Picture this: your own private cabin set amid lush tropical gardens; wraparound views of jungly, emerald-green mountains; and a charming plantation house where drinks are served at an elegant bar and meals are taken on the veranda. Is it Nevis or Dominica? No, Casa Grande Mountain Retreat is in central Puerto Rico, on a former coffee farm nestled in the northern edge of the island’s Cordillera Central Mountains. Brace yourself for a kind of activity hysteria: You’ll be faced with early-morning yoga sessions, horseback riding along steep mountain paths, kayaking at Dos Bocas lake, bass fishing at Lake Caonillas, touring the Rio Camuy Cave Park, stargazing at the Arecibo Observatory (home to the world’s largest radio telescope), and conjuring the ancient past at the Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park. After a few days of this, you may just want to laze by the sparkling pool or take in the sublime views from the hammock on your cabin’s porch. And be sure to pack plenty of reading – TV watching is the one activity that’s not available.
The Casa is a two-hour drive from San Juan (doubles from $90; 888-343-2272).
It’s a good thing the Casa’s restaurant, Jungle Jane’s, offers the best food around, because the curvy roads are harrowing at night. For dinner, begin with yucca bolitas or coconut shrimp, followed by pasta with shrimp, lemon-garlic chicken, vegetarian lasagne, or snapper with creole sauce. At breakfast, order freshly sliced papaya, mango, banana, orange, and grapefruit – seasonally picked from the property’s own trees.
Activities & Sights
Rio Camuy Cave Park
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