Celebrating Carnaval in Ponce, Puerto Rico

Carnival. That party that happens before Lent every year, with places like Rio de Janeiro or maybe Venice coming to mind. Images of lithe, bronzed women in sparkly costumes and huge feathered headdresses or intricate masks and elaborate gowns and suits.

But the truth is that Carnival is celebrated across the Caribbean, and in a number of places around the world. While New Orleans’s Mardi Gras is perhaps the most widely known version in the United States, Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, is also known for its Carnaval, known as Carnaval Ponceño.

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Vieques: An Island Getaway on your Island Getaway

Most people head to Puerto Rico as their very own island getaway; sun, surf, sand, what more could you ask for. Turns out there’s another island that you could stop off at for a few days to have an island getaway from you island getaway: Vieques.

But why would you want to go out of your way to get there? Sun, surf and sand are already covered, remember? How about some of the best diving and snorkel spots, the best bioluminescent waters and beaches all to yourself.

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Hiking in Puerto Rico’s Guánica State Forest

Puerto Rico is known as La Isla del Encanto, or the “Enchanted Island.” No doubt, the beaches with crystal clear waters, gorgeous keys and small islands, and a mountainous rainforest, including El Yunque National Forest, are big parts of what makes Puerto Rico feel like an enchanted place. But I’d add the Bosque Estatal Guánica, or Guánica State Forest, to that list.

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Camping in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest

As the fading light slipped through the spectrum of golden-yellow to cool-blue, the coquís began their daily symphony, starting with just a few chips and croaks that grew to a roar as darkness filled the corners in the rainforest. This is the heart of El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest that is a part of the U.S. Forest Service and one if the oldest forest reserves in the Western hemisphere.

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