Puerto Rico Information
Puerto Rico Overview
Puerto Rico is a mix of cultural history and nature. The country’s long European history is evident in San Juan, and outside of the country’s capital, southern cities display uniquely Puerto Rican architecture. Aside from the historical sites, there are endless natural wonders with fun activities to enjoy in the area. For example, you’ve got zip line tours in El Yunque, cave tours at Parque de las Cavernas, and the largest radio telescope in the world, Arecibo Observatory (made famous by the movie Contact). The beaches are great too, offering different perks, such as surfing in Rincon or great photo ops in Culebra. Once you’ve worked up an appetite from all the historical sightseeing and nature adventures, there are numerous delicious cuisine options to grub on. In Puerto Rico, the country’s rich history and natural offerings give you so much to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find something exciting to do.
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With a lively night life, an array of cuisines, public beaches, and cultural offerings, San Juan offers all the strappings of a metropolitan center with the distinctly Puerto Rican flair and flavor. Chic, urban hotels make this an ideal destination for the bohemians. On the other hand, old San Juan displays the city’s long European history with castles and museums. Explore narrow streets, plazas and buildings, built in the colonial style and home to top notch cafes and boutiques. The east side of the island, dominated by El Yunque National Forest, is great for eco-lovers. There are also the out islands of Vieques and Culebra. Culebra offers the famous Playa Flamenco, considered one of the best beaches in the world. In the south, the museums and architecture showcase a more distinctly Puerto Rican design, such as the fire station museum in Ponce. Finally, turn west for bodacious surfing at Rincon. Whether you want chic and trendy, calm and relaxing or pure and natural, you’ll find something to love in Puerto Rico.
Three Kings for Twelve Days
If you think Christmas ends on December 25, you’re missing 12 days of Christmas season fun. Three Kings Day on January 6 marks the twelfth day of Christmas, and in Puerto Rico, they end the season with a party!
Christmas celebrators in Latin American countries used to exchange gifts on Three Kings Day to commemorate the three magi in the Bible who visited Jesus, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. More people give gifts on December 25, now, but the tradition and the story of the magi is still observed with smaller gift exchanges.
The Three Kings Day festival in Old San Juan draws big crowds with live music, food and drink. Hosted in the Luis Munoz Marin Park, small gifts are given to kids and revelers can see arts and crafts based on the Three Kings which are a major source of inspiration for folk art. The highlight of the festival is the entrance of three men who walk from a town near the southern coast, dressed as the three magi.
Getting in Touch with History, North and South
Puerto Rico’s got a rich, colorful history. In the north, Old San Juan’s past is as obvious as the huge forts that overlook the sea. Make sure to also check out the smaller historical gems like the statues in the town squares.
In southern Puerto Rico, the old fire station, Parque de Bombas, in Ponce has antique fire trucks on display along with a tale of the station’s history. Don’t miss the Centro Ceremonial Indigena de Tibes, a series of fields and astronomical chart structures discovered by archaeologists in the 1970s. If you happen to be on the south side of the country, San German features Capilla de Porta Coeli. This chapel is one of the oldest religious buildings in the Americas, and is now a museum of religious art. There’s history all over Puerto Rico—you don’t have to go very far to find it.
Puerto Rico is a natural haven for many species of plants and animals. The country protects its numerous and beautiful habitats, so we can continue to enjoy them. In fact, the Yunque Rainforest is the only rainforest in the US National Forest System. Here you can find several ways to interact with nature. Everything from well-maintained hiking trails to zip line tours.
Also, the caves at Camuy offer a tram that takes visitors along a scenic route into a huge network of caverns that are home to bats, crabs, tarantulas and more. A nature-lover’s dream!
Where's All the Rum Gone?
Ready to get your rum on? Good. The world’s largest rum distillery, Bacardi, is near San Juan. Casa Bacardi, as the tourist center is known, showcases Bacardi's history. This includes a film about the company's founding and the first distillery the family business used. You'll get two tickets for free drinks, and bartenders will show you how mix rum cocktails in the lounge. Best part? The tour is free.
In southern Puerto Rico, the mansion of the family who started Don Q Rum, Castillo Serralles, is one of the many museums in Ponce. It’s got an exhibit that explains the impact of the sugar and rum industries on the country. It also features an extensive and well-manicured garden with a reflection pool where you can relax after touring the grounds.
After you discover Puerto Rico's long and fascinating history with this spirit, you'll have a new appreciation when you order your next mojito.
Anywhere but San Juan
South, central, west and east Puerto Rico all offer unique, exciting opportunities that can be overshadowed by the country’s high-octane, glimmering capital city, San Juan. So here’s a taste of what you can find outside of the city.
Slow down and hang ten on the west coast in Rincon, where surfers convene for annual competitions. Rincon means “corner” in Spanish, and it’s a beautiful place to tuck away in this piece of paradise. If you don’t feel like rounding the corner out west, turn south. Experience beautiful beaches and culture in the city of Ponce, the second largest in Puerto Rico.
In the center of the island, explore natural wonders of the terrestrial at Yunque national forests or the extra-terrestrial at Arecibo Observatory. If you prefer to go subterranean, descend into the fascinating ecosystems in the underground caves at Camuy.
For the classic beach experience, the out islands of Vieques and Culebra offer some of the prettiest stretches of sand and surf in the Caribbean. Playa Flamenco on Culebra is widely considered one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches. San Juan is great and all, but let’s keep our minds open to the possibilities in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Quick Facts
Spanish and English (Spanish is primary)
110 Volt plugs with standard 2 or 3 prongs
There is no passport requirement for U.S. citizens for direct travel to and from Puerto Rico. If you return to the mainland U.S. from Puerto Rico through another country (Mexico or Bermuda, for example), you will need a passport.
Puerto Rico's water supply is monitored by agencies of the US government, and the tap water is safe to drink.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
mid-December – mid-April