The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino is ideally situated in the Puerto Rico Convention Center District adjacent to the Covention Center and facing the Bay of San Juan. Our hotel is only minutes away from historic Old San Juan and the San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. We offer great dining options, an exciting terrace lobby bar, Puerto Rico's largest casino, a full-service Zen Spa Retreat, an outdoor infinity pool, and fabulous name brand shopping. In short, there are plenty of onsite activities to keep you busy.
Explore the San Felipe del Morro Fort
El Morro, officially known as Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, sits atop a high promontory overlooking the entrance to San Juan Bay. It is the result of the efforts of many different Spanish engineers over a period of more than 200 years and is one of the largest forts built by the Spaniards in the Caribbean. Although the foundations were laid in 1539, the six-level fort was not considered completed until 1787. During World War II, the U.S. government added an annex of its own design on top of the fort. This massive structure suffered countless attacks from the likes of Sir Francis Drake in 1595 and the Dutch fleet in 1625. In 1898 American ships fired on it during the Spanish-American War, destroying its lighthouse, which was later restored. Visit hidden passages, aim your camera on the cannons that still guard the harbor, and gaze over the 60-foot tall walls at the ocean. Stroll on the lawns where soldiers once marched and watch the children flying their kites in the afternoon sea breezes.
The fort can be explored everyday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. El Morro is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site in the U. S. National Park Service.
Explore the San Cristobal Fort
Fort San Cristóbal stands guard at where once was the eastern gate to the walled city of Old San Juan. Construction on the fort was begun in 1634 and finished in 1790, although modifications were made well into the 18th Century. Its better-known sister fort, El Morro, was designed to protect the city from attacks by sea; San Cristóbal guarded from approaches by land. If you are interested in history, enjoy a walk on the ramparts, where half a millennium ago Spanish soldiers held their watch. If you love to photograph spectacular views, this fort is a goldmine for you, with its panoramic view of the coast from Old San Juan to Condado area and beyond.
Wear comfortable shoes! Covering 27 acres, this is the largest fort built by the Spanish in the New World. Guided tours will show you where the first shots of the Spanish-American War were fired and will reveal part of its intricate defense system, designed by two Irishmen in the employ of the Spanish crown. Don't miss the "Garita del Diablo", a sentry box that, according to one legend, devoured soldiers sent there on guard. A labyrinth of tunnels crisscrosses deep under ground where the dungeons are located, and the outside walls fall 150 feet straight onto the rocks of the north shore.
San Cristóbal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site under the U.S. National Park Service. The fort is open to the public daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Imagine the blackness of the sea on a moonless night. Now watch it sparkle with the darting lights of a million fireflies. 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 and a lagoon. The best known is at La Parguera, between Mayagez and Ponce in the southwest of the island. A cottage industry in the village is based on showing the bay to visitors. The more spectacular phosphorescent bay is Mosquito Bay in Vieques, the island municipality off of the main island's northeastern shore. The experience of seeing-and being surrounded by-this eerie light is nothing less than magical!
Camuy River Cave Park
There are only two other places in the world where you will find a cave system as massive or dramatic as the Río Camuy Cave Park - and neither of them has a tropical underground river thundering through it! Only a small part of the complex is open to the public: three crater-like sinkholes and two caves... but what a spectacular part it is! Visitors ride a trolley that descends into a sinkhole lined with dense tropical vegetation while a guide describes the sights. After a walk across ramps and bridges and through the dramatically illuminated, 170-foot high Cueva Clara, another tram shuttles you to a platform overlooking the 400 foot deep Tres Pueblos Sinkhole.
Another attraction is the Spiral Sinkhole and Cave. You can walk the 205 steps down into the sinkhole, but the cave itself is off limits to all but experienced spelunkers. The sinkhole is believed to have once been an enormous cavern, and is indeed an impressive sight. Cathedral cave is home to an enigmatic collection of petroglyphs etched into the walls by the ancient Taínos (native Indians). The 268-acre grounds include a cafeteria, picnic area, gift shop, walking trails, exhibition hall, and theater. Advanced cave explorers can arrange for special tours and rappelling trips through undeveloped sections of the caves.
The park is normally open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The last tour departs at 3:30 p.m., or when the park reaches its daily capacity.
Arecibo Radio Telescope
In the northwest mountains of the island, nestled among the karst-country hills, is the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory, or Radio Telescope, the largest of its kind and one of the most important research facilities on the face of the earth. The huge dish-more than a dozen football fields could fit inside-sits in a sinkhole and is forever aimed at the sky, tuned to detect the slightest sounds emitted by the farthest stars.
It is the place where planets outside our solar system were discovered and is the home base for NASA's SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, which you may remember from the Jodie Foster movie "Contact," part of which was filmed here. In the Visitors' Center you will see how the colossal structure is used to study radio emissions from distant galaxies, quasars, pulsars and many other cosmic sources. The exhibits are interactive and contain extensive information on astronomy and atmospheric science. It is the impressive size and magnitude of the tiled dish that leaves visitors breathless when they hike to the viewing platform and see it glimmering in the sun. Indeed it is one of the only landmarks in Puerto Rico that can easily be seen from a jetliner passing by at 33,000 feet!
The Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory is open Wednesday to Friday from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM and Saturday, Sunday and most holidays from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
The Caribbean National Forest, often called El Yunque Rainforest, has the highest visitation of any natural site in Puerto Rico. When you see it, you'll easily understand why. Named after the benevolent Indian spirit Yuquiyu, El Yunque is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Comprised of some 240 different species of trees, it is actually a series of forests, each one determined by its altitude. El Toro, the highest peak in the forest at 3,532 feet, has only odd dwarf vegetation clinging to its sides.
More than 100 billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths occasionally pierced by sunlight. Spectacular waterfalls rush alongside its well-maintained (but slippery) trails. There are many favorite spots for visitors to take photos or a refreshing dip in the pristine pools. No one knows how many specimens of the noisy, ubiquitous tree frog, el coquí, live here, but you'll hear them. Naturalists have a better idea of the number (and location) of endangered Puerto Rican parrots, but they're not telling. You can see the forest best on foot, but much of its splendor can be appreciated during a slow drive up and down the mountain. You can explore on your own, park along a roadside tower to see the view, or take a guided tour. For details on recreational activities please call (787) 888-1880/1880 on weekdays.
Be sure to take time for El Portal Rain Forest Center. It features interesting exhibits in English and Spanish, a well-stocked bookstore, and a souvenir shop. The Center's theater presents a documentary film every half-hour, and has several interactive exhibits, including one entitled "Understanding the Forest." There are also visitors' centers at Palo Colorado and Sierra Palm.
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.