Central Region: The Heart of Puerto Rico
When any Puerto Rican talks about the “mountains” or the center of the Island, the conversation will always be filled with pride and a lot of love. It’s not just a geographic region it’s closer to being the cultural center of Puerto Rico.
It was once the economic heart of the Puerto Rico economy in the 1800’s because of excellent coffee growing conditions. Large Haciendas were established with the latest technology, even the first telegraph on the Island was inaugurated by Samuel Morse himself. Then, when the coffee market crashed and sugar became the new cash crop thousands of families left the mountains to work on the cane fields in the coastal regions. This exodus created a nostalgia for country life and traditions that still lives in most Puerto Rican hearts.
When you venture up the mountains the first thing you’ll notice is the lushness of the vegetation. There’s a lot of rainfall and that makes for a lot of waterfalls, streams, pools even caves. Make it a point to visit and maybe even stand under a waterfall or jump into a mountain pool. There’s no better way to feel refreshed and re-energized. There are a couple of amazing mountain forests with trails and camping in the Central region you should check out.
Visit the Traditional Town Plaza
The central region is made up of many small towns and each one will have a central plaza with a church at one of its ends. Long ago people used to bring their coffee to the open plazas to dry the beans after harvest. Check out the stores and criollo restaurants that usually line the plazas.
Explore de Panoramic Route that Runs from East to West
The best way to see the sights is to drive along the Panoramic Route that crosses the Island from the Southeast to the West. Pick an accessible section and get ready for some interesting curves, sights and smells. The center has also become a hotbed of very good destination restaurants that families use for their outings. Most have an amazing view and the food is even better.