Justly regarded as the boating capital of Puerto Rico, it’s no surprise that the real appeal of FAJARDO lies along the coast. Numerous boat operators provide ample opportunity to explore the glittering waters and islets of La Cordillera just offshore, while the nearby Reserva Natural Cabezas de San Juan is an unexpectedly wild reserve containing one of the island’s extraordinary bioluminescent bays. The city itself has become something of a boomtown in recent years and is best avoided; a wholly unattractive mess of strip malls, clogged highways and rampant property development.
Coming by car, it’s easy to drive right through all this and most públicos will drop you elsewhere if you ask – get a taxi or another bus if you get stuck at the downtown terminal. The reserva is 5km north of the city on PR-987, near the fishing village of Las Croabas, which also contains some of the best places to stay and eat. Most boat excursions depart from Villa Marina, just east of the centre on PR-987, or Puerto del Rey, several kilometres to the south. For the ferries to Vieques and Culebra, head straight to the grubby port district of Puerto Real (referred to locally and on públicos as “La Playa”).