Every destination has its funky and quirky side that entertains us with hard to believe facts or interesting details that bring those "that's so strange" reactions from us. Puerto Rico, as small as it may be, is no stranger to quirkiness; so, here are a few interesting places, oddities and legends that will probably make you go "whaaaaaat?"
Yes, technically there is. The island of Palominito, located off the coast of Fajardo, is famous among locals as a place to spend the day relaxing on its white sandy shores. It has even been featured in movies (like Pirates of the Caribbean) and several commercials for its idyllic views. But the picturesque beauty of Palominito is in fact due to a natural disaster. In 1998, the strong winds and tidal surge of Hurricane Georges wiped a large portion of the island, destroying everything except for the white sandy beach in one-half of the island, and leaving the other half full of trees and foliage. As it turns out, this "disaster" turned a regular island into a beautiful Caribbean paradise.
Any visitor to the island, as soon as they step outside the city will hear a melodic whistle coming from the grass, bushes and trees. That is the tiny tree frog known as coqui. The name comes from the high-pitched "ko-kee" sound it produces, which, curiously, only the male frogs make (to mate). While they might be all over the island, it is not so easy to spot them because of their small size and their excellent camouflage.
While the war didn't reach all the way to Puerto Rico, the U.S. military made sure to fortify the island enough to protect it and to train soldiers.
In Vieques Island, hidden in the verdant and untamed parts of the island are several hills that stretch for miles. Well, those aren't natural hills. Those are bunkers! The military grounds were recently opened to the public, so if you walk along these eerie landscapes, you might even have the chance to enter some of the bunkers that have been left open.
Not far from Vieques is Culebra Island, which is famous for Flamenco Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Flamenco, beyond being beautiful, has a very peculiar sight; a rusting WWII tank right at its shores! There's another tank slightly up the hill too. But these remnants of the U.S. military presence on the islands are not trash, they have been left on purpose, as a monument.
Also, when you visit the famous colonial fort of El Morro in San Juan, you'll notice that part of the fort was modified in the typical WWII military architectural style.
Bioluminescence can be found in many places around the world, but there are only five bioluminescent bays in the world, and three of them are in Puerto Rico: Fajardo Bioluminescent Bay, Mosquito Bay in Vieques and La Parguera.
A bioluminescent bay is a rare and fragile ecosystem that allows tiny dinoflagellates to develop and glow when the water is disturbed. It is quite a visual phenomenon worth witnessing! Tip: Go kayaking on a new moon night - the glow is more intense!
You'll find it confusing that there's not a single measurement system in Puerto Rico. The Spanish implemented the metric system and later the Americans implemented the Imperial system but didn't eradicate the metric system from the island. Instead, both systems were left in place! For example, when driving on the island, you'll notice that speed is measured in miles per hour, but distances are measured in kilometers. Most liquids are sold in gallons and liters while gas is sold only in liters. And don't get me started with cooking measures they are all mixed too! So confusing!
See, Puerto Rico is quirky enough, and this is just scratching the surface. There's much more quirkiness waiting for you to discover it.
What quirky facts have you discovered on your travels?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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