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Plan Your Puerto Rico Adventure with Puerto Rico Travel Tips

by Catherine Carey | August 16, 2023
Yokahu Tower in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an island with diverse things to do, but overall it is a pot of blending cultures, stunning natural beauty, and historical significance. From the colorful colonial architecture of Old San Juan to the lush rainforests of El Yunque, the island will captivate any traveler that visits it.

If you want to travel to Puerto Rico and you fulfil Puerto Rico entry requirements, you can get an ESTA, a Puerto Rico visa. Eligible nationalities can apply for it online if they are travelling for tourism, business or transit trips that do not exceed 90 days. There are also different types of visas. You can find information on all of them in our How to get a visa for Puerto Rico guide.

Traveling soon to the Island? Then you need to learn some Puerto Rico travel tips.

Do I need any vaccines to travel to Puerto Rico?

To travel to Puerto Rico, you only need to be vaccinated against yellow fever if you have travelled or come from a yellow fever endemic country

Nevertheless, some vaccines you should be up-to-date are Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Flu (influenza), Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Polio, Shingles, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies and Typhoid.

Because the island is a jurisdiction of the United States, it must comply with the U.S. policy requiring travelers to either show proof of a fully completed vaccination cycle or a negative antigen test carried out within two days after arriving on the island.

Do I need a SIM Card for Puerto Rico? 

Yes, you should buy a SIM Card for Puerto Rico. You can do so in Claro or Liberty stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, electronic stores and, maybe, at San Juan-Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). Local cell phone operators in Puerto Rico:

  • Claro Puerto Rico: free, but plan purchase required (minimum of 18.99 USD).
  • Liberty Puerto Rico (formerly AT&T): free, but plan purchase required (minimum of 25 USD).
  • T- Mobile Puerto Rico: offers 5 prepaid packages, from 2GB to 10 GB for $60.

You can also buy a prepaid SIM Card before traveling to Puerto Rico. One of the most recommended brands is Holafly’s Puerto Rico SIM card. You can get a SIM card for a 30-day stay with 5GB of mobile data for 39$.  You can also find TravelWIFI SIM that offers 2GB for 45$.

If you are from the United States, you can choose not to buy a SIM Card for Puerto Rico, but keep in mind that speeds can be painfully slow (2G speeds). You are always better off with a SIM card from Puerto Rico.

Discover the Coast of San Juan in Puerto Rico with Puerto Rico travel tips

What should I pack for Puerto Rico?

Some Puerto Rico travel tips must be dedicated to what to pack for Puerto Rico. It is important to pack keeping in mind that Puerto Rico tends to be warm all year round

Therefore, some of the most important things to pack are bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, summer dresses and t-shirts and trousers, sandals and sneakers. Bugs such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas can spread many diseases in Puerto Rico, including dengue and Zika. To prevent bug bites wear bug repellent and long-sleeved shirts and long pants and sleep in an air conditioned room if possible.

Bring comfortable walking shoes, as many of the island’s attractions are best explored on foot. You should also wear a light raincoat and an umbrella, mainly for the El Yunque Rainforest. 

Is tipping mandatory in Puerto Rico? 

Tipping in Puerto Rico is not mandatory, but it is greatly expected and goes by the same rule of the US. It is expected to tip a 15%-20% of the total bill.

Before tipping, you should also read all the bills carefully. For example, Restaurants in tourist areas can add the tip as a "gratuity" or "service charge" at the bottom of your bill. Nevertheless, if the amount is over 20% you must ask about it to a manager. Hotels may also add a 5%-15% service charge.

Some common tipping quantities are $2 or more per day for the housekeeping staff, $1 per drink for bartenders, and 15% of the check for restaurant servers. You can also tip cab drivers, uber drivers, and bellhops. 

If you receive unacceptable or offensive service, don't leave a tip.  

What is the currency of Puerto Rico?

The official currency of Puerto Rico since 1987 is the US dollar (USD/$). It is possible to exchange euros, pounds sterling or any other type of currency at the airport, exchange offices or banks in the country.

You can use your credit or debit card throughout Puerto Rico and you can withdraw money from any ATM.

How to get around in Puerto Rico?: Puerto Rico travel tips

There are a few options of getting around Puerto Rico.

  • The most popular transport is the Públicos or Guaguas. These are ten or fifteen-seater minibuses connecting the majority of towns on the island. They typically stop on demand along the way. They may even make a detour to drop you off or pick you up, but you will have to pay an extra fee.
  • Renting a car is another option for travelers. While Públicos are great, they don’t typically serve beaches which isn’t ideal for travelers. So, if you want more flexibility to discover the beauty of the island, renting a car could be a great solution. The roads are generally well-maintained and Puerto Rico even features a highway connecting San Juan to Ponce.
  • You’ll also find metered taxis in most tourist areas. Note that additional luggage or tolls will have to be added to the final amount displayed on the meter.
  • If you want to explore different islands of the archipelago, you’ll be able to do so by either jumping on a ferry, often departing from Fajardo or hopping on a seaplane with a private company.

Things to do in Puerto Rico

There are many things to do in Puerto Rico, but here are some of our recommendations: 

San Juan Viejo

Walking down the lanes of Old San Juan, with its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and impressive forts transports visitors back to the era of Spanish colonization.

Two notable forts, Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal, stand as iconic landmarks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These forts not only offer panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean but also provide insights into Puerto Rico's strategic history. In San Juan, you should also try some typical Puerto Rican food.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Bioluminescent Bay and Vieques

Vieques, a small island located just off the eastern coast of mainland Puerto Rico, is home to one of nature's most awe-inspiring phenomena: the Bioluminescent Bay. This magical bay, also known as Mosquito Bay, is renowned for its stunning display of bioluminescence, a natural occurrence caused by microorganisms called dinoflagellates.

When disturbed, these tiny organisms emit a radiant blue-green light, transforming the water into a surreal and ethereal glow. This mesmerizing phenomenon is best observed on moonless nights

Ponce City Centre

With its 17th century architecture and mansion, which are well preserved, Ponce is the largest city in Puerto Rico. Main attractions include: the Ponce museum of art, the red and white striped fire station and the City Hall and plaza las Delicias for people from all walks of life.

Paseo Tablado La Guancha, situated 3 miles from the shore, has an excellent range of bars and restaurants to satisfy your appetite after a long day of sightseeing.

Puerto Rico beaches

If you visit Puerto Rico, you must enjoy some of Puerto Rico beaches. Some of the beaches you must enjoy are Flamenco Beach, Luquillo Beach, Playa Borinquen and Tortuga Beach.

National Forest of El Yunque

El Yunque National Forest is one of the best places in Puerto Rico because it showcases Puerto Rico's rich inland splendor. El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest within the United States National Forest System, encompasses Pico El Yunque and continues along the Luquillo Mountains.

Hikers can get a closer look at some of the 240 tree species and hundreds of plant species (50 orchid species alone), as well as an abundance of smaller creatures.

How is Puerto Rico's weather?

The island of Puerto Rico is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. It has a tropical climate and the average temperature of the country is 25 degrees. The Puerto Rico weather is warm and pleasant all year round. Like all tropical countries, it has a dry season and a rainy season:

  • The dry season, and the best time to travel to Puerto Rico, is from December to April. The temperature remains between 25º and 30º and you will be unlikely to experience any rain.
  • The rainy season goes from May to November, and the climate is quite rainy and humid. Strong winds, hurricanes and tropical storms need to be taken into consideration.

Winter and Spring are pretty popular seasons to visit Puerto Rico when the weather is dry, and the temperatures are mild. This allows intrepid travellers to trek the island interior while still being able to relax on the beaches and even surf. However, for these very reasons, sun-seekers flock to the island from mid-December to the end of April and accommodation and flights are more expensive. 

If you’re after a more affordable and quiet holiday, Fall, between September and November is best. You might see a few rainy days, but it is also a season packed full of events and celebrations.

Puerto Rico travel tips places to see Puerto Rico capitolio

Is Puerto Rico safe?

Is Puerto Rico safe? Yes, Puerto Rico is safe. As in any country, there is a risk that you may suffer some kind of theft, so it is advisable to always be watchful of your belongings in touristy areas. It is not recommended to travel with high-value objects or walk along poorly lit beaches at night.

Try to avoid being in areas with little tourism, or in outlying city locations such as the pearl district or points where the sale of drugs is common. Puerto Rico is one of the usual steps on the drug route to the United States, so a strong police presence is to be expected.

Here are a more general safety tips to keep in mind when exploring the island:

  • Be cautious in the ocean. Puerto Rico is known for its powerful currents and rip tides in some areas.
  • Be mindful of local laws and traditions to avoid any misunderstandings or legal issues.
  • Keep your passport and other important documents in a secure place.
  • Be aware of potential natural hazards such as hurricanes and earthquakes, and stay informed about any potential weather or safety alerts.
  • In case of an emergency, dial 911.
  • If you can, register your trip with the nearest consulate or embassy of your home country. This could prove handy in case of an emergency.

More Puerto Rico travel tips

  • The voltage in the country is 120V, and the plugs are type A and B. It is recommended to bring an adaptor from your home country.
  • Brush up on your Spanish, as many locals speak primarily Spanish, and over 76% don’t speak English fluently.
  • Be respectful of the island’s culture and history, especially when visiting historical sites.
  • Be prepared for heavy and chaotic traffic, especially in the capital city of San Juan.
  • Be prepared for power outages and other infrastructure issues, as the island is still recovering from the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.