Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment, has captivated travelers with its beaches, natural beauty, and unique Caribbean culture. For many, it is an easily accessible winter vacation destination, and for others it is a tropical haven and a dream destination.
Whether you are planning a beach retreat vacationer a cultural and culinary escapade, here are a few tips for traveling abroad and planning your trip to Puerto Rico.
Know that it is a U.S. territory
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. That means that American citizens don’t need a passport. On the other hand, citizens of other countries who need a visa to enter the United States will require the same visa to enter Puerto Rico (like any other state in the US).
Since it is a U.S. territory, English is widely spoken (especially in touristy areas), though Spanish is the official language. Like in any U.S. territory, the dollar is the currency.
Know your budget
Puerto Rico is not the cheap tropical paradise you might have in mind. In fact, it is just as expensive as many famous cities in the US. Seeing the island on a budget is possible, but it can be a bit difficult depending on what you’re looking for. You can find budget-oriented accommodations like paradores (rustic government-sponsored accommodations) and budget hotels, but they still can go at $100 a night or more. But do your research and you might find good deals!
Cheap food can be typically found at beach or mountain kiosks called chinchorros, and at local markets. The farther away you get form the metropolitan area, the cheaper things get.
Understand how to move around
Public transportation has improved in the last few years, but still, the best way to move around the island is by renting a car. A car is essential unless you plan on exploring the island with organized tours where your transportation is included.
There is the Tren Urbano (Urben Train) and the AMA bus service, which can help you move around various cities very cheaply, but they might be a hassle to understand – so I still recommend renting a car.
If you’re staying only in Old San Juan, there’s no need to have a car since the town is relatively small and easy to walk.
Know when to go
Since it is situated in the Caribbean, the warm tropical weather lasts 365 days a year. Year round you can go to the beach, go hiking, camping, and other outdoorsy pursuits.
That being said, while it is fine to visit the island year round, know that the hurricane season covers the months from June to November (with its peak in August and September), so you might encounter some bad weather during those months. Usually, the best months to visit are between December and April.
Know that you can explore the island by yourself
Puerto Rico is quite small and the road infrastructure is well developed. With a good map and a car, you can reach any corner of the island within two hours.
Don’t be afraid to ditch the tour bus and experience the island by yourself. Take your car and go to the mountainous region (off the beaten path), or take the ferry to one of the surrounding islands – Vieques and Culebra (great beaches there!). The farther you get from the city, the more impressive the island gets.
Ready to explore Puerto Rico on your own?