Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and unincorporated U.S. territory. When you imagine Puerto Rico you probably envision the Old San Juan neighborhood with it’s colorful Spanish colonial buildings and El Morro and La Fortaleza, the huge centuries-old fortresses. The highly developed tourism industry of Puerto Rico includes world-class hotels, a vibrant city life, historical sites, a landscape of mountains, waterfalls, the El Yunque tropical rainforest and gorgeous beaches.
Unfortunately in 2017, Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria, which caused widespread destruction throughout the island. Still, tourists are encouraged to visit, and are needed more than ever to help this treasure of a Caribbean Island rebuild. If anything, visit Puerto Rico for the people, who’s resilience, strength and courage are an inspiration to all.
PUERTO RICO TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay
Bioluminescent Bay (aka Mosquito Bay or Puerto Mosquito) is one of Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays, located on the island of Vieques. This bay is often referred to as “magical”, those blessed with the opportunity to experience it always agree. At night the water glows when it moves due to special organisms (dinoflagellates) in the water. It is so surreal.
Visit El Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro, (El Morro) was built between the periods of 1539 till 1589 and sits atop a high promontory overlooking the entrance to the San Juan Bay. El Morro is a six storied fortress that survived two world wars. It’s now one of Puerto Rico’s top attractions. El Morro is inside the San Juan National Historic Site. The fortress is full of mysterious tunnels, dark prison cells and barracks. Take a guided tour of the fortress so you can learn more about the fascinating history.
Explore Old San Juan
For a small corner of a major capital, Old San Juan has plenty to offer. A historic district located at the “northwest triangle” of the islet of San Juan. Old San Juan is the cultural epitome of Puerto Rico and home to 400 restored buildings from the 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial period. The streets of Old San Juan are dotted with churches, castles and colorful buildings that are now home to excellent restaurants, great shops and chic cafes.
Hike El Yunque National Rainforest
El Yunque National Forest is a tropical rainforest in northeastern Puerto Rico. El Yunque National Rainforest, also known as the Caribbean National Forest is the sole lush tropical rainforest in the United States. The forest has many unambiguous hiking trails. The two most popular are Big Tree Trail and La Mina. Many adventurous travelers visiting El Yunque National Rainforest choose to camp overnight so they can explore the rainforest fully and experience the nightly calls of coquí tree frogs.
Castillo de San Cristobal
Part of San Juan National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Read more: Top 10 Amazing Things To Do In Puerto Rico
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PUERTO RICO TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Festival de Dia De Reyes
The most important festival in the Puerto Rican calendar is Festival de Dia De Reyes (Three Kings Day), celebrated annually on 6th January. This festival is about remembering the day when the Three Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, arrived bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Baby Jesus. Each year tourists and natives alike flock to Old San Juan to celebrate.
San Sebastian Festival
San Sebastian Festival is one of the few biggest festivals in Puerto Rico that takes place annually in the third week of January. The festival takes place on the San Sebastian Street in Old San Juan. The celebrations are in honor of Saint Sebastian who gave his life for his religion. The event includes a huge parade and lots of dancing.
Carnaval de Ponce
The Carnaval de Ponce, officially Carnaval Ponceño, is an annual celebration held in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The celebration lasts one week and it ends on the day before Ash Wednesday. The event features live music and a parade and is similar to Mardi Gras of New Orleans and the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, so expect lots of tourists.
PUERTO RICO BASICS
Language: The official language of Puerto Rico is Spanish which is spoken by over seventy percent of the population. The second dialect spoken widely in Puerto Rico is English.
Currency: US Dollar.
Visa: If you are not a US Citizen then visiting Puerto Rico is likely to require a tourist visa. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Puerto Rico is required and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: Puerto Rico operates on 120 volts with a frequency of 60 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Puerto Rico: Check price on Amazon
Puerto Rico cuisine is influenced by the Tainos, Africans and Spanish. Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Puerto Rico are listed below…
Mofongo: This might not look like much, but it sure is tasty! A Puerto Rican dish with fried plantains as its main ingredient. Plantains are picked green and fried, then mashed with salt, garlic, broth, and olive oil in a wooden pilón. This comes with a variety of fillings such as vegetables, steak, shrimp, pork, and seafood.
Lechon: Lechón is a Spanish pork dish popular in several regions of the world, particularly in Spain and its former colonial possessions throughout the world like Puerto Rico.
Azon con Gandules: Unofficially the national dish of Puerto Rico. Pigeon peas and rice are served with a special Puerto Rican sauce called sofrito. The dish is made of pork, ham, chorizo, olives, and red pepper.
Asopao: This savory soup is cooked with chicken and rice. An all-time favorite dish in Puerto Rico that can be found in most restaurants and local eateries. The dish can come in different variants including shellfish, chicken, pork, ham, olives, peppers, and tomatoes.
Alcapurrias: Fried finger foods are a favorite among the islanders. Alcapurrias are a classic traditional snack from Puerto Rico that is mainly made of ground dough yucca or both yucca and green banana and stuffed with a flavored ground meat. There is an array of fried delicacies such as cuchifritos, alcapurrias, bacalaitos, frituras and bunuelos to name a few that can be sampled at most street vendors.
Puerto Rico is a reasonably affordable place to visit depending on your travel style.
Finding excellent accommodation in Puerto Rico is usually super easy because there are so many great accommodation options whatever your budget. Hostels make visiting Puerto Rico affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Puerto Rico will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Puerto Rico can cost less than $30 dollars. If you’re looking for accommodation that includes western amenities and comforts then there will be more options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like San Juan. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Puerto Rico. However, if you are backpacking in Puerto Rico or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel to the Caribbean more affordable and it’s also a great way to meet new travel partners and international buddies.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PUERTO RICO
If you want hot and sunny days with little rain, like most people traveling to Puerto Rico then visit during the winter season from December to March. However, expect prices to be higher during this popular time. Rainy season in Puerto Rico is from April to November while the main hurricane season is from June to November. In my opinion, the best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid April to June, right after the busy winter season and just before the rainy summer. Spring weather is also very pleasant, and temperatures remain in the mid 80s on most days.
PUERTO RICO TRAVEL BUDGET
Puerto Rico is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Puerto Rico really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $30 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $100 to $200 plus a day.
- Budget: $20-30
- Mid-range: $35-$100
- Splurge: $60+
Meal For One
- Budget: $3.00-$10.00
- Mid-range: $10-$35
- Splurge: $35-$100+
IS PUERTO RICO SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to Puerto Rico. Pick-pocketing, bag-snatching and other scams to take advantage of tourists are common. Female travelers should be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Puerto Rico are dangerous so do your research before you go and avoid these places at all costs. Based on my own experiences and mishaps as a solo female traveler, I would never leave home without travel insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you.
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PUERTO RICO FLIGHT DEALS
PUERTO RICO TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Packing for a trip to Puerto Rico, like most other places in the Caribbean, is made easy with our awesome female Packing Guides.
You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Puerto Rico and it’s always best to travel light whenever possible. That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest travel gear for women and this is where we share our fabulous finds with you. Shop our top picks of travel accessories, luggage, clothing, cosmetics, shoes and tech. Or just hop straight on over to Bunny Bling … YOU PUERTO RICO JETSETTER!
It’s so easy to travel light in hotter climates just remember to pack lightweight and breathable lose-fitting clothing. Be prepared for a few cool morning and evenings depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater and a coat just in case.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Puerto Rico include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the backpack brand carefully and make sure that you find the correct size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related backpack blog post which is all about how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock and a money belt to keep important documents like your passport safe.
Last but not least and perhaps the most fun part of the Puerto Rico trip planning journey is packing for it!
If you’ve found your Puerto Rico travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost, kinda, nearly) perfected.
Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.