5 Reasons Why You Need a Vacation in Puerto Rico Now

fullsizerender-2After returning home from a three-day weekend in Puerto Rico, I can’t help but think what an amazing destination it is for a quick getaway. From its vibrant culture and rich history to delicious cuisine, there’s truly something in Puerto Rico for every type of traveler to enjoy. Here are five reasons why you should drop what you’re doing and plan a long weekend in Puerto Rico.

1) Convenience
Traveling to the island of Puerto Rico gives you the pleasures of a Caribbean getaway without the headache of customs and passport control. Since it’s a U.S. territory, all you need is your drivers license to get there. If you have TSA Pre-Check, even better as it will apply on both the outbound from the U.S. and the inbound back in at the end of your trip. With routes on budget carriers like Spirit and Southwest in addition to the major airlines, it’s a relatively inexpensive island to visit, even in the high season (from mid-December to mid-April). Also, most U.S. cellphone carriers do not assess roaming charges for calls, texts or data used while on the island (which, when traveling out of the country, can add up pretty fast). Plus their currency is the American Dollar, so no need to worry about hefty exchange or foreign transaction fees!

2) Cultural Immersion
Though Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, you definitely don’t feel like you’re in the United States. Christopher Columbus landed on what is now Puerto Rico back in 1493, so as you can imagine, culture and traditions run deep. The Spanish settled Puerto Rico as one of it’s provinces more than 500 years ago, and it wasn’t until the Spanish-American War in 1898 that Puerto Rico was ceded to the U.S. Its music, language, cuisine and architecture all reflect a blend of Taíno (indigenous), African and Spanish elements fused together. While walking around the colorful streets of Old San Juan, keep your eyes and ears open for these hard-to-miss cultural reflections.

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Dancers in the streets of Old San Juan

3) Authentic Cuisine
Wet your appetite with delicious, authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at every turn. There are numerous restaurants that I would recommend, so best of luck choosing just a few! Some of my favorites for dinner are 1919, Pikayo, Jose Enrique and Budatai (which doesn’t serve Puerto Rican food but it’s too good not to list). Try La Bonbonera or Kasalta for breakfast or lunch. To satisfy your cravings for something sweet, grab a delicious latte and pastry at Caficultura, indulge in a chocolatey treat at Casa Cortes Chocobar or cool down with a creamy popsicle at Señor Paleta. If you like bananas (shadily one of my favorite foods), then I highly recommend trying a savory mofongo dish, a dense ball of mashed plantains soaking in a scrumptious sauce often cooked with bits of meat inside. Due to the water surrounding on all four sides, seafood dishes like Asopao (Puerto Rican Gumbo) are also very popular. Street vendors sell fresh coconuts to satisfy your thirst while walking around.

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Refreshing Coconut Water on the Beaches of Condado

4) All for One and One for All
Whether you’re traveling on a family vacation, bachelorette party or romantic getaway, you can literally have it all in Puerto Rico. For beach-lovers and sun-chasers, head to Condado or Sandy Beach in Rincon. If you’re staying farther outside San Juan, beautiful beaches can be found at The Ritz Carlton in Dorado Beach or The St. Regis in Bahia Beach.  For the adventurous soul, head to El Yunque Rainforest for beautiful scenery and cool hikes. To quench your thirst for history, simply walk around the forts of San Felipe del Morro Fortress and Castillo de San Cristobal built in the 16th century, or stroll the incredibly colorful streets of Old San Juan. The Museo de Arte de Ponce or the Casa del Libro, which houses documents dating back to Columbus’s 1493 voyage, are also worth the visit if you appreciate art and history. During a short weekend, I recommend spending one day at the beach, one day in Old San Juan and one day in El Yunque Rainforest.

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Hiking in El Yunque Rainforest

5) Island Hop in Paradise
If you’re looking to extend your trip a bit, two small and majestically serene islands are within your reach (almost literally arm’s length). These islands are less touristy and most of its land feels virtually untouched. Take a quick flight via sea plane (my recommendation) or ride on the ferry if you’re feeling more adventurous to Vieques or Culebra Islands. Beautiful beaches and nature reserves await. Though I have not yet had the chance to visit Culebra, I did spend some time on Vieques Island and if possible, I highly recommend taking the trip. There are also some delicious restaurants like Next Course or El Quenepo and two hotels either W Vieques or El Bloc I would recommend.

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300-Year-Old Ceiba Tree in Vieques

Puerto Rico is the ideal destination for your next weekend getaway. With its convenience, cultural experiences, authentic cuisine, rich history, beautiful beaches, and proximity to secluded islands, how could you pass up the opportunity to explore this amazing Caribbean paradise? Need help planning your trip? Let me know what questions you have as you plan!

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