The US territory and Carribean Island of Puerto Rico is filled with natural beauty, rich culture, entertainment, food, and nightlife. Here’s why Puerto Rico should be on your bucket list!
1.) Ease of travel
No passport needed! If you live in the United States flying to Puerto Rico is as easy as flying to the next state over, with the beauty of a Carribean Island. Present a valid US government issued ID and you will be good to go.
Another plus is the island uses the US dollar system. If traveling from the United States you will not need to worry about transferring your money into a different currency relieving one stressor of traveling to a foreign country.
For US citizens Puerto Rico is definitely a destination I would recommend before taking an international trip. It will give you some feel for what an international trip may feel like, but still offer some comforts of your own country that you are used to.
2.) The Food
Puerto Rico is home to many original, delicious recipes. Trying some local cuisine is a must do for any trip to Puerto Rico. Plantain should be on your list of foods to try. Plantains come in many forms, the most popular being Tostones or Mofongo. Tostones are fried plantains and Mofongo is mashed green plantains often filled with beef, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables. Try some Arroz con gandules, a white rice combined with pigeon peas, olives, capers, tomato sauce, sofrito, and spices. Rellenos de Papa are another great option to try. They are potatoes filled with beef with a crispy outer layer.
Also, be sure to try mayo ketchup, a mixture of mayo, ketchup, and a variety of spices.
Enjoy a number of different tropical drinks, including the Pina Colada, which was invented on the Island.
3.) The Culture
The culture of Puerto Rico is a mixture of the indigeounous people, the Spainards, and the Africans. Spend some time exploring the folklore of the Taino Indians or learning about the instruments unique to the island (such as the güiro).
When exploring the island it is hard to miss the clear artistic aspect of Puerto Rican culture. Spend some time exploring Paseo de la Princesa, where you can find vendors selling handmade, artistic items or explore the many shops that line the streets of Old San Juan.
Puerto Rico’s architecture is unique, colorful, and quite the view to take in. Old San Juan is a great place to experience this, with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets.
Depending on the time of year you decide to go, you may be lucky enough to participate in one Island’s holidays, such as Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day).
4.) The Beaches
Puerto Rico has 270 miles of coastline as well as two offshore islands, Cuebra and Vieques. Both are home to stunning locations, with Vieques featuring a Biolumiscent Bay and Culebra featuring the world famous Flamenco Beach.
On my trip to Puerto Rico I had the pleasure of exploring Isla Verde Beach, Balnerio Carolina, Seven Seas Beach, and Flamenco. Of these beaches Flamenco Beach for sure takes the place at number one. It features clear blue waters and white sand. It is also less crowded than the beaches on the coastline of the main island, therefore offering a nice escape from the crowded tourist areas. Flamenco Beach is definitley a must see for any Puerto Rico vacation.
Each of the other beaches feature their own great reasons to visit. Balnerio Carolina is a great option for swimming as well as barbecuing, playgrounds, and a small waterpark. Isla Verde
Beach is a few feet away from many oceanfront hotels and condos. It offers great views of the city line mixed with stunning views of the Carribean Sea.
5.) The History
Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan is full of the history and culture of the island. Walking the cobblestone streets and taking in the magnificent colorful streets will take you back in time.
Be sure to visit Old San Juan’s Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the giants that overlook the Carribean sea and that were key in defending the small but highly strategic island of Puerto Rico. In addition to exploring the forts, be sure to spend some time walking outside the city wall surrounding Old San Juan and viewing La Puerta de San Juan (San Juan gate). La Puerta de San Juan, built in 1635, is the only standing gate today where entrance to the city was gained.
Some other great historical sites in Old San Juan to check out include La Fortaleza (the original defensive fortification that now serves as the governers’ home), Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, Paseo de La Princesa ( a walkway featuring restaurants, benches, a small play area for children, and vendors),
A little bit out of the way of San Juan, an hour’s drive will bring you to Ponce and the first firehouse on the island, Parque de Bombas.
Another interesting activity that displays the rich history of Puerto Rico is exploring the Indian villages and remains. There are many spots on the island for doing so, including the Indian writing on the walls of Cuevo del Indio, visiting the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Park, or visit the Caguas Botanical Gardens that features an area with Taino Indian stone petroglyphs.
6.) The Natural Landmarks
Puerto Rico is home to the only rainforest in the United States-El Yunque National Rainforest. Puerto Rico is also home to many great caves for adventure and exploration, including the Cuevo del Indio, and the Rio Camuy Caves, Cuevo Ventana.
The Bahia Bioluminiscent Bay is also something to check out. I personally have not yet had the chance to visit, but have heard that it is a stunning one of a kind experience.
Be sure to spend some time snorkeling and enjoying the coral reefs of Puerto Rico and taking in the sea life native to the areas.
7.) Kid Friendly Attractions
Puerto Rico is full of many great options for families/young children. As a mother of a four year old girl, I always try to find adventures that include the natural beauty of the destination, a little bit of culture, a little bit of history, and of course some kid friendly activities. Puerto Rico did not fall short.
We explored many great attractions geared towards kids, including The Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park, the Pigeon Park, Museo del Niño de Carolina, Carabali Rainforest Park, and kite flying at El Morro. My four year old had a blast and many memories were made.
8.) The Weather
Puerto Rico has beautiful weather! The year round 80 degree temperatures make Puerto Rico a great destination year round. Although the heat can get strong at times, the breeze that comes from the ocean in coastal areas helps to keep you cool as you explore the streets of Old San Juan or relax on one of the island’s many gorgeous beaches.