Yes, You Can Visit Puerto Rico! Here Are the 6 Places You Can't Miss

Unsplash/Jennifer Chen

Two years after category 4 Hurricane Maria devoured Puerto Rico, the country is finally getting back on its feet. I saw the destruction first-hand as I lived on the island when it happened: collapsed infrastructure, snapped billboards, blue tarps covering homes that had lost their roofs, fallen trees blocking major roads. It seemed like a scene straight out of the apocalypse.

However, regardless of all the obstacles we had to rebuild the island, including the lack of funds from the federal government and all negative press not only toward the country but also its people, Puerto Rico rose from the ashes like a phoenix. The greenery bloomed stronger and better than before, and red and yellow flamboyanes cover the streets and shade Puerto Ricans from the eternal Summer sun.

Historical monuments and public spaces, like our stunning beaches and recreational parks, were quickly rehabilitated, and tourism was highly encouraged to help bring Borinquen back to life. Wherever you go, you'll see a painted Puerto Rican flag, a symbol of the resilience and strength of our people, and if you don't take a picture with one of them, were you even in Puerto Rico?

It is now the perfect time to visit the island and witness for yourself how Puerto Ricans came back stronger than ever, almost two years after one of the worst hurricanes the country has seen. Here are the top six spots to visit on the island after Hurricane Maria:

El Yunque National Forest

After Hurricane Maria, El Yunque National Forest's 29,000 acres of land were left completely bare of any greenery. Many described the scene as if a fire had ravaged the rainforest. It was completely closed to the public for several months while it was being cleaned up and its roads cleared. A year and a half later, some points were still closed; however, these days, it's regrown and the perfect place to visit. Its fresh streams and waterfalls can combat any heatwave, and it's one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world.

Old San Juan

Like most of the island, Old San Juan needed a lot of repairs after the hurricane, especially to its historical monuments and local neighborhoods like La Perla. But history-lovers rejoice! These days, the streets and buildings have been repainted to their usual pastel colors, and one of its main attractions, hanging umbrellas, cover the street to La Fortaleza, the governor's home, and bring people from all over the island just to take pictures. Its narrow streets are the perfect Instagram picture background, and you can find coffee shops, ice cream shops, and famous restaurants on every corner.

La Placita de Santurce

Farmer's market by day, nightlife hub by night. La Placita de Santurce has been around for more than a 100 years and was always considered the place to go if you needed the freshest produce and meats. Vendors from all over the island would come to sell their goods for cheap — and they still do. However, it caught new life when college students from the area turned it into the place to go for good nightlife. Live music, cheap drinks, and good food are always a good idea no matter the occasion.

The Bacardí Rum Factory

Casa Bacardí is one of the official distilleries of Bacardí rum in the world, and it offers official tours of the factory. You can choose from three different options: historical, a rum-tasting, or a mixology class. It has become the place for cocktail aficionados to visit and spend the day at — some even celebrate their wedding receptions on their grounds. It comes complete with a waterfront bar for all of your Instagram needs.

Poza de las Mujeres, Manatí

Poza de las Mujeres beach was considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico. Immediately after Hurricane Maria, it was basically gone. The high tides and flooding as a result of the hurricane caused its unique C-shape to be completely submerged under water. Two years later, it's still a bit of a work in progress, but the beauty of the beach haven is restored, and visitors are back.

Playa Flamenco, Culebra

Known for its crystal clear water and white sands, Playa Flamenco on the small island of Culebra was unreachable after Hurricane Irma, which came two weeks before Hurricane Maria. The island itself had been ravaged by the storm and was left without any communication to the main island. But now, all is well, and this is the spot to go to if you're visiting Puerto Rico and want to see what a perfect beach looks like.