The nightlife is another reason many travellers love visiting Puerto Rico. Hundreds of bars and nightclubs come alive once the sun has set, and if you don’t want the hype in the clubs you can just walk down the streets for a good party. The Spanish heritage brought music and dancing to the heart of this Caribbean island - salsa, merengue, and bachata dancing is everywhere.
Places to Visit in Puerto Rico
- Old Town San Juan
- El Yunque National Forest
- La Cordillera
Unique Things to See and Do in Puerto Rico
- Try lechon – the authentic Puerto Rican roasted pig
- Soak up some rays at Playa Puerto Nuevo
- Explore the Cueva Ventana caves
- Take a boat to Playa Caracas Island or Vieques Island
- By far the coolest thing to see in Puerto Rico is the bioluminescent bays
Puerto Rico History Snapshot
Puerto Rico has a tumultuous history ever since Christopher Columbus landed on its shores. From the time of Spanish Colonialism, Puerto Ricans have had limited control over their own affairs. During the 19th century, many European families were given “free” lands if they swore to the Spanish Crown and the Roman Catholic Church. During this time slavery was still encouraged for agricultural purposes – in the 1500s, many African slaves were brought over. But it wasn’t until 1898 that Puerto Rico came under the control of United States, resulting from the Treaty of Paris after the Spanish-American war.
The biggest contention for many Puerto Rican’s is that legally they only have restricted citizenship, which means they do not have a right to vote in politics, but can still be conscripted into the American military. So regardless of citizenship, they don’t receive the same full rights that the average American does. Plus the US federal funds that are distributed to its states are not equal or even proportional to needs or population, which has resulted in Puerto Rico being much poorer in terms of social programs. Of course, a poorer country means cheaper travel for many, and consequently, tourism provides the main source of income for many families.
Aside from having great music, tons of dancing, and superb rum, Puerto Ricans make some incredibly delicious foods. Of course, when travelling you’ve got eat like locals or you’ll miss out on some amazing eats. Like other Caribbean islands, roasted pig is a staple, but none come close to matching that unique Puerto Rican flavour. It’s typically served with “guineos” and “arroz con gandules” (rice with pigeon peas). This dish is so popular that there are even highways that are known for their Lechoneras shacks. Just ask the locals where you can find the “rutas de lechon.”
Christopher Columbus may have introduced pork to the locals, but it was Puerto Ricans who mastered cooking it – slowly over an open fire,
Getting Around Puerto Rico
The transportation system in Puerto Rico is not very good in terms of European or North American standards, however, it is manageable and once you figure it out, it’s not that bad. Most people travel by “publicos” which are essentially “shared” taxis that take people to and from their destinations. Each seat pays a price, but if you want them to take you privately you can pay for all the seats.
Did you know…?
That more than 70% of the US’s rum comes from Puerto Rico. Bacardi and Don Q are the main exporters.
Did you ALSO know…?
Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus (working for the Spanish crown) and is the oldest city in the United States.
Renting a car is most popular with tourists, particularly Americans from the mainland. It’s great for saving time and getting out to explore beaches and national parks. Road conditions are okay, but look out for potholes. The biggest hurdle is learning to drive like a local. For example, locals don’t fully stop at red lights at night because of carjackings, which are pretty common. If you’re American, check with your local car insurance agency to see if your coverage includes collision in Puerto Rico (after all, it is a part of America).
Best Time of Year to Travel to Puerto Rico
The most prized aspect of Puerto Rico is its sunny, tropical weather and its 270 miles of beaches. With the trade winds blowing through consistently the temperatures average between 21˚C and 27˚C. Perfect for walking around or suntanning. The best time of year to visit is between April to June, the tail end of high season and just before the rains blow in. The winter months are the best in terms of weather, but that also means its crowded and prices are higher. July through September is hurricane season, but if you’re looking for a cheaper vacation this when you can get the best deals.
Ready to plan your visit to Puerto Rico? Check out these popular guides and trips.