After 61 countries, claiming Puerto Rican food as one of my favorite cuisines (and the hardest to find anywhere outside of the USA / Puerto Rico), or how easy it is to visit Puerto Rico as an American, I was shocked that I had yet to visit this evocative island.
I can bore you with the many reasons I justified pushing back this trip but admittedly the “many reasons” were simply excuses. What truly matters is that the time arrived /stars aligned and I finally visited, “La Isla del Encanto”, aka, Puerto Rico.
After 5 days of adventures in El Yunque, Reggaeton dancing in Old San Juan/La Placita, indulging in delicious food and basking in the glorious beaches in Condado and Vieque, this trip was one for the books. I would like to give a special thanks to my travel buddies; Silvia, Diana & Chad, for making this trip feel even more special as they decided to extend my birthday celebrations and bring birthday vibes to the island.
Given this was a return visit for my travel buddies, I truly felt like I was in good hands. Best yet, I made their list of people who they will gladly travel with again. (I hear its a coveted accolade to hold.)
Don’t wait as long as I did to finally visit, find travel information, tips and more from the island to plan your own visit to Puerto Rico using the below travel guide.
Puerto Rico Travel Tips
|The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. Which means that US Citizens do not need a passport to travel between US mainland and Puerto Rico as it falls under the same travel rules as any other state in the USA.|
|While Puerto Rico is open for travel post the pandemic, if unvaccinated, travel to Puerto Rico will prove more difficult. Many restaurants and establishments will turn you away or deny you entry without a vaccination certificate.|
|The USD is the currency used here and many businesses do accept credit cards.|
Puerto Rico Travel Questions
|Is it safe to visit Puerto Rico?||Puerto Rico is a safe place to visit and its crime rate is far lower compared to other cities in the USA.|
|How many days are needed to visit Puerto Rico?||Many people recommend spending 4 to 5 days in Puerto Rico. While the island is small, there is lot’s of things to do, see and eat in this enchanting location.|
|Is Puerto Rico expensive to visit?||Puerto Rico is more expensive than other Latin American countries and costs are relatively similar to traveling in the USA as they operate on the USD currency.|
|When is the best time to visit Puerto Rico?||The best time to visit Puerto Rico is between April – June as the winter season is very busy and summers can be rainy.|
|What language do they speak in Puerto Rico?||Given the island’s origins and history, they speak both Spanish and English. Signage will also be in both languages.|
🚗 Car – Renting a car is highly recommended here and the most convenient way to travel to the various points of interest in the island. Parking options are easily available and having the freedom to plan your days without having to deal with public transport schedules will help you truly maximize your time here.
TIP #1: Renting a car near the airport is far cheaper than renting one from the city or directly in the airport. Find the best deals near the airport HERE.
🚗 Uber – The easiest way to travel around San Juan especially if you plan to go out.
⛴ Ferry – If visiting Culebra or Vieques by land, I would recommend using Puerto Rico Ferry. Tickets may be booked online and are reasonably priced. For example, a round trip ticket from Ceiba to Vieques is $4 USD.
TIP #1: Ceiba is an hour drive from San Juan and where the port to take you to either Vieques or Culebra is located.
TIP #2: While you must book a time slot when purchasing tickets online, if you decide to travel during another time slot and spots are available, your tickets will be valid for any times available.
Where & What To Eat
- La Cueva del Mar – Amazing seafood restaurant that’s worth revisiting as my friends assured me and I can attest too. Everything on the menu is delicious so be sure to come on a full stomach.
- Waffle-era Tea Room – Perfect place for brunch that offers an array of sweet and savory waffles.
- Jose Enrique – Indulge in a culinary experience by visiting this upscale restaurant offering Puerto Rican cuisine by renowned chef, Jose Enrique.
- El Quinque Bar – While people will claim that the best mojitos come from La Factoria, I am here to dismantle this myth, tried mojitos from both bars and the mojitos from El Quinque take the prize. Be sure to pair them with their homemade empanadas for the perfect night out combo.
Places I Stayed
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel – World class hotel in the heart of Condado. Offering five star amenities including 4 pools, spa and gym right in front of the ocean. Doesn’t get any better when looking for a 5 star experience.
La Terraza De San Juan – This 19th century colonial style boutique hotel is perfectly situated in Old San Juan and offers a rooftop terrace with views of the bay and Castilo San Felipe.
Stella Maris Condos – This shoreline airbnb is ideal if traveling with a group. Located in the Condado neighborhood, this beautiful condo (Pictures are accurate from the listing) offers stunning views of the ocean and is next to the beach. If you do rent a vehicle, the condo comes with a parking spot, which saves the hassles of where to park.
HOTEL TO AVOID – Hix Island House in Vieques. I tend to not want to acknowledge or write about bad travel experiences, but as travel bloggers, it is also our duty to steer travellers from bad experiences. Hix Island House was high on the list of accommodations from hell for a number of reasons and why I would NOT recommend this place to anyone. Read my full review of why on Google Reviews HERE.
Where I Went:
- Vieques is a sleepy island visited for its beaches and wild horses. (A day trip is really all you need.)
- Ferries run multiple times a day from Ceiba. (1 hour drive from San Juan, 30 min ferry ride, $2 each way.)
- “Sun Bay Beach” is one of the most popular beaches to visit. (Check out “Esperanza” area too.)
- Tourists get around the island via local drivers who charge $5 a person for a trip. (Our driver was the friendly and knowledgeable Hilda & she can be reached at +1-787-486-0267)
- El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. which features rare trees, wildlife and unique hiking paths.
- Reservations are mandatory for visiting El Yunque and bookings can be made by visiting recreation.gov.
- Reservations are for vehicles opposed to guests and costs $2 USD per vehicle.
- You can book reservations for up to 2 vehicles.
- Day slots are released the day prior at 8am.
- Entry hours are 8am – 3pm and guests must vacate by 5pm.
- La Mina Falls/Big Tree Trail is closed for construction until 2022.
- Castillo San Felipe del Morro – 16th Century Spanish fortification on top of a cliffside promontory.
- La Factoria – Iconic bar with a great vibe in Old San Juan and also where the video for that highly popular song, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi was filmed.
- La Sombrilla Rosa – Recommended by my sister; this bar offers cheap drinks with a great party atmosphere. It’s perfect for party hopping between La Factoria and here.
- Condado – The perfect area for beach, nigh life, great restaurants and bars.
- La Placita de Santurce – A must visit if you are trying to experience local night life in San Juan.
- El Quinque Bar – A MUST! I can’t stress enough how fantastic this bar was. Friendly staff, mouth watering empanadas and my favorite mojitos in Puerto Rico.
Now, let’s have you create your own trip and see all of your Puerto Rico travel ideas come to life.