Swimming around the world - Puerto Rico

March 20, 2019

By Bridget Bayer


My husband and I have always wanted to cross an ocean. I was raised on a connecting lake to the Great Lakes in Michigan, and he started building boats as a teenager so we’re both addicted to being on the water.

A couple years ago, we signed up with a few friends for a repositioning cruise* across the Atlantic Ocean to Puerto Rico. We made it across the ocean and arrived in PR about a month after Hurricane Maria (2017). We wasted no time in checking out our neighborhood, walking to Escambron Beach to get a feel for the warm Caribbean waters.


On an island, all roads end at the beach. We enjoyed a day at the beach renting a couple of chairs and umbrella from local entrepreneurs. Where we swam, the beach was wide and though there were plenty of clouds in the sky, it was too hot to be without an umbrella.


Saltwater makes you buoyant. You feel light and it’s easy to loll about, letting the waves pull you in, then back out. Plus the ocean temperature is about 80˙ F so staying in is not a problem. We didn’t see any wildlife except birds but there were swimmers with masks and snorkels near us. The big waves, near the point of the bay, drew surfers, and we watched them make runs all day long.


We discussed the hurricane devastation with the locals and found that Puerto Ricans are a hearty lot. Almost no one complained about the government not doing enough, or blamed slow recovery efforts on a politician, a utility company or even the weather! Instead, they were resilient to the time it will take to rebuild their structures and repair services. They expected to see improvements (or even electricity) "one of these days" and no one seemed worried that it would happen, not if, just a matter of when.


As suggested, we checked out Del Morro in Old San Juan, situated on the western-most tip of the island. It is part of San Felipe del Morro Fortress , a 16th century early Spanish dwelling built on top of 45’ high cliffs and fortified with 12’ thick stone walls. Unfortunately, as is the case with almost all historic sites in San Juan, it was closed due to no electricity or water. 


* For those thinking of a cruise, you may want to consider a “repositioning cruise” like we did, saving a lot of money and traveling with a lot less people. The cruise ship companies bring all their big ships back to the Caribbean by late November. They offer half price and major discounts on cruises back from Europe and Asia (so their ships don’t return mostly empty). You still have all the staff, services, and great food, but it’s less crowded. These cruises are booked out 1-2 years in advance because of the good rates! Cruise people are a unique breed, so if you travel with a circle of friends, you will be guaranteed to have a great time!

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