NOTE: COVID-19 has heavily impacted everything travel-related. Make sure to read my Guide to Coronavirus Travel if you plan to travel at this time.

The Ultimate Travel Guide To Puerto Rico

Everything you need to know about visiting Puerto Rico
The flag of Puerto Rico which is a top destination for travelers in the Caribbean

What To Expect

Puerto Rico is the ultimate travel destination for Americans that want to experience something different without all the hassle of going to another country.  However, this spectacular Caribbean island has a lot to offer everyone, not just Americans!

The first stop for most people, and one of the top destinations on the island, is the capital San Juan which features a historic fort, lots of colorful colonial architecture, and rich culture.  And if you want even more culture, the city of Ponce in the south is worth a visit too.

However, the biggest draw to the island is its natural beauty.  From the beautiful beaches in Vieques and Culebra to the stunning El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico has a lot of eye-candy.  In addition, surfers love the town of Rincon for its great waves.

As for its resorts, while Puerto Rico doesn’t have as many all-inclusive ones as its neighbours do, its normal resorts are just as great.  Add in the fact that it’s part of the US and you have a great vacation destination that is super easy to travel to!

A resort in Puerto Rico which is a top destination for travelers in the Caribbean
A typical resort in Puerto Rico

Since Puerto Rico is a part of the USA, it shares the same visa policy.  Canadians do not need a visa to enter Puerto Rico and can stay for up to 6 months.  Citizens of most other developed countries can enter Puerto Rico visa-free for up to 90 days, provided that they obtain an ESTA in advance.  

If you are not a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you must go to the nearest US embassy and apply for a B-2 Tourist Visa to be granted entry. 

The Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are recommended, especially if traveling to rural areas.  Also make sure you are up to date on your standard vaccinations and consult a health professional for further advice.

Puerto Rico which is a top destination for travelers in the Caribbean

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Key Information

Population: 3 Million
Capital City: San Juan
Languages Spoken: Spanish + English
Currency: US Dollar (USD/$)
Railways: None
Driving Side: Right

Largest Airports:
1. San Juan (SJU) – Luis Muñoz Marín
2. Aguadilla (BQN) – Rafael Hernández
3. Ponce (PSE) – Mercedita
4. Vieques (VQS) – Antonio Rivera Rodríguez
5. Ceiba (NRR) – José Aponte de la Torre

Best Time To Visit

Similar to most islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico benefits from a tropical climate that keeps the island nice and warm all year round.  However, there are two seasons which you should be aware of: the dry season, which takes place in the winter and spring, and the rainy season which is in summer and autumn.

The best time to visit Puerto Rico is during its dry season (December – April) as temperatures are very pleasant and the skies typically stay blue.  If you want to escape the crowds and benefit from lower prices, try going in May or June.

If you plan to travel in the summer or autumn, be aware that it is typically hurricane season, especially in September and October.  And if traveling during the high season, make sure to reserve your transportation and accommodation in advance to avoid sold-out tickets and fully-booked rooms.

High Season: December – April
Low Season: August – November

Top 5 Destinations

San Juan is a top destination for travelers in Puerto Rico
San Juan
Puerto Rico
Vieques
Culebra which is a top destination for travelers in Puerto Rico
Culebra
El Yunque which is a top destination for travelers in Puerto Rico
El Yunque Forest
Puerto Rico
Rincon

Currency Information

US Dollars which is the currency used by travelers in the USA

The currency used in Puerto Rico is the US Dollar (USD/$), often referred to as the peso in Puerto Rican Spanish.  The bills come in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, & $100.  

The Dollar is further divided into 100 cents – “chavos/chavitos” in Puerto Rican Spanish – (¢).  The coins come in denominations of 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, & 25¢.  Other names for the coins include: 1¢ – perra, 5¢ – vellon/ficha, 10¢ – dime/vellon de diez, & 25¢ – peseta.

Use the currency converter below to determine the latest exchange rate

Tipping Guide

Since Puerto Rico is a part of the US, the tipping culture is the same. In other words, tipping is expected in Puerto Rico and some locals might even get upset if you forget to tip them so here are some important guidelines to follow:

Hotel Bellhops: $1-2 per bag
Hotel Housekeepers: $1-2 per night
Restaurant Servers: at least 15% of the total bill, up to 20% or 25% for good service
Bartenders: at least $1-2 per drink
Taxi/Uber Driver: 10-15% of the total fare
Tour Guide: 10-15% of the total tour price on single-day tours and at least $10 per day on multi-day tours

Note: if you’re with a large group, sometimes you will see “gratuity included” on your bill.  This means a tip has already been added to your total and you do not need to tip extra.

Power Outlet Information

The Type A power outlet which is in use in many places around the world
Type A
The Type B power outlet which is in use in many places around the world
Type B

Just like the USA, Puerto Rico uses both the Type A and Type B power outlets interchangeably.  Type A plugs can fit in Type B outlets, but not vice versa.

Get your compatible Type A/B adapter here.

The voltage used in Puerto Rico is 120V.  Learn more about how this may affect your electronic devices in my Guide to the Top Travel Accessories.

Flamenco Beach which is a top destination for travelers in Puerto Rico
An abandoned US Army tank on Flamenco Beach

Cellphone Information

Puerto Rico does have 4G LTE coverage, but it might be spotty in rural areas.  It’s also one of the few places that still uses CDMA networks in addition to GSM ones.

However, you will be fine if your phone is GSM-compatible with the primary 3G frequency and 4G LTE band used in the country.

Learn more about this in my Guide to Travel-Ready Phones.

Note: if you’re only staying in a resort, you may not need to worry about this as most resorts have wifi anyways.  In addition, some American providers may also include free roaming in Puerto Rico so it’s a good idea to check this in advance.

Information about local prepaid SIM cards in Puerto Rico

Calling Code: +1
Emergency Number: 911 (Police, Ambulance, & Fire)
3G Frequencies Used: 1900 (primary) + 850
4G LTE Bands Used: 4 (primary) + 2, 5, 12, 13, 14, 17, 29, 66, & 71

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