Puerto Rico is home to seemingly endless beaches, gorgeous terrain, and cultural influences from around the world. It is majestic. With enormous cliffs that overhang the waters, the island strikes many as being picturesque. It is also filled with vibrancy. It practically pulsates, infused with the energy of its people. Most travelers agree that visiting Puerto Rico is a unique treat because it offers sights and experiences seldom found elsewhere.
As with visiting any travel destination for the first time, it is always recommended that you create an itinerary before boarding your plane. We’ll help you to fill in the blanks below. We’ll describe some fun activities to do while visiting the main island. You’ll also get a few ideas regarding where to lay your head when the sun goes down. And of course, if you are planning to visit the Caribbean to escape the winter cold, don’t forget these useful snowbird travel tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Lastly, we’ll tell you where to find great food and the best ways to get around the island. In short, the following will give you a bird’s-eye view of Puerto Rico.
Fun Activities To Enjoy During Your Vacation
The things you do in Puerto Rico should reflect your personal tastes. For example, if you enjoy surfing, take advantage of the huge 20-foot waves towering over the waters at Sun Bay. If you prefer a slower, more relaxed pace, grab a snorkel and head to Mosquito Bay. Or, if an adventure is more to your liking, exploring the caves of Rio Camuy makes the perfect daytime excursion.
Here are three other fun activities to add to your list:
#1 – Visit El Yunque
El Yunque is one of Puerto Rico’s natural treasures. It is a large rainforest located in the northeast section of the island. It offers 28,000 acres of beautiful foliage and waterfalls with a network of streams and rivers cutting through the landscape. There are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy. Plus, you can reserve a space on one of the many tours that are organized to take you through the forest. One word of caution: plan to get wet and dress accordingly.
Cost of entry: free.
#2 – Visit Mosquito Bay
A trip to Puerto Rico means taking the time to enjoy its beaches. There are several, including Sun Bay, Carolina, and Luquillo, but the most popular among tourists tends to be Mosquito Bay. With clear waters, white sands, and an eerie luminescence that produces a blue glow in still waters, the beach strikes many as a typical Caribbean paradise. The glow is caused by micro-organisms living in the water, among which you can swim. The experience provides a treat for the eyes.
Cost of entry: free.
#3 – Shop At Calle del Cristo
Located in San Juan, Calle del Cristo hosts a large variety of restaurants, shops, and outlets. You’ll find ice cream parlors, street vendors, art galleries, and bars. Plan to spend 3 or 4 hours taking in the sights, enjoying a tasty dessert or two, and snapping a few photos of the buildings and armies of pigeons.
Cost of entry: free.
Find A Hotel To Match Your Pace And Budget
With over 200 hotels on the island, you’ll have no trouble finding one (or several) that suit your preferences and pocketbook. Puerto Rico is home to 5-star hotels, such as The Ritz-Carlton and The St. Regis. You’ll also find sprawling resorts designed to accommodate less flashy tastes at a lower price.
For example, many tourists rate the Hotel El Convento highly. Located in San Juan, the foundation was laid in 1651. It boasts a rooftop sundeck, spa, and an interior courtyard that sits under a large tree rumored to be more than 350 years old. The hotel’s 58 rooms are comfortable with many of the amenities you enjoy at home. Rates: $200 to $300 a night.
The Las Casitas Village sits 300 feet on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the water. With spacious rooms and a personal butler service, the resort caters to guests who enjoy a more traditional travel experience. You’ll find a large swimming pool, water slide, a gym, and beautiful beaches on or near the premises. Rates: small rooms can occasionally be reserved for $200 a night, but otherwise plan to pay $300 to $350.
If you enjoy casinos, consider booking a room at the San Juan Marriott Resort. The hotel’s location places you next to the Stellaris Casino as well as a number of restaurants and nightclubs. You’ll also be a short walk from the water. The Marriott is a popular retreat for romantic getaways and family vacations. Rates: rooms can be reserved for as low as $160 a night. Higher-end rooms with balconies and corner views are priced at $250 a night or more.
Let’s Eat! Where To Find Great Food In Puerto Rico
The foods you’ll find in Puerto Rico reflect a blend of influences that range from Caribbean delights to dishes enjoyed by the Taíno people (indigenous to the area). Many tourists rave about Pikayo, located in the Condado Plaza Hotel. Headed by Chef Wilo Benet, the restaurant prides itself on preparing high-end dishes that are at once delicious and unique. From Caribbean lobster tail to beef carpaccio with truffle oil, the menu and the meals it showcases have been described as “artful.”
Another popular eatery is Aguaviva. Known for its modern look and delicious seafood cuisine, Aguaviva prides itself on an inventive menu. It blends an assortment of flavors that perfectly complement each other. If you’re an adventurous food-lover, stroll over to the raw bar and taste the ceviche. Combine grilled mahimahi with a few shrimp and lobster claws, and add a watermelon sangria, and you’ll have a meal all but guaranteed to sate your taste buds.
The Parrot Club offers a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s a bistro operated by a husband and wife team. They specialize in Latin cuisine through which you’ll taste influences from Spain and Africa. Repeat diners rave about the mahimahi ceviche with lime, but you’ll find the menu offers numerous other tasty culinary delights. Many are reinventions of Puerto Rican classics. Be aware: the Parrot Club is popular and is often noisy.
On Foot Or By Bus: Getting Around The Island
There are a lot of options for getting from place to place in Puerto Rico. Some are better than others depending on where your hotel is located. If you’re staying in San Juan, walking will be your best bet. You can always take the bus from your hotel to get to heart of the city. Buses also run throughout San Juan, which makes getting around convenient.
You can take taxis from place to place, but they are largely unregulated. Some of the drivers will all but refuse to turn on their meters, preferring to charge a set amount (e.g. $15) to take you to your destination.
If your hotel is located in places other than San Juan, you’ll need a car. Driving is the most convenient way to get around. The challenge with driving is that the roads tend to be narrow and twisty. In addition, other drivers tend to have a lax perspective on the “rules of the road.” So, keep your eyes open while you’re behind the wheel.
The Cost Of Traveling To Puerto Rico
Traveling between Canada and Puerto Rico is relatively inexpensive. A round trip ticket between Toronto and San Juan costs approximately $400. Traveling from Montreal or Ottawa will cost slightly more at around $500. Airfare from Vancouver will run nearly $650. Use the new Kanetix travel app to compare quotes on your smartphone to save time and money on your travel insurance.
Airlines usually have a calendar of promotions they run to attract travelers during slow tourist seasons. It pays to look for deals. It is not uncommon to save 50% or more on a round trip ticket during certain times of the year.
Puerto Rico is a fantastic travel destination, in part because it offers a different experience than what you’ll find at most tourist hotspots. The island is known as the “Isle of Enchantment” for its ability to mesmerize travelers with its natural beauty. After your first visit, you’ll likely promise yourself to return down the road.