If you have any question as to why the island of Puerto Rico needs to be your next Caribbean vacation destination, I have 10 fabulous reasons why you should go to Puerto Rico! As many of my readers are aware, my family is from Puerto Rico, so for some reason it always feels like going home. We have spent a lot of time on the island and try to have a week long Puerto Rico vacation every other year. Each time we enjoy visits with family, tour some of the island’s natural wonders, and enjoy delicious local cuisine. Without further ado, here is why you need to plan your visit to Puerto Rico!
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Why You Should Take a Puerto Rico Vacation
1) It’s Easy to travel to Puerto Rico
It is easy to visit Puerto Rico. US Passports aren’t needed because Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. The Puerto Rico currency is the U.S. dollar, so you don’t need to exchange money to purchase goods and services. There are plenty of flights to Puerto Rico from the US, including many direct from southern US cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, Houston, and Miami.
2) Puerto Rico Beaches
Puerto Rico has 270 miles of coastline and their beautiful beaches are often referred to as some of the best in the world. The best beaches in Puerto Rico include Flamenco Beach on the island of Culebra and Blue Beach (also known as La Chiva) on the island of Vieques. To reach Culebra and Vieques you will either need to take a plane from the mainland or catch the Culebra ferry (or ferry to Vieques) from Ceiba.
The beaches of Isla Verde and Condado are popular with tourists as there are many hotels in these areas. There are beaches for surfing (head out west to Rincón) and beaches with tranquil water for kids (Luquillo Beach is our favorite). All of Puerto Rico’s beaches are perfect for relaxation and enjoying a piña colada (which was invented in Puerto Rico by the way).
3) The Opportunity to Visit A Rainforest
El Yunque is unique in that it is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest system. The forest is exactly what you would expect, rainy, as it receives over 200” of rainfall each year! The Puerto Rican rainforest is also home to thousands of native plant species and many animals that exist no where else on earth.
Enjoying the views from the top of Mt. Britton or taking a hike on one of the trails through the rainforest to see La Mina waterfalls is a highlight of any trip. It is easy to find a tour from San Juan to El Yunque that includes transportation and lunch. Consider booking a tour and leaving the driving to the pros!
4) Things to Do in Old San Juan – Visit the Forts
There are two Spanish forts from the 16th and 17th centuries in modern day San Juan: Castillo San Felipe del Morro (also known as El Morro), and Castillo San Cristobal. These massive fortresses attest to the dominance the Spaniards once held in the Caribbean. Exploring the San Juan forts is a fascinating introduction to Puerto Rican history.
5) Famous Puerto Rican Rum
Did you know that approximately 70% of the rum sold in the United States comes from Puerto Rico? Take a visit to the Casa Bacardi where you will learn about the history of Puerto Rican rum and tour the facility (it is the largest rum distillery in the world). One thing you will realize is that the rum in Puerto Rico tastes better than it does at home!
6) Trek Through One of the World’s Largest River Cave Systems
The Rio Camuy Caverns are the third largest underground river cavern system in the world. Explorers will marvel at the subterranean creations as they pass through the enormous caves. Go early as lines can get long, and it tends to rain in the afternoon, flooding the caves. Other caves in Puerto Rico worth exploring include: Cueva del Viento, Cañon de Tanamá, and Cueva Ventana.
7) See the Glowing Lights of the Bioluminescent Waters
There are only a handful of bioluminescent bays in the world and three of them are in Puerto Rico. Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Laguna Grande in Fajardo, and La Parguera in Lajas all offer opportunities to see the bioluminescent glow of the water.
We tried bioluminescence kayaking from the beach near Fajardo to Laguna Grande to see the glowing bay. We paddled through mangrove channels, saw iguanas high in the trees, and heard bats diving for fish not far from our kayak. When we arrived in the bay we witnessed microscopic plankton giving off a bioluminescent glow when they were disturbed in the water. The experience was one we will never forget and the kids can’t wait to go again!
8) Old San Juan
Old San Juan exudes charm with its distinctive blue hued cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and plazas perfect for people watching. There are plenty of things to do in San Juan. Be sure to explore the museums, historic sites, art galleries, cafés, and gourmet dining all within the old town. The city offers a free trolley service to all the major landmarks, providing tourists with an easy way to explore the area.
9) Puerto Rican food
Puerto Ricans love their food, and restaurants have gone to great lengths to assemble magnificent dishes that demonstrate their gastronomic prowess. Some of my favorite traditional Puerto Rican dishes include arroz con pollo, tostones, flan, and mofongo. Puerto Ricans cook with passion and it really comes through in the flavor of the food.
10) Weather in Puerto Rico
What’s not to love about 80 degree weather in the winter? Puerto Rico’s weather makes it the ideal location for a beach vacation any time of year. Keep in mind hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June through the end of November and can disrupt Puerto Rico travel.
Where to Stay in Puerto Rico
There are so many Caribbean resorts for family trips, but these are some of our favorite Puerto Rico family resorts. San Juan Marriott Stellaris has a great location on Condado beach, walking distance to area restaurants and attractions. Caribe Hilton is another good choice with family rooms, a location close to Old San Juan, and a great swim area. Families with older kids might enjoy a stay in the heart of the action at Hotel El Convento. The Ritz Carlton provides luxury amenities and programming for kids, it’s a little further from Old San Juan, in Isla Verde.
Looking for more ideas for your Puerto Rico vacation? Don’t miss the best of Puerto Rico with kids, our Hotel El Convento review, and some of our favorite Puerto Rican recipes, coquito and coquito tres leches cake!