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Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory floating blissfully in the blue Caribbean Sea, has built a reputation for its quaint, UNESCO-listed historic old town; its fine-sand beaches and high-end resorts; its rum; and its heavenly love of pork. But there’s also an array of active attractions throughout this 3,515-square mile warm-weather island.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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That said, be sure to carve out at least two days to explore Old San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital. It’s the second-oldest European-established city in the Americas, founded by the Spanish in 1521. That heritage is echoed everywhere, from iconic landmarks like the Bogativa Statue to Fort San Felipe del Morro.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Old San Juan is lined with cobblestone streets; the stones used originate from the ballast stones on the ships that docked here during the Colonial era. They were removed to make room for cargo to return to Europe and were used to pave the streets.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Beaches—like Pine Grove (pictured)—lie just outside of Old San Juan and offer mellow waves for intro surfing. Here you can hook up with WoW Surfing School to find your balance on the board. The more experienced, meanwhile, will want to trek out to surf havens like Rincon on Puerto Rico’s western coast.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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About an hour out of San Juan awaits El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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You can explore the parkland’s 28,000 acres by taking one of several marked day hikes, wandering to waterfalls and observation posts, or camping overnight (permit required).  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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For a more off-the-beaten-path adventure, consider a trip out to Caja de Muerto—Island of the Dead. San Juan-based Acampa operators organize day trips that depart from the town of Ponce.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The government-sanctioned reserve consists of three separate islands. The trip includes a boat ride out to the island, a swim to the shore, and a hike through the dense foliage up to an old lighthouse for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Here, a massive patch of cacti grows ever-skyward along the trail that leads to the overlook.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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It pays to be careful while exploring the fauna, however. This plant makes poison ivy feel like an aloe leaf.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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After the hike, you retire to the dock for a mellow lunch, and then board sea kayaks to circumnavigate the island to a quiet slice of beachfront. The island also boasts a scuba diving “trail” on the eastern coast, with signage and snorkel-friendly floating resting points.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Acampa owner and guide Raymond relaxes in the cool Caribbean after reaching the private beach.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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For a more grounded experience, head to Hacienda Campo Rico for a rugged, wild tour across a 2,000-acre wilderness in 8x8 amphibious Argo vehicles. It’s a fast, invigorating ride though huge mud puddles, fields of mud and dust, and more mellow forest-lined trails.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The tour also includes short nature walks through the forest that let you witness the forest at a decidedly slower pace than the 8x8s.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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But if you want to really penetrate the wild heart of Puerto Rico, there’s only one place: Toro Verde Adventure Park, nestled in the island’s dense tropical rainforest in the central part of the island.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The complex is composed of a dizzying series of zip lines, free-rappelling routes, rope courses, and suspension bridges. The first step? Get kitted out with a climbing harness, helmet, and gloves.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Here, bridges have been constructed high over the rainforest, proffering a bird’s-eye perspective as you navigate across the wooden planks…  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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…before going into a free-descent rappel to the forest floor.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Other features include walking narrow bridges composed of 2x4 and 4x4 boards. If that seems narrow, it is. But your climbing harness is reassuringly attached to one of the route’s many safety lines.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Here, an intrepid traveler zips over the forest floor, a modest feat when compared to… the Beast.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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At 4,745 feet long, the Beast is one of the world’s longest single-run zip lines, and the highest in the world. You experience it lying face down—like Superman—by wearing a full-body harness that resembles a caterpillar costume.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Expect to reach speeds of up to 60 miles an hour—but given the duration of time it takes to ride the Beast, the initial rush of adrenaline fades as you start to slow down, and you suddenly, counter-intuitively relax enough to fully embrace the rare perspective the zip line provides: quietly soaring over a canyon carved by a milk chocolate-colored river, mist clinging to the trees on the rainforest’s sloped hillside.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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