Puerto Rico entices travelers to explore nature

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T0906PLAYASARDPR_C_HR [Credit: Discover Puerto Rico]
Playa Sardinera beach on Puerto Rico’s north coast. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has hidden gems all over the island. Now the destination is challenging visitors to take a roadtrip to explore, experience and enjoy these natural wonders and support travel to other municipalities on the island.

Think of it as a scavenger hunt, complete with clues that eventually lead travelers to varied and remote landscapes from coast to coast.

Discover Puerto Rico's recent Population You campaign refers to the under-discovered, not-in-guidebooks, less-populated outdoor locations where travelers can roam without crowds and claim a little slice of paradise for themselves.

The purpose behind the campaign is to bring an awareness of Puerto Rico as an ideal fly-and-drive destination that provides the allure of an exotic island with the ease and convenience of a domestic vacation, since U.S. travelers do not need a passport, according to Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.

"The campaign targets responsible travelers who follow local guidelines and restrictions, protect the environment, leave the island better than they found it, respect local communities and treat those around them in a conscientious manner," Dean said.

He added that "travelers have developed a newfound appreciation for traveling consciously, and Puerto Rico is the ideal destination for those who want to connect with nature but not with crowds."

"We arm travelers with the proper information that they need to explore the island in depth," Dean said.

T0906CHANDLER_C [Credit: Discover Puerto Rico]
Leah Chandler

As the campaign's name implies, locations were selected "where the population is only you ... and maybe a few coquis" -- those small frogs native to Puerto Rico known for their distinctive nighttime chirp -- "a couple of curious seagulls or a forest of pristine pinecones," according to Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer of Discover Puerto Rico.

"After the events of the past year and a half, more than ever, travelers are searching for a destination that will satisfy their craving for travel but also give them peace of mind as they pursue fly-and-drive destinations," she said.

T0906CHARCAPR_C_HR [Credit: Discover Puerto Rico]
La Charca Aqua near Ponce is the perfect spot for a river swim. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Travelers share on social media

Discover Puerto Rico worked in tandem with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, local vendors, municipalities and two local influencers to identify eight under-visited locations, many of which can only be discovered by foot or by sea.

Each of the eight sites is marked with an environmentally friendly sign with the location's latitude and longitude, but the names are not revealed.

Along with the coordinates, Discover Puerto Rico also shares a scenic photo of each site through social media for travelers to use as clues in finding the sites.

Photos include a waterfall, a forest, a canyon, an out-of-the-way beach, an uninhabited island, a beach cave and coquis.

The campaign launched Aug. 9 for a four-week run, but the signs remain posted for those who want to seek out the locations and add them to their future travel plans.

Discover Puerto Rico is sharing photos of adventurers who visit the island, find the locations, snap a photo and share on Instagram tagging #PRPopulationYou.

"Feedback has been extremely positive. Social media comments include people excited to partake in the adventures," Chandler said.

T0906BOSQUEPR_C [credit: Discover Puerto Rico]
A sign at Bosque de Pinos, a forested area in Puerto Rico’s central mountain range. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

She encouraged travelers to make their car rental plans well in advance of their trip as well as their own arrangements for where to stay and what to pack -- indeed, this is where an experienced travel advisor might come in handy.

A quick guide to what to expect and things to do in the surrounding areas can be found at the Population You landing page at www.discoverpuertorico.com/things-to-do/exploring-remote-destinations-puerto-rico.

"The locations were chosen specifically for their roads-less-traveled access to nature and the outdoors. We encourage guests to pack items such as hiking shoes, swimsuits, water and snacks and plan and research their trips accordingly," Chandler said.

One of the sites does involve a boat trip. Travelers are advised to book a boat charter ahead of departing. Signs and clues are posted from coast to coast on the mainland.

Guides are not available at each location, as the remote sites are intended to be "a population of one," Chandler said.

Entry regulations for Puerto Rico require a travel form through the Puerto Rico Health Department's portal to obtain an airport exit confirmation number and QR code. Fully vaccinated travelers must present a valid vaccination card. If unvaccinated, travelers must provide proper documentation, such as medical notes or signed affidavits, and present the test result from a negative PCR or antigen test taken within three days of travel; they must be tested on a weekly basis during their stay. 

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