15 Things to Know Before Visiting Puerto Rico

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Important Things to Know Before Visiting Puerto Rico

You have decided to take an epic vacation in Puerto Rico and like the smart traveler you are, researching important things to know before visiting Puerto Rico is next on your list! Well, I am here to tell you that you’ve come to the right place as this Puerto Rico travel guide covers what you need to know before you go!

Carolina Beach Puerto Rico
Carolina, Puerto Rico at sunrise

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1. Americans Don’t Need A Passport for Puerto Rico

This one might seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I am asked if you need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico as an American. Since Puerto Rico is a USA Territory, no passport is needed!

Additionally, there have been talks in 2021 that Puerto Rico might even become the United States 51st state this year.

2. Speaking Spanish in Puerto Rico

If you can speak Spanish, it is a huge plus in Puerto Rico. Officially, Spanish and English is the language of Puerto Rico. During our 4 days in Puerto Rico, we definitely had some language barriers since Spanish is the main language.

However, if you don’t speak Spanish (like us), don’t feel discouraged to visit since Google Translate app was able to make conversation very easy!

3. Puerto Rican Locals

I must say that the Puerto Rican locals are some of the kindest people you will meet! As travelers in search of local gems, we were greeted with nothing but kindness throughout our entire trip.

From our Uber drivers, restaurant staff, and even locals on the street, everyone we connected with made us feel so welcome!

Old San Juan Puerto Rico Black Flag
Old San Juan has tons of fun things to do in Puerto Rico

4. Currency in Puerto Rico

Since Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States the currency is the US Dollar. Credit card shopping and ATMs are also widely available. For smaller shops and restaurants, I would recommend having some cash.

Tipping is also expected as it is in the rest of the United States. Usually 15-20% before tax.

5. Leaving San Juan

The Old San Juan/ San Juan area is amazing. In fact, Old San Juan is so popular, many times tourists never leave the city.

Well, I am here to tell you that the entire Island of Puerto Rico is incredible and I urge you to visit other areas outside of Old San Juan! Some places to explore include the islands, Ponce, Cabo Rojo, and Rincon.

Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico
Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico

6. Exploring Puerto Rico

Another important thing to know before visiting Puerto Rico is how to actually get around. I’d suggest renting a car during your Puerto Rico vacation!

It is very easy to get around Puerto Rico via car and overall the streets are pretty well maintained. I would recommend insurance, however since there is quite a pit of potholes.

However, if you plan on just staying in Old San Juan a car is not really needed. Instead, Uber will be your best friend.

Discover Old San Juan with 4 days in Puerto Rico
Colorful streets in Old San Juan

7. The Legal Drinking Age is 18

You read that right, the local drinking age is 18 in Puerto Rico. So if you are under 21 but want to experience the largest Rum distillery in the world, visit Puerto Rico and explore Casa Bacardi.

8. Puerto Rico has Beautiful Beaches

If you haven’t guessed it, Puerto Rico has absolutely beautiful beaches. From Carolina to Rincon and even off to the Islands of Vieques and Culebra. Puerto Rico has great diving, snorkeling, and clear blue water!

Puerto Rico has even had some of its beaches named the most beautiful beaches in the world!

Playa Peña Blanca (Wishing Wells) Puerto Rico
Playa Peña Blanca (Wishing Wells) Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

9. Puerto Rico is Not Just Beaches

Surprise, surprise, Puerto Rico is not just about beaches! Believe it or not, Puerto Rico has tons of mountains and it even took me back. They have mountains ranging from 3,000-4,000 ft of elevation.

Additionally, Puerto Rico has tons of fun things to see including pink salt lakes in Cabo Rojo, a rainforest, and bioluminescence bays! Puerto Rico is also rich in history.

Views from Yokahu Tower in Puerto Rico
Views from Yokahu Tower in El Yunque Rain Forest

10. The Weather in Puerto Rico is…Tropical

The weather overall is amazing in Puerto Rico, but it’s not perfect. Geographically, Puerto Rico is in the Hurricane belt. Because of this, I’d highly recommend getting travel insurance in general, but especially during hurricane season which starts around July through November.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the weather can be tropical especially if you plan on visiting El Yunque rainforest. You might want to consider a light raincoat. Also, I visited Puerto Rico at the end of August, and it was incredibly humid at points.

Also, don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen. I personally use coral reef-safe sunscreen to protect the ocean. The brand I use is called Juice Beauty and I’ve been using it for 3+ years.

Find a full Puerto Rico packing list here!

11. Puerto Rico Cruise Port

If you are a cruiser and want to visit Puerto Rico, they have a very active port in San Juan. Even better, Old San Juan is extremely walkable making it perfect for people to explore Puerto Rico.

12. Pay Attention to Your Metrics

Another thing you should know before visiting Puerto Rico is that both metric systems are being used. You may notice mile markers are in Kilometers, but the car is in Mph and then the gas is in liters as opposed to gallons, so just have a converter ready.

Side of El Morro fort in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Side of El Morro fort in Old San Juan

13. Cell Phone Service

If you are from the USA, most likely, you should have no problem with cell phone service. Of course, you will have to double-check your plan, but we didn’t have any issues with Verizon.

Just about everywhere we went, we had great cell service except in El Yunque. If you are planning on staying in the mountain regions, you also might not have service.

14. Staying in Puerto Rico

When thinking about accommodations for your vacation in Puerto Rico, both Airbnb and hotels are popular. Common neighborhoods to stay in Puerto Rico include Old San Juan, San Juan, Carolina, El Yunque, Ponce, and Rincon.

Find awesome Puerto Rico Airbnb’s here or hotel recommendations in Puerto Rico here.

15. Food in Puerto Rico

During our vacation in Puerto Rico, we found this Caribbean island to have amazing food. From trendy restaurants around Old San Juan to the Kiosks in Luquillo (near El Yunque) you will be in for a treat.

When gathering research before my trip to Puerto Rico, everyone told me I must try the traditional Puerto Rican dish, Mofongo, so I will now tell you. Mofongo is basically fried plantains mashed with meat, fish, or vegetables.

Other Fun Things to Know About Puerto Rico

  • Puerto Rico has 3 bioluminescence bays.
  • El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the United States.
  • The Pina Colada is said to be born in Puerto Rico at Barrachina.
  • Puerto Rico has the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope.
  • Puerto Rico is responsible for over 70% of the rum sold in the United States and has the largest distillery in the world.
  • Puerto Rico has a lot of fun tours and activities you can do while on the Island. Check out Puerto Rico tours here!
Photo Worthy Waterfall at Juan Diego Creek in Puerto Rico
El Yunque Waterfall at Juan Diego Creek

Puerto Rico Things to Know Overview

Now that you know all the important things before your Puerto Rico trip, you are just about set for an epic vacation! For additional Puerto Rico guides, travel tips, itineraries, and more use this Puerto Rico guide page!

Additionally, make sure to check Puerto Rico travel/health guidelines here since travel requirements have been changing rapidly.

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15 things to know before visiting Puerto Rico

4 thoughts on “15 Things to Know Before Visiting Puerto Rico”

  1. Ubers and other ride-share apps
    Uber, for the most part, doesn’t operate in Puerto Rico. You can get some limited service in the San Juan area but that is pretty much about it. With other ride-share apps like Lyft or Juno, there is no operation in Puerto Rico whatsoever.

    Reply

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