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Kaleidoscope of Cultures: Puerto Rico’s History and Heritage from Pre-history to Present-day

Program Number: 15635RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/3/2013 - 11/10/2013; 11/1/2015 - 11/8/2015; 1/17/2016 - 1/24/2016; 1/24/2016 - 1/31/2016; 2/7/2016 - 2/14/2016; 2/21/2016 - 2/28/2016; 3/6/2016 - 3/13/2016; 3/20/2016 - 3/27/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/10/2016;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Price starting at: $1,739.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture; National Parks
Meals: 20; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Experience Puerto Rico’s colorful culture and history from pre-Columbian times to present U.S. stewardship. Led by local experts, explore a fascinating blend of historic cities and museums, beaches, seaside villages and natural wonders. Ponce, known as "the Pearl of the South," is a charming town with magnificent Spanish colonial architecture. Visit its elegant historic district and top-notch museums, and enjoy galleries and historic sites in San Juan where the Puerto Rican culture is uniquely portrayed.


• Discover the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean.
• Explore the Hacienda Buena Vista, one of Puerto Rico’s best preserved coffee plantations.
• Visit the San Felipe de Morro Fort and La Muralla (city wall) in Old San Juan.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day over sometimes uneven terrain.

Date Specific Information


On this date the itinerary summary is: Arrival San Juan, 1 night; coach to Ponce, 3 nights; coach to San Juan, 3 nights; departure.
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1-17-2016, 1-24-2016, 2-7-2016, 2-21-2016, 3-20-2016, 4-3-2016

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The activity level on this program date is Moderate.
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Itinerary Summary

Arrival San Juan, 2 nights; coach to Ponce, 2 nights; coach to San Juan, 3 nights; departure.

San Juan

A major Caribbean port and resort destination, San Juan was the early 16th-century point of departure for Spanish expeditions to charter or settle unknown parts of the New World. Today it is the oldest city under the U.S flag and is well-known for the cobblestones and colorful facades of its original walled Colonial center, Old San Juan.

San Juan and Ponce: full-service hotels in great locations.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hampton Inn by Hilton
  San Juan 1 night
   Ramada Ponce
  Ponce 3 nights
   Hampton Inn by Hilton
  San Juan 3 nights
 Hampton Inn by Hilton
Type: Inn
  Description: At the Hampton Inn & Suites® hotel in San Juan, they want to make your stay perfect. So if you want to surf the web on your laptop, do so with our free high speed internet access. Run a few miles in our exercise room, or swim some laps in the pool. You'll even find a convenience store at our hotel in San Juan. If you're looking for recommendations on what to do and where to eat in San Juan, just ask the staff at our San Juan hotel and they'll be happy to help!
  Contact info: 6530 Isla Verde Avenue
San Juan, PR 00979 Puerto Rico
phone: +7877918777
  Room amenities: Coffee Maker Complimentary Hot Breakfast High Speed Internet-No Charge Iron Iron/Ironing Board Lap Desk Curved Shower Rod Easy to Set Alarm Clock Radio LCD Flat Panel TV Waterpik(R) Showerhead
  Facility amenities: Baggage Storage Coin Laundry Elevators Laundry/Valet Service Lounge Luggage Hold Multi-Lingual Staff On-Site Convenience Store Room Service Safety Deposit Box
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call the hotel for price Please call the hotel in San Juan directly. It is very important to mention that you are from World Events/Road Scholar group. The telephone in San Juan is 1-787-791-8777.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call the hotel for price Please call the hotel in San Juan directly. It is very important to mention that you are from World Events/Road Scholar group. The telephone in San Juan is 1-787-791-8777.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Ramada Ponce
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: Reina Street
Ponce, PR 00731 Puerto Rico
phone: +7878135050
  Room amenities: 70 rooms for guests, include twelve juniors suite Six historical rooms with 1882 architecture. - Wireless & wired connection - Air conditioner - Safe-deposit box in the room - Coffee, iron and ironing board in all the rooms - 32” LCD Television - Alarm - Desk with lamp
  Facility amenities: Ramada Ponce Hotel is situated on the historic downtown city of Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest town. The property features 70 guest rooms including a Historical Building and nine suites. All of them have private balconies overlooking the downtown, coffee makers, Wireless and wired Internet, Cable TV, 32” Flat LCD TV, in room safe, iron and iron boards. Guests can enjoy exclusive check-in and check-out, High Speed Internet access in public areas.The facilities of the hotel include fitness center, Lola Restaurant with bar, outdoor pool Between the services that distinguish our chain is our laundry service (upon request), Wireless connection in public areas and they are members of the program Wyndham Rewards.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
5 pm Orientation at the hotel You will be staying at Hampton Inn by Hilton that night.
  End of Program:
Ends after breakfast. Hotel check out by 12 pm. You will be staying at Hampton Inn by Hilton the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. World Events and its sub-contractors may also require liability waivers for certain activities.
  Parking availability:
Please advise coordinator in advance, if a rental or personal car is being used during this program.
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Juan
  Nearest city or town:  San Juan
  Nearest highway: Not applicable.
  Nearest airport:  Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
  From End of Program
  Location: San Juan
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

San Juan International


From Airport




Publico Taxis


Per Person/One Way:


$15 - $20 plus bag fee and gratuity
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


under 15 minutes 




5 miles

Driving Directions
  Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) Exit to your right, Rt. 26 towards San Juan to the first exit Hwy. #187. Turn right on Hwy. #187 to second traffic light Rt. #37 (Isla Verde Ave). Turn left and the hotel is the 3rd building to your left.
Elevation Note: On field trips , max elevation 2,000 feet.

Equipment Requirements: Lightweight rain jacket, sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, binoculars.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent arrivals/Orientation/Welcome Dinner
(Sunday, November 3)
 Arrive To: As San Juan International Airport is such a short distance from the hotel it is easier for people to take an inexpensive cab ride( $15- $20) than wait for a dedicated shuttle. This way people can check in to the hotel and relax on the beach or the pool.
 Afternoon: Approx 5 pm Orientation and Hospitality at Hotel prior to Dinner
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant
Accommodations: Hampton Inn by Hilton
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Ponce City Tour / Ponce Art Museum
(Monday, November 4)
 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast
 Morning: Transit via central cordillera mountains to south part of Puerto Rico.Walking & Trolley tour to discover the city of Ponce and marvel at its stunning architecture. See the historic Ponce Firehouse and the Ponce Cathedral.
 Lunch: Lunch ( Picnic Style or Local Restaurant)
 Afternoon: Field Trip: Visit to the renovated Museo de Arte de Ponce, the museum was closed while undergoing extensive renovations, and was reopen in November 2010 in time for the celebration of its 50th anniversary. After a $30 million work that included both a renovation and an expansion, as it will ultimately also increase the size of the museum by over 40%. The Museo de Arte de Ponce houses the most important collection of European art in Latin America. It has an important collection of almost 4,000 pieces of art that range from the 14th to the 20th century, Italian Baroque, British Pre-Raphaelite, Spanish Golden Age and contemporary Latin-American art. Some of the artists whose paintings and works are exhibited at the museum are Peter Paul Rubens, Lucas Cranach, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Eugène Delacroix, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones, among others. The main masterpiece of the museum is the Flaming June, painted by Frederic Leighton. Ferré bought this piece for $6,000 in London, and it was hi
 Dinner: At local restaurant
Accommodations: Ramada Ponce
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center/ Ponce Art Museum
(Tuesday, November 5)

Note: Field Trip

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
 Morning: Field trip to the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean with a large amount of artifacts and structures of pre-Taino Indians dating back to approx 600 AD. Excavations started in 1975, after Tropical Storm Eloise's, rainfall produced, landslides exposed the ancient site. Since then archaeologists have uncovered seven ball courts, two ceremonial plazas, burial grounds with at least 180 skeletons plus various pieces of pottery, tools and charms. Depart to visit the History of Ponce Museum or "Museo de la Historia de Ponce", offers visitors to the city a marvelous opportunity to explore the past. Located in the Casa Salazar, the museum is an architectural wonder in itself. The museum in Ponce was officially opened in 1992. This museum exhibits the growth and change of the city of Ponce since the time of the Taíno Indians. Considered a large museum in relevance to the size of Ponce, the Museo de la Historia de Ponce has ten galleries documenting the city's history regarding politics, culture, economy, ecology, education, medicine, architecture and daily life. The local citizens donated most of the artifacts to the museum. The building (1911) combines typical ponceño, Moorish and neoclassical elements of architecture and is unique in its appearance.
 Lunch: Lunch at Local Restaurant
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Ponce Downtown by your own or just relax by the pool.
 Dinner: At leisure in Ponce. A cash allowance will be given at Orientation.
Accommodations: Ramada Ponce
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Hacienda Buena Vista/ History of the Music Museum/ Salsa Class
(Wednesday, November 6)
 Breakfast: Buffet Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Hacienda Buena Vista is a 19th century coffee plantation turned museum. It was restored to its former glory by a team of Smithsonian specialists and island artisans. The location is indeed a buena vista (beautiful view) with just under 500 acres of tropical rain forest in the Rio Canas valley. Enjoy watching hummingbirds as the trails take you past cascading waterfalls. In our way back to the hotel , stop at El Museo de la Musica de Puerto Rico, the Museum of Puerto Rican Music traces the rich musical history of the island through memorabilia of famous musicians and displays of Indian,Spanish and African musical instruments.
 Lunch: Picnic style en route
 Afternoon: Special visit to Armstrong Poventud and Wiechers-Villaronga Residences.The Armstrong-Poventud Residence, also known as the casa de las Cariatides or the Armstrong-Toro House is one of the most popular buildings in Ponce, Puerto Rico. It was built in 1899, and is a part of the US National Register of Historic Places.This historic home is a masonry building with two storeys. It was made for the town’s most distinguished family and designed by the most prominent architects of their time. It was a clear representation of the affluent times that came into town during the prominence of the locals’ sugar plantation. The Casa Wiechers-Villaronga is a Neo-classical style mansion in Ponce, Puerto Rico designed and built in the early twentieth century. The house was acquired and restored by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and now operates as the Museum of Puerto Rican Architecture. The house sits in the Ponce Historic Zone. The Villaronga Residence is an outstanding example of the Classical Revival style in used in Ponce designs in the early part of the 20th century and is one of two residences still standing of a series of houses designed and built by Alfredo B. Wiechers, so important to the architectural and cultural heritage of the city of Ponce
 Dinner: Dinner at Local Restaurant
 Evening: Salsa Class for those interested to learn or ( just watch) the popular Puerto Rican dance.
Accommodations: Ramada Ponce
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Visit to Serralles Castle/ Return to San Juan/ Museum of Puerto Rico Art
(Thursday, November 7)
 Breakfast: Buffet Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Visit another well-known landmark that sits atop the rolling hills of the municipality of Ponce, the four-storied mansion known as the Castillo Serrallés is a site to behold. Originally the residence for the Serrallés family, owners of the world famous rum distillery that produces Don Q Puerto Rican Rum, the sprawling estate is now one of Ponce’s most visited sites. The building, erected during the 1930’s, was designed by Puerto Rican architect Pedro Adolfo De Castro with Spanish and Arabic flourishes, using the Spanish Colonial Revival Style popularized in the United States at the time. The Castillo – or castle – is now a museum dedicated to the history of rum production as well as the sugarcane industry and its socio-economic impact on the island.
 Lunch: Picnic style en route
 Afternoon: Return to San Juan and visit the Art Museum of Puerto Rico.The museum was inaugurated in July 2000. Since then the museum has managed to develop quite a large permanent collection of Puerto Rican art from the 16th century to the present. All these works are well researched and documented and often the exhibits include some form of interpretation of the masterpieces on display. The carefully selected artworks help to give insight into Puerto Rican art and they also give local artists access to visual art from other parts of the world.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn by Hilton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: El Yunque Rain Forest / La Cabezas de San Juan ( Fajardo)
(Friday, November 8)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: For a change of pace a field trip to the El Yunque .The tropical rainforest lies completely within the boundaries of the El Yunque National Forest, part of the U.S. Forest Service. It consists of a small crescent shaped band that lies over the tops of the peaks of the forest, located near the eastern end of Puerto Rico. At the top of the rainforest lies a narrower band of the forest in which plant life is stunted due to a thinner layer of soil at higher elevations on the rocky mountain, as well as higher winds. Many well marked trails make it easy to explore.
 Lunch: Picnic style in the gardens.
 Afternoon: Visit Las Cabezas de San Juan in Fajardo, one of the most important natural areas in Puerto Rico. Las Cabezas, which means "headlands," refer to 3 promontories that extend into the Atlantic Ocean. Impressive representation of seven different ecological systems including coral reefs, beaches, lagoons, mangroves and dry forest within its 316 acres/128 hectares. The preserve is home to many endangered species. A 19th century lighthouse (built in 1880), known as "El Faro de las Cabezas de San Juan", beautifully restored by the Conservation Trust, caps on of these. The lighthouse has an information center and observation deck, from which you can have a breathtaking view of El Yunque.
 Dinner: Dinner at your leisure. Cash allowance will be given at orientation
Accommodations: Hampton Inn by Hilton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Old San Juan/ Institute of Puerto Rico Culture/Farewell Dinner
(Saturday, November 9)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Visit such famed sites as the San Felipe de Morro Fort and La Muralla (city wall) in the Old San Juan accompanied with one of our expert guides. Then walk at your own pace through cobble stoned streets rich in architectural delights that open on to tree shaded squares more reminiscent of Europe than America. The city is built on a hill so comfortable walking shoes and a reasonable level of fitness will ensure you enjoy the diverse experiences the Vieja Ciudad has to offer.
 Lunch: Lunch at your leisure in Old San Juan. A cash allowance will be given out at the begining of the program.
 Afternoon: Visit to La Galeria Nacional del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, located inside El Cuartel de Ballajá on Norzagaray Street. The building served as barracks for the Spanish militia and their families during the late 19th century. Occupying over 7,700 square meters, it could accommodate over 1,000 citizens. The three-story structure was completed in 1864, making it the last and largest example of Spanish-built architecture in the New World.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner
Accommodations: Hampton Inn by Hilton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Individual departures
(Sunday, November 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Hotel check out by 12 pm and individual departures for the airport. Depending upon airline schedules individuals may wish to share a taxi or "publico" (approx cost $15-20)
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Puerto Rico: Culture, Politics, and Identity

Author: Nancy Morris

Description: This book uses historical and interview data to trace the development of Puerto Rican identity in the 20th century. It analyzes how and why Puerto Ricans have maintained a clear sense of distinctiveness in the face of direct and indirect pressures on their identity. After gaining sovereignty over Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898, the United States undertook a sustained campaign to Americanize the island. Despite 50 years of active Americanization and another 40 years of continued United States sovereignty over the island, Puerto Ricans retain a sense of themselves as distinctly and proudly Puerto Rican. This study examines the symbols of Puerto Rican identity, and their use in the complex politics of the island. It shows that identity is dynamic, it is experienced differently by individuals across Puerto Rican society, and that the key symbols of Puerto Rican identity have not remained static over time. Through the study of Puerto Rico, the book investigates and challenges the widely-heard argument that the inevitable result of the export of U.S. mass media and consumer culture throughout the world is the weakening of cultural identities in receiving societies. The book develops the idea that external pressure on collective identity may strengthen that identity rather than, as is often assumed, diminish it.

Stories from Puerto Rico

Author: Robert L Muckley and Adela Martinez- Santiago

Description: The book will fill you in on how the natives discovered the Spaniards weren’t Gods, and other local legends.

Divided Borders: Essays of Puerto Rican identity

Author: Juan Flores

Description: Juan Flores dissects in greater detail the Puerto Rican struggle to define and maintain indigenous identities as the island becomes more homogeneous. Flores also wrote From Bomba to Hip-Hop, a wide-ranging series of essays.

Puerto Rico Mio: Four decades of change

Author: Jack Delano

Description: It is a sizable picture book

From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity

Author: Juan Flores

Description: Neither immigrants nor ethnics, neither foreign nor "hyphenated Americans" in the usual sense of that term, Puerto Ricans in New York have created a distinct identity both on the island of Puerto Rico and in the cultural landscape of the United States. Juan Flores considers the uniqueness of Puerto Rican culture and identity in relation to that of other Latino groups in the United States -- as well as to other minority groups, especially African Americans. Architecture and urban space, literary traditions, musical styles, and cultural movements provide some of the sites and moments of a cultural world defined by the interplay of continuity and transformation, heritage and innovation, roots and fusion. Exploring this wide range of cultural expression -- both in the diaspora and in Puerto Rico -- Flores highlights the rich complexities and fertile contradictions of Latino identity.

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