5 Best Photo Opportunities in San Juan

by Julie Schwietert, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Oct 20th 2010 04:40 PM

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Photo Opportunities San Juan

Lee Van Grack

Visitors who want to take amazing travel photography will find San Juan to be an ideal location. Puerto Rico's capital is incredibly photogenic, offering some of the Caribbean's top photo opportunities. San Juan is consistently warm all year round, making any season perfect for taking pictures. The main challenge is shooting in intense sunlight, which can affect the white balance of your photos if you don't adjust your settings.

In terms of subjects for your San Juan travel photography, take your pick from colorful colonial buildings, blue cobblestone streets, and imposing military forts in Old San Juan, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Or snap away at tropical-inspired architecture in the trendy Condado district of "New" San Juan, or photograph the palm-dotted beaches. It's hard to pick just five amazing photo opportunities – San Juan has too many to count!


1. The Romantic Photo: The Garden of Casa Blanca


Casa Blanca was built for Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, but he never lived here. His descendants occupied the home for 250 years; today, Casa Blanca is a museum run by the Institute of Culture. The museum isn't frequented by many tourists, and its garden is one of Old San Juan's best kept secrets. Walk to the end of Calle San Sebastian to visit the shady, cool and intimate garden. Use a tripod or a bench to set your camera up and take an automatic-timed photo of you and your sweetheart with tropical flowers like birds-of-paradise framing your faces.

Casa Blanca
Calle San Sebastian 1
Old San Juan, PR 00902
787-725-1454
http://www.icp.gobierno.pr/myp/museos/m13.htm
Wed-Sun 8AM-4:30PM
Free

2. The Quirky Photo: St. John the Baptist Statue


The historic section of Puerto Rico's capital abounds with statues that provide some of San Juan's best photo ops. Likenesses of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León, along with famous Puerto Ricans such as Eugenio María de Hostos, an educator, and Ricardo Alegría, an archaeologist and humanitarian, can all be found in Old San Juan. A statue of St. John the Baptist is the perfect spot for a quirky photo. St. John looks angry, slightly bent over, with his finger jabbing into the air. Local tour guides like to say that St. John is admonishing the Puerto Rican legislature, which does business (or not!) in the Capitolio just across the street. Gather your family or traveling companions to imitate St. John's pose. Shoot from across the street, standing on the sidewalk in front of the capitol, to get the Atlantic Ocean in the background.

St. John the Baptist Statue
Avenida Luis Muñoz Rivera
Old San Juan, PR 00902
Daily 24 hours

3. The Fun Family Photo: The Beach


You can't go back home and show off your San Juan travel photography without taking beach shots! There are several great options, including Escambrón, which is popular with locals; the small but accessible crescent-shaped Playita del Condado; and the water-sports-friendly Ocean Park. The best photo ops include shots of the family lounging under Escambrón's palm trees with a Puerto Rican piña colada in hand (virgin coladas for the kids, of course!) or action shots of mom and dad trying out kite-boarding at Ocean Park. If you're not quite so adventurous, amble over to one of the ever-present shaved ice or ice cream vendors to try a tropical flavor like parcha (passion fruit) or guayaba (guava). Vendors may even be willing to join the family for a picture!

4. The Scenic Photo: Paseo de la Princesa


Paseo de la Princesa (Path of the Princess), is a scenic San Juan walking path alongside the bay, which is perfect for taking pictures. The best photos ops include a shot near the Raices Fountain, a patriotic homage to Puerto Rico's indigenous, African and Spanish roots, and a shot in front of the Puerta de San Juan, one of the only remaining doors in the wall that once enclosed the city. You can also kneel down by the wall and shoot upward in order to get your own iconic photo of a "garita," the sentry boxes interspersed along the top of the fortifications. To add some life to your pictures, ask a friend or family member to stick their head out of the garita!

Paseo de la Princesa
Calle Recinto Sur
Old San Juan, PR 00901
Free

5. The Classic Photo: Castillo San Felipe del Morro & Castillo San Cristóbal


Old San Juan's two military forts, operated by the U.S. National Park Service, took more than two centuries to build, and stand as strong today as they did back in the 1500s when construction started. Photo ops abound, but the best views are afforded from the top level of each edifice. From this high vantage point, you'll have sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, which will make friends jealous when they see your travel photography. The other best photo opportunity, believe it or not, can be found in the bathrooms of both forts. The glass-less windows create the perfect frames for shooting images of the ocean.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro & Castillo San Cristóbal
Calle Norzagaray 501
Old San Juan, PR 00901
787-729-6960
http://www.nps.gov/saju/
Daily 9AM-6PM
$3 for one fort or $5 for both forts
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