An Eco Tour of Puerto Rico Designed for Student Travel Groups

The island of Puerto Rico is an excellent choice for student groups who want to travel to a destination with well-preserved ecological features. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, students, teachers and chaperones can travel there without a passport.

Puerto Rico is rich in Colonial and native history.  It is also a spectacular destination for an eco tour.  El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. and well worth the visit.  The island is peppered with small fishing villages, offering unique hands on learning experiences for students studying marine science as well.

While student groups are touring Puerto Rico, they can also visit the historic cities of Ponce and Old San Juan, eat authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, take Salsa lessons, and learn about the local culture.
Following is an overview of some of the main sites student groups can visit while taking an eco tour of Puerto Rico.

La Parguera – A Fishing Village with Unique Learning Opportunities
Students will visit La Parguera, a small fishing village in Western Puerto Rico.  There the group will be able to feed Iguanas, identify birds, and even catch starfish.  A local fisherman will speak to the group about everyday life in his profession, and students will interact with marine life up close.  After enjoying a meal prepared by the locals, the group will embark on a bioluminescent night bay tour.   The bay tour is a supervised swim where students will see dinoflagelates (plankton) that glow in the dark and fish that light up underwater.

The Tropical Rainforest El Yunque
Protected by the Federal Forest Reserve for over one hundred years, El Yunque is truly a treasure, since it is a well- preserved rainforest. Like many rainforests, El Yunque has a complex eco system with a wide variety of flora and fauna, animals, insects, reptiles and birds.  Exotic scenery includes large cascading waterfalls, views of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and a canopy of age-old trees.  Student tour groups will take a guided hike of El Yunque that includes swimming under the waterfalls.  Afterwards, students will have a lunch of Pinchos and spend time on Luquillo beach.

Ponce: Once Spain’s Capital City
Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico and was named after Juan Ponce de Leon’s great-grandson, Loiza Ponce de Leon, who founded it in 1692.    Student travel groups may opt to take a walking or trolley tour of this historic city, where they will explore old and new farmers markets, and see neoclassical buildings and facades, colonial homes, cathedrals and fountains from the 17th Century. Groups will also visit El Parque de Bombas, a Spanish and Moorish inspired architectural treasure that served first as a main exhibit pavilion for the 1882 Exhibition Trade Fair and later as a fire station.

Old San Juan:  A Spanish Colonial City

Founded in 1521 and also known as ‘the walled city,” San Juan is the present day capital city of Puerto Rico.  It sits on one of the largest and most accessible harbors in the Caribbean.  Student groups will visit the old Spanish fort, explore the cobblestone streets of San Juan and view 16th and 17th Century Spanish colonial buildings.

Puerto Rico has a rich Spanish colonial heritage that has been well preserved.  El Yunque rainforest is one of the 28 finalists in the World’s Seven Wonders competition and is a spectacular opportunity for learning about the ecological importance of preserving rainforests – right in this hemisphere.

On tour, there are also numerous opportunities for students to immerse themselves in Puerto Rican culture, cuisine, and lifestyles. The experience of visiting Puerto Rico is rich and varied. Guides are bilingual, so there is no need to be fluent in Spanish. However, for Spanish classes the guides will speak totally in Spanish (if desired) for total Spanish immersion.

Request a quote for a student trip to Puerto Rico by filling out the brief online form, or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Class Trips to Southeastern Virginia to Study Science

Many student trips to Virginia focus on early American history and the study of the Civil War. With sites like Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Island, Yorktown Battlefields, Arlington National Cemetery, Monticello, and the historic homes of numerous presidents, it is no surprise many school trips to the Commonwealth focus on history. Yet a school trip to Virginia is also a great choice for the study of science.

In previous articles I have written about science destinations in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. and an Eco Tour of Virginia.  This article will focus specifically on destinations in Southeastern Virginia in Norfolk, Hampton, and Virginia Beach.  Destinations on the science tour of Virginia can be combined with a student trip to Washington D.C. or Williamsburg or taken as a stand-alone educational tour of Virginia.

Nauticus, The National Maritime Center
Nauticus is located on the harbor in Norfolk, Virginia. The Museum is a 45-minute bus ride from Williamsburg and is well worth the trip.  Nauticus is home to battleship Wisconsin, the last battleship built by the U.S. Navy.  Students learn about the way science impacts Naval history and economics and methods and instruments used in navigating the sea.  School groups tour the battleship Wisconsin and the nearby museum. Afterwards, groups can have lunch at Waterside, and explore downtown Norfolk.

Mariners’ Museum
The Mariner’s Museum is located in Newport News, Virginia, and encompasses 60,000 square feet of exhibition space. Students can learn about maritime history and view artifacts from the Monitor battleship and exhibitions on topics such as the Chesapeake Bay watermen. Groups touring the museum will see handmade ship models, paintings, and photographs related to the history of work on the sea from world class collections. If the weather is nice, school groups can take a walk around Mariners’ Museum Park and Noland Trail, a naturally wooded setting surrounding Lake Maury.

Virginia Air and Space Center
The Virginia Air and Space Center is not far from NASA Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, where America’s space exploration program first began in earnest.  The museum exhibits document over 100 years in aviation and provide visitors with an overview of space exploration that includes artifacts from space flights.  The Virginia Air and Space center houses over 30 planes. With its high tech interactive exhibits and an Imax theater on site, it is sure to be a popular destination for student groups.

Hampton Roads Harbor Cruise
One way for students to see and learn about life in the Chesapeake Bay region is to climb aboard a boat that gives students a view of the harbor.  Harbor cruises leave from either the port of Norfolk or Hampton, Virginia.  Each cruise includes slightly different views and points of interest.  Students will see the awe inspiring Norfolk Naval base, where aircraft carriers, submarines and other support vessels are docked. Groups will learn about other points of interest in the harbor that date to the time of the first English settlers and the Civil War.  The harbor cruise takes approximately two hours and offers a perspective that is stimulating and different from a walking tour.

Lifesaving Museum of Virginia
Student groups can take a trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia to explore the Lifesaving Museum of Virginia.  Here they will see the remains of shipwrecks, and learn about lifesaving and techniques and equipment used to rescue people from the sea.  Groups may elect to take a guided School of the Surfman tour that includes an overview of skills honed by rescuers and their stories.

The Southeastern corner of Virginia, also known as Tidewater Virginia, is the perfect place for students to engage in active learning about scientific topics.  It is rich in maritime history and the innovations of space exploration. The Tidewater area of Virginia is also home to the largest Naval base on the East Coast and several U.S. Coast Guard stations.  Depending upon curricular objectives, student tour leaders may also elect to add other destinations to the science tour such as a visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the Virginia Marine Science Museum, the Virginia Living Museum, or the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Request a Quote for a student trip or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.