Ecology in Puerto Rico

Study Environmental Sciences in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was ravaged by the impact of the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017 and is still working towards recovery. Make an impact and help local charities rebuild homes and communities that were affected by the storm, or by participating in a beach cleanup to benefit endangered species.

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Sojourn – Gain a better understanding of the community you’re visiting. Learn about different religions or spiritual practices. How do these impact the communities? How does religion or spirituality influence local traditions?

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Savor – Will you choose sweet or savory? Take the time to visit local markets and discover unique local ingredients. Learn how to prepare traditional meals & local favorites.

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Tip of the Tongue – Each morning, take the time to learn a few basic greetings and phrases in the local language. Learn how to write greetings & your name in the local script.

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A Wrinkle in Time – History influences our present. Discover the history of the country you visit. Hear the stories of your guides & their family history. Where do they come from?

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Journal Journeys – Take some time to reflect on the day’s events and document your journey. Spend a moment journaling about the day had & day ahead. These are memories for a lifetime!

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Culture – From local dances, festivals, or simple gestures to communicate – all of these make up a country’s culture. Learn and practice cultural norms & how to show respect in the culture you visit.

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You will arrive in  the beautiful capital city of the island, where you will be able to admire the stunning northern coastline of the island as you descend. Taxis and ferries are waiting at the airport to take you to your hotel destination.

Once you have arrived at the hotel, the attentive staff will ensure that your first night on the island is full of delicious traditional Caribbean food and lots of R&R, because the action-packed eco adventures to study environmental sciences you have in store will surely be busy!

No tour of Puerto Rico is complete without visiting the oldest established community on the island, founded in 1521. Old San Juan offers guided tours of the city for those who would like a more educational visit, but you can walk around the old cobblestone streets on your own and marvel at the classic design of this Spanish colony. It is also known as the Walled City, due to the presence of the old Spanish military structures that adorn the city. The Fort of San Felipe del Morro and the Fort of San Cristobal are two places where you will walk the ramparts of these 500-year-old military fortifications on a guided tour.

The Fortaleza, also known as the Palacio de Santa Catalina, is one the oldest executive mansions still in use. From there, you can take a lovely stroll down to Cristo Street for some discounted outlet shopping or take a walk down the Paseo de la Princesa, where local vendors and artisans sell their wares, as well as local foods and drinks. After a day full of walking and exploring, head back to the hotel for a bath and delicious dinner, because tomorrow’s adventure is jam-packed.

Today you will wake up bright and early, with a delicious breakfast of fruits and homemade Puerto Rican coffee, because you will be traveling 30 to 40 minutes out of San Juan to the Municipality of Rio Grande, home the Yunque National Rainforest. Bring lots of water, a bathing suit and comfy shoes, so that you can hike up the different trails in the forest, as well as enjoy the different waterfalls where you can bathe in the cooling water. 

 Around 29,000 acres, it’s one of the smallest but most ecologically diverse tropical forests of its kind. Some areas are still off limits due to the damage that Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused, but many of the areas are open to the public. Make sure to stay on the marked trails, as people have been known to get lost and the cell phone signal is spotty, but the views and lush tropical landscape are worth it.

About an hour from San Juan is the beautiful nature reserve known as Cabezas de San Juan in the municipality of Fajardo. Make sure not to forget your reservation tickets, as well as water and comfy shoes. There are birdwatching tours for early birds, but the reserve is still worth the trip if being there at the crack of dawn is not your style. You can join nature walks throughout the day, where you can observe a bioluminescent lagoon (only visible at night), sandy and rocky beaches, coral reefs, mangroves and dry forests, making it a very diverse reserve. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and give a full presentation in the lighthouse on site, converted to a conference room and full or different nature-related displays.

Just over an hour away from San Juan is the municipality of Orocovis, located in the mountainous region of the island. The drive is a treat in itself, but the fun really begins once you arrive at Toro Verde. Most known for its different ziplines, they also have package deals with a couple of other activities, like suspension bridges. Once you are done and have worked up an appetite, Toro Verde has a restaurant on site, but other options that are in the area are Casa Bavaria, famous around the island for German food and Roka Dura, who specialize in Puerto Rican cuisine.

As your trip winds down, a relaxing day at Playa Alambique in the Isla Verde community located within the municipality of Carolina will give you some R&R after such an action-filled week. A 15-minute drive from San Juan, you will be able to have a great day at the beach. With umbrella and chair rentals to lounge on the sand or jet ski rentals and other water sports, you can choose to have a more relaxed day, or more action-packed. There are plenty of restaurants nearby, or you can wait to return to the hotel to eat, where you can rest up for the return home.

After breakfast, you can spend time lounging around the hotel, or walk down to the pool or beach as you spend the final hours of your vacation before you make your way back to the airport. Make sure to take some Puerto Rican coffee and rum back home, so that you may share a bit of the island with your friends and family.

Say hello to hot springs when you visit Namafjall, which is known for the countless springs, fumaroles and mud pools in the area. Later in the day you will depart for the dark and gloomy Dimmuborgir where you will meet up with an Icelandic guide to discuss the enchanting folklore tied to this region. Spend the night near Dimmuborgir or depart for Reyjavik, the choice is yours.

It is truly wondrous how much biodiversity one small island can hold. From sunny beaches, lush rainforests, lovely mountainscapes, dry arid forests, lakes, rivers and various bioluminescent beaches, there is so much to explore in Puerto Rico. In addition, its history spans over 800 years, from the time of indigenous Tainos to the Spanish and American rule, there is history around every corner. While this tour only scratches the surface of what Puerto Rico has to offer, it gives you a taste of all the ecotourism opportunities on the island, and more importantly, while you study environmental sciences, you are helping the local economy continue to recover from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Maria. If you plan to travel abroad, don’t hesitate to join us and to come to Puerto Rico, so that you may discover all this for yourself!


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