Quick guide to plan your trip to Puerto Rico; the Island of Enchantment.
Are you planning your trip to Puerto Rico and want to know more about the island so that everything goes smoothly? I got your back! In this guide, you’ll find 8 basics you need to know before traveling so you can plan your trip and avoid any bad surprises. Likewise, I’ll share with you some cultural and historical facts about the Island of Enchantment so by the time you get there you already know something about it and the things you can enjoy there. Without more to say, let’s get started:
8 things to know to before your trip to Puerto Rico:
- Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. This means that, if you need a visa to enter the US, you will also need to have one to visit this island. If you are not sure if you can enter de USA without a visa, you can check it HERE
- Spanish and English are the two official languages in Puerto Rico. Despite this, Spanish predominates. But you don’t need to worry, in all the touristic places you’ll find English speakers to help you out.
- The American dollar is the type of currency used in Puerto Rico. I recommend you to change your money BEFORE the trip. It’s always good to have a little cash.
- If you are also going to use a credit or debit card, I recommend to call your bank and let them know that you’ll make an international trip. In this way, you avoid it from being blocked because of security reasons.
- Puerto Rico has a tropical climate, as a result, there are sunny and rainy. Because of this, I recommend you bring a thin raincoat that can be stored in your bag. Umbrellas and hats are not recommended because the island is very windy (mainly on the coasts). Therefore, the hats fly off and the umbrellas end up breaking!
- To get to Puerto Rico there are 3 international airports: Luis Muñóz Marín International Airport (San Juan), Rafael Hernandez International Airport (Aguadilla) and Mercedita’s International Airport (Ponce). You can also arrive by cruise to San Juan’s port.
- If you are planning to stay a week and want to visit as much as possible, consider renting a car. This will allow you to visit different points of the island (without traffic, you can tour the whole island in 5 hours)
- Finally, as a tip for responsible travelers, do not forget to buy a biodegradable sunscreen. This to protect your skin from the sun’s rays without damaging the marine ecosystem.
Interesting facts about Puerto Rico.
- The Tainos, were the indigenous group that lived in the island of Puerto Rico when the Spaniards arrived. They called their island “Borikén” meaning “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord”. For this reason, Puerto Ricans are also known as Boricuas, Borinqueños or Borincans.
2. When Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493, he named it San Juan Bautista in honor of St. John the Baptist. Likewise, the main port to which he arrived was named Puerto Rico because of its natural wealth. Over the years, the names switched and now the island’s name is Puerto Rico and its capital San Juan.
3. After the Spanish conquest, the Tainos were forced to work under commands. This were a socioeconomic system in which the Indians were “given” to different conquerors to work for them. With the abolition of this system, the Spaniards brought Africans to the island to work as slaves. As a result, Puerto ricans are the miscegenation of three races: Taino, Spanish and African.
4. During the Spanish domain, the island played an strategic role to control the entry to the American continent. Such was its importance that it received the name of “Key of the Indies” (remember that when Christopher Columbus discovered America, he believed that he had arrived to India). To defend it against the Dutch and English, the Spaniards built two forts in San Juan: San Cristóbal and the Castle of San Felipe del Morro. You can visit them for a cost of $ 3 dl each or both for $ 5 dl.
5. The United States occupied the island in 1989 after entering into war with Spain in the Spanish-American War. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris a year later, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico became American domain.
6. Puerto Rican cuisine is a mixture of American, Spanish and African food. However, the best-known Puerto Rican creole dish is the mofongo. This is fried- tender plantain with seasonings such as garlic and olive oil. Its usually mixed with vegetables, seafood, meat or chicken.
7. The government of Puerto Rico greatly encourages art. This will be reflected in the murals, paintings and sculptures of renowned Puerto Rican artists. On the streets you will also hear reggae, reggaeton and trap music made by Puerto Rican singers.
8. “Piña colada” is a drink that was created in Puerto Rico. This is a combination of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice. Therefore, you can not leave without trying it!
9. Similarly, if you go during Christmas Eve do not forget to try the famous coquito. This is a drink made with rum, coconut cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, cinnamon and vanilla.
With this information in hand, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this beautiful island to the fullest. Let me know in the comments if you found this guide helpful 💙