There are A LOT of things to like about Puerto Rico; I honestly do not know why we don’t hear about it more. Most people don’t realize how amazing the destination is, and how easy it is to plan a trip there. Flights there aren’t that expensive, and with it being an American territory, there are a number of things that make it even more enjoyable if you are coming from the mainland.
First off, if you are coming from the United States you do not need a passport to enter, and it is basically the same as a domestic flight. Also, most American cell phones still work there without extra charges. On trips it can be nice to be disconnected from my technology, but being real, on trips it is super nice to still be able to be connected to my technology. Also, the official currency is the US dollar, so it is nice not having to worry about exchange rates.
Puerto Ricans speak Spanish, but they are accustomed to tourists from the mainland and in most areas the locals have at least a rudimentary understanding of English. The main island isn’t too big, so it isn’t hard explore things on both sides. The Puerto Ricans I met were a perfect blend of laid back island style and playful Latin.
Where to stay:
Although I have only been to Puerto Rico once, my husband has been there multiple times and stayed in multiple hotels. When we went we stayed in the Hyatt Place San Juan City Center. It is located in Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Condado is a great place to stay as it is super safe, right on the beach, and within walking distance to great restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.
You guys can book or check prices here.
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1. Fort San Felipe del Morro
Fort San Felipe del Morro
- This huge citadel was built in the 1500’s by the Spanish to protect the Puerto Rican harbor. Even today it is a huge and imposing edifice on the edge of the promontory. It is easy to imagine ships coming in and out when touring the Fort.
2. Cueva Ventana (Window Cave)
Cueva Ventana (Window Cave)
- Exploring caves with exquisite views, yes please! Accessing these caves is an easy hike off the main road, and they are locaed about half way between San Juan and Aguadilla. I bet you can guess why they call it the window cave.
Psst: If you’re interested in planning the cheapest trip possible to Puerto Rico, then I created a free cheatsheet for you, which details the top 5 tools we used to plan our trip to Puerto Rico. Click the image below to download it!
3. Bioluminescent Bays
- The water just off the coast of certain parts of Puerto Rico literally glow at night. The microscopic organisms responsible for the blue-green glow light up when there is movement in the water (bays near Fajardo, Lajas, and Vieques are best). I strongly recommend taking a boat tour to see. Unfortunately, I missed this phenomenon as we were there during the wrong time in the lunar cycle (can’t be seen during a full moon).
- If you are looking for an undeveloped tropical island escape you should check out Vieques (but go quick because people are discovering it). Vieques features endless beaches, but with the charm of homes that don’t feature addresses (just names) and horses, chickens and roosters running wild in the streets.
5. Old San Juan
Old San Juan
- This is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico, and it overflows with colonial charm. The thin cobblestone streets and colorful Spanish architecture make this quaint town perfect.
6. Rain Forest Zip Lines
Photo: Clark H / Flickr
Rain Forest Zip Lines
- The rainforests in Puerto Rico are steamy and lush! One of the best ways to get a tour of them is the fly over the top and through on one of the numerous zip lines. There are many to choose from, and certain tours will even pick you up from your hotel.
Photo: Tomás Fano / Flickr
- From what I saw this is the busiest tourist district of San Juan. There are beautiful beaches, lots of shopping, and good restaurants. Also, this is where you can find the nightlife featuring bars, night clubs, and casinos.
8. Scuba Diving
- Puerto Rico features numerous dive sites (there are also snorkeling sites, but these often aren’t at the same locations). There are coral reefs, underwater caves, and an array of sea life for divers of all levels.
9. El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque National Forest
- El Yunque is an explorers paradise. There are tons of beautiful hikes through the rain forest. The foliage gets so dense that you can easily feel completely isolated, even if there are other hikers just ahead. Make sure you make it to a few waterfalls, including Juan Diego Falls and La Mina (pictured above).
- Puerto Rican food is not like Mexican food! (I’ll admit it, I was the idiot that didn’t know) It is not spicy and is typically not wrapped in tortillas. The biggest commonality I observed was rice and beans, but most of the best Puerto Rican dishes I sampled featured pork and plantains. Delicious!
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