As the island is beginning to rebuild after Hurricane Maria, I’ve noticed more tourists visiting and showing off the stunning beaches while I continue to freeze my ass off in Virginia. Thanks, guys.
That’s right, Puerto Rico is officially open for tourists to explore! That’s HUGE! Both of their international airports are back up and flying, the roads are clear to drive, most of the major attractions have been restored, and 75% of hotels are fully operational (there are a plethora of Airbnbs to choose from too). According to the World Travel and Tourism Council in 2016, tourism contributed more than $8.1 billion to Puerto Rico’s economy and more than 68,500 jobs were connected to its tourism industry. That means by you choosing to visit, you are contributing to its healing.
“Tourism is a vital contributor to the Island’s economy, so reaching these milestones not only will help build a stronger, better Puerto Rico, but showcases the resiliency in our people and destination“ — José Izquierdo, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Commission
If you’re new to traveling, Puerto Rico is a great place to start. The island is full of flavorful food, rich culture, stunning beaches, and outdoor adventure. If you’re from the US, flights are fairly cheap, you don’t need a passport, and you don’t have to worry about not being able to use your cell phone.
I spoke with one of my Insta friends, @jessice_esquire, who recently visited in December. She said, overall, the island still looks pretty and you could always find the locals outside dancing and partying. That’s basically how I would sum up Puerto Rico when I went two years ago haha. The majority of her stay was at the Marriott, but she also booked an Airbnb for one night. The Airbnb she stayed in was only $35 a night and smack dab in the middle of the city! Click here to view her Airbnb.
Puerto Rico will forever have a special place in my heart. My Abuelo on my mother’s side was from Mayagüez and my Abuela is from San Germán, both on the western part of this beautiful island. While I have never had the opportunity to visit the western part of the island, I was able to visit Puerto Rico for two short visits in 2014 & 2015.
I suggest renting a car to get around the island, as it is an easy process and cheaper than taxis. We rented from a company called Target for about $20 a day. If you bring a copy of your insurance policy card they will give you a discount on your car rental.
What to do in San Juan
– El Morro and Fort San Cristóbal: If you enjoy history, these two forts are located inside the San Juan National Historic Site
– Plaza Del Mercado: During the day, this is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and at night it’s the perfect place to dance the night away with cheap drinks
– The Bacardi Factory Distillery Tour: they gave us free drinks when we went!
– Most of the hotels have casinos so good luck gambling
– Walk the colorful streets of Old San Juan for an instagrammable pic
– Cueva Ventana: this isn’t in San Juan, but I had to slip it in here because it’s only an hour away. In English, it translates to The Window Cave. I hear the views are fantastic, as they overlook the Río Grande de Arecibo valley. You don’t have to book a tour to visit, but if you decide not to, make sure to bring a flashlight.
– Playa Peña
– Condado Beach
– Ocean Park Beach
– La Playita de Condado
Note: There are many other beaches you can choose from outside of San Juan. Google will be your best friend if you want to know them all. I’ve been told by the locals that Flamenco Beach is the most beautiful beach in the world. Another beach I’ve been to was Luquillo Beach – this beach is about an hour away from San Juan and if you’re lucky you may even see a sea turtle.
In The Future
Some of my favorite places are still healing, but that does not mean they won’t be unavailable forever.
– El Yunque Rainforest
This hike through the rainforest was my favorite part of both trips, it was INCREDIBLE.
Update: El Yunque is back open for tourism! To get to the trails, you can either book a tour or stop by the visitor’s center and someone can give you directions. We chose not to book a tour and found the trails easily.
– Fajardo Bioluminescent Bay
After spending the day at El Yunque, we drove about 15 minutes to Fajardo to experience kayaking in the bioluminescent-bay. There are microorganisms that literally glow in the dark when they are disturbed (aka when there’s movement in the water). We went on an evening tour at 8PM and while I was scared AF, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.