Puerto Rico is an island state in the Caribbean Sea and a United States territory. It shares its borders with the Dominican Republic (through the Mona Strait), the British Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands of the United States. The southern coastline is washed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and the northern coastline is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. The capital is San Juan.
The climate in Puerto Rico is tropical with trade winds and frequent hurricanes. The average temperature in summer is +28-+29 °C and in winter is +22-+24 °C. We recommend visiting the island from December to April.
The majority of the population are the Catholics. The official languages are Spanish and English.
Puerto Rico is a favorite destination for the lovers of beach holidays. San Juan has the most attractive natural harbor in the Caribbean. The best beaches in San Juan are on the Vieques Island and Culebra Island, in Anyasko, Ponce and Isabela. The fans of diving should go to the Desecheo Island which is situated to the west of Rincon. Fajardo and Humacao are best suited for diving and snorkeling. If you are a kitesurfer, windsurfer or just a surfer head straight to the Aviones beach which is between Isabela and Rincon or to the Condado Lagoon and San Juan Lagoon.
Stay in San Juan for longer if you like city entertainments and shopping. This city is a touristic center of Puerto Rico. The tourists will see there fortified colonial buildings in the Old Town and San Juan Cathedral.
In the city of Ponce, excursions to the cathedrals, the colonial de Bombas Park and the best in the region the Museum of Art are arranged for the tourists.
Those who prefer country tours should visit the mountain region of Puerto Rico and go to the Arecibo Observatory with the largest radio telescope in the world.
There are no direct flights between CIS countries and Puerto Rico. The tourists traveling to this island state will have to take a transit flight with a stop in the United States of America.
The most convenient route for the tourists from Russia is Moscow – Atlanta – San Juan.
The airport in San Juan is the largest hub airport on the Caribbean Islands. The flights are available every day to Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Guadeloupe. The airports in Aguadilla (north-western coastline), Ponce (south coastline) and Mayaguez (western coastline) also welcome the planes.
Cruise ships arrive at the ports of San Juan and Mayaguez. The company ACL offers a ferry route from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Mayaguez several times a week. The trip will take you near 14 hours.
The citizens from CIS countries must obtain a visa to travel to Puerto Rico. As Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA, the documents for a visa must be submitted to the Embassies of the USA.
The tourists from Western Europe can take advantage of the mutual visa waiver programme if their stay in Puerto Rico will not exceed 3 months.
To obtain a nonimmigrant visa, the tourists must fill in an online form on the website of the US Department of Immigration.
The time for processing the documents is from 3 to 30 days.
The duration of your stay on the territory of Puerto Rico is defined by the officer in the immigration service on the board of the country.
In the Customs legislation of Puerto Rico, there are no restrictions concerning the import and export of national and foreign currency. The sums exceeding 10.000 US dollars and all gold items must be declared.
The tourists can bring in Puerto Rico:
- tobacco and alcohol (tourists over 21 years old);
- gifts and personal belongings the cost of which is maximum 100 US dollars.
The tourists can bring in the pets provided that they have an international vet certificate and a microchip.
It is prohibited to import:
- any fresh and canned meat;
- seeds and plants;
- fish and non-canned caviar;
- vegetables and fruits;
- insects and samples of soil;
- products made of the skins of rare animals;
- matches and lighters.
The import of Haiti drums with a leather drumhead is restricted.
The staple food in Puerto Rica is meat. The Puerto Ricans like to stew meat with a lot of greens and vegetables in a special heavy Dutch oven Caldero.
We recommend the tourists trying the most famous Puerto Rican dishes such as Carne Guisado (beef stew with black olives and pepper), Pastel de Carne (meat pie), and Sancocho (beef stew with vegetables). The tourists should reveal an unusual taste of such traditional dishes as Riñones guisados (kidney stew with cheese sauce), Sesos empanados (calfs’ brains), Lengua Rellena (stuffed beef tongue) and Ternera a la parmesana (beef with Parmesan cheese). A dish which the locals eat on holidays is Lechon Asado with bananas.
The Puerto Ricans also like poultry. Do not leave this country without trying Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice), Pollo con Jerez (chicken with sherry) and Pollo Agridulce (chicken with sweet and sour sauce). Anyone will be delighted by the local version of Paella and Escabeche with sauce and rice.
Soups are a hallmark of the Puerto Rican cuisine. The most famous soup in Latin America is Frijoles Negros with black beans. You should also try Sopon de Pescado (fish soup with spices), fish broth Caldo Gallego, Asopao and Grepos. These soups are served with savory sausages Chorizo.
The lovers of seafood can treat themselves to Jueyes ervidoz (baked crabs), Mojo isleño (roasted fish with sauce), Serveza Camarones (shrimps in beer). In each region, the tourists will be offered the cod Bacalao and a lobster soup with a delicate taste.
Those who have a sweet tooth should try local guava, yams and oranges cakes with custard, Nisperos de Batata (sweet potato balls with spices) and Polvo de Amor (sweet rice with coconut).
A traditional Puerto Rican drink is black coffee. The Puerto Rican produce a world famous rum Bacardi and beer Medalla.
The national currency is US dollar (USD).
We recommend exchanging the currency at banks and in official exchange offices. The tourists can freely use their credit cards. Everywhere in Puerto Rico, there are ATMs. You can find them in the stores, banks and hotels. In small cities, people are not willing to accept the cards. One can pay with the card only in large travel agencies, stores and hotels.
The tourists can cash traveler’s checks in bank offices and they will need to show and ID document (driving license or a passport). It is better to have checks in US dollars.
The tax-free system is not available in Puerto Rico. Hotels with casino charge 11% of VAT without a casino — 9%.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Puerto Rico
- In San Juan, the tourists can visit the local port which is the largest port in the Caribbean sea. LA Fortaleza Fortress and the Historical Center of San Juan are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Excursions to the Gothic Church Iglesia San Jose, Casino Palace and Casablanca Palace are arranged for the tourists. Learn more about the country and visit the Museo de Las Americas and a famous Puerto Rico Museum of Art.
- In the city of Ponce, anyone can see a colonial park De Bombas, a fantastic La Catedral de La Guadalupe, Casa Alcalde and the Ponce Historical Museum.
- On the Cabo Rojo peninsula, there is a lighthouse Faro de Cabo Rojo and Bioluminescent Bay. This is a fantastic bay which is known for its illuminated waters due to bioluminescent plankton.
- The tourists will be much impressed by their trip to Cordillera Central and the city of Guavate. There anyone can take a hiking trail across the Shea Forest Reserves and Toro Negro Forest Reserves, and visit a fishing settlement in Guanica. In the Cordillera Central, there is one of the largest reserves of the dry subtropical forest - Bosque-Estatal de Guanica.
- Rio Camuy caves are one of the largest cave systems in the Western Hemisphere and the third longest cave system in the world. It consists of 228 caves and night excursions are arranged for the tourists.
- The reserve El Yunque in Rio Grande is one of the largest tropical forest reserves in the Caribbean. Being in Puerto Rico, visit such natural reserve as Piñones which starts from the eastern outskirts of Isla Verde.
- On the island Culebra, there is an interesting Turtle Beach where everyone can watch the life of the turtles. One of the oldest working lighthouses of the USA is situated on this island.
- Arecibo Observatory is available for anyone and the tourists can take a picture of the largest radio telescope in the world.
Souvenirs in Puerto Rico
- Masks made of a coconut and papier-mache Veigante, carved figurines of the saints „santos“, hammocks, pottery and macramé lace are sold in San Juan.
- In Carolina, the tourists can buy Cuatro (traditional musical instruments), very beautiful lace Mundillo, rum Bacardi and Don Koo.