Puerto Rico Travel Guide

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Puerto Rico Information

Population: 3.950 million

Time Zone: GMT/UTC -4

Driving side: Drive on the right hand side of the road

Languages: Spanish, Castilian, English

Religion: Roman Catholicism is the main religion, but has strong Indian spiritualism and African folklore influences.

Emergency #: Emergency 911
Police 787-343-2020
Ambulance 787-343-2222
Fire 787-343-2330

Puerto Rico Local Customs

The Puerto-Ricans are a friendly, sociable people, who welcome visitors with warmth and courtesy. Out of respect visitors should save swimwear for the beaches and leisure-wear for the resorts, and for all other occasions pay a little extra attention t

Puerto Rico Culture

Spanish, African, and Taino Indian traditions have all had their impact on the culture of Puerto Rico, which is also overlaid with a hundred years of American influence, but is refreshingly free of any racial tension. Under the bright neon lights of the Americanised cities, or in the rural countryside, there still remains, and always will, a deep, intricate, and heart-felt Creole culture.

Puerto Rico Popular Destinations

San Juan - Puerto Rico's capital has a lot to offer the tourist, with gorgeous beaches, modern amenities, and a fascinating 'old city' of colonial architecture at its centre. The lively, cheerful energy of the people is appealing, and many travellers find they are loathe to leave the city's confines as everything they could want on Caribbean vacation is right on hand here, in America's second-oldest city.

El Yunque - Hike to the top of this mountain following trails through the rainforest with its miniature orchids, tree-ferns, and dripping green foliage, and you might find the god of happiness cavorting in the lushness of the summit, where it is believed he hangs out. The clouds carried in on the winds of the Atlantic bring the moisture to this natural hothouse, and nature responds with over 400 tree and fern species, and a host of beautiful flowering plants, rare birds, and glistening waterfalls.

Ponce - Puerto Rico's second city, located just inland on the central southern coast, has a well-preserved colonial core, of which they are justly proud. Dating from the late 17th century, the heart of Ponce has been declared a national treasure, and nearly half a billion dollars have been spent on the decorative old buildings, houses, churches and fountains that make up the colonial centre of the city. The centrepiece of the city is the magnificent Cathedral of our Lady of Guadeloupe that stands tall and stately, brooding over the Plaza Las Delicias. There is a lot more going on in Ponce other than grand architecture though, as it is also the centre of culture in Puerto Rico and boasts some excellent museums, a great nightlife, and, amongst other attractions, a reconstructed Arawak village, about fifteen minutes north of the town centre.

Rio Camuy Cave Park - Over 200 caves in the Karst region of north-eastern Puerto Rico, some so large skyscrapers could disappear in them, attract spelunkers from all over the world. If your knowledge of caving is not as great as it could be, and you don't want to risk your life by exploring the dangerous sinkholes and underwater rivers, then grab a ride on the trolley-tram that takes you in safety through Cueva Clara, where you can view the surreal formations of stalagmites and stalactites from a viewing platform.

Puerto Rico Beaches

There is a great beach culture in Puerto Rico, and the pristine stretches of sand offer sun-seekers and water sport fanatics the best of all worlds. In San Juan, the finest beaches are at Isla Verde and Condado, and 30 km out of the city is the picturesque Luquillo, fringed with palm trees and a typical Caribbean paradise. The calm waters of the sheltered southern coast offer perfect swimming, and the best of all the great beaches in the west, is the Boqueron beach, which is also the most popular. The celebrated Desecheo Island offers the ultimate diving experience, with its deep, submarine canyon.

There are beaches for snorkelling, diving, wind-surfing, and surfing, but for an experience that is something else, rent a boat or a kayak, and see the incredible displays of bioluminescence at Phosphorescent Bay, when the sands sparkle with a strange, bright light, and illuminate everything that touches them, and the water shine with the green fire of phosphorus.

Moving Around Puerto Rico

Your best option of seeing Puerto Rico is to rent a car, for which your home driving licence is required. Remember to drive on the right hand side of the road, and be aware that the traffic signs are in miles per hour, but the distances in kilometres. Should you prefer public transport, be prepared to be patient and tolerant, especially if using the minivans, known as 'Publicos', which have no set schedule, and operate on short distances, resulting in travellers having to change several times before reaching their destination. There are metered taxis and buses available, and government ferries operate from Fajardo to the islands of Vieques and Culebra.

National festival and holidays

Puerto Rico Danza Week - This week long festival held annually in May, commemorates Puerto Rican danza music and dance, and throughout the week live performances and conferences are held at Convento de los Dominicos' indoor patio, located in Old San Juan's Cristo Street.

Useful Puerto Rico Links

Puerto Rico Vacation Guide
Definitive guide to Puerto Rico, including history, basic facts, getting there, getting around once you are there, where to stay, and what to see and do.

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