It’s hard to believe that a destination this exotic is not only close to the United States (2.5 hours from Miami) but a part of it. When you travel to Puerto Rico, you’ll discover gorgeous white sandy beaches, delicious food, fascinating Spanish history, and extraordinary natural attractions that include a rain forest and a bay where you can swim at night surrounded by millions of tiny, glowing creatures.
Puerto Rico Basic Travel Information
Between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic
Size: Total area is 3,508 sq. miles. See Map
- Capital: San Juan
- Language: Spanish and English
- Religions: Mainly Roman Catholic
- Currency: The U.S. dollar is the official currency
- Telephone/Area Code: 787 or 939
- Tipping: If service charge is not included, tip 15 to 20 percent
- Weather: Average year-round temperatures are in the mid-80s.
- Hurricane season is June to November
- Puerto Rico Flag
- •Puerto Rico Tourism Company
- CIA World Factbook Puerto Rico
Be sure to stroll around the historic district of Old San Juan with its pastel-colored
Spanish-style homes, and visit El Morro, a fort built by the Spanish in 1540.
El Yunque Rain Forest, located 24 miles southeast of San Juan, is another must-see,
with wonderful hikes that take you past waterfalls and natural pools.
Mona Island offers snorkelers and scuba divers exceptional visibility and a huge
variety of marine life including turtles and octopuses. Hope for a cloudy night so
you can take a mystical, nighttime swim in the bioluminescent bay on the island of
Vieques or in Fajardo.
•More Info on Puerto Rico Attractions
Puerto Rico Beaches
Popular Luquillo Beach near San Juan is great for families, with excellent facilities
and lots of restaurant options. On the island of Culebra, Playa Flamenco is considered
one of Puerto Rico’s loveliest beaches, with soft, pure white sands that strike a vivid
contrast to the surrounding green foliage; Playa Zoni is also beautiful, and more secluded.
Boquerón Beach, near the charming village of the same name, is more than a mile long, but can get crowded on weekends.
Puerto Rico Hotels and Resorts
Puerto Rico offers plenty of resorts and hotels, many on or near a beach.
The Horned Dorset Primavera, located in the surfing hotspot Rincon, is one of the most romantic. If you’re the type to get bored easily, book a stay at the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa, where activities include watersports, horseback riding, golf, tennis, a spa, a casino, a marina, and, for escapists, a private island.
Lower-key options in Puerto Rico can be a great way to save money; these include B&Bs, guesthouses, villas and paradores (country inns).
Puerto Rico Restaurants and Cuisine
Puerto Rican restaurants serve traditional Criolla food (a blend of Taíno,
Spanish and African influences) as well as just about every international cuisine.
Mofongo, a favorite island dish consisting of mashed green plantains fried with garlic
and other seasonings, can be served plain or stuffed with meat or seafood.
Look for restaurants participating in the Mesones Gastronomicos Program if you
want to sample traditional dishes.
San Juan has a wonderful selection of restaurants, from upscale fine dining to familar U.S. chain eateries.
•More Info on Puerto Rico Restaurants and Cuisine
Puerto Rico Culture and History
Following Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1493, the local Taíno Indians
were first enslaved, then decimated by disease. African slaves took their place as laborers.
The island was ruled by the Spanish until 1898, when Spain ceded the island to
the United States. Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens in 1917, and in 1952,
Puerto Rico became a commonwealth of the United States.
Present-day Puerto Rico is a major tourist destination, and Puertorriqueños take
pride in their unique combination of heritages: African, Taíno (Amerindians),
Spanish and North American.
Puerto Rico Events and Festivals
The Casals Festival, a classical music festival in late February/early March,
draws many international guest conductors, orchestras and soloists to San Juan's Performing Arts Center.
Puerto Rico’s Carnival features float parades, dancing, and street parties and takes place the week before Ash Wednesday. June’s Heineken Jazz Festival is a big draw, and November marks the start of baseball season. Occasionally, you may find a Major League Baseball player doing a stint with a Puerto Rican team in the off
Whether you’re looking for bars, salsa, casinos, performing arts or discos, San Juan is the place to go. Be warned, though, that things heat up very late here, and keep on going until the wee hours. Most of the hotels in Condado-Isla Verde have casinos; check out the Ritz-Carlton. In Old San Juan you’ll find many bars lining Calle San Sebastián.
Pick up a copy of Qué Pasa, the visitor's guide, for events listings.
The best tips come from locals or people who have already visited. Here is a list of our top tips that can help you maximize your stay in Puerto Rico and minimize your worries.
Bring your credit cards. All major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere
and can be very helpful in case of emergencies.
Bring enough of your prescription medications to last your entire trip.
Even though the big U.S. chain pharmacies are located here and many
open 24 hours, you never know if your medication will be available if
you run out unexpectedly.
Book any tours, concerts and shows in advance to avoid being left out.
Keep all your travel documents in the same place.
Familiarize yourself with basic words in Spanish. A simple “gracias” can go a long way.
Make sure your cellphone plan includes long distance and/or roaming to
avoid unnecessary charges. Even though Puerto Rico is U.S. Territory,
cellphone calls to the mainland are considered to be long distance—
though most U.S. cell carriers now include Puerto Rico in their unlimited plans.
Be open to new experiences. This will most certainly guarantee you’ll have a good time.
Sunscreen - Year round sun and hot weather can really do a number on your skin,
especially if you’re not used to the heat. Use it, even if you don’t plan to visit the beach.
Bathing suit - With so many beautiful beaches to choose from, you don’t want
to miss out on the fun just because you forgot your suit (and none of our public
beaches are clothing-optional).
Light clothes - After a day of sightseeing in Old San Juan or Ponce, you’ll be
glad you decided to bring those white cotton shirts.
Comfortable shoes - Comfortable shoes mean happy feet.
Bug repellent - Protect yourself from unpleasant mosquito and no-see-um
insect bites, especially if you plan on visiting the El Yunque rainforest or
doing outdoor activities.
Rain gear - An umbrella or poncho to keep yourself dry. Tropical climate is
very unpredictable and it can start raining out of the blue.
Hat - Protect your most precious body part from the suns rays. It also keeps you cooler.
Dress clothes - Even though the overall dress code is casual 24/7, s
ome nightclubs, bars, restaurants and shows require more formal attire.
Flip flops - They protect your feet from the hot sand and wash off easily
when its time to go.
Useful contacts/phone numbers to have in Puerto Rico
•Emergency Services 911
•Police Department 787-726-7020
•Fire Department 787-725-3444
•Medical emergency line 787-754-2550
•Ashford Presbyterian Community Hospital 787-721-2160
•Tourist information 787-722-1709
Puerto Ricos flagga
DID YOU KNOW...
Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States (U.S. territory) and since 1917 all Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.
Both Spanish and English are the official languages of the island; however, Spanish is commonly used.
The U.S. dollar is the official currency, though it is commonly referred to as “peso” by the locals.
Puerto Ricans are a blend of Spanish, Taino Indian and African cultures. Puerto Ricans consider themselves Americans, although they don’t usually call themselves Americans. They call themselves Puertorriqueños or Boricuas, and when they say ‘my country’, they are actually referring to Puerto Rico.
The climate on the island is fairly stable throughout the year and averages 82°F. The average temperature is 80-85°F during the day and 70-75°F at night.
Puerto Rico possesses its own Olympic team and competes as an independent nation in the Miss Universe pageant.
Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe title five times: Marisol Malaret (1970), Deborah Carthy-Deu (1985), Dayanara Torres (1993), Denisse Quiñones (2001), and Zuleyka Rivera (2006). It hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1972, becoming the first Latin American country to host this competition.
The island comprises 270 miles of beachfront. The variety of beaches is simply overwhelming. From power-like sand beaches to dark sand streches of shoreline.
Puerto Ricans generally greet their family and close friends with a kiss on the cheek. They also consider it respectful to stand very close to someone during a conversation. Hand gestures are an important component of communication to them.
The unofficial mascot of the island is a tiny tree frog called ‘coqui’, that is found only in Puerto Rico. This frog is a cute and popularly loved symbol of the island. Its powerful melodic voice and high-pitched, chirpy song can be heard for miles.
Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who claimed it for Spain in 1493 during his second voyage to the new world. In 1898, with the end of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico became a part of the United States.
Fifty-Five of the Fortune 100 companies and 178 of the Fortune 500 companies operate in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico houses the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, measuring one thousand feet in diameter and spanning almost 20 acres. It is also the most sensitive radio telescope in the world. It has the capability of probing objects 10 billion light years away and is the only radio telescope in the world that can accurately predict when and where an asteroid would hit the Earth!
Fifty percent of all pacemakers and defibrillators in the U.S. are made in Puerto Rico.