Travel Destinations

The Comeback Story - Puerto Rico

Bahamas / Caribbean
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January 2019
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By
Susan
Elnicki Wade

A few months before Hurricane Maria struck, my family vacationed in Puerto Rico. After making several trips to this delightful destination over the years, I knew the island offered plenty of activities to engage and amaze my two teen boys.Our Puerto Rican adventure was glorious. We strolled Old San Juan's busy streets devouring fresh seafood and absorbing the lively cultural scene. We climbed invincible stone steps of 16th- and 18th-century forts, and the city's statues and monuments schooled us on the island's rich history. We were captivated by vibrant modern paintings at the Puerto Rico Museum of Art. The massive radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory left us awestruck.Manmade achievements wowed us, but the island's natural beauty stole our hearts. Lounging at the beaches and snorkeling in Icacos Island's pristine waters delivered precious days. We toured the primordial caves at Rio Camuy Park and hiked the timeless trails of El Yunque's plush rain forest. My sons laughed like boys again when bioluminescent organisms put on a dazzling light show in the night waters. But by the time our suntans started to fade, we heard weather warnings of hurricanes threatening our enchanting island. Sitting safely in our Washington, DC home, we wrung our hands and watched TV footage of Maria damaging places where we'd built treasured memories. We followed every heroic step of its recovery and celebrated when electricity finally illuminated the streets of Old San Juan again. Now, 18 months after the storm has passed, we're pleased to say the Puerto Rican people have persevered, are rebuilding and are welcoming guests.MOTHER NATURE LEADS THE CHARGEAbundant sunshine and the right amount of rain are encouraging plants to replenish the island, and landscapes that make me wish I could paint are returning to theirlush leafy green. With habitats making a comeback, wildlife is following suit. Exotic birds are squawking, and the tiny coquí frogs have resumed their nocturnal serenades. El Yunque is open, with many of the recreation sites and roads accessible or under repair, and bioluminescent marine creatures are glowing back at stars in the evening sky.

The Comeback Story - Puerto Rico | Travel Destination | Marinalife

Offshore, aquatic life is flourishing. Snorkelers are thrilled by the colorful parade of parrot fish, sea turtles, crustaceans, coral and more. The reefs are also improving, thanks to help from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Sea Ventures. Anglers are hooking snook, tarpon, tuna, mahi-mahi and other trophy fish in nearby waters. As a result, Club Nautico in San Juan and Puerto Del Rey Marina in Fajardo hosted annual billfish tournaments with record numbers of attendees. The picturesque islands to the east took a hard hit from Maria, but they are rebounding, with Culebra a bit ahead of its neighbor Vieques.BUSTLING WATERWAYS AROUND THE ISLANDThe island's six ports, including San Juan, Fajardo and Ponce, are all up and running. About 15 cruise lines Carnival, Windstar, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess, to name a few offer special excursion packages while docking in San Juan. The Moorings, a charter company with a fleet of sailing catamarans, monohulls and power yachts, is creating upscale vacations by offering charters out of Puerto Del Rey Marina.Most of the marinas are back in business and running at 100 precent pre-hurricane status, including Marina Puerto Del Rey, Marina Pescaderia in Cabo Rojo, Club Nautico de San Juan and Club Nautico de Ponce and San Juan Bay Marina. Marinas that sustained hurricane damage but are functioning include Villa Marina, Palmas del Mar and Marina Puerto Chico. The marina at El Conquistador Hotel, racked by Maria's wrath, has shut down for now.We were hurt, but we are back, and we want people to come see how far we have come and how much our island has to offer, says Carolina Corral, chief executive officer at Puerto Del Rey, a 1,000-slip marina in Fajardo (about 37 miles east of San Juan) that accommodates vessels up to 180 feet. All the slips are in tip-top condition, and the marina has reinforced the breakwater with denser rocks and higher walls to improve retention in any winds they encounter.LUXURIOUS LODGINGS & PICTURE-PERFECT BEACHESFrom quaint boutique inns to indulgent resorts, Puerto Rico's hotels are resurrecting bigger and better than before the storm. New places are popping up along the coastline to fulfill all types of vacation dreams. Serafina, the first new hotel to open after Maria, has a chic beach house vibe and a trendy poolside scene overlooking Coronado Beach. A new Four Seasons will launch at Puerto Del Rey in late 2019.

The Comeback Story - Puerto Rico | Travel Destination | Marinalife

The Who's Who of San Juan's luxury hotels is again ready to entertain you in style. Built in 1919, the historic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel appeals to upscale travelers. Hotel El Convento, a restored 17th-century convent, offers old-world charm and Spanish Colonial décor. La Concha Renaissance Resort and The Ritz-Carlton are eager to brighten yourdays in San Juan.Outside of the capital city await many fantastic hotels. Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is an elegant five-star retreat overlooking the Atlantic's waves. Recently reopened, the high-end St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is located on a former coconut plantation near El Yunque's rain forest. The beautiful Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort is nearby.The condition of Puerto Rico's beaches plays a key role in the hotels' success. From the west to the east side of the island, the waterfront has resumed its gorgeous allure. The western beach communities near Rincón are rejuvenated with a California-style vibe, complete with surfing, farmers' markets and organic foods. The hidden coves of Culebra to the east provide heavenly getaways for visitors seeking secluded beaches.A UNIQUE BLEND OF OLD & NEW CUISINESJosé Andrés, universally celebrated as a hero during Puerto Rico's disaster, served more than three million meals during Hurricane Maria's aftermath. He continues to support the island's recovery and encourage restaurants to reopen their doors. And chefs are cooking more than mofongo. A cornucopia of cuisines is bolstering a restaurant renaissance based on innovative dishes crafted with fresh local ingredients.

The Comeback Story - Puerto Rico | Travel Destination | Marinalife

The culinary scene has seen a surge of new restaurants offering everything from traditional Caribbean seafood to flavorful fare from around the globe. Localsrecommend a few favorites: Acapulco for Mexican, Bocca for Italian, Pauline Escanes for pastries and desserts, Cueva del Mar for seafood and signature Bloody Marys and La Estacion, a refurbished gas station, for finger-licking barbecue. The best news for adventurous foodies is the kiosks at Luquillo near Fajardo are back at the beach with their delectable display ofPuerto Rican dishes.YOU CHOOSE: RELAX OR EXPLOREIt's tempting to dig your toes in the sand on Puerto Rico's miles of stunning beaches. But you'll be glad if you fold up your towel and discover the unique attractions around the island. Here are some of our favorites:Castillo San Felipe del Morro787-729-6777Discover a 16th-century fort in Old San Juan with remarkable architecture and an enthralling past. Nearby Castillo San Cristóbal is a must-see citadel for history buffs.Puerto Rico Museum of Art787-977-6277Witness a world-class collection of regional and international artists surrounded by lush tropical gardens and outdoor sculptures.Arecibo Observatory787-878-2612Prepare to be amazed on a tour of the world's second-largest, single-dish radio telescope, sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation.Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park787-669-1866Visit the stone ruins of the Taino people, who were the original indigenous residents of the island. The underground tour of nearby Rio Camuy Cave Park is worth a detour.Old San Juan Food Tours787-964-2447Sample everything from traditional Puerto Rican dishes to sweet rum cocktails.

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A vibrant, compact city hugging the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington abounds in scenic beauty, four-season recreation, a college town vibe, arts and culture, and a quirky character all its own.

Burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Eclectic shops named Anjou & the Little Pear or Common Deer, and restaurants called Zabby & Elf 's Stone Soup or The Skinny Pancake dot the urban landscape. A local artist's satirical comment on the bureaucracy of urban planning called File Under So. Co., Waiting for..., consists of 38 filing cabinets welded together to a 40-foot height. Birds frequently nest in the upper chambers.

History buffs stroll through the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum or the Fleming Museum of Art's multi-era artifact collection while hikers trek the 12.5-mile path at Burlington Waterfront Park, which offers bicycle, rollerblade and kayak rentals. In season, the path connects to the Lake Champlain Islands via bike ferry.

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Burlington Bike Path | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Since the 1800s, the Old North End has been the city's melting pot, and global cuisine from Nepalese dumplings to the African Market can be found here today. Between munches, stroll over to historic Elmwood Cemetery, whose residents include Revolutionary War soldiers. Hear their stories and perhaps have a chance encounter with a local spirit on a Queen City Ghostwalk Tour. Liquid spirits rule when the internationally famous, regionally beloved and hidden gem breweries line up for the annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Year round, enjoy homemade bratwurst and drafts at Zero Gravity Craft Beer. At acclaimed Foam Brewers, the patio faces Lake Champlain waterfront and the Adirondack Mountains. Hop on the Sip of Burlington Brew Tour for a dozen tastings and the sights of this dynamic, energetic city.

Where to Dock

Burlington Community Boathouse Marina

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This full-service marina is the centerpiece of a growing waterfront. Amenities include 105 slips up to 65 feet, Splash Café and a fantastic sunset over the Adirondacks.

Burlington Harbor Marina

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With 160 slips (60 transient slips up to 80 feet), this new marina's tranquil harbor setting is convenient to downtown amenities and recreational activities.

Where to Dine

Honey Road

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Savor sophisticated Mediterranean small plates, cocktails and creative desserts in a comfy tavern setting.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Needpix

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill

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This farm-to-table gastropub dishes up local burgers, charcuterie and innovative specials. Sip on local brews in the beer garden.

RíRá

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According to Irish playwright Brendan Behan, The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you. RíRá fuses classic Irish with pub grub to satisfy the first two.

Leunig's Bistro & Café

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Step inside the lush garden courtyard to watch fresh local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood transform into classic French dishes. Come enjoy a romantic evening meal.

Hen of the Wood

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Enjoy a true Vermont dining experience in a romantic, rustic atmosphere adjacent to the Hotel Vermont.

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Discover the Island Charm of Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts
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Cuttyhunk Island - destinations - marinalife
Cuttyhunk Island | tkesner1 on Flickr

"It's like 1960 --you're stepping back in time," notes Captain Jono Billings, who owns and operates the Cuttyhunk Ferry out of New Bedford, about 18 miles north of Cuttyhunk Island, a 580-acre arc of stone and sand that's the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands that lie between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound.

For such a small place, Cuttyhunk has a long, colorful history. In 1602 --nearly 20 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock -- Bartholomew Gosnold sailed from Falmouth, England to establish a colony in the New World, explored the areas near present-day Kennebunkport, Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, and built a small fort on what he christened Cuttyhunk Island.

A 70-foot stone tower was constructed in 1902 commemorating the 300th anniversary of that historic landing. After passing through the hands of several English earls and dukes, Peleg Slocum purchased the island in 1693, and her family continued to live on Cuttyhunk for the next 165 years.

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Cuttyhunk Island - destinations - marinalife
Cuttyhunk Island | Ben McLaughlin

Fishing isn't the only way to interact with nature on Cuttyhunk. Half the island is a nature preserve, home to a variety of birds and mammals, as well as wildflowers, sweet peas, bayberry and a host of other flora. Plenty of hiking trails wind through the landscape that's largely craggy and reflects Cuttyhunk's glacial origins. It's covered with the same kind of rocks and stones found in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Where to Dock

Cuttyhunk Marina

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The marina offers 50 transient slips that can accommodate vessels up to 110 feet and have freshwater hookups and 30- and 50-amp electricity capability. About 50 moorings accommodate vessels up to 50 feet. Pump out, ice, picnic area and restrooms are available.

Frog Pond Marine Moorings

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This mooring field is located in the outer harbor off the port side of Bell 6 upon entering Cuttyhunk. Bright white balls mark the moorings, which are first-come, first-serve. Tie up to any mooring that doesn't say PRIVATE, and the mooring collector will come to your boat to collect a $45 rental fee.

Jenkins Moorings

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Located in the outer harbor to the right of the channel's entrance, moorings are first-come, first-serve during the high season. If you spend the night, call and they'll deliver fresh oysters and raw-bar items to your boat.

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Cuttyhunk Café

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This coffee shop is located on the town fish dock. Start your day with coffee and pastries, pick up chowder and sandwiches for lunch, and finish the day chowing down on fresh lobster boils with corn, potatoes, onion, chorizo and steamers.

Cuttyhunk Fishing Club

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Just south of town on Cemetery Road, this B&B offers the best breakfasts/brunches on the island, and you don't have to be a guest to enjoy it. They don't take reservations, so grab a cup of coffee and an Adirondack chair while you wait for your table and enjoy the porch with a million-dollar view.

Cuttyhunk Island Market

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Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms

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This floating raw bar provides fresh Cuttyhunk oysters and clams, along with stuffed quahog and hot clam chowder to boaters during the summer, delivered right to your boat. Call them on VHF Channel 72 or stop in at their shack on the fish dock during the day to place your order.

Soprano's Pizza

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The only sit-down restaurant on Cuttyhunk, this in-season eatery serves gourmet brick oven pizzas and seafood specials. Think a pizza oven held hostage in a garage, four picnic tables in a driveway lit by tiki torches, and a croaking bullfrog in the pond! Can't beat that kind of ambiance.

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Bald Head Island - wilmington north carolina - marinalife
Bald Head Island Harbor | Wikimedia Commons

Many boaters are familiar with the area's barrier islands and beaches such as Topsail, Wrightsville, Carolina, Kure, Bald Head, but not so much the city itself, located about 30 miles upstream from where Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean.The Eastern Siouan people occupied the area when the first Europeans arrived in the early 1500s and Giovanni da Verrazzano explored the North American coast. His maps and travel accounts comprise the earliest description of North Carolina's land and people.The city of Wilmington (then called New Carthage) was founded in 1739 on the banks of Cape Fear River. Its name comes from Sir Richard Grenville's 1585 expedition when he sailed to Roanoke Island and his ship was stranded behind the cape. The crew was afraid they'd wreck, giving rise to the name Cape Fear.Also known as the Port City, Wilmington is experiencing a building boom and renaissance, with its well-preserved downtown and a bustling Port City waterfront area augmented by new condos and reclaimed riverside acreage that has been turned into parks, piers and promenades. Across from the city's Riverwalk you can find the Battleship North Carolina Memorial and tour this famous warship.Front Street, Wilmington's thriving commercial thorough-fare, is lined with chic shops, bars and restaurants populated by a mix of locals, UNC Wilmington college students and out-of-towners looking for R&R after a day of shopping, sight-seeing or cooling out at the beaches. Looking for lunch or a light alternative to a full-course dinner? Try Fun Bowl for ramen and poke bowl, Slice of Life Pizzeria & Pub for pizza, wings and subs, or Beer Barrio for Mexican dishes.

Azaleas - wilmington north carolina - marinalife
Azaleas in full bloom | Kristina Gain on Pexels

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Cape Fear Marina910-772-9277Part of Off the Hook Yacht Services, this gated 70-slip marina offers water, pump-out and electric hookup at every slip, and the fully equipped dock house has shower and laundry facilities. Repair and refit services are also available.Dockside Marina910-256-3579About one mile north of Masonboro Inlet near Wrightsville Beach, the marina has 180 feet of floating transient dockage and access to shore power, water and wireless Internet. It's close to local grocers, ATMs, laundries, hotels and marine stores, and the highly rated Dockside Restaurant.Port City Marina910-251-6151This full-service marina with 200+ floating concrete wet slips accommodates boats up to 400 feet and is in the heart of downtown. It offers rapid-fill fuel service, electric, free Wi-Fi, gated entrance, video surveillance, pump-out, on-site store and more. Marina Grill is steps away from the docks.Wilmington Marine Center910-395-5055Services include gas, water, electric, pump-out, wireless internet and more. The marina is in an enclosed basin off the Cape Fear River, offering 130 slips with fixed and floating docks for vessels up to 120 feet.

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Caprice Bistro910-815-0810For authentic French cuisine, the chef delivers classics such as escargot, crepes and mussels, as well as boeuf bourguignon, duck confit and lamb shank tagine. Locals flock to this hidden gem that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.Circa 1922910-762-1922A lush, romantic spot that sources ingredients for imaginative dishes from local farmers and seafood merchants. Serving a mix of small plates (charred octopus, beef carpaccio, tuna tataki) and classics like paella, scallops and short ribs, the emphasis is on seasonal American fare with a European flair.Indochine910-251-9229This Far East café serves a mix of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine: satay, dumplings, pad Thai, nine different curries, bulgogi and braised catfish in an exotic, art-filled setting. Save room for sticky rice topped with warm coconut sauce and mangoes.Pilot House910-343-0200This Wilmington institution serves indigenous seafood and fowl, and the area menu includes everything from down-home cooking to Cajun and traditional Southern fare with a contemporary twist, in a restored 19th century house with a riverside terrace.Seabird910-769-5996Seafood rules at the sleek and chic Seabird, and fish, oysters and shellfish dominate the menu. Try the smoked catfish and oyster pie, or the swordfish schnitzel. Landlubbers can opt for sorghum pork ribs or grilled bavette steak.

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