Puerto Rico Trip: 11 Things You Must Know Before you Travel (2023)

Planning a trip to Puerto Rico soon, but wondering about safety, how to get around, the culture, the best beaches to visit..etc?

I got you!!

To prepare you for this beautiful island, I put together this list of answers to questions you may have and things you need to know before you go on your Puerto Rico trip.

1. What Travel Documents Do You Need to Enter Puerto Rico from the US?

American Citizens and US Green Card holders (permanent residents) can travel to Puerto Rico using their driver’s license or national ID!

You do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico if you permanently reside in the US.

For citizens of different countries, you can check your visa requirements here. These are the same requirements as for entering the USA.

2. Is It Safe to Vacation in Puerto Rico?

If you are wondering if Puerto Rico is ready for tourism in 2019/2020 after hurricane Maria, then I can assure that it is VERY ready for you!

There are plenty of restaurants, hotels/Airbnbs and tour companies in full business.

Puerto Rico Trip: 11 Things You Must Know Before you Travel (1)

Puerto Rico is pretty safe to travel to and I felt safe traveling as a solo female traveler. However, I have to admit that it is more fun to travel to Puerto Rico with a group of friends or as a couple vs. solo.

I would say Puerto Rico is just as safe as New York City, so practice common sense and do not wander around San Juan by yourself at night.

3. What is the Best Way to Travel in Puerto Rico? Do you need to Rent a Car?

Puerto Rico does not have a reliable public transportation system and most—if not all—Puerto Ricans have cars to get around.

In San Juan, it is pretty easy and affordable to get around using Uber. You can uber from San Juan to neighboring towns but it will be difficult to get around once you are there.

(Video) Puerto Rico Travel Tips: Everything you Need to Know- Dana Berez

I would recommend renting a car if you are leaving the San Juan area and wanting to explore El Yunque Rainforest or other towns. Check out car rentals in Puerto Rico here.

If you end up flying from San Juan to the neighboring islands such as Vieques or Culebra, you could rent anything from golf carts to jeeps from local shops once you’re on these islands.

Motorcycles are not recommended in Vieques because of the “wild” horses.

4. What are the Best Months to Travel to Puerto Rico?

Best will depend on what you are looking for…

The High Season in Puerto Rico, which is the busiest and most expensive time to travel, starts from mid-December to April. But hey, you will be escaping the winter, making new friends and enjoying more of what Puerto Rico has to offer!

There are usually flight deals from the US during the high season but you will want to book everything in advance. Hotels/hostels and Airbnb’s book up very fast and so do the internal flights, ferries, and tours!

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The cheapest and calmest time to travel to Puerto Rico is during the Low Season or Off Shoulder Season (right before the high season). It starts from the end of April to June and from September to early November.

This is ideal for those who can take time off during these months, prefer a calmer vacation and are looking to save some money.

September is the cheapest month to fly to Puerto Rico. Check September flight deals here.

(Video) 50 Things You MUST Know BEFORE Traveling To Puerto Rico | WATCH THIS BEFORE YOU GO!

Avoid July and April (Easter week) because that is high season for the locals.

5. Can you use US Dollars in Puerto Rico? And do you need to Bring Cash?


Puerto Rico is a US territory which means they use the US Dollar.

Many restaurants and hotels accept all major credit cards just like the US, however, you should always carry smaller cash bills for taxis, tours, public cars, or tips.

6. How Much does a Puerto Rico Trip Cost?

Flights to Puerto Rico from the US range from $150-$500 depending on the season you choose to travel.Check flight prices on Momondo.

Food and Drinks

The food in Puerto Rico is incredibly delicious but expensive—think NYC restaurant prices!

  • A meal at an average restaurant is between $8-$12
  • A meal at a nice restaurant is between $15-$30

Drinks at bars are between $8-$15 (beer is cheaper of course)

Accommodation

Accommodation in Puerto Rico is not cheap either because there aren’t that many hostels. The few hostels that do exist are not any cheaper than Airbnbs.

I recommend splitting an Airbnb with friends as this is the most budget-friendly option.

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The price range for accommodation is between $40-$150/night. If you look you can find rooms or dorm beds starting at $20.Click here to browse through various accommodations in Puerto Rico.

I think I spent about $800 total during my 7 days Puerto Rico trip but I was doing it the backpacker budget way—Couchsurfing a few nights, cooking some of my meals, hitchhiking and splitting accommodation costs with a friend.

(Video) Puerto Rico Travel Tips | What You NEED to Know Before Coming

I created a complete guide on how to travel the world on a student budget here.

7. How many Vacation Days do you Need for a Puerto Rico Trip?

The main island of Puerto Rico is pretty small.

If you rent a car, you will be able to see most of the major landmarks in just 4 days but I recommend staying 6-7 days to soak in all of the island’s goodness!

For a full Puerto Rico trip itinerary including where to stay, eat, party and the best beaches to visit, click here.

Puerto Rico Trip: 11 Things You Must Know Before you Travel (6)

4 Day Trip

A 4-day Puerto Rico trip would be ideal if you just want to visit San Juan, see the Old Town and visit a few beaches nearby San Juan. You will be able to either fit in a day trip to Vieques or El Yunque Rainforest. However, you will be moving very quickly if you try to squeeze a lot of activities.

6-7 Day Trip

A 6-7 day Puerto Rico trip would be perfect to actually relax and enjoy the different beaches that Puerto Rico has to offer. With 6 to 7 days you can spend a night or two at El Yunque Rainforest (which I highly recommend) and visit both Vieques and Culebra islands.

8. What are the Best Beaches in Puerto Rico?

The best beach in Puerto Rico, in my opinion, is Caracas “Red” Beach in Vieques Island.

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But there are plenty of other visit-worthy beaches around the island…


San Juan

  • Isla Verde
  • Ocean Park Beach

Vieques

  • Caracas or Red Beach
  • La Chiva Beach
  • Playa Negra or Black Sand Beach

Culebra

  • Flamenco Beach
  • Zoni Beach
  • Tamarindo Beach

9. How Do You Get to Vieques or Culebra Island from the Main Island?

You have a few options if you are going from San Juan to Vieques or Culebra island:

The Most Time-Efficient Option

Flying directly from San Juan to Vieques or Culebra.

It costs between $70-$250 one-way and takes around 30 mins.

(Video) Puerto Rico Vlog | Top 5 Things YOU should know before traveling to PR

Book in advance for cheap flights to the neighboring islands.

The Most Cost-Effective Option

Drive or uber to Ceiba Ferry Terminal and ride the ferry to Vieques or Culebra.

Puerto Rico Trip: 11 Things You Must Know Before you Travel (8)

The drive is about 45-50mins from San Juan to the ferry terminal in Ceiba and the ferry ride is 50 mins and costs $2.

You can read my full Puerto Rico Trip itinerary for more details on how to travel between the islands.

10. Do You Need to Know Spanish to Travel in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Ricans speak both English and Spanish.

But I did notice that some of the older generations or the more authentic local businesses do not speak English.

Although not crucial, I highly recommend knowing some Spanish and trying to use it to communicate. It shows respect to the locals that do choose to use Spanish to communicate and makes you a better world traveler!

11. Which is the Best Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico? And Can you Swim in the Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico?

The best bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico is Mosquito Bay in Vieques. According to my personal experience and other travelers.

Why is Mosquito Bay the best?

  • It is the brightest bay in Puerto Rico due to the number of mangroves surrounding the bay
  • Since it is on the island of Vieques, it is less visited compared to the closer bio bays in Fajardo (Laguna Grande) and Lajas (La Parguera)
  • No swimming is allowed at this bio bay to conserve the ecosystem, making it even brighter!
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Technically, you should not swim in the bioluminescent bays because of the fragile ecosystem that can be disrupted by chemicals on our bodies such as lotions, sunscreen and laundry detergent in our clothes.

However, at the La Parguera bay, you are allowed to swim, making it the least bright out of the three.

If I answered all your questions, please do let me know down below in the comments!

(Video) PUERTO RICO: 10 Most Common Tourist MISTAKES (2022 Travel Guide) (San Juan + More)

If you still have more questions about Puerto Rico, please also comment below and I will get to you ASAP.

Follow along on my adventures @__girgis.

FAQs

What are 3 things Puerto Rico is known for? ›

Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer; 80% of the rum consumed in the United States hails from the island. There is a counted number bioluminescent bays in the entire world. Puerto Rico is home three bioluminescent bays.

What are 3 things that you love about Puerto Rico? ›

Take a look, below, at the reasons why you need to start planning a trip to Puerto Rico!
  • 1.) Yummy food.
  • 2.) To taste the Puerto Rican rum.
  • 3.) Brilliant weather.
  • 4.) Breathtakingly beautiful beaches.
  • 5.) To visit Old San Juan.
  • 6.) Explore the island's history.
  • 7.) You can visit a tropical rainforest.
  • 8.) Relax and chill.
16 Jun 2022

Should you bring cash to Puerto Rico? ›

Bring U.S. cash, since the airports do not accept checks, debit cards or credit cards for this exit fee. The exact amount changes according to the current exchange rate between the Puerto Rican peso and the American dollar, but typically varies between $50 to $70, according to the U.S. Department of State.

What should I be careful of in Puerto Rico? ›

Here are our top safety tips for traveling to Puerto Rico:
  • Be careful of your belongings. ...
  • Try to blend in. ...
  • Learn some Spanish. ...
  • Understand local laws. ...
  • Be careful at night, especially in San Juan, and stay away from housing projects. ...
  • Watch for changes in weather and weather warnings.
  • Be careful in the rainforest.
3 Mar 2022

How much money should I take to Puerto Rico? ›

How much should I budget for a trip to Puerto Rico? A week's expenses in Puerto Rico for two people can range between $1,200 and $2,300. Visitors should always budget $200 or $300 more in case of any emergency.

What is the #1 attraction in Puerto Rico? ›

1. Old San Juan (San Juan Viejo) Walking the streets of Old San Juan, with its lovely colonial architecture and imposing forts, is like stepping back into another era. This is one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico, so make sure you allow some time on your itinerary for this city.

What is a dollar worth in Puerto Rico? ›

In Puerto Rico the following currency is used: The United States dollar (USD): this currency is devided in 100 Cent. You can recognise the currency by the symbol $.
...
Exchange rates United States dollar.
LRD = 0.00649 USDUSD= 154.00329 LRD
SDG = 0.00173 USDUSD= 577.98765 SDG
TOP = 0.41863 USDUSD= 2.38874 TOP
146 more rows

What are 2 common foods in Puerto Rico? ›

The vibrancy of Puerto Rican culture comes alive in its dishes, a celebration of flavors that visitors have the opportunity to indulge in. Some of the favorites are mofongo, tostones, pasteles, arroz con gandules, tembleque, and coquito.

What is Puerto Rico most famous food? ›

Arroz con habichuelas is Puerto Rico's staple food. It's eaten almost daily in local households, and it's simply white rice with a side of red or pink beans. The dish is made complete with meat, often chicken.

What can you not bring back from Puerto Rico? ›

Check out our findings below as to what you can and cannot bring from PR to the US.
...
You Can't Bring:
  • Citrus (all varieties)
  • Soursop.
  • Passion fruit.
  • Mangoes.
  • Cactus.
  • Cotton, cotton cuttings.
  • Fruits (fresh)—all fruits are prohibited except those on the preceding list.
  • Crafts made from Palm fronds.
18 May 2015

Can you put toilet paper in the toilet in Puerto Rico? ›

When using public facilities, plumbing issues require toilet paper be disposed of in trash receptacles instead of being flushed, which can make for an odorous experience. And if you think restaurant service is slow on the main island of Puerto Rico, you haven't seen anything yet.

Will my phone work in Puerto Rico? ›

A: If you're traveling to Puerto Rico as an American you don't have to use an international plan—US cell phone plans work exactly the same in Puerto Rico as they do on the mainland. Most major carriers (including Verizon and AT&T) don't charge roaming for voice and text service.

What is the most common crime in Puerto Rico? ›

Illegal appropriations are the most common property crimes in Puerto Rico. Up to 8,041 crimes classified as illegal appropriations were recorded in the island nation in 2021, down by almost half from 14,219 occurrences in 2019. In addition, over 2,400 breaking and entering crimes were reported in 2021.

Can you drink tap water Puerto Rico? ›

The food and drink standards in Puerto Rico are comparable to those of mainland United States. The tap water is safe to drink as it is filtered and treated at the source.

Can you drink tap water San Juan? ›

San Juan water meets or exceeds all federal and state drinking water standards. We continuously monitor and test your water to ensure quality. Check out our Consumer Confidence Report to see for yourself.

Should I bring jeans to Puerto Rico? ›

What should I pack for a week in Puerto Rico? To stay in Puerto Rico for a week, visitors should pack comfortable and fresh clothing for the heat. A Puerto Rico packing list should always include flip flops, swimwear, shorts, t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.

What do you wear at night in Puerto Rico? ›

For evenings, dress is casual; ladies tend to wear short summer sundresses – and take a pashmina as just after a downpour it cools very quickly, but only temporarily. A few well-chosen pieces of costume jewelry will transform any outfit.

Is tipping rude in Puerto Rico? ›

Tipping in Puerto Rico is just as common as in the U.S. It is part of the service economy and taxation system. Tipping is generally the same as it would be here in the United States. Gratuity may be included in bills in restaurants for parties of six or more.

How much does a Coke cost in Puerto Rico? ›

The price is 1.19 USD. The average price for all countries is 0.91 USD.
...
Puerto Rico - Coca-Cola - price, June 2022.
Puerto Rico - Coca-Cola - price, June 2022
EUR1.194
1 more row

How much is a Coca Cola in Puerto Rico? ›

Cost of living in Puerto Rico is, on average, 8.23% lower than in United States.
...
Cost of Living in Puerto Rico.
RestaurantsEdit
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)1.37$
Water (12 oz small bottle)1.19$
MarketsEdit
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)6.65$
62 more rows

What is the main dish in Puerto Rico? ›

While mofongo may be the unofficial cuisine staple in Puerto Rico, arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas) is the island's national dish.

What is a typical breakfast in Puerto Rico? ›

The best Puerto Rican breakfast foods include Mallorca, quesito, café con Leche, tostada, pan de agua, Revuelto, and many native fruits. These breakfast foods help to show some of the culture and flavoring of Puerto Rico and are sure to delight your senses while visiting the country.

What is Puerto Rico's nickname? ›

Its nickname is "Isla del Encanto," or "Island of Enchantment," and on the surface, Puerto Rico seems to fulfill every paradisiacal promise made about it by glossy travel magazines.

What is a must eat in Puerto Rico? ›

Must-try Puerto Rican Dishes
  • Bacalaitos: Codfish fritters. ...
  • Arroz con dulce: A sort of rice pudding, soaked with coconut cream or milk. ...
  • Aguacate Relleno: Avocado filled with creamy garlic shrimp. ...
  • Pinchos: Grilled meat on a stick with garlic sauce, or similar.
18 Nov 2021

What is a typical lunch in Puerto Rico? ›

Lunch and dinner generally begin with sizzling-hot appetizers such as bacalaitos, crunchy cod fritters; surullitos, sweet plump cornmeal fingers; and empanadillas, crescent-shaped turnovers filled with lobster, crab, conch, or beef. Soups are a popular beginning for meals on Puerto Rico.

What is Puerto Rico's national drink? ›

If you like piña colada, you should know the famous tropical drink was invented in Puerto Rico! The sweet mix of coconut cream, pineapple juice, white rum, and ice was born in San Juan, but the identity of its creator is still an unresolved controversy on the island.

What dessert is Puerto Rico known for? ›

The most popular desserts in Puerto Rico include flan de queso, arroz con dulce, and tembleque. Although coquito is more like a drink, it's also very popular among Puerto Ricans, particularly during the holidays.

What do Puerto Ricans wear? ›

Vibrant colors, bright whites, and flaring skirts all paint a picture of traditional Puerto Rican fashion. Despite the trends that unite traditional Puerto Rico clothing, there are two distinct styles—Jíbaro and Bomba. Both reflect native Taíno traditions as well as outside influences.

What fruits are eaten in Puerto Rico? ›

Many fruits are eaten in the Puerto Rican diet and include papaya, mango, guava and coconut. Older Puerto Ricans in the States eat a lot of bananas and oranges, since the other fruits are not readily available. A typical dessert is called arroz con coco, and is made with rice and coconut. Many desserts include coconut.

What can you not bring in a carry-on bag on a plane? ›

Restricted Items NOT Allowed on a Plane in Your Carry-On
  • Sharp objects. ...
  • Sporting goods and athletic equipment. ...
  • Self defense items. ...
  • Gel-type candles. ...
  • Large quantities of alcohol (more than 3.4 ounces) ...
  • Guns and ammunition.
12 Sept 2022

How much cash can you carry to Puerto Rico? ›

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts in excess of US$10,000 or equivalent should be declared at customs.

What can I put in my carry-on? ›

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

Are there wild dogs in Puerto Rico? ›

Feral Dog, Wild Dog (Eng.), Perro Salvaje (Sp.), Canis familiaris (Sci.), Native to Puerto Rico; introduced exotic species in the El Yunque NF.

Are there poisonous snakes in Puerto Rico? ›

The Puerto Rican Racer is the second largest Puerto Rican snake, and its venomous bite is mildly poisonous.

Do debit cards work in Puerto Rico? ›

As mentioned above, PR is US territory. It uses the same banking system as the mainland US. Therefore, feel free to bring the form of payment you prefer (except travelers checks), and if you run out, then use the ATM machines or use credit cards.

Are US dollars used in Puerto Rico? ›

Since Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, locals are American citizens, and American travelers can enter the Island without carrying a passport. Nor do U.S. travelers require international calling plans for their phones. The currency used in Puerto Rico is the U.S. dollar.

What is needed to enter Puerto Rico? ›

By completing the Travel Declaration Form, you must provide evidence of a completed vaccination cycle or instead, a negative molecular or antigen test result to detect COVID-19 carried out within the period maximum of 2 days before arrival on the Island or within the 48-hours period after arrival in Puerto Rico.

Do you need Covid test to enter Puerto Rico? ›

If you are a traveler from an international destination, you must present a negative result of a molecular or antigen test for COVID-19 carried out a maximum of one (1) day before boarding the plane to Puerto Rico.

Do I need a negative test to travel to Puerto Rico? ›

All inbound visitors to Puerto Rico must show certification of a negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

How much cash should I bring to Puerto Rico for a week? ›

For a week stay $200-300 cash should be enough. Most places accept credit cards; some small vendors may have a cc minimum amount of $10 (to cover POS charges). You will likely need small amounts (ex $3, $4 etc) for items like water, ice cream and snacks.

Is it worth vacationing in Puerto Rico? ›

If “unforgettable” is how you want to describe your vacation, Puerto Rico should is your place. Puerto Rico's combination of rich history, colorful culture, astonishing scenery, immaculate attractions, warm people, and fascinating cities make this Caribbean gem a world-class destination.

Do you have to be vaccinated to fly? ›

If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless you meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC's Amended Order.

Is Covid vaccine mandatory in Puerto Rico? ›

Latest vaccine news in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi has issued an Executive Order (EO) requiring all private sector employers with at least 50 employees to adopt COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirements.

How much does a Covid 19 test cost in Puerto Rico? ›

The cost is $139, which includes $100 for the independent laboratory that processes your test and $39 for your MinuteClinic visit.

Do I need jeans in Puerto Rico? ›

lots of shorts! – With an average of 85°F to 95°F, it is likely you will want to wear shorts every day – plus, it's time to tan those legs! Still, pack one pair of long pants/jeans for any casual occasion. Sandals – You'll see it's quite common to see people walking the city with their sandals/flip flops.

Can I use my US debit card in Puerto Rico? ›

Of course. All banks in Puerto Rico are FDIC insured and Banco Popular (the largest bank and the one with most ATMs and POS) is also insured by the U.S. Federal Reserve. So, ATMs of any major bank in the U.S. will be accepted. Visa and MC are accepted basically everywhere.

What month is best for Puerto Rico? ›

The best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and just before the rainy summer. Spring weather is also very pleasant, barely escaping the mid-80s on most days.

How much do you tip in Puerto Rico? ›

Tipping throughout Puerto Rico is very common, just like in the USA, so be expected to tip when visiting salons, spas, and other service industries. Normally the rule of 15%-20% of the total bill is the general rule.

What is the safest place to visit in Puerto Rico? ›

Locals recommend that these San Juan neighborhoods are safe during the day or night:
  • Old San Juan.
  • Santurce.
  • Parque de las Palomas.
  • Condado.
  • Miramar.
  • Isla Verde.
  • Santa Teresita.
  • Ocean Park.
7 Sept 2022

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