Lighthouse Tour of Puerto Rico 2013

The group photo at Cabo San Juan Lighthouse




On our first evening at AireNumo Restaurante in Old San Juan, we celebrated our guide, Nelson's birthday




After dinner we took a cruise on San Juan Bay to see El Morro Lighthouse at night and to dance to some loud music on the party boat!




Our local guides, Papa Leon and his daughter, Sarah, take us on a tour of old San Juan




Old San Juan has it all --- a peaceful demonstration protesting low wages for police, beautiful plazas, colorful buildings and live entertainment. Maria, Nelson's associate, pleads with the police to let us pass but to no avail!




Phil and Mary enjoying a bit of rare shade in Old San Juan




The beautiful Catedral de San Juan Baútista (the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist) was completed in 1852 and restored in 1917. It houses the tomb of Ponce de León




Our first lighthouse was part of the San Juan National Historic Site




The Puerto San Juan or El Morro Lighthouse represents Puerto Rico's oldest light station




The 1899 third-order lens is unique for not having top or bottom prisms and is still in use today




Nancy, Glen and Joan enjoy a break at El Morro




Vaca Brava was an interesting luncheon stop. Glen and Joanne pose with a yard of beer while Jan discovers a very unique washroom!




Puerto Rico has great statues and the pigeons like them too!




Papa Leon leads the tour in El Yunque Rain Forest International Biosphere Reserve. With miles of hiking trails, the most popular one leads to the ladies' room!




With its lush forests, beautiful waterfalls and bird watching opportunities, this is the only true tropical rain forest within the U.S. national park system




Nelson shows us a walking stick insect that we probably would not have noticed since it resembles a twig




Next we toured Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. Here one can find seven different ecological systems - beaches, lagoons, dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves




We saw iguanas scurrying across the road and this insect that our guide showed us. No one seemed to want to hold it




The Cabo San Juan Lighthouse is Puerto Rico's oldest surviving lighthouse and one of the most beautiful among the local lighthouses




The portico with its marble flooring is lovely and this lighthouse is the best preserved in Puerto Rico




The cast-iron spiral staircase leading to the lantern room is quite elaborate




A statue of the Virgin Mary can be seen as we approach Vieques Island




The beautiful harbor of Vieques Island as seen from atop of Punta Mulas Lighthouse




The biggest adventure of the trip - breaking and entering into Punta Mulas thanks to our great local lighthouse hosts!




Climbing through window openings has got to be another characteristic of a First-order Wickie!




Sandy makes it down, Clorinda makes it up and Bill enjoys the views from the roof of the lighthouse




The sad interior of the Punta Mulas Lighthouse. Hard to believe this was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1992. Obviously it didn't stay open too long.




The modern optic in a deteriorating lantern




The Faro de Punta Mulas (Punta Mulas Lighthouse) in the town of Isabel Segunda on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico




Taking a break near the Punta Mulas Lighthouse




We ate lunch in and around the Conde de Miraso Museum, which was once part of a Spanish fort overlooking Isabel Segunda




Our dinner was at the Paellas with Music and Bohemian Piano Bar & Restaurant in Ceiba. This was a true Puerto Rican experience complete with singing owner/waitress and delicious paellas-one with seafood and one with chicken




Punta Tuna Lighthouse was our first stop on Day 5. The lighthouse will soon be transferred to the City of Maunabo




The third-order lens is one of only two remaining in Puerto Rico's lighthouses




Glen and Bill with our gracious local guide, Nelson, who was proud to talk to us and give us a tour the Punta Tuna Lighthouse




Amy, Sandy, Mary and Joanne find a shady spot at Punta Figuras Lighthouse for lunch




The Punta de las Figuras (Punta Figuras) Lighthouse located southeast of Arroyo




The beautiful marble floors were part of restoration efforts in 2002-03. Unfortunately, now the building sits boarded up




The group gathers to hear about the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center nearby where the bateyes (Taíno ball courts) were uncovered




Joan and Jill check out the reconstructed pre-Taíno bohíos (huts)




There were prehistoric trees and flora that existed during the Indian culture that we discovered on the tour of the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center. A Tortuga even posed for us as we took in this village dating back to AD 700




A sightseeing tour of Ponce, the "city of lions," drove us by many colorful buildings and stately monuments




Joe and Ann wear green on St. Patrick's Day as they take in the city sights




Puerto Ricans love their colors. More sights to behold including the 100' observation tower cross on El Vigía Hill and the black-and-red-striped former fire station, Parque de Bombas




George, Nancy, Jill, Joan, Judy and Bill enjoy a dinner at Restaurante El Ancla in Ponce




On the way to Isla Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island) we passed the Isla de Cardona Lighthouse which is so surrounded by vegetation that we could only photograph it from the water




The lovely Caja de Muertos harbor where nearby in the mountain statues of Christ and Virgin Carmen, patron saint of fishermen can be seen




Bob takes his award winning photos along the cacti-lined trail to the lighthouse




We encounter Jaguey (wild fig trees), termite nests and cactus in this nature reserve as we make our way to the lighthouse




The Isla Caja de Muertos Lighthouse




Don, Diane and Ned make their way back down the hot and rocky trail




A fun day on the island-Nelson relaxes, Donna, Jan and Diane look for sea glass, Maria and Sandy W. take a dip, Rita soaks up the sun while Sandy K. takes in the exhibits on the huge Tortuga shells




Some of us braved the heat and ventured on the tour of the Corozo Salt Flats while the rest stayed back and had lunch. We were thrilled to later watch a movie of the nature reserve in air conditioning away from the heat!




The beautiful Cabo Rojo (Los Morrillos) Lighthouse sits atop a limestone bluff overlooking the Caribbean




The interior of the lighthouse with its marble floors and colorful walls




After a long day, some of us relax and share a few laughs before dinner




The Punta Higuero (Point Jiquero) Lighthouse is the centerpiece of El Faro Park, a popular surfing and whale watching site




The views were spectacular and the one iguana posed for our photos! Rincón is known as the "surfing capital" since hosting the Surfing World Championships in 1968




Ned and Diane enjoy a cold one at Boca Loca while waiting for their lunch in this unique eatery




Unfortunately the Coast Guard was not present to show us the lighthouse. A good Wickie never lets that stop a photo opportunity!




The 1920 Punta Borinquen Lighthouse sits sadly without a lantern. Borinquen is the original Indian name of Puerto Rico




Another lighthouse adventure thanks to these nice ladies who offered their land for those of us wanting to hike behind the USCG grounds to take another photo. One lady in the foreground used these fashionable Puerto Rican "hiking shoes" and never missed a step!




Coming and going was a challenge on a sloped path. Thankfully we had a fence to hang on to!




And here's what the hike produced - a detached reinforced concrete tower!




Later that day and for some of us, the next morning, we visited the 1889 Punta Borinquen Lighthouse ruins. Located on a 230 foot bluff, it was a great photo op




A happy bunch gets ready to check out the third largest cave system in the world - the Rio Camuy Cave Park (Parque de las Cavernas del Río Camuy)




The Cueva Clara cave features stalactites, stalagmites and boulders besides bats that fortunately don't come out until dark!




After a hike through the cave, Dianne, Ken, Mary, Phil and Ron wait for the tram




Jill wonders, "Was it something I said?" or was it Joan's reaction to another change on the schedule!




Bill, Ann and Joe demonstrate their bravery on the park tram




Our next stop on Day 10 included a theme park and our last lighthouse




The lovely Arecibo Lighthouse (Faro de los Morrillos) is the last lighthouse built by the Spanish in Puerto Rico




The building is a historical museum complete with canon and exhibits




Mary Lou and Amy take a peek at the base of the tower




Ron and Pat have big smiles as they make it to the roof to take in the fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean




John, Donna, Dianne and Nelson check out the sights from the rooftop of the lighthouse




On our free day, some of us went to the Bacardi Rum Factory which starts with a complimentary drink and a ride in the tram




Bill and the Sarahs appreciate the shady tram




A quick photo op in the rum factory - from left, Sarah R., Sarah M., Judy, Bill, Mary Lou, Clorinda, Peggy and Bill




Jan, Amy, Donna, John, Joanne, Mary, Joe and Ann went to the Arecibo Observatory to see the largest radio telescope in the world




Bill, Sandy and Stan took the optional flight to see the Puerto Rican lighthouses not on the tour




Taking off from San Juan, we now fly over our second lighthouse we visited, Cabo San Juan




Culebrita Lighthouse (1886) off the eastern tip of Culebra and overlooking the Virgin Passage, sits in ruins despite a $700,000 grant reported to be used for preliminary restoration which obviously never took place




The 1896 Puerto Ferro Lighthouse located on the central south coast of Vieques Island has also fallen into ruin evidenced by decay and lack of maintenance




Another pilot takes Judy, Peggy and Bill on a high flying adventure to look for lighthouses




This aerial view shows the curve of the earth and Punta Tuna Lighthouse from the air




Breathtaking water views and Punta Figuras Lighthouse




Flying over Isla Caja de Muertos Lighthouse (top) and Isla de Cardona Lighthouse (bottom)




Bob T. shared his photo of the critically endangered Guánica Lighthouse




Two memorable sights from the air: The Arecibo telescope (top) and Castillo San Felipe del Morro with its unique lighthouse




Peggy gives thumbs up to the aerial adventure




Puerto Rico: Amazing beaches




Puerto Rico: Always something interesting to see!




People, lighthouses, scenery, memories and adventures = USLHS Puerto Rico Tour



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