Norbert Figueroa a RoamRight Blog Author

6 Odd Facts About Puerto Rico


You might know of the beautiful beaches, the sizzling nightlife and the interesting historic buildings in Puerto Rico; but behind this premier Caribbean image, there’s a layer of odd and quirky facts that make this island even more interesting and unique.  Here I share with you 6 odd facts about Puerto Rico.  Take a look; at least one of them will surprise you!

1. Puerto Rico has the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world.

Measuring 1,000 feet in diameter, this scientific hub and technological marvel is so big that it is nestled between the mountains of Arecibo. The Radiotelescopio de Arecibo is not only the biggest radio telescope in the world, but also the most sensitive. It has even been featured in several movies like Contact and Goldeneye.  

2. Two of the oldest churches in the Americas are located in Old San Juan.

A tour of the historic Old San Juan includes the second oldest church in the Americas – Iglesia de San Jose (San Jose’s Church).  While it is the second oldest church structure-wise, it is the oldest church in the Americas still in use. It was built in 1522 and it is still to this day a great example of Spanish Gothic architecture.

There is also Catedral de San Juan (San Juan's Cathedral), which was originally built before San Jose’s Church in the 1520’s, but its original building fell victim of lootings, attacks, and hurricanes. Soon after these disasters though the cathedral was rebuilt to its current shape.

3. Puerto Rico has its own “Galapagos Island”

Off the western shore of mainland Puerto Rico you’ll find
 Mona Island, a natural reserve unspoiled by man. It has been compared to the Galapagos Islands for its natural beauty and its colony of iguanas. These iguanas, known as the Mona Iguana, are found nowhere else on earth, adding to the uniqueness of this ecosystem. Unfortunately, tourists cannot visit the island because the government protects it from any human impact.

4. San Juan was the headquarters of the Inquisition

The Catholic Church has played an important role in the history and development of Puerto Rico since the early 1500s. As mentioned before, the oldest church still in use in the Americas was built in Old San Juan in 1522, yet, in 1519 Pope Leo X declared Puerto Rico the first ecclesiastical headquarters in the New World.  As a result, Puerto Rico became the epicenter of the Spanish Inquisition – one of the most barbaric and infamous events of Western civilization.

5. Coconuts are not native of Puerto Rico, or the Americas at all.

You might picture yourself on the beach sipping delicious coconut water out of a freshly cut coconut, but did you know that coconuts are not native to the Americas?  The coconut was introduced to Puerto Rico in 1542, after the Spanish imported it from the Far East. Soon after it became part of the colonial Spanish diet and eventually emerged in one of the most popular drinks on the island – the Piña Colada.

6. The largest rum distillery in the world is in Cataño

Casa Bacardi is the largest rum distillery in the world. It's so big that more than 70% of the rum sold in the United States comes from Puerto Rico. In addition, Puerto Rico is the only rum-producer in the world to maintain a minimum aging law for its rum. If you're interested in visiting the distillery, you can take a day tour from Old San Juan.

Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.

Which of these facts most surprised you?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

Norbert Figueroa

Norbert Figueroa, a RoamRight Blog Author 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, 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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