I was lucky enough to get a chance to leave the cold winters of California (I know, I’m weak) to go to Puerto Rico for about a week. I was primarily there for a gorgeous wedding, but to also enjoy some tropical vibes and exploration around somewhere I’ve never been. Though Puerto Rico is still part of the U.S., I felt like we were in a different place. Below are are a few random things you should know about visiting Puerto Rico.
If you’re coming from the United States, you do not need a visa or a passport as Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory. Make sure you bring your ID though so you can get through the airport.
- To get to Puerto Rico, the main airport to fly into is the San Juan International Airport (SJU).
- Puerto Rico is 100 miles by 37 miles. You can drive around it in less than a day.
- Depending on where you want to go, you might want to rent a car. We stayed in Condado (North Eastern Puerto Rico near Old San Juan) and need a car for a few of the days (El Yunque Rainforest, bioluminescence bay kayaking tour, beach hopping, etc.). Those activities were about an hour away by car.
- If you’re staying in or near Old San Juan and planning to stay in the area, there are a decent amount of Ubers that are fairly cheap. Even though we had a car, we opted for Ubers to get around locally as parking was tough to find.
- We did not take any public transportation because of how convenient and cheap Ubers were.
- Puerto Rico is considered to have tropical weather with an average of about 82 °F year round. There is a dry (Dec-May) and hurricane (Jun-Nov) season though.
- Depending on which part of Puerto Rico you’re staying at or going to, it could be a little breezier or rainier.
- Here is more on Puerto Rico weather.
- We went early January and it was warm, humid, windy and had some scattered showers.
- Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, we were able to bring our U.S. dollars and didn’t have to exchange our currency.
- Most places took card though and I used that most of the time. I took some cash just in case because there were a few off the road places that didn’t take card.
Puerto Ricans primarily speak Spanish, but most of them know English as well, especially if you’re in the touristy areas.
- Depending on what area you’re in, there are a lot of dining options. Old San Juan has a huge collection of restaurants and bars which we went to a lot.
- There were also a lot of street food in little kiosks as well which I really enjoyed.
- There’s a 7% VAT tax on everything. Signs are posted on pretty much all the windows.
- Tipping is the same as how you would do it in the mainland. Suggested is anywhere from 15-20%.
- Dining at the restaurants were actually pretty pricey – partly because we also kept going into town.
- Pro-tip: Prices in Old San Juan are probably a little inflated because there is a cruise port there so they hike up the prices for the tourists. I would avoid eating here if you don’t want to break the bank.
- This is not exactly dining, but I loved that they sold coconuts at random beaches. It was so refreshing!
- In case you’re curious, it’s safe to drink the tap water.
- You can pretty much wear whatever you want. It’s tropical so most people wore summer clothes.
- If you’re going to town though, you might want to wear something a little nicer than beach wear and flip flops.
- I was excited that I did not have to worry about a jacket throughout the whole trip.
- If you do run cold, you might want to take something light. Because it’s so warm outside (even at night), restaurants and stores tend to blast the AC inside.
What to Pack
(Besides from the obvious)
- Water/walking shoes – this was super helpful when we did water and land activities (going to the beach, kayaking, playing in the waterfall). I got these Tevas and loved them. I was able to hike it them and also play in the water with them and spent the whole day out with them and my feet barely hurt by the end of the day.
- Portable battery pack – if you’re using your phone a lot. I used mine a lot for all my gorgeous tropical pictures.
- Super comfortable walking shoes if you’re planning to go hiking or exploring. See above for my Tevas recommendation.
- Clothes that dry pretty quick if you’re planning to do a lot of water activities (it is an island after all).
- Raincoat – if you’re planning on going to the rainforest, it rains randomly 3-4 times a day.
- Bug spray – our group got bit multiple times and we went back home with souvenirs that we didn’t want.
- Sunscreen – the rays will hit you harder because you’ll be closer to the equator.
- Phone protector – so you can take pictures and your phone won’t get wet.
- Water bottle – it’s warm so you want to stay hydrated. I just filled up at our airbnb or you can also ask for an extra cup of water at restaurants.
- Small back pack – to carry all your stuff around in. This was super handy when we did a lot of walking.