Above: Palomino Island (All photos by CJ)
By Alexander Britell
FAJARDO – This isn’t Puerto Rico.
I can see Puerto Rico ahead, its mountains climbing on top of one another, lightly obscured by the recent Sahara haze.
But this isn’t Puerto Rico; it’s something else; something Defoe might dream up.
Above: mainland Puerto Rico in the distance
It’s full of small coves and palm tree monuments and rum bars.
It’s called Palomino Island. It is a private island. That means it’s open only to guests of the El Conquistador resort, making for an exclusive paradise.
But Palomino alone is worth the stay at El Conquistador, which is part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection.
It’s a little less than a 10 minute ride from the nearly 918-room resort, a sprawling property that rises all the way up a mountain (and even has its own funicular).
Indeed, Palomino is the resort’s party piece, the amenity that you really won’t find anywhere else.
It has spotless beaches, turquoise seas and fresh-caught fish.
It’s got the kind of raw authenticity you want in an island like this, with the comfort of a luxury resort’s backing.
And if Palomino gets too crowded for you, there’s nearby Palominitos, a speck of sand you can sail to in about five minutes (if the wind allows).
But it won’t get too crowded, because there’s even a horse trail (and stables) and a hiking trail.
It’s a rarity — a hotel private island that’s its own little world.
Because this is Puerto Rico. And it’s a part of Puerto Rico you get all to yourself.