U.S. citizens wanting a Caribbean vacation without the hassle of obtaining a passport should consider a getaway to Puerto Rico. This self-governing commonwealth is a territory of the United States, so no passport is needed for U.S. citizens to travel freely between the island and the mainland, nor is there any requirement to pass through immigrations or customs.
Puerto Rico is known for its azure Caribbean waters.
There are two ways to travel to reach Puerto Rico, by air and sea. Daily international flights are scheduled between Puerto Rico and the mainland. The Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, located roughly nine miles outside of San Juan, is the primary hub for air travel in Puerto Rico, but there are more than two dozen regional airstrips throughout the country. San Juan also is host to one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean, so visitors arriving by commercial cruise line will most likely disembark there.
The climate in Puerto Rico is temperate with little seasonal change and an average temperature of a balmy 80 degrees F. The peak tourist season runs from December through April–no surprise, since it coincides with the winter months on the mainland. Traveling during the low season of May through November can help you avoid the crowds, but this period also is the Caribbean’s hurricane season.
Getting around in Puerto Rico can be an adventure. Buses and trains are not known to be punctual or to run on a set schedule. Rental cars are available, but tourists who are not accustomed to the traffic congestion might find driving to be tedious and frustrating. Road signs display distances in kilometers, but speed limits are shown in miles per hour. Publicos, or shared taxis, can be scheduled a day in advance and while they might be a bit slower than a rental car, they also are typically cheaper. Ferries, small chartered aircraft, yachts and small boats also provide travel options for getting around the islands.
When traveling in Puerto Rico, consider the area you will be visiting. The mountainous regions can be considerably cooler than the coastal lowlands, so travelers should dress in warmer layers. Like most Caribbean islands, the climate in Puerto Rico is coastal marine, meaning rain showers can occur at any time. An umbrella or light cotton clothes that dry rapidly are advisable.
A major advantage for U.S. citizens traveling to Puerto Rico is the ability to transact business in U.S. dollars, although the locals might refer to dollars as “pesos” or “dolars.” Branches of major U.S. banks are located in Puerto Rico, as are ATMs that are linked to international banking networks. Major credit cards are readily accepted at most businesses.
- puerto de cudillero image by Alejandro Nieto Fernandez from Fotolia.com