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Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is simply paradise, replete with pristine beaches lined with coconut palms, azure oceans and topped off with a gorgeous tropical climate. A Caribbean island with a difference, Puerto Rico's unmistakable Spanish colonial heritage mixes with its status as a United States territory. Its American customs dovetail nicely with its rich traditional Latin American culture, typified by the fact that hamburgers are as endemic as such island dishes as sancocho.

The second thing that makes Puerto Rico different from other Caribbean holiday Meccas is that it remains largely underdeveloped except for its coastal region around the capital, San Juan. The island's beaches are magnificent and mostly non-commercialised, meaning there's a chance for a more rustic island getaway. They're easily reached from San Juan and its myriad large resorts thanks to the island's relatively compact size.

Exploring Puerto Rico's coast and interior is a delight. Roads are excellent and there are numerous interesting attractions and unrivalled experiences, from one of the world's largest radio telescopes to the magical experience of swimming at night among tiny phosphorescent creatures on the offshore island of Vieques.

Puerto Rico, like many other Caribbean islands, was originally inhabited by Taino Indians until the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the instigation of Spanish rule and settlement. The island's capital and larger towns have preserved their Spanish heritage as tourist attractions, full of old charm and interest.

Along with its breathtaking scenery and wonderfully laid-back island atmosphere, Puerto Rico is a hybrid of old and new, which makes it an intriguing cultural destination rather than just another tropical island paradise.


Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico.


The United States Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency, which is divided into 100 cents. It is often referred to as the 'peso' in Puerto Rico. ATMs and bureaux de change are freely available and all major credit cards and travellers cheques are generally accepted. Banking hours are 9am to 3.30pm.


Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat attachment plugs are in use.


Some restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10-17 percent service charge to the bill. If not, a 15 percent tip is expected. Taxi drivers and bar staff also expect tips.


Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria with regular power and communication outages and unstable buildings.

Visits to Puerto Rico are usually trouble-free but travellers should take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft.

Many travel and health authorities classify Puerto Rico as having a high risk of Zika virus transmission. Visitors are advised to seek advice from health professionals before travel.


The international access code for Puerto Rico is +1 787 and +1 939. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom). The outgoing code is not needed for calling the US, Canada, and most of the Caribbean. Mobile phones work throughout the island and local operators use CDMA networks that are not compatible with GSM phones, as used outside North America. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.


There are no vaccination certificates required for travel to Puerto Rico. Cases of dengue fever occur annually and mosquito protection measures are essential, while it's best to drink bottled water to avoid stomach upsets. Medical services are good but can be expensive so travel insurance is advised.

Public Holidays

Memorial Day25 May31 May
Easter12 Apr4 Apr
Emancipation Day22 Mar22 Mar
New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Martin Luther King Jr Day20 Jan18 Jan
President's Day17 Feb15 Feb
Epiphany6 Jan6 Jan
USA Independence Day4 Jul4 Jul
Constitution Day25 Jul25 Jul
Labour Day7 Sep6 Sep
Columbus12 Oct11 Oct
Veterans Day11 Nov11 Nov
Discovery Day19 Nov19 Nov
Thanksgiving Day26 Nov25 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec


Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory although the resemblance is closer to Latin America. English is understood by many on the island, but Spanish may also be the language in which business is conducted. Dress codes will vary according to different sectors, but suits are favoured on very formal occasions. Shaking hands is common for both men and women. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour taken at lunch.

Passport & Visa

All passport holders must have an onward or return ticket and documents necessary for further travel. Entry requirements for Puerto Rico are the same as for the United States of America. When arriving from mainland USA there is no immigration control. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Social etiquette in Puerto Rico is typically Latin American, with some North American influences such as a stronger sense of female independence, and a toning-down of the machismo ideal. Western visitors to the country should feel comfortable in most social situations.

Hygiene, cleanliness, and personal appearance are viewed as matters of self-respect, so travellers who've been on the road for a little while might consider neatening up their beards or trimming their hair, especially if they want to make a good first impression.

A final, important aspect of Puerto Rican social life, is the concept of relajo. Generally shy of direct confrontation and open criticism, relajo refers to the gentle, joking manner in which Puerto Ricans will bring up uncomfortable issues around each another. Visitors should be aware of this technique, as they may, on occasion, be required to read between the lines to discover what locals are really trying to express.

Duty Free

Puerto Rico's customs regulations are the same as those for the United States. Visitors over 21 may bring in the following items without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 2kg of tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol; and gifts valued up to US$100.

There is a long list of restricted and prohibited items which may not be imported or imported only under license, ranging from fireworks and matches to pre-Columbian sculpture and Cuban cigars. If in doubt, consult your nearest US Embassy for advice. Any merchandise from embargoed countries (Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Serbia and Montenegro and the Sudan) may not be brought onto US soil.


The Puerto Rican Tourist Company, Old San Juan: +1 787 721 2400 or

Emergencies: 911

Entry Requirements

Valid passport or passport replacing documents are required. Visa not required.

Those with UK passports endorsed 'British Citizen' require a passport valid for 6 months beyond the period of intended stay, but no visa is required for touristic stays of 90 days. Those with any other endorsement should check official requirements.

Canadian citizens require a passport valid for period of intended stay. No visa is required.

South Africans must hold a passport valid for period of intended stay and a visa is also required, unless holding a valid US visa.

Irish citizens require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for touristic stays up to 90 days.

Embassy Consulates

British Consulate, San Juan: +1 787 850 2400.

Canadian Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 (202) 682 1740.

South African Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 232 4400.

Irish Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 462 3939.

New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 328 4800.

Embassy Consulates

United States Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7499 9000.

United States Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 5335.

United States Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 431 4000.

United States Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 668 8777.

United States Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 462 6000.


Puerto Rico is a paradise in many a tourist's mind, and for good reason. A tropical Caribbean destination with cultural interests and lots of character thrown in, Puerto Rico certainly delivers on all fronts.

For those with a penchant for the outdoors, Puerto Rico will not disappoint. The country makes for a brilliant natural playground, offering beautiful islands, undeveloped beaches, caves, and a mountainous region to explore, as well as quaint villages and towns. Surfing and scuba diving are popular choices in areas such as Vieques's bioluminescent bay or on the western shores, while adventuring through the caves in the Camuy Cave Park is thrilling.

Apart from the obvious sun-soaking at the likes of Isla Verde or the Rincon shoreline, holidaymakers will also get the chance to indulge in Puerto Rico's interesting history. The fortress of San Felipe del Morro, built in 1540, makes for a great cultural excursion.

The historic San Juan, with its fascinating colonial architecture dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, will delight history lovers. For those looking for art and culture, sculptures are a common sight in San Juan and there are wonderful museums such as Puerto Rico's showcase art gallery, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.

Home to a diverse and vibrant nightlife scene, as well as many fine restaurants offering memorable fusion cuisines, a night out in Puerto Rico's San Juan will offer tourists some good fun and fantastic gastronomy. What's more, the tropical temperatures in Puerto Rico mean that visitors can enjoy its offerings all year round.


Puerto Rico enjoys a warm, tropical climate with temperatures of around 82ºF (27ºC) throughout the year. The temperature in the south is usually a few degrees higher than the north and temperatures in the central interior mountains are always cooler than the rest of the island.

The dry season is usually from November to May but short showers can be expected throughout the year. The hurricane season is between June and November, but generally there is plenty of warning.

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