25 Puerto Rico Travel Tips to Know Before Visiting

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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 Puerto Rico travel tips to know before you go is next on your list! Well, I am here to tell you you’ve come to the right place.

I thoroughly researched before visiting Puerto Rico, but I still found there were some things I wish I had known before visiting. Therefore, I have put together these Puerto Rico travel tips that cover what you need to know before you go! You will find general travel tips, travel tips I learned from experience, and some fun facts for visiting.

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!

2. Speaking Spanish in Puerto Rico

If you can speak Spanish, it is a huge plus in Puerto Rico. Officially, Spanish and English are the languages of Puerto Rico. During our 4 days in Puerto Rico, we definitely had some language barriers since Spanish is the main language. While there were some locals that speak English, don’t expect this for everyone.

So, if you don’t speak Spanish (like us), don’t feel discouraged to visit since the Google Translate app was able to make conversation very easy! It is always best to learn some common phrases before you go!

3. Puerto Rican Locals

I must say that the Puerto Ricans 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.

5. Tipping in Puerto Rico

Tipping is also expected, as a part of the Puerto Rican culture. This goes for restaurants, hotels, and cabs. Usually 15-20% before tax, which is the same in the United States.

6. Leaving San Juan

The Old San Juan/ San Juan area is amazing. In fact, Old San Juan is so popular, that many times tourists never leave the city. It is also one of the most Instagrammable places in Puerto Rico.

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. This is easily one of my top Puerto Rico travel tips!

We spent 4 days in Puerto Rico and explored all over the island.

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

7. Getting Around 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! This is what we did, and I am so glad we did.

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 bit of potholes. If you are from the States, you can use your own car policy, but many places require it to be for a car that is a 2017 or newer.

Puerto Rico does have some public transportation available, however, you will be much better using Uber or taking a tour. 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

8. 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.

9. Puerto Ricans Love to Party

Since the locals love having a good time, you can just feel the positive energy when you visit! From salsa in the streets during La Placita to boats blasting music on the beach, you will be in for a good time.

Because of this, Puerto Rico is also a great place if you’re considering a bachelorette or bachelor party! There are a handful of clubs in Old San Juan to check out.

10. 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, you will find pristine beaches. 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

11. 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

12. 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. This is an important Puerto Rico travel tip to keep in mind.

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 5+ years and travel size. I also like Blue Lizzard, but not as much as Juice Beauty.

Find a full Puerto Rico packing list here!

13. 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.

14. 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

15. 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. If this is the case for you, consider downloading the offline Maps from Google Maps.

16. 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.

17. 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), Puerto Rican cuisine is 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.

18. Getting Tickets to El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque National Forest is one of the most popular places to visit in Puerto Rico. It used to be very easy to visit up until 2020. Now, there is a time reservation that has to be purchased online only.

So, an important tip to know when visiting this Puerto Rico attraction is to get your tickets ASAP! It is only $2, and the tickets are usually released 30 days in advance. You can learn more about getting El Yunque National Forest tickets here.

Add a bathingsuit to your Puerto Rico packing list

19. Seaweed on the Beach

One thing you might be wondering about is the seaweed situation in Puerto Rico. In recent years, blooms of seaweed have been affecting most of the Caribbean. Growing up in Florida, I am used to seeing sargassum seaweed, but I know it is not the norm for everyone.

This seaweed is actually healthy for the beach and acts as a fertilizer, but it is obviously not as fun to swim in. While it is relatively harmless (sometimes itchy & smelly), I know it can be a bummer to see it.

The summer months are usually when blooms are at their worst, but just know it is healthy for the beach, and all of the Caribbean likely has some seaweed on their shores.

best things to do in puerto rico

20. Outlets in Puerto Rico

If you’re from the USA, you can skip this Puerto Rican travel tip. If not, Puerto Rico Power outlets are 110 V to 120 V, and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. I recommend using a universal adaptor if you are from another country.

21. Puerto Rico Has Multiple Islands

You may not have realized this, but Puerto Rico is actually made up of several islands, and they are very popular to visit for their stunning beaches. This includes Culebra and Vieques, which are the two most popular islands to visit.

22. Driving at Night

I want to start by saying Puerto Rico is one of the safest Caribbean Islands. But if you are driving a car, red lights are treated as stop signs from 12 AM – 5 AM to reduce carjacking. Most car jackings will happen at stop signs or red lights at night. Always keep your doors locked when driving.

23. Puerto Rico Airports

The most popular airport to visit Puerto Rico is the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan. Generally, this airport will also have the best deals. In the past, you couldn’t order an Uber to this airport, but I have been told you now can.

Mercedita International Airport (PSE) is located in Ponce and is another popular airport. On the west coast Rafael Hernández Airport (BQN) in Aguadilla.

24. Hiking is Popular

If you love hiking, you will be happy to learn there are some great hiking trails in Puerto Rico. Some of the best trails can be found in El Yunuqe National Forest. If you want something more off-the-beaten-path, there are also mountain ranges throughout the island.

25. Stray Animals in Puerto Rico

When visiting Puerto Rico, you will likely notice some stray animals. We mostly saw a lot of cats, especially in Old San Juan. There is even a sanctuary in Old San Juan called Save a Gato that you can visit and volunteer some time helping the kitties.

As you drive around the island, you may also see horses tied up around the island and possibly some dogs.

Save a Gato in Old San Juan Puerto Rico is one of the best things to do
Cat at Save a Gato

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 FAQ

Is Puerto Rico an Expensive Vacation?

Puerto Rico is one of the more affordable vacation spots in the Caribbean. Hotels (depending on season) average around $130 per night and a meal from $15-$20 dollars per person. From my experience, it is more budget-friendly than visiting Miami or the Keys.

What is the Best Time to Visit Puerto Rico

The most popular time to visit Puerto Rico is during the winter and spring months of December – May. Hurricane season starts from June to November, although summer months are still popular. If you visit during August, September, or October, you will get better rates.

How Many Days do you need in Puerto Rico

A minimum of 3 to 4 days and a maximum of 7 days depending on your travel style.

Is Puerto Rico Safe?

Puerto Rico is generally safe. Follow normal safety precautions you would in cities.


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 more Puerto Rico practical information and guides, check my Puerto Rico travel guide!

Have any questions about these Puerto Rico travel tips and things to know? Have additional questions? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email/DM!

Enjoy these Puerto Rico Travel Tips? I’d appreciate it if you would share it below!

15 things to know before visiting Puerto Rico

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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

8 thoughts on “25 Puerto Rico Travel Tips to Know Before Visiting”

  1. Am thinking of traveling to Puerto Rico and these are wonderful tips thank you for sharing do you have a suggestion for a nice resort with swimming pools and on the beach?

    Reply
  2. Samantha:
    Thank you for all the positive reviews about Puerto Rico. I’ve been in Texas for 45 yrs but I still visit when I can.

    Reply
  3. 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
    • Its is amazing I am looking forward to going back in 2024
      . Beaches are clean and water clea. The local food is great.

      Reply

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