El Toro, the highest peak in the forest at 3,532 feet, has only odd dwarf vegetation clinging to its sides. On a clear day you will be able to see both the Atlantic Ocean to the North and the Caribbean Sea to the South as well, as other breath-taking views of Puerto Rico's scenery. In the evenings you will be able to listen to the "singing" of the Puerto Rican Coqui. The Coqui is a small frog that is only found in Puerto Rico and makes an enchanting call.

When visiting Puerto Rico, make sure that you plan on spending at least one full day at El Yunque in order to fully enjoy all that it has to offer. When you see it, you'll easily understand why.

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Ponce - La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South)

Posted by Gilda Fisher on November 17, 2014 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

With a population of 194,636, Ponce is Puerto Rico's second largest city (San juan is the first and Mayaguez is the third).  Ponce is also known as the "Ciudad Señorial"(majestic city), because of its many beautiful neoclassical buildings and facades.  Nearly one half a billion dollars have been spent preserving the colonial core of Ponce.  The heart of Ponce dates from the late 17th century and has been declared a national treasure.  It consists of plazas and churches and highly decorative colonial homes, some glorious fountains and a unique fire station.

The beautiful downtown Plaza de las Delicias is a worthwhile stop, with lovely fountains, a cathedral and local bench sitting denizens. The unique red and black, century old wooden firehouse, commonly known as "Parque de Bombas" is a landmark and still in use. Parque de Bombas originally built in 1882 for an exposition and from 1883 to 1989 it served as headquarters of the Ponce Fire Corps. In 1990 the firehouse was reopened as a museum.  There are exhibits on the second floor and the municipal band plays a free concert every Sunday night.

Other interesting buildings around the plaza include Casa Alcaldía (city hall), the oldest colonial building in the city, dating to the 1840s. Nearby sits Casa Armstrong-Poventud a magnificent example of the neoclassical architectural heritage of the island.

The Museum of Puerto Rican Music traces the rich musical history of the island through memorabilia of famous musicians and displays of Indian, Spanish and African musical instruments. Open Wednesday-Sunday 9 am - noon and 1-5:30 pm; free admission; 70 Christina St., 787-844-9722.

The world class Ponce Museum of Art, designed by Edward Durrell Stone (Museum of Modern Art, NY), is the only museum of stature, houses the most extensive art collection in the Caribbean. Located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, 90 minutes from San Juan. The museum was donated by a foundation established by Luis A Ferré (Governor 1968-72). The building, with seven interconnected hexagons, glass cupolas and a pair of curved staircases, contains one of the most important pre-Raphaelite collections in the western hemisphere. The museum houses more than 1,000 paintings and 400 sculptures, including the finest collection of European works in the Caribbean, such as works by Velasquez, Rubens and Rodin. Many important Puerto Rican pieces are included in the collection, some Inca pottery and even Thai pieces. The museum also offers exhibits by contemporary Puerto Rican artists. Open daily 10am - 5pm. Admission: Adults $4, children $2, (787) 848-0511 or (787) 848-0505.

"La Guancha Paseo Tablado", the boardwalk, is a fun stop where you can loiter with lively local Ponceños-the teen scene, elders and the toddler-mamma set. The pier here is the departure point for a regularly scheduled weekend ferry to "Caja de Muertos" (Coffin Island or Dead Box Island), a small island of pristine beaches, an old lighthouse (built in 1887) and a marked snorkel trail (under construction). Ferry services: Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9am and return to 5pm.

For a incredible view of how the mountains meet the sea at Ponce, drive to the summit of El Vigia Hill, where scouts once scanned for attacking ships. Visitors can ascend La Cruz del Vigia, a 100-foot observation tower, and view of Ponce and Caja de Muertos. Castillo Serralles (Serralles Castle) located near to El Vigia Hill, is a lovely landscaped former residence of the most powerful rum-producing families, the Serralles family, producers of Don Q rum. The Serralles Castle is a magnificent example of Spanish Revival architecture, popular in the 1920's; indoor patio with fountains, beautiful formal gardens paralleling the style of the house, well-manicured flame of jungle plants growing in a pattern that matches the ironwork on the house. It was designed by architect Pedro de Castro and was completed in the early 1930's. Open Tues-Thur 9:30am-4:30pm, Fri-Sun 10:00am-5:00pm, admissions $3.00, children $1.50, groups must reserve in advance, (787) 259-1774.

Nearby is the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center discovered in 1975 after hurricane rains uncovered pottery and only a small portion has so far been excavated, is site of the oldest cemetery uncovered up to date in the Antilles, with some 200 skeletons unearthed from AD300, is considered the largest and the most important archaeological finds in the West Indies. These ancient Indian sites include seven bateyes (ball fields), some carved with petroglyphs, said to have been used for a soccer like game. On one of two dance grounds, stones line up with the sun during the equinox and solstice, making Tibes a pre-Columbian astronomical observatory. This archeological discovery affirms that the Igneri Indians (pre-Taino) did not completely disappear without leaving traces of their existence other than samples of ceramic pottery. At Tibes, there is proof that the Igneris were farmers, fishermen, and hunters of birds and small animals. The site is now a tourist attraction which is open to the public. There is a reconstructed Taíno village with thatched roof bamboo huts. Open Tues-Sun, 9am - 4pm, admission US$2 for adults, US$2 for children, (787) 840-2255.

Hacienda Buena Vista (beautiful view) was built in 1833 originally devoted to growing fruits, converted into a coffee plantation and corn mill in 1845 and in operation till 1937, and restored by Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico. All the machinery works (the metal parts are original), operated by water channeled from the 360m Vives waterfall; the hydraulic turbine which turns the corn mill is unique. Open Fri-Sun, tours at 8:30am, 10:30am, 13:30am and 15:30am; groups of 20 or more admitted Wed and Thur; US$5 adults, US$1 children under 12. Reservations are required. Weekdays (787) 722-5882, weekends (787) 848-7020.

South of Ponce you can find Cardona island, where a 19th century lighthouse still stands.

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Isla de Caja de Muerto

Posted by Gilda Fisher on October 10, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Located six miles south of the city of Ponce, Caja de Muerto is part of a reserve that consists of three islands which hold a diversity of natural resources in a wonderful scenic setting. The waters surrounding the islands are beautiful and clear, with coral reefs and abundant sea life. Its shorelines are diverse with rocky areas, sandy beaches and mangrove patches. In Caja de Muerto's interior there is a modest dry forest with a vegetation similar to Guanica's and Mona Island's dry forests. Atop its larger limestone hill sits a Spanish lighthouse which dates back to 1887 and automated in 1945. From the lighthouse one can enjoy a panoramic view of the island and of Puerto Rico?s southern shore. Dotting the hill are several small caves.

The island is protected by the Reserva Natural Caja de Muertos natural reserve, because of its native turtle traffic. It is called Caja de Muerto (Box of the Dead, Coffin, or more popularly the Dead Man's Chest) because it resembles someone lying down when seen from the main island.


There is regular ferry service to Caja de Muerto from Ponce harbor on weekends and holidays only all day long.  Follow Carretera 14 South to the Port Zone.  Once the divided road pulls between the port warehouses, look for the brown sign pointing left to La Guancha / ferry on the median strip.  On weekdays, one would need to charter a boat - there is no shortage of snorkeling operators serving a wonderful reef on the NE end of Caja de Muerto.


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Isla de Mona - The Galapagos of the Caribbean

Posted by Gilda Fisher on September 2, 2014 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Fifty miles due west of Cabo Rojo floats rugged Isla de Mona (Mona Island), the Galápagos of the Caribbean, with its 200-foot cliffs, 3-foot iguanas and pirate caves.  It is located midway in the Mona passage, a strait between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic connecting the northern Atlantic Ocean with the Caribbean Sea.  To get to Mona, you need to make arrangements with one of the tour operators.  The 3-hour, 50-mile boat ride can be a bit rough, and most visitors camp for a few days, so this trip takes some advance planning (take everything, including water - the tour operators can help with this). In addition, the whole island is a nature reserve, and you need permits from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources.  There are no native inhabitants on Mona, rangers from Puerto Rico's Department of Natural and Environmental Resources reside on the island to manage visitors and take part in research projects.


There are two areas to land boats:  Pájaros, in the southwest, or the Sardinera area in the west, close to the management office. Hiking trails run throughout the island (there is a topo map available from the United States Geological Survey). One good hike is to the old abandoned lighthouse in the southeast.  Another hike takes you to the caves and cliffs on the north side, a major attraction for local and international climbers.  If you come as part of a dive trip, you are in for a real treat.  The water is crystal clear, teeming with fish (over 270 species have been spotted).  In the winter time you may get close to some whales. Year-round you can often find dolphins, sea turtles and marlins.

How to go:
Transportation may be arranged with west coast fishing, diving, sailing, tour and nature tour operators. (Acampa Nature Adventure 787-706-0695 among others).

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The Adventure of the Seas - Our Spectacular Caribbean Cruise

Posted by Gilda Fisher on September 20, 2006 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

                                 The Adventure of the Seas - Our Spectacular Caribbean Cruise 

On September 3rd, 2006 we went aboard the Adventure of the Seas for a 7 days caribbean cruise. The ship has a passenger capacity of 3,840 passengers and a crew capacity of 1,180, giving a total number of 5,020 on board. The hotel facilities include 1,557 staterooms. Of these staterooms, 1,077 (69%) have a sea view, and 757 (49%) have balconies.

This ship has a variety of dining options, including a spectacular three-level main dining room with three separate and distinct themed dining areas. The Captain's night dinner was excellent. My husband and I had the lobster, which was delicious. We had breakfast every day except the last day, at the buffet located on deck 11. We had all our luches and many snacks there too.

The Studio B is a 900 seat capacity arena where we saw an excellent ice show. Our children took an ice skating lesson there with one of the ice show performers. At the Lyric, a 1,350-seat theatre, we enjoyed different shows. The singers and dancers were excellent as well as the other performers.

Sports facilities at the ship include an outdoor sports deck, complete with golf course, driving range and golf simulators, as well as a roller blade track and a full-sized sports court for basketball, paddleball and volleyball. There is also a rock-climbing wall. The vessel also contains a wedding chapel and there is a casino with more than 400 slot machines.

There are large facilities for children and teens which our children enjoyed. The last two ports we visited, they wanted to stay on the ship participating on the many activities provided for children. The staff in charged of the children's activities was excellent. They were friendly and truly enjoyed working with them.

Our first port of call was Barbados a relatively flat island, the highest point being Mount Hillaby in the Scotland district, at 1,100 ft above sea level. The island is located in a slightly eccentric position in the Atlantic Ocean, to the east of the other Caribbean islands. The Climate is tropical, with a rainy season from June to October.

Though one might assume the island deals with severe tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season, it actually does not- owing to its far eastern location in the Atlantic Ocean pushing it just outside of the principal hurricane belt. The island does get brushed or hit about every 3.09 years and the average number of years between direct hurricane hits is about once every 26.6 years. In Barbados, we took a taxi to the beach. My husband brought along snorkeling gear and had a good time. He even got our children involved into trying it out, an our son really liked it.

Next port was the volcanic island of Saint Lucia which is more mountainous than many other Caribbean islands, with the highest point being Mount Gimie. Two other mountains, the Pitons, form the island's most famous landmark. They are located on the western side of the island. Saint Lucia is also one of the few islands in the world that boasts a drive-in volcano.

The capital city of Saint Lucia is Castries, where about one third of the population lives. The local climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds, with a dry season from January to April and a rainy season from May to November. In Saint Lucia, we took a 2 hour tour with a local taxi driver which our children did not find exciting. They both fell asleep in the car!

The third port we visited was Antigua. Antigua has a population of about 68,000, of which over 24,000 live in the capital of St. John's. The surface in Antigua is comparatively flat, and there is no central range of mountains as in most other West Indian islands, but among the hills in the southwest an elevation of 1,319 feet is attained on Boggy Peak. Owing to the absence of rivers, the paucity of springs, and the almost complete deforestation, Antigua is subject to frequent droughts, and although the average rainfall is 45.6 inches, the variations from year to year are great. The problem is partly solved by desalination of sea water.

In Antigua we also took a taxi to the beach. There were almost no waves and the water was very warm, just like I like it! My husband rented a wave runner and had a lot of fun.

The fourth port was St. Maarten. The 38 square-mile island is divided roughly in half between France and the Netherlands and it is the smallest inhabited land mass in the world that is divided between two nations. The southern Dutch half is called Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; the northern French half is called Saint-Martin and is part of the French overseas region and departement of Guadeloupe. The main towns are Marigot (French side) and Philipsburg (Dutch side). The French part of the island has a land area 20.5 sq mi. Sint Maarten, the Dutch part of the island, has a land area of 13.1 sq mi.

In St. Maarten my husband went scuba diving with a local instructor and really enjoyed it. He booked this through the ship's tour services. I went shopping and then went to the beach.

The last port we visited was St. Thomas. In 1917 St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. U.S. citizenship was granted to the residents in 1927. The U.S. Department of the Interior took over administrative duties in 1931.

American forces were based on the island during the Second World War. In 1954, passage of the U.S. Virgin Islands Organic Act officially granted territorial status to the three islands, and allowed for the formation of a local senate with politics dominated by the American Republican and Democratic parties. Full home rule was achieved in 1970.

The post-war era also saw the rise of tourism on the island. With relatively cheap air travel and the American embargo on Cuba, the numbers of visitors greatly increased. Despite natural disasters such as Hurricane Hugo and Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn, the island's infrastructure continues to improve as the flow of visitors continues.

In St. Thomas we took a taxi to Megan's bay, one of the top ten best beaches in the world. We were a little disappointed because even though the water was warm and calm, there were a lot of leaves, and sticks and even jellyfish. When we saw the fourth jellyfish we decided it was time to go back to the ship.

Back in San Juan we stayed in our Studio at ESJ Towers. We enjoyed the pool and the beach and the great view! We had at our finger tips the bar and casino at the San Juan hotel along with the delicious local cuisine (Mofongo with shrimps ). We did take time out of our stay to clean our accumulation of dirty laundry at the convient laundry facilities. The on-site mini-mart has soap and snacks which make the job effortless. At the business center I was able to read and respond to email inquiries of potential customers and my husband printed our airline boarding passes.

We are looking forward to going back to our place in ESJ Towers and to our next cruise. It is truly a fun and relaxing way to spend our vacation!

For more information about Vacation Rentals in ESJ Towers

visit our website at



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Vacation Rentals in Puerto Rico - ESJ Towers Condo Hotel

Posted by Gilda Fisher on July 30, 2006 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Enjoy a spectacular oceanview from a 16th Floor Studio Suite without paying high beachfront hotel rates! We offer vacation rentals in Puerto Rico at ESJ Towers, a beachfront Condo Hotel facility located in Isla Verde within minutes of San Juan international airport. This unique condo hotel concept is perfect for the carefree family holiday or for your corporate business trip to the island.

ESJ Towers is great for kids because of the game room and mini-mart on the premises. The pool bar offers cool poolside drinks and hot snacks during the day and the Mano a Mano lounge, open from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, serves cocktails in a casual, fun atmosphere. For the business traveler the business center with internet access, photocopy and fax service is open 24 hours.

At the Concierge Desk you can book tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaks and banana boat rides. Evening dining, night clubs and casinos are available walking distance at the Wyndham El San Juan Hotel and Casino and the Inter Continental San Juan Hotel.

This fully Air Conditioned Penthouse Ocean View Suite, with Fully Equipped Kitchen and Television with Cable TV, is available on a daily or weekly basis. Rate includes use of all hotel facilities. For more information visit our website at

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