An island of contrasts, Puerto Rico both honors its colonial past and celebrates its vibrant modernism. Bursting with rich island culture, it’s the perfect destination for beach lovers, culture seekers, and those as enamored with Caribbean street food as us.

 

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What to Do in Puerto Rico

El Yunque Rainforest

Drive about one hour from San Juan to El Yunque to explore acres of lush rainforest, green mountains, and waterfalls. There are miles of trails and lookout points that make it easy to get lost – in the best way.

Playa Piñones

Along Carr. 187 headed east out of San Juan is a beautiful stretch of coast with sandy beaches on your left and the Bosque Estatal de Piñones – a pristine coastal woodland reserve of mangrove, pine, and palm – on your right. Here you’ll find the best beaches according to the locals, who set up BBQ’s and beach umbrellas and enjoy the gorgeous sandy beaches and swimmable surf that make up their home. Pack a cooler of Medalla and grab delicious grilled skewers or mofongo from one of the roadside merchants.

Old San Juan

A bright, architectural delight, the Old San Juan district is a throwback to the bygone colonial era. Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets lined with colorfully painted historic apartamentos, drop into one of the many cute coffee shops or eateries for a bite, and explore the historic sites of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel, or Castillo San Cristobal, an 18th century Spanish fort along the coast.

Horseback Riding in Rincon

Tour the western side of the island in the beach town of Rincon, where you’ll find Steps Beach to be the perfect site for a day of beach lounging and snorkeling in the surf. Hire a ride with Ponies R Us for a private horseback ride along the beach – it’s up to you whether you’re in for a gentle stroll through the quiet streets and along the coastal ridges, or a fast gallop along the sand.

Cueva Del Indio

This prehistoric rock art site, located about halfway between Rincon and San Juan, is a scenic stop and important cultural landmark. Translated to the “Cave of the Indians,” it’s home to the largest collection of coastal petroglyphs created by Taino Indians. Used as a tribal meeting and ceremonial site, you’ll walk across the cliff tops and climb down ladders into the limestone caves for a look into the unique pre-columbus art. Besides the caves, the area is ripe for exploration – you’ll find huge sea cliffs, rocky arches, and crashing waves beneath a natural land bridge. Definitely worth a visit.

What to Eat in Puerto Rico

For the Love of Street Food

Piñones, located 20 minutes outside of San Juan, is a mecca for street food lovers. A lengthy strip of beach front Carr. 187 is dotted by brightly colored food kiosks serving alcapurrias, bacalaitos, pastelillos, lobster y mofongo, and more.  The government provided subsidies to locals to start up businesses. Many of the kiosks are colorful shacks, some in better condition than others, but the authentic and homemade food is usually remarkable. Many kiosks use cement, wood burning fire pits positioned within guests view, where they barbecue delicious meat skewers en plein air. A visit to this food-lovers dream is a worthwhile experience for a taste of both the local culture and cuisine, and afterwards you can spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach.

Tips for Traveling in Puerto Rico

  • Passports and Visas: Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA. If you’re American, you do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico, nor do you need to worry about exchanging money.
  • Local Currency: As a part of the US, the local currency is US dollars. For foreigners, check the exchange rate here.
  • Language: The main (though not official) language spoken in Puerto Rico is Spanish, though many residents are also fluent in English.
  • Getting around: Renting a car is easy, and a good idea if you want to explore all the island has to offer. But beware: drivers in Puerto Rico are crazy! The traffic is fast and aggressive, so insurance is always a good idea.
  • Safety: Puerto Rico is relatively safe for savvy travelers, though some resorts recommend avoiding the beach at night.