Puerto Rico is a year-round Caribbean destination, so no matter what time of the year you go, the tropical breeze and the sunny beaches will be waiting for you. Still, like any other destination, there are certain sites and events you can enjoy only at certain times of the year. Here I’ll show you the best things you can do in Puerto Rico during spring and summer, aside of the typical year-round famous activities
In the weeks preceding Lent, Puerto Rico celebrates its Carnival, which is held in the city of Ponce. This festival is over 200 years old, and it is the epitome of all things Puerto Rican, or Boricua, as they fondly call themselves. The stars of the show are the vejigantes, which are people dressed as old folklore demons created from a blend of African, Spanish, and Caribbean cultures. This carnival, as with Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, is exuberant and rebellious, and a rowdy affair full of music (especially bomba y plena rhythms), flamboyant costumes, parades, and non-stop partying. The festival culminates on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday with the Entierro de la Sardina –Burial of the Sardine– which is a mock funeral procession (including a dummy in a coffin) led by drag queens and fake mourners.
Saborea Puerto Rico
This is Puerto Rico's grandest food festival, and it takes place in April each year. The three-day food tasting-and-cooking event brings renowned chefs and TV personalities from around the world to compete against popular local chefs. So, make sure to clean your plate and open your palate, because this is one of the best moments in Puerto Rico to taste the best of the best, both from local and international cuisine.
Heineken Jazz Festival
As spring comes to an end, the city of
San Juan inaugurates the summer with the four-day Heineken Jazz Festival. This is one of the Caribbean’s biggest Jazz Festivals, and it is celebrated at the open-air Tito Puente Amphitheater. In addition to enjoying the best of Jazz music, if you’re a serious musician, you can also participate in the jazz workshops available throughout the duration of the festival. Even though the festival is often celebrated in late May or early June, sometimes it is celebrated a bit earlier in the year, so make sure to check the current schedule.
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches
Even though June marks the official beginning of the hurricane season in Puerto Rico, that doesn’t stop locals from enjoying the beach in all its glory – so it shouldn’t stop you either. In fact, the hurricane season peaks by the end of August and September, so you still have June and July with a very small chance of stormy weather. Regardless, always make sure to take out the appropriate travel insurance policy to safeguard against trip disruptions. While beaches are always beautiful and warm in Puerto Rico, summer is the best time to enjoy them since they contain the least amount of algae during this season, making them look much cleaner than during winter. Additionally, outside of any storm or hurricane passing nearby, the seas are often much calmer during summer, making it safer to swim and enjoy the beach. Also during summer, several beaches offer small concerts, parties and festivals, so make sure to ask around to see if there’s one happening while you’re there.
Noche de San Juan Bautista
The Noche de San Juan, or Saint John’s Night, is a local tradition celebrated on the evening of June 23rd – the eve of Saint John’s birthday. Every year, locals celebrate his birthday by heading to the beach, and exactly at midnight as the clock strikes June 24th, people walk backwards into the ocean and fall back into it – like a backward plank. This is repeated three times in a row (or even up to seven and twelve times) to get rid of bad things or evil spirits, and bring luck for the rest of the year. It is said that the water is blessed at that precise time of the night, but even if it isn’t, it is fun to take part in this tradition.
Aibonito Flower Festival
In July, Puerto Rico celebrates its largest flower festival in the city of Aibonito, up in the mountains where the temperature feels a few degrees cooler than at the beach. The festival spreads over 25 acres of land, featuring incredible displays of tropical foliage, both local and from the Caribbean region, as well as a vast array of local food and non-stop music.
No matter what time of the year you go to Puerto Rico, it will always have something new and traditional to offer. Ready to experience one of these local events?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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