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Most Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico » NY to Anywhere
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Puerto Rico is a small island with a ton of diversity. From waterfalls and rooftops to islands and food porn, Puerto has it all. I had so much fun trying to capture all of the most instagrammable places in Puerto Rico, but I’m always willing to go back and try for more!
1. Gozalandia Falls
It’s not very often you can get to 2 waterfalls in an easy 10 minute walk!! Pay just $5 to park and make your way to the falls on a paved pathway. Be aware that you must use steeps steps to get down to the lower falls. This was by far my top pick for one of the most instagrammable places in Puerto Rico.
- Gozalandia Lower Falls
- Gozalandia Upper Falls
The restaurant where the Pina coolada was created! My mom and I enjoyed sitting at the bar here, chatting to people and getting pictures in their adorable courtyard. I’d recommend going at off peak times to get a spot at the bar or a table quickly.
- Pina Cooladas at Barrachina
3. OLV:55 Rooftop
I stayed at their sister property and had such an amazing time relaxing at this rooftop pool! There was a view of Condado Lagoon and San Juan in the distance. There is also a sun deck at there very top with loungers and a jacuzzi which is reserved for hotel guests.
4. Flamenco Beach
Making top beaches of the world lists for years is the beautiful Flamenco Beach . Flamenco Beach is on the island of Culebra which you must access via ferry, short flight or boat. The beach has shallow turquoise water, white sand and plenty of vegetation.
- East Island Catamaran to Culebra will bring you to a reef to snorkel then to the beautiful Flamenco Beach.
- Ferry to Culebra by booking ahead of time with Poferry.
- Private Yacht Charter
5. Streets of San Juan
You will see dozens of spots you want to photograph simply wandering the city. La Fortaleza is the umbrella street in front of the Governor’s mansion. It is an art installation put up after the hurricane to bring people back to San Juan. The pastels buildings and quaint streets won’t disappoint.
- Govenor’s Mansion
- Puerto Rican Flag painting in street
- Dress by Moda Posa
- La Fortaleza
6. Luquillo Beach
Luquillo is a great beach about an hour from San Juan. The beach is frequented by locals and tourists alike. I loved the vibrant red lifeguard stands . In the other direction El Yunique rainforest serves as a backdrop.
- Lifeguard stand, Luquillo
7. Salinas de Cabo Rojo
These salt flats in Cabo Rojo are right on the coast and give off a pink hue. It looks magnificent against clear blue skies.
8. Condado Beach
One of the closest beaches San Juan and definitely one of the nicest. Plenty of luxury hotels chose this beach for a reason!
- Hanging out
9. El Yunque National Forest
The only tropical rainforest in the national forest system! Hiking, waterfalls and plenty of nature to keep your camera busy! Take an adventure tour or self guide to many different locations you’ll want to photograph.
10. Rincon Sunsets
Rincon is a surfer town in the West of the island so has some of the best sunsets! I stayed in this town for 2 nights and hung out on the beach both nights during sunset.
11. Ocean State of Mind
While walking around Rincon I was drawn into a shop called ‘Ocean State of Mind” it was one of the most beautifully curated stories I’ve seen filled with goodies from places like Bali and Hawaii. They also had a hammock just outside their shop which I grabbed a photo in! The best break room out there!
- Ocean State of Mind, Rincon
- Break Room, Ocean State of Mind
12. Bistro Café
Instagrammable food like none other! Giant Pancake stacks, pretty tiles and photo worthy mimosas!
- Huevos Rancheros + Peanut Butter Pancakes
- mimosa with frozen fruit pop
13. Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro sits at the edge of San Juan with the best view of the sunset! Watch boats passing by from this centuries’ old structure.
Going to Puerto Rico for a week? You’ll want to read this 7 Day Itinerary.
Read my Full Guide to Puerto Rico here.
If you’re looking at staying in San Juan here are a couple of places to stay.
I’m Lauren, a NYC based photographer and travel blogger. I love sharing my travel tips from my home city and around the world.
I’m Lauren, a NYC based photographer and travel blogger. I recently moved back to New York with my British husband after living in England with him for 6 years. I haven’t lived in the states since 2012 so it still feels a little like we are visitors in this amazing city! I’ve been lucky to be able to rediscover my home in between exploring the world.
New York, New York
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Most Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico
Most Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is full of so much beauty! With the colorful streets of Old San Juan, the Waterfalls in El Yunque, Salt Flats in Cabo Rojo, the Instagrammable places in Puerto Rico are endless! Here are some of the most photo-worthy places to visit in Puerto Rico to experience and photograph!
We were able to visit all these photo locations in Puerto Rico in just 4 days. With more time, I’d recommend taking a road trip around Puerto Rico to see all the best photo locations.
Before you go: Please be mindful that some of these photo locations can be in front of people’s homes. Please be respectful of your noise level and clean up after yourself. Do not trespass on private property or anywhere else that says do not to enter. This will ensure we can all continue to enjoy Puerto Rico’s photo-worthy treasures!
Instagrammable Streets in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Most Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico
- Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Instagrammable Places
- The Black Puerto Rican Flag and Mural
- Fortaleza Street
- Caleta de las Monjas
- Plazuela La Rogativa
- Street of Calle de la Luna Cross Section Calle De San Jose
- Plaza Del Quinto Centenario
- Castillo San Felipe del Morro El Morro Fort
- Caficultura Side Street
- Hotel El Convento
- Callejon de la Puerta Bandera Painted Puerto Rican Flag Door
- Instagrammable places in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
- Juan Diego Creek
- Angelito Trail
- La Coca Falls
- Instagrammable Places in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
- Salinas de Cabo Rojo – Pink Salt Lakes
- Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo
- Instagrammable Places in Ponce, Puerto Rico
- Cueva Ventana
- Puerto Rico Photo-Worthy Beaches
- Gozalandia Falls
- Utuado Puerto Rican Flag Mural
- Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico Wrap-up
- Love My Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico List? I’d Appreciate it if you could share it below!
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Instagrammable Places
First, let’s look at these top 10 Instagrammable places in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. All 10 photography spots are within walking distance since Old San Juan is very walkable.
The Black Puerto Rican Flag and Mural
This Puerto Rican Flag Mural can be found on an old abandoned building and one of the top Instagramable places in Old San Juan and all of Puerto Rico!
The flag was painted black to show Puerto Rico is standing up to the fight and to take action upon the collapse of the educational system, healthcare workforce, and more! Down this block, you will also find tons of picturesque streets.
Address: Found on Calle De San Jose between Calle De Sol and Calle De Sebastian.
Black Painted Puerto Rican Door Mural in Old San Juan
This is the famous Instagramable street in Puerto Rico that had all the umbrellas, however, they were taken down during protests during our 4 days in Puerto Rico.
Umbrellas or not, the street is still one of Puerto Rico’s most Instagrammable places nonetheless. The decorations are back up now. The umbrellas are hung right in front of La Fortaleza (the Fortress).
Update: I believe there is now a giant Puerto Rico Flag hanging down the street! They have been changing the decoration often to keep it fresh.
Address: 63 C. Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Fortaleza Street Old San Juan where umbrellas used to be hung
Caleta de las Monjas
Caleta de las Monjas is another really cute street that leads right to the water! Nearby you will also be close to Save a Gato, where they take care of Old San Juan’s stray cats. You will likely see a ton of kitties hanging out around this area.
Caleta de as Monjas Puerto Rico
Plazuela La Rogativa
This scenic viewpoint gives you a 180-degree look of San Juan. In the view, you will see the crystal blue ocean, the Fortress, El Yunque, and a very interesting sculpture from 1971. It’s easily one of the underrated Instagrammable places in Puerto Rico that also offers an amazing place to watch the sunset!
Address: Caleta de las Monjas, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Plazuela La Rogativa Viewpoint
Street of Calle de la Luna Cross Section Calle De San Jose
Another really photo-worthy colorful street found in Old San Juan is Calle de la Luna street. We were lucky to just stumble upon this street. I really like how you can see the contrast between the old and new Old San Juan!
If you love Instagrammable places, the Discover Puerto Rico Instagram page featured the below photo!
Street of Calle de la Luna & Calle De San Jose in Old San Juan
Plaza Del Quinto Centenario
A charming little plaza that was built in honor of Columbus’ first voyage. You will find a tall clay monument and a splash area (which comes in handy from the high humidity!) This plaza is also close to El Morro Fort!
Address: Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico
Plaza Del Quinto Centenario
Castillo San Felipe del Morro El Morro Fort
El Morro is one of the two forts that was used to protect Old San Juan from Pirates and other intruders! El Morro Fort, which is a historic UNESCO World Heritage Site, has huge with a giant grass lawn, iguanas, and tons of viewpoints of the Caribbean sea.
Not only is it one of the best Instagrammable spots, but El Morro Fort is also a must-see in general when visiting Puerto Rico!
Additionally, you will be able to get a great view of The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery which is known as the most beautiful cemetery in Puerto Rico.
Address: 501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
View from El Morro Fort in Old San Juan
Caficultura Side Street
Right by the restaurant Caficultura, find a really pretty street of colorful homes! I visited this street twice and found it almost empty both times! Caficultura restaurant also happens to have a great brunch!
Address: San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Colorful street in Old San Juan by Caficultura
Hotel El Convento
Hotel El Convento is known as one of the most Instagrammable hotels in Old San Juan. The surrounding areas are really cute with pastel and an alley full of plants right to the side of the hotel.
Address: 100 Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Callejon de la Puerta Bandera Painted Puerto Rican Flag Door
We didn’t get a chance to see this one in person, but it’s another great Instagrammable place in Old San Juan. Here you will find a big painted door with a Puerto Rican flag. There are also tons of really cute alleys surrounding this area.
Address: Calle Imperial, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
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Instagrammable places in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
Not only is the El Yunque National Forest one of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico, but this forest is also the only tropical rainforest in the United States! You will find tons of lush jungle views with mountains lining the horizon.
Here are the top photo-worthy spots during your visit to El Yunque, Puerto Rico!
Yokahu Tower El Yunque in El Yunque, PR
Juan Diego Creek
I would start off early at Juan Diego Creek which is a cute little waterfall with a swimmable natural pool. Parking is limited here with a time limit of 30 minutes (although I am not sure how heavily it is inforced).
El Yunque Waterfall at Juan Diego Creek
Angelito Trail can be found before going through the El Yunque gate entrance. There are a ton of really cool rocks and a refreshing stream. It’s the perfect spot to hang out in El Yunque and the area just screams photograph me!
La Coca Falls
Another waterfall right by the gate entrance of El Yunque is La Coca Falls. We could pretty easily climb through the rocks but use caution as everything is slippery! You will want a lens that has some zoom here. To learn how to get tickets to El Yunque here.
La Coca Falls in El Yunque Puerto Rico
Instagrammable Places in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Located on the West Coast of Puerto Rico, Cabo Rojo is notable for its pink salt flats, desert-like landscape, and overall country vibe.
Salinas de Cabo Rojo – Pink Salt Lakes
These Pink Salt flats were one of our favorite places to photograph in Puerto Rico! The salt flats are pretty vast and make for one of the best Instagramable places within Puerto Rico. Try getting to the salt flats by mid-day when the sun is highest in the sky, giving the water a pinker color.
When visiting, please make sure to not touch the water or salt mounds which can negatively affect the environment! This area is a sanctuary for a lot of wildlife, so it is important to be respectful.
Address: PR-301, Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622, Puerto Rico
Pink Salt flats in Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico
Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo
Faro Los Morrillos is another photo-worthy area within Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, and is situated right on the water. You can see a lovely 18th-century lighthouse and beautiful secluded beaches. The overall views are beautiful here!
Address: PR-301 Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622 Puerto Rico
Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico
Instagrammable Places in Ponce, Puerto Rico
Ponce is also filled with beautiful architecture and vibrant colors. One of my favorite places to photograph is the Villaronga House restored by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture!
Additionally, there are a lot of colorful streets and a very unique fire station called Parque de Bombas which is located in the center of Ponce. They even have tours to walk through the station. You will be sure to find tons of cute corners to photograph throughout the city!
Address: 106 Calle Reina Isabel, Ponce, 00730, Puerto Rico
Villaronga House Ponce Puerto RicoParque de Bombas – Fire house in Ponce
Another really cool place to visit and take photos in Puerto Rico is Cueva Ventana. This is a limestone cliff located in the town of Arecibo. Get an Instagram-worthy view at the window-shaped outcrop that offers a panorama of the valleys.
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Puerto Rico Photo-Worthy Beaches
Last but not least are Puerto Rico beaches! As you can imagine all Puerto Rico’s beaches are very photo-worthy, but I am listing some of my favorite. These photo-worthy Puerto Rico beaches include Isla Verde in Carolina, Wishing Wells in Aguadilla (a hidden gem), and Sandy Beach (Rincon), Crash boat beach (Rincon), and Flamenco Beach (Culebra Island).
Besides these beaches being very Instagrammable, each one of these towns has lots to do around the area. I go into detail about each town in my article 4 days in Puerto Rico!
Located in San Sebastián, Cascada Gozalandia is a really popular waterfall to visit in Puerto Rico. This photo-worthy requires a short hike of .6 miles which lets out to a swimming hole and around a 50 ft fall.
Utuado Puerto Rican Flag Mural
If you love murals, you might also want to consider stopping by the Utuado Puerto Rican Flag mural!
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Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico Wrap-up
This wraps up some of the top Instagrammable places in Puerto Rico! I hope you have tons of new fun photoshoots on your list when visiting Puerto Rico and please remember to be respectful of these places.
You might also be interested in: Puerto Rico Packing List | Travel Tips to Know before visiting Puerto Rico | Airbnbs in Puerto Rico | Best Things to do in Puerto Rico
Learn about my Camera Gear | Favorite Travel Outfits | Instagram Preset Filters
For more Instagrammable places, follow me on Instagram @findlovetravel
Puerto Rico Photo-worthy highlight.
Love My Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico List? I’d Appreciate it if you could share it below!
reports from the guests of the Fashion Week from the scene
Spring-Summer 2017 Fashion Week continues in Paris — the key in the series of autumn international fashion marathons New York-London-Milan-Paris. From the very first day of this marathon, millions of fashion industry workers and fashion lovers around the world have not let go of their smartphones to follow what is happening on the podium and behind the scenes. Fortunately, social media have made this area as open as possible to the eye of the observer.
In order not to be limited to pictures and videos from the catwalk and from behind the scenes that you accidentally come across on your Instagram feed, we offer you to subscribe to several profiles, thanks to which you can feel like a guest from the first row. These are the pages of the most active guests of the fashion marathon — stylists, editors and bloggers who not only publish insider photos and videos from backstages, shows, presentations, press meetings and parties, but also actively use the new function of the service and shoot countless Stories without being greedy and instantly sharing them with your followers.
Keep your finger on the pulse of fashion!
Miroslava Duma, founder of the international online project Buro 24/7, a key representative of Russia in the international fashion arena, keeps abreast of fashion and new technologies. Her Instagram motto is: minimum personal photos — maximum workflow.
Anna Dello Russo is a stylist, creative director of Vogue Japan and a desperate fashionista — not only a fashion addict, but also an Instagram addict. Anna Dello Russo is not just her own in the fashion industry, she is fashion itself, and the number of publications on her page (and it, by the way, is close to ten thousand) testifies to her reporter’s vein better than any comments.
Suzy Menkes, international editor of Vogue, needs hardly an introduction. We take our hats off to her many years of devotion to the profession of a journalist and fashion critic and her talent to feel the changing spirit of the times. In the era of information power, she does not leave any significant event or phenomenon in the industry without a review and shares her thoughts not only in Vogue in all languages of the world, but also on her Instagram.
Maxim Sapozhnikov, the tireless founder of Fashion To Max online magazine, Glamor fashion editor, collaborates with Brazilian, Japanese and Thai Vogue, always in the center of events, whether it’s a dinner in honor of the opening of a new Dolce & Gabbana boutique in scale for the whole block or the presentation of the Victoria Beckham makeup collection.
The editor of CR Fashion Book is always close to his editor-in-chief. This means that Ben Perreira also reports from everywhere where Karin Roitfeld goes.
Soraya Wang, editor of Vogue Thailand, moves around the world at the speed of light: today she is in Washington, tomorrow in London, and the day after tomorrow in Paris, taking her followers everywhere with her.
Gilda Ambrosio, designer, founder of the Attico brand and street style star, has time to evaluate the work of colleagues in the design department, drawing inspiration from trips to fashion weeks, and create her own models.
Giovanna Battaglia, and more recently Engelbert, stylist, fashion editor for W Magazine, senior fashion editor for Vogue Japan, Anna Dello Russo’s sidekick, came into the fashion world as a Dolce & Gabbana model and has since did not leave him.
Maria Fedorova, editor-in-chief of Glamor Russia, on whose Instagram page it’s time to shoot the series «Everyday life of the chief editor». Camera, motor, in the frame: planning meetings, press tours, filming, interviews and endless working secular parties, shows and presentations. The latest episode of the Instagram series features the fourth day of Paris Fashion Week.
Why do millionaires love Puerto Rico? | GQ Russia
A year after the devastating Hurricane Maria, the island of Puerto Rico has become a favorite offshore destination for millionaires. But there is one problem: in order not to pay local taxes, they must stay here forever.org/Person»> Jesse Barron
Cocktail Party starts on Friday evening. A factory warehouse converted into an art gallery. Old town of San Juan. The guest list is confidential: it contains hundreds of rich people who have left for tax exile in Puerto Rico; most of them are reluctant to advertise this fact. Since 2012, when the so-called «Act 22» was adopted in the country, more than one and a half thousand US citizens have become residents of this island in the Atlantic Ocean. The essence of the law — a dream for the nouveau riche from all over the world — is that any settled Puerto Rican is not obliged to pay a single cent in taxes to the island (in the States, their size is from 10 to 39percent). As soon as Act 22 went under the presidential seal, Puerto Rico turned from Jennifer Lopez’s homeland into America’s main offshore.
New islanders flock to the party in San Juan every year. A stout old man in a black T-shirt and corduroy moccasins without socks sits at the bar; he sips bourbon on the rocks. His name is Mark Gold, he is a Florida native who made his fortune as a traffic ticket attorney. Having moved to Puerto Rico in 2016, Gold did not miss any of these parties. “Before settling here, I studied all possible options: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Cyprus. In order to go to Europe, I would have to surrender my American passport. And then they told about this island on TV. And now I live in paradise. At the Ritz-Carlton. I ride on a golf cart to have breakfast on the beach. And then I have a yoga group.”
At the time of the party, only six months had passed since Hurricane Maria had devastated Puerto Rico’s power grid, and a month later the hurricane season would start again. The last time 4,600 people died on the island; According to news agencies, 11,000 still have no electricity. Many residents still wash themselves with pots and plastic cups. Even in the capital city of San Juan, no one is particularly in a hurry to restore houses (what’s the point?): brand new malls rise above hotels that look like victims of a fire; traffic lights with dead eye sockets stand unblinking at intersections; and rescue vehicles are scurrying around delivering humanitarian aid.
The atmosphere of the millionaire’s party, however, is not affected by the destruction.
The waiter brings Gold a cocktail. «You are very timely!» — the old man answers quickly.
To qualify for Act 22 and qualify for tax haven on the island, a citizen must prove to the country’s tax department that he is a real resident of Puerto Rico, without any «close contact» with the mainland. At a party, I was told about a millionaire who suddenly lost his privileges when the inspectors found out that his wife was waiting for him in Dallas.
I asked Gold where his wife lives. “You will die of laughter,” he replies. — My third wife is 25. When I moved here, she was in college. So I told her, “Baby, you have to transfer to uni in Puerto Rico. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to miss this chance. You can stay in the States, but then we’ll get a divorce.»
Although the law requires Mark Gold to spend 183 days a year on the island, he claims to spend 250 days on the island. “Soy Boricua! (title of the anthem of Puerto Rico. — Note GQ ) he proudly declares. “Who would have thought I was a fucking Puerto Rican.”
David Marshall’s lecture starts after eight in San Juan. He is a former U.S. Attorney General for the Virgin Islands and is now a regular tax consultant. “There are new ones among us,” Marshall says. — I hasten to remind you that if you spend less than 183 days on the island, the feds will take away all the taxes that you did not pay. But there are many ways to circumvent this law. For example, the “one minute” rule: a minute spent on the island is counted as a day in the tax office. You land your Learjet, drink a latte at the airport, take a check and wind up for lunch in the Virgin Islands. Local authorities are also ready to do everything to help tax immigrants: for example, they give us a 117-day statement for the next hurricane. Go where you want.»
All the while, a thin man in a black jacket and jeans is staring at Marshall. His name is Rob Rill, he is the hospitable party organizer and the soul of the entire tax-immigrant company. All evening Rill sits in an armchair and drains cocktails one by one. By the end of the day, his shifty gaze turns to stone, and now Rill looks more like a football coach, strongly hoping that his wards do not screw up at an important match.
San Juan a week after the devastating Hurricane Maria, September 2017
The free bar does not stop working during lunch or during lectures; the atmosphere is strongly conducive to free communication. During my interview with Gold, Rill comes to our table and reminds him: “The word is not a sparrow,” but this only spurs the old man on. Trump’s tax plan is discussed, and Gold rises from his seat: «Is it true that we can get our money back for buying an airplane within one year?» “No and no again,” Rill replies, but no one listens to him. The people burst into applause again and again.
Rob Rill grew up in Florida and made his fortune in private equity. In 2011, he and his trader wife began working on a tax emigration plan. First we stopped in the Virgin Islands and even looked after a house on a rock. It was not possible to buy it due to a conflict with a local official, and then, rummaging through Google, the Rills discovered Puerto Rico and moved here in 2013.
The next day, a sober Rill invites me to his office for a «delicious but healthy lunch»; On a sunny morning, I park in front of an office building next to Starbucks. Rob is 47 but looks younger, with his bun and goatee on his pale, long face. “I was in the top ten of those who actually moved here to live,” the businessman recalls, sitting down in a chair. “The city was empty, as if there had been a nuclear attack.”
Rill is trying to convince me that without tax laws, Puerto Rico will die completely; they say, businessmen create jobs (statistics show that the new tax conditions have led to the creation of 12,000 jobs with a total workforce of 1.1 million people). The non-profit organization 20/22 Act Society, founded by him, throws parties and sponsors some of the work to restore the island. On weekends, the businessman and his wife catch stray animals and take them to the shelter they founded.
“We are trying to break the stereotype that everything is run by the snickering rich.”
At that moment, his personal chef bursts into the conference room: “Lentils, zucchini, mushrooms, sir!”
As a rule, all tax emigrants live in two blocks of San Juan. Bachelors prefer the coastal Condado, within walking distance of bars, big hotels and nightclubs. Families like Rill tend to choose Dorado Beach, where the Ritz-Carlton serves an entire residential area. The Rills bought two houses in Dorado and combined them into one. “I was later told that I had the biggest house on the island,” Rill says. “Two and a half thousand square meters.”
He tells in detail which school his children go to, which manicurist his wife has an appointment with, and where they go for the weekend. His mother-in-law also had to move here. To say that she was sad is to say nothing.
Rill assures me that I will find people like him here — those who have moved to the island with the ends. And I find Lauren Cascio, a 30-year-old startup who moved here six years ago. Her online project Abartys Health sells software to insurance companies. “Everyone who works for me is Puerto Rican. I spend here all the time, and not «while away the days», like many of the immigrants.» I ask if she gets any benefits for this. “Of course not,” Cascio replies. “I’m here because the locals work better than any Filipino nannies there.”
The Dorado Beach Hotel, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve survived, and now millionaires are having fun
The Serafina Beach Hotel in Condado hosts weekend parties by the pool for younger tax immigrants. It is run by Vittorio Assaf, a parodic charismatic restaurateur who made his name and fortune in New York. In the 1980s, he opened Café Candiotti, with Andy Warhol originals hanging on the walls, and in 1995 he opened the doors of Serafina. In Puerto Rico, he was lured by John Paulson, a hedge fund manager who bought almost all the real estate in Condado. «When John invited me here, he wanted to ‘invent’ Puerto Rico,» says Assaf. (Paulson still lives in New York.) I ask: has the situation on the island been improved by Act 22? “People are coming here from all over America, spending money,” Assaf replies. – They buy housing, invest in the island. Fantasy indeed! If none of this happened, real problems would begin here.
Meanwhile, the pool party is in full swing: pink champagne in silver buckets, a DJ, a couple of beauties in the pool. New York club impresario Shimmy McHugh sat at a VIP table with a Puerto Rican friend who is the president of a water treatment company. The couple are watching closely. “In the last two years, 80 percent of attractive women have left the island,” says McHugh. “All because of the bad economy, and the hurricane was just the icing on the cake.”
For McHugh, Act 22 is a gift from above. “See that guy in the black shirt and khakis?” Shimmy points his finger in someone’s direction. “He makes five million a year with internet marketing. Spends four thousand bucks a night lightly.» Pal McHugh agrees: “For a club owner or promoter like Shimmy, this is a goldmine. A rich man at one table will spend a lot, and a dude at another will want to outdo him and spend even more.
George Rivera, 29, works at the shop across the street. He had never heard of tax immigrants or seen them in person. Rivera earns $7.25 an hour but pays 11.5 percent in taxes. “The hurricane season is about to begin, and without the help of the rich, it will not be easy. And they probably spend all their savings on parties and new planes,” Rivera shakes her head. “Well, what kind of fools?”
In San Juan, I constantly hear a popular aphorism among businessmen: «A few percent of the real money is better than 39 percent of empty space.» Meaning: «The money tax exiles spend in the local mercantile sector, plus property taxes, add up to more than zero that would have been spent had the government not introduced tax breaks. » Local radio host Peter Schiff, who also moved to the island after Act 22, summed up the situation even more succinctly:
«Who would run into a bankrupt island if you had to pay high income tax here?»
Act 22 is just one of the latest examples of tax breaks. In the old days, Puerto Rico’s economy was completely dependent on sugar production, and when the price of sugar fell by half in the 1930s, the island offered a tax holiday to industrial companies. In the 1970s, this production also collapsed — then it was the turn of pharmaceuticals. In 1989, Pfizer received a $156,400 tax break and by 2004 was producing one hundred million Viagra tablets at its Barceloneta factory. But in 2006, before the start of the economic crisis, the government reintroduced the tax levy.
A local university professor, Rafael Bernabe, is sure that American rich people will also be disappointed. “Our government always has the same strategy of behavior: we invite the Americans, let them hire a couple of gardeners and waiters, settle down well, build schools for their kids, and then we will deprive them of their privileges. ” “But a couple percent of real money,” I say, “is better than 39 percent of nothing.” “If I am a beggar and live on the street,” Bernabe replies, “I will also thank them for a piece of bread. But I wish I weren’t a beggar.»
The day Mark Gold took me on a tour of Dorado Beach, the sky was gray; it was raining. His neighborhood is five hundred houses hidden from the eyes of ordinary passers-by, they are served by concierges, cooks and cleaners from the Ritz-Carlton. Once a coconut and grapefruit plantation, Dorado Beach is now overrun by immigrants; after the adoption of the acts, real estate prices doubled. “The dude I bought the house from paid $1.3 million for it,” Gold explains. “I paid 2.6 million.” Further down the street are three skyscrapers with apartments. “They are called Plantation 1, 2 and 3. Further down is the water park. «We have awesome slides.»
I ask Gold, who was not on the island during the storm, how his area was affected. “Half of San Juan still hasn’t opened. Spa «Ritz», to my great regret, too. It’s a pity,” the millionaire sighs, “they did the best massage on the island.” And the golf cart takes us away.
My last day in San Juan begins with a meeting with real estate developer Brian Tenenbaum. He moved here four years ago looking for buildings that he could buy cheap and renovate. Starting at the Vanderbilt Hotel, Brian gave me a tour of his real estate portfolio. “Here, look,” Tenenbaum says as we hop in my rental car over bumpy roads, ignoring traffic lights. “Destroyed, destroyed, destroyed, destroyed, destroyed, destroyed, destroyed, no one lives, no one lives. We are renovating this building.»
Stopping in front of a white colonial house with azure trim and terracotta roof, Tenenbaum says his firm purchased the building after the hurricane, when the owner went bankrupt; the building went to the bank, and Tenenbaum’s firm bought it at a discount. He plans to rent studios there for $1,800 a month. Then we drive to Santurce, an area in the city center built around a tree-lined boulevard. “Notice how everything is getting bigger and greener? This is where my office is.”
“In the near future, ten thousand more tax immigrants will come to Puerto Rico,” says Tenenbaum. “Just imagine the level of development of the island! We are just at the start right now.»
Driving through downtown San Juan, I notice something green and bright in the middle of the road. Realizing that it was an iguana, a second before mixing it with the asphalt, I hit the brakes. «Crushed?» I excitedly ask Tenenbaum. “Don’t worry,” he replies. “You can even eat these creatures here.”
He’s right. Green iguanas breed en masse in Puerto Rico, and the government encourages the consumption of iguana meat in order to control the species’ population. Once they were brought here as pets, but then so many lizards divorced that they began to snoop around everywhere: run along roads, crawl along airport runways, eat crops. The farmers realized that they needed to be exterminated, but it was already too late.