[All content and prices updated December 2012]
Why you should add Puerto Rico to your Indie/RTW trip
- The tourism board of Puerto Rico actually dissuades all inclusive resorts from making their way to the island because they want people to leave their hotels and resorts and see Puerto Rico.
- Puerto Rico is very safe - it's quite easy to rent your own car and drive around the entire island, exploring on your pace and doing it all independently.
- Variety - from the beautiful colonial Old San Juan, to the crystal clear waters around Culebra and Vieques, to the only rainforest in the United States, to hiking, biking, ziplining, horse-back riding, golfing, scuba diving, and everything in between, Puerto Rico has an amazing array of activities.
- Diversity - the blend of Spanish, African, and American culture make the Puerto Rican people unique.
- This diversity is evident in the cuisine of Puerto Rico - San Juan has some top notch restaurants that stand up to the world's best.
- There are hostels and camping for those on a budget, small inns and B&B's for those who like a little more comfort and privacy without breaking the bank, and big, posh hotels if that's your thing. Accommodations options abound for indie travelers in Puerto Rico.
Indie Travel Tips
Indie travelers are often turned off when the hear the word Caribbean
. Visions of giant, all inclusive resorts with gates that discourage travelers from actually getting out and seeing the city and culture they came to visit are what many automatically think of. But Puerto Rico is different.
- If adding Puerto Rico to a longer trip, give yourself plenty of time. There really is so much to see and do, and it would be quite easy to spend weeks or a month here exploring (if you have the budget for it).
- Rent a car and go to places other than the popular San Juan, Culebra, and Vieques (though you can and should build in time for all three).
- Visit El Yunque National Forest south of San Juan, the only tropical forest in the United States and is one of the oldest reserves in the western hemisphere.
- Check out the unique ecosystem on Mona Island, which is only inhabited by wildlife.
- Though one of the most popular activities on the islands, visiting the bioluminescent bays in Vieques is a unique experience you can't have too many other places in the world.
- Take some surfing lessons in the surfing capital of the Caribbean - Rincon, and if you find yourself there from December to March, think about a whale watching expedition.
- If you are into photography, get up early one morning and wander around Old San Juan. The narrow streets and brightly colored buildings are a photographer's dream, and watching the city come alive in the mornings provides some great shots.
- If in San Juan, make your way outside of touristy Old San Juan for lunch at Crispy y Relleno, which serves upscale cuisine in a street food setting.
- Head to La Placita while in San Juan for local nightlife without a tourist in sight.
An autonomous part of the United States, Puerto Rico is two separate worlds colliding. Both a mixture of old world Spanish and African, and for the last hundred years, new world American, Puerto Rico is perhaps unique blend of how several separate societies can blend and become one. For travelers, Puerto Rico markets itself as an easy island getaway for Caribbean shoppers. Leave your preconceived notions of what you think a Caribbean island is at the door.
What to see
There is much to see and do in Puerto Rico - too much for a one-page guide like this - so make sure you check out the following articles and resources to help plan your trip:
It's easy to book a flight Puerto Rico
. Buses are available around San Juan, but they don't really go around the island. You can take a publico (shared taxi) around certain parts of the island, but they aren't the fastest way as you have to rely on other passengers and where they are going. The most efficient way to get around is renting a car, which can become costly for those on a tight budget.
Where to stay
You can book hostels in Puerto Rico
, but the great thing about Puerto Rico is the variety of accommodation options available