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 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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
But there are plenty of other visit-worthy beaches around the island…
- Isla Verde
- Ocean Park Beach
- Caracas or Red Beach
- La Chiva Beach
- Playa Negra or Black Sand Beach
- 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.