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: Always something interesting to see!
People, lighthouses, scenery, memories and adventures = USLHS Puerto Rico Tour