A traveler heading to Fajardo, Puerto Rico, from San Juan faces a choice: Take Google Maps’ advice and follow a combination of heavily trafficked toll roads and expressways; or take the 187, a rougher stretch of road that arcs along the northeastern coast of the island. Choose the latter and plan on testing your defensive driving skills, as the pavement winds precariously through a series of small towns where two opposing lanes feel more like one and a half.
But the adventurous choice has its rewards. For one thing, this path to the coast is lined with the island’s best kioskos, humble cinderblock structures selling hot empanadillas overstuffed with camarones swimming in molten red sauce. They’re undeniably delicious, but the best part is that they can be enjoyed while strolling a beautiful expanse of unoccupied beach that lies just off the road, hidden by a row of palm trees. Ta-dah—you’ve just proven that the road less traveled can, indeed, make all the difference.
José and Mila Fullana understand this principle well, although the paths they frequent most often don’t involve roads in the traditional sense. The Fullanas, who live in San Juan and boat out of Fajardo, are the proud owners of the very first 420 Outrage ever sold. In just eight months’ time, they’ve put an impressive 290 hours on the mighty Whaler’s quad Mercury Verado® engines. Who needs roads when the ocean is your playground?
No strangers to the sea, José and Mila grew up in Puerto Rico and both prefer to be on the water as much as possible. They met as teens when their families had neighboring beach houses. “He was always in love with me,” Mila smiles. It wasn’t exactly an instant match; at one point she actually moved away to Spain, intent on becoming a nun. José’s patience was rewarded when she eventually moved back home. Soon enough, love won out.
These days, José’s position with a prominent construction company occupies a great deal of his time and focus, but come the weekend or a lull in the action, the couple can usually be found boating. There’s another vessel in the family, a 72-foot yacht they playfully refer to as “the limo.” However, the Whaler is where the real fun happens. “The 420 is the sports car,” Mila explains. “José prefers to drive it.”
The Outrage’s powerful performance and soft, smooth ride are so sports car-like, in fact, that the 3-hour trip to the British Virgin Islands sails past like so much asphalt under the wheels of an Aston Martin. The couple makes regular trips to Scrub Island, where they own a vacation property.
Nearer to home, they recommend Pasaje Medio Mundo, the waterway between Puerto Rico and Isla Piñeros, for its calm, photo shoot-friendly conditions. They settle into the soft bow seats and recount the day Boston Whaler Director of Large Boat Sales Wil Rogers first introduced them to the 420. “We saw the boat in the factory when it was still wrapped in cardboard and went, ‘Yeah…’” José says with a slow nod and a raised eyebrow that speaks volumes. The flagship Outrage had found its owners, no question. Its name was also a no-brainer: They christened it Mila. “Like two music notes,” she winks. “Mi-La.”
Long familiar with the Boston Whaler brand, the Fullanas previously owned a 370 Outrage, and their son a 270—both purchased with guidance from Wally Castro, whose eponymous dealership hosts an annual “Christmas in July” boating extravaganza that draws thousands of attendees as boisterous as the owner himself. Conveniently, Wally Castro Marine has a headquarters in Marina Puerto del Rey, where the Fullanas keep their boat.
Back at the helm, José confidently scans his three Raymarine® screens, monitoring the course back to shore. “It drives very well,” he says, leaning back against the captain’s seat’s flip-up bolster. Beside him, Mila adjusts her stylish broad-brimmed sunhat—one of several she keeps onboard—to deflect some of the morning’s rays. Puerto Rico’s climate is steamy, she confirms, which is all the more reason they appreciate the Whaler’s easy operation. “When it gets too hot, we get on the boat, we go,” she says.
The couple has three adult children, two sons and a daughter, and eight grandkids. “Our kids live two minutes from home,” Mila says. “In Puerto Rico, we’re like this—” she adds, throwing her arms wide and then wrapping them close in the gesture of a giant hug, her glittering eyes emphasizing the point: Family stays together.
When they do leave home, they often do that together, too. The list of places they have visited is long, and the trips all classify as exciting. Alaska, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Vermont… The world is a big place, and the Fullanas are determined to see as much of it as possible—ideally from onboard their Whaler.
Mila recounts one of the first times she and José slept on their 420 Outrage. The night was so beautiful, they opted to forgo the cabin’s V-berth and instead slept outside on the bow’s sprawling forward lounge. “It was the best sleep,” Mila says. “Every time we woke up, we saw the stars.”
In Puerto Rico, they don’t have to venture far to find natural beauty. El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system, lies mid-island. An estimated 1.2 million visitors a year take in its dramatic waterfalls, lush foliage and diverse animal inhabitants. Among them, the beloved coqui frog can be heard from dusk ’til dawn chirping the call for which it gets its name: “Co-qui! Co-qui!” El Yunque contains two dozen species of trees and plants found nowhere else and is the only place in the world to spot the endangered Puerto Rican Amazon Parrot.
To the west, the picturesque beaches of Rincón lure surfers from all over, having gained international recognition through the 1968 World Surfing Championship. The pace on this side of the island is generally said to be more laidback and it is far less populated, with areas so remote they feel undiscovered. The villages filled with friendly locals, the crystal-clear water and the Caribbean sunsets combine to make it an irresistible destination.
It’s easy to see why the Fullanas choose to reside in Puerto Rico; as often or as far as their adventures take them away, there’s always something to draw them back—to their family, to their Whaler’s homeport, to roads less traveled and more colorful.