Travel Guide | Puerto Rico

College Tourist Student Guide to Puerto Rico

With amazing beaches, beautiful cities, kind locals and a very interesting history, it is easy to see why Puerto Rico is such a popular tourist destination. 

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is located in the northeastern Caribbean. Although Puerto Rico is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, it is home to many historical located and cultural experiences many tourists enjoy. The capital, San Juan, is the most populated city in Puerto Rico with a population of over two million. San Juan is home to many popular hotels and countless tourist excursions, which is the reason so many people travel to visit. No matter what type of person is visiting Puerto Rico, the unique island is filled with one of kind adventures for any tourist.

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What to see

El Yunque Rain Forest: A very popular tourist attraction in Puerto Rico! Tourists can sign up for guided tours of the rainforest and receive information on its history. The most fun part of the trips is swimming under small waterfalls and caves! Some daring tourists will even jump off some of the ledges into the water!

Old San Juan: The beautiful area with connected colorful buildings filled with shops and restaurants. Old San Juan is where cruise ship ports are located, so it is a heavily populated tourist area. Find yourself away from the main roads and many backstreets hold small hole-in-the-wall shops with great deals and beautiful items. Great places to check out for souvenirs!

Bioluminescent bay in Fajardo: Sign up for a night kayaking trip in the Bioluminescent bay in Fajardo! Microscopic organisms in the water light up at night creating beautiful colors in the water making it look almost magical. There are 3 bio-bays in Puerto Rico and they all offer different kayak tours to tourist. Although the tours can be a bit pricey, it is something every tourist should experience.  Try to go when there is a new moon for the best experience.

 

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Culebra Island: Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Culebra Island is a day trip to remember. Tourists can take an hour ferry ride from Fajardo to Culebra, and experience what the beautiful Island has to offer. Once tourists arrive to the island, it is very common to rent jeep wranglers and go off roading through some of the secluded beaches and areas. On most beaches locals have small kiosks set up serving freshly cooked sausage, empanadas, ice cream and beer.

San Juan National Historic Site: Anyone looking for more information on the history of San Juan can check out the National Historic Site located in Old San Juan. This 75-acre area includes colonial era built homes, forts and ¾ of the old city wall. Each historical structure has posts with background information printed on signs so tourists can direct themselves and learn about the history.

Backstreets

In both San Juan and Old San Juan, the backstreets of busy roads are filled with small shops! The fashion in Puerto Rico is amazing, and tourists can always find good deals on beautiful articles of clothing and jewelry.

Fun for free

While walking around the streets in Puerto Rico, passing by groups of palm trees and bushes, you will hear strange sounds coming from the coqui frog! These are very small tree frogs about one inch long that are a green, brownish color. The Coqui’s begin to sing when the sun goes down at dusk and continue to sing all night long. It is fun to take walks around San Juan at night and listen for the coqui frogs!

What to eat:

Budatai: Located in the popular neighborhood Condado in San Juan, and serve Latin Asian Fusion food! Although not the traditional Puerto Rican food, the atmosphere of the restaurant is very sleek and modern. The view from the patio upstairs is a beautiful overhead view of the city of San Juan! Although a bit pricey, this restaurant makes the best duck fried rice!

Pamela’s: Small and beautiful restaurant located right on the beach. You can choose to sit in the elegantly decorated restaurant, or outside on romantically lit tables in the sand. Pamela’s makes some of the best paella and delicious ceviche. This restaurant can be accessed by cab or rental car.

The Parrot Club: Located in Old San Juan, a colorful bar and restaurant serving Latin American food. Nice and cool place to sit and have lunch during a long day of shopping in Old San Juan. The Parrot Club has delicious signature quesadillas!

Try this

The most common and traditional Puerto Rican dish is asopao, a mixture of Spanish rice, vegetables and herbs served with either chicken or shellfish.

After Dark:

Have a drink at the very modern La Concha Resort. This hotel is beautifully designed and architects built the hotel front in the shape of a conch shell, hence the name.

Rumba: Located in Old San Juan and is a very popular place for young locals to salsa and samba. Great place for tourists to check out and get a sense of how locals dance!

Transportation:

If tourists are staying in San Juan, many places are in walking distance, but the most common means of transportations are Taxi’s. While Puerto Rico has busses, the bus schedule is a little bit more challenging to figure out. Although not the cheapest, but the easiest and most efficient way to get around is through taxi.

Local Knowledge:

The official languages of Puerto Rico are Spanish and English, so it is very easy for tourists to communicate with locals, as most can speak English.

Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth that is considered part of the United States.

Makenzie Piatt

Ohio University | 9 stories

I'm a sophomore broadcast journalism student studying at Ohio University. I am studying abroad for my very first time this summer to Barcelona, Spain. I hope sharing my experiences of my travel abroad will encourage others to explore the world!


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