Puerto Rico Travel Guide

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island that is a self governing commonwealth of the United States of America. Located in the Caribbean Sea to the east of the Dominican Republic and west of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico lies on a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal, the Mona Passage.

Regions
Puerto Rico - the main island itself
Culebra
Vieques, also known as Isla Nena or Little Girl Island, is a small, rural island approximately 18 miles East of Puerto Rico.
Municipalities
San Juan - the capital - has one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean
Aguadilla
Arecibo - home of the world's largest radio telescope
Caguas
Camuy
Carolina
Dorado - Nice Public Park, Nolos Morales Beach, Sheltred Family area
Fajardo
Guayama
Luquillo - best public beach, reef protected swimming area with views of El Yunque. Rainforest
Mayaguez
Moca
Ponce
Rincón - The real Puerto Rico, a small surfing town with no stoplights or snooty crowds.
Salinas
Cabo Rojo
Las Piedras
Rio Grande
Other destinations
El Yunque National Forest
San Juan National Historic Site - includes forts San Cristóbal, San Felipe del Morro, and San Juan de la Cruz, also called El Cañuelo, plus bastions, powder houses, and three fourths of the city wall. All these defensive fortifications surround the old, colonial portion of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Mona Island, off of the west coast of PR, half way to the Dominican Republic, this island is a secluded island only inhabited by widlife. You can only go to the island by appointment. Understand
History
Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Puerto Rico in 1493 on his second voyage of discovery, and originally named it San Juan Bautista in honor of Saint John the Baptist. The name of the island's present day capital, San Juan, honors the name Columbus first gave the island.

Climate
Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, which is mild and has little seasonal temperature variation. Temperatures range from 70˚F to 90˚F (21˚C to 32˚C), and tend to be lower at night and up in the mountains. The average annual temperature is 26°C (80°F). Hurricane season spans between June and November, where rain showers occur once a day, almost every day. Periodic droughts sometimes affect the island.

Terrain
Puerto Rico is mostly mountainous, although there is a coastal plain belt in the north. The mountains precipitous to the sea on the west coast. There are sandy beaches along most of the coast. There are many small rivers about the island and the high central mountains ensure the land is well watered, although the south coast is relatively dry. The coastal plain belt in the north is fertile. Puerto Rico's highest point is at Cerro de Punta, which is 1,338 m above sea level.

Get in
Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, US citizens do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico, from the US or vice versa. A driver's license should suffice.

By plane
Puerto Rico's main airport is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (IATA: SJU) in San Juan. Jet Blue, Continental and Delta Connection also fly to smaller airports in the cities of Aguadilla and Ponce.

As Puerto Rico is part of the US commonwealth, U.S. Immigration and Customs Laws and Regulations apply, however, U.S. citizens flying back to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico will not have to pass through Customs before boarding their flight. Travel between the mainland and San Juan, Ponce and Aguadilla is the same as if it were between two mainland cities.

Most U.S. and many international airlines offer direct flights from many cities to Puerto Rico. Flights are economical and numerous. SJU is the biggest and most modern airport in the Caribbean and offers all the conveniences and services (McDonalds, Dominos, Starbucks, etc.) of a major city airport. American Eagle operates a hub at SJU and airlines like Caribbean Sun, Liat and Cape Air offer cheap and easy connections to most Caribbean islands.

If you have lots of luggage, beware there are no baggage carts in the domestic terminal, although there are plenty of baggage porters available to help you for a tip or fee. Luggage Carts are available in the international terminal of the airport. At the exit, a porter will assist you with your luggage for a fee.

Transferring from the airport to your hotel usually requires taking a taxi, although some hotels provide complimentary transportation to their properties in special buses. Puerto Rico Tourism Company representatives at the airport will assist you in finding the right transportation. All major car rental agencies are located at the airport, and others offer free transportation to their off-airport sites.

Typical flight times (outbound flights are slightly longer due to headwinds):

Chicago 5 hours
Los Angeles 7.5 hours
Madrid 7 ¾ hours
New York 4 hours
Atlanta 3.5 hours
Toronto 4 ¼ hours
Miami 2.5 hours
Philadelphia 3.5 hours
On your way back out of Puerto Rico, note that you'll be required to pass all your check-in bags through a US Dept of Agriculture inspection before checking in. Many agricultural products, including most fruits and vegetables, are in fact permitted [3], but will be checked for disease. Cruise ship passengers with ship luggage tags are exempted.

By boat
A commercial ferry service connects the west coast city of Mayaguez and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. This service is very popular and convenient way to travel between both cities. There is also a ferry from the city of Fajardo to St. Thomas, USVI. Also, more than a million passengers visit the island on cruise ships every year, whether on one of the many cruise lines whose homeport is San Juan, or on one of the visiting lines. No passport is required for U.S. citizens who use this service.

Get around
Public transportation in Puerto Rico is fairly bad: outside San Juan, there are no scheduled buses or trains. Most travelers choose to rent their own cars, but intrepid budget travelers can also explore the shared cab (público) system.

By taxi
Think of taxis as a traveler tax. The minimum fare is $12.00 which does not include tip. If you think your hotel is going to pick you up with a shuttle bus from the airport, think again. The taxi drivers are unionized and hotels are not allowed to offer competing service. The fare from Isla Verde to Old San Juan, a 10 minute drive, costs $19 without tip as it crosses two "taxi zones."

By car
If you are planning to explore outside of San Juan, renting a car is by far the most convenient way to get around. Rentals are available from the airport as well as larger hotels. Rental cars can be had for as little as $28 a day.

Parking in the Old Town of San Juan is virtually non-existent (there is a public parking lot called "La Puntilla" which on weekends you only pay a fixed rate for the whole day, and it always has parkings available) and traffic in all major cities is bad during rush hour (8-10am, 4-6pm), so give yourself plenty of time coming and going.

Road signs are Spanish language versions of their U.S. counterparts, so you shouldn't have trouble figuring them out. However, note that distances are in kilometers, while speed limits are in miles. Gas is also sold by the liter, not by the gallon, and significantly less than the USA.

In additional to the regular free highway (carretera) network, there are three toll roads (autopista) on Puerto Rico. They're much faster and less congested than the highways, and it's worth using them if in any kind of hurry. Tolls for a 2-axle car range from $0.50 and $1.50. The lanes on the left are reserved for people with RFID (Autoexpreso) toll passes, which you probably won't have on your rental car. If you need change, head for the lanes marked with a "C", usually the furthest to the right.

Off the main highways, roads in Puerto Rico quickly become narrow, twisty and turny, especially up in the mountains. Roads that are only one-and-a-half lanes wide are common, so do like the locals do and beep before driving into blind curves. Signage is often minimal, although intersections do almost always show the road numbers, so a detailed highway map will come in handy.

Police cars are easy to spot, as by local regulation, they must keep their blue light bar continuously illuminated any time they are in motion. Avoid getting a speeding ticket: fines start at $50 + $5 for each mile above the speed limit.

By público
A público is a shared taxi service and is much cheaper than taking a taxi around the island, and depending on your travel aspirations, might be cheaper than renting a car. Públicos can be identified by their yellow license plates with the word "PUBLICO" written on top of the license plate. The "main" público station is in Río Piedras, a suburb of San Juan. They're also known as colectivos and pisicorres.

There are two ways of getting on a público. The easier way is to call the local público stand the day before and ask them to pick you up at an agreed time. (Your hotel or guesthouse can probably arrange this, and unlike you, they probably know which of the multitude of companies is going your way.) This is convenient, but it'll cost a few bucks extra and you'll be in for a wait as the car collects all the other departing passengers. The cheaper way is to just show up at the público terminal (or, in smaller towns, the town square) as early as you can (6-7 AM is normal) and wait for others to show up; as soon as enough have collected, which may take minutes or hours, you're off. Públicos taper off in the afternoon and stop running entirely before dark.

Públicos can make frequent stops to pick up or drop off passengers and may take a while to get to their destination terminal, but you can also request to be dropped off elsewhere if it's along the way or you pay a little extra. Prices vary depending on the size of the público and the distance being traveled. As an example, a small público that can seat three or four passengers from Ponce to San Juan will cost roughly $15, while a 15 passenger público that is traveling between San Juan and Fajardo will cost about $5 each person.
By ferry
Ferries depart from San Juan and Fajardo & the most popular arrivals are Cataño, Vieques Island & Culebra Island.

Do
Horseback riding (Hacienda 8A), Las Piedras, ☎ 787-567-0983, [4]. Your home in nature! Come do amazing horseback riding trailrides through breathtaking passages! edit
Whether you're dreaming about spectacular surfing waves, a challenging golf course, or the perfect sunbathing beach, Puerto Rico offers the active traveler a tremendous array of opportunities. Surfing and golf compete with tennis, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, and horseback riding, not to mention windsurfing and parasailing, for your active time. The island has over 15 championship golf courses a short drive away from the San Juan metropolitan area.

Learn about the different character of Puerto Rico's favorite beaches, or find out where to participate in your favorite sports. The hardest part will be choosing what to do first.

Blue Flag in Puerto Rico

The Blue Flag Program, initiated in Europe since 1987 has been modified for implementation in the Caribbean. It is voluntary program and it has proven along the years to be a very effective strategy to guarantee the best quality in beach services for bathers in different parts of the world.

Scuba dive

... Puerto Rico's Caribbean coasts. Spectacular wall diving offshore Guánica, or the cayos of the Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra & Vieques. PADI 5 star Instruction.

El Yunque

El Yunque, Puerto Rico's rain forest is a must see. It spreads out over a mountain, so if you walk uphill from the road you're in a cool rain forest. At any altitude you'll see numerous varieties of plant and animal life. If you're lucky you can catch a glimpse of the endangered Puerto Rican parrot & hear the song of the local Coqui tree frog. There are tons of hiking trails and the Yokahu tower is a great spot to see the forest from above. There are also two trails that lead you straight down to La Mina waterfalls. You can swim at the bottom of the falls in the cold refreshing water.

There are short hiking trails and long hiking trails and they do overlap. Pay close attention to the signs to ensure that you do not bite off more than you can chew.

Since it is a RAIN forest, expect it to rain daily and frequently. This means you may wish to leave your expensive Louis Vuitton hand-bag at the hotel.

Out Door Adventures

There is plenty to do outside the metropolitan areas. Many small family owned tour companies provide guided tours of the Central Mountains in Utuado near Río Tanama, Repelling in Arecibo, kayak tours of Lake Guajataka, and horse back riding on the beach in Aguadilla. Some of the tour operators also provide low cost or free lodging. Let's Go Puerto Rico has listed a few of these outfitters or you can simply do an internet search with the name of the area you would like to visit to find things to do. The individual towns also have yearly festivals listed in the tourism guides available at both major airports.

Bioluminescent Bays

The bioluminescent bays near Fajardo and in Vieques are a soul-healing experience that should not be missed. The microscopic organisms that live in every drop of water in these bays will glow when they dart away from movement. Take a kayak or boat tour during a new moon for the best results; they're hard to see during a full moon and impossible to see in sunlight. The biolumicescent bay in Lajas is by far the most famous one to visit with many kiosks and restaurants there for the traveler to enjoy as well as boat tours.

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1 Response
  1. Mrunmayee Says:

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