Where is Puerto Rico?
History of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Visa Requirements
Travel requirements for visitors to Puerto Rico are the same as those for travel to the US, which means that visas are not required for those from countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program with the US. This includes Australia, New Zealand, nations of the European Union, and many Latin American countries.
Residents of many countries may enter the US without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). These countries include Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and Japan among others. Visitors travelling to the US under the VWP must also have Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to entry. This can be applied for online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/. Effective September 8, 2010, all Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration applications or renewals on or after that date will require a US$14.00 fee payment by credit or debit card.
Passports for citizens of VWP participating countries issued on or after October 26, 2006 must be an electronic passport (ePassport) with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.
Passports must be valid for 6 months after the nominated exit date. Any traveller intending to stay longer than 90 days will need a visa.
If you enter the country through any land port of entry, ie Canada or Mexico, you will be required to pay a small land border fee.
Travellers from VWP countries may also need to fill out an I-94 form before going through US immigration. This form is often supplied by the travel organizer / agent but it is also available on arrival in the US. The form is stapled to your passport upon entry to the US and must be returned to immigration officials when leaving the country. Failure to do so will result in immigration thinking you are still in the US and may may affect your ability to visit again. If you fail to return the form upon departure you should contact your local US consulate or embassy to arrange for its return and ensure your exit details are properly updated. (nb the US Dept of Homeland Security is planning to phase out the paper form in the near future so it is wise to check this requirement with your local US consulate).
Citizens from countries not covered by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will need to obtain a visa from their local US embassy or consulate prior to travelling.
All travellers may be required to show immigration officials that you have return or onward tickets, proof you intend to leave the country within 90 days and adequate means of support and accommodation upon entering the US.
Due to frequent changes in US foreign policy it is very important to confirm current entry requirements to the US prior to making travel arrangements.
As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.
Puerto Rico Travel Health
Puerto Rico is relatively free from the diseases common to many tropical locations, however, outbreaks of Dengue fever are not unknown. Travelers should take precautions to avoid mosquitos and make sure all vaccinations are up to date.
High-quality medical facilities are widely available in Puerto Rico, however, as on the US mainland, healthcare services can be exorbitantly expensive. Travel insurance is highly recommended for those without overseas coverage.
The crime-rate is low in Puerto Rico, but, as when traveling anywhere unfamiliar, common-sense precautions should be taken, particularly at night.
Hurricanes and tropical storms do affect the island in the the summer and autumn months, so check forecasts before travel.
The number for emergencies in Puerto Rico is 911.
What is Puerto Rico Local Currency?
The official currency of Puerto Rico is the US dollar ($US), which is available in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 1 dollar notes and coins with values of 25, 10, 5, and 1 cent (1/100).
Currency exchange is offered in many banks throughout the islands, and ATMs are widely available in towns and cities. Travelers checks and credit cards are accepted in most places, and banks are open from 9:30 to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday. For best exchange rates, travelers checks in US dollars are recommended.
Displayed prices in Puerto Rico genally include a 5-7% sales tax, but expect a 9% accomodation tax on top of your hotel bill.
What is Puerto Rico’s Weather?
The climate of Puerto Rico is maritime tropical, which means potentially hot weather is generally moderated by cool ocean breezes. The average temperature on the islands is a balmy 27ºC, with slightly higher averages in the southern regions of the main island, and slightly lower in the moutainous interior.
The rainy/hurricane season runs from June to November, although brief tropical showers can be expected year round.
As a general rule, travelers can expect sunshine and warm temperatures most of the year.
Culture of Puerto Rico
The culture of of Puerto Rico is unique and results from a number of important sources, including Caribbean, Spanish, African, and more recently, North American influences. Puerto Ricans are friendly, informal, outspoken, and generally like to enjoy themselves. Visitors will find that a little politeness will go a long way.
Cristianity is the main religion of Puerto Rico, with Roman Catholics a large majority. A number of Protestant denomimations are represented as well, however.
As in the US, when dining out in Puerto Rico, a 15-20% tip should be added to the food bill for service. Some restaurants may add this, if they do not, a 15% minimum tip should be left, and up to 20% for good service. Tipping is also expected by taxi drivers, as well as bar and hotel staff.
What Languages Are Spoken In Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico has two official languanges, Spanish and English. In the cities and towns, English is widely spoken. However, in regional areas, Spanish is often the only language spoken so be prepared.
The international access code for Puerto Rico is +1 787, and the outgoing access number for international calls is +011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. +011 66 for Australia). For the best rates on international calls from Puerto Rico, phone cards are recommended and can be purchased at convenience stores throughout the islands.
Roaming services are provided by many North American mobile phone companies and coverage is excellent. Travelers from other parts of the world will likely find their phones incompatable with the CDMA system though. Handset rentals are available for use, however.
When it comes to internet access, Puerto Rico is flush. There are numerous internet cafes, most of which provide wireless access for a small fee. Hotels and resorts also offer wired and wireless internet services as well.
The US Postal Service operates in Puerto Rico and provides a full range of international delivery option
Puerto Rico Transport Options
San Juan’s Aeropuerto International de Luis Munoz Marin (LMM) is located just three kilometers from Puerto Rico’s capital city San Juan.
Many of the island’s major resorts and hotels offer shuttle services from the airport, and there are also buses, taxis, and rental cars available. Public buses are cheap and offer services to Rio Pedras, Isla Verde, and San Juan ($.25 one-way). Taxis to the city center cost around $16. There are a number of international rental car companies operating from the airport, and roads in Puerto Rico are right-hand drive, as in the US.
Motorcycle, scooter and bicycle rentals are also available in San Juan and each offers the more adventerous traveler a way to explore many of the island’s out-of-the-way locales.
Puerto Rico Travel Tips
There are ways for the budget traveler to enjoy Puerto Rico, but on the whole, prices are comparable to any major US city
Puerto Rico Local Food
There are a number of Caribbean restaurants in Puerto Rico that offer visitors a chance to sample the cuisine not only of Puerto Rico, but of the islands in general.
Local dishes to look out for include appetizers such as bacalaitos (cod fritters), surullitos (cornmeal fingers), and empanadillas (seafood or beef turnovers). Soups with chicken, fish, or pig’s feet are also an island speciality, and spicy main courses with fresh Caribbean sea food are not to be missed.
There are also international restaurants that cater for for a wide range of budgets and palates, ranging from fine dining to fast food.
Puerto Rico Local Timezones
Puerto Rico is in the GMT -4 time zone, which is also Eastern Time in the US and Canada.
Puerto Rico Dutyfree Limits
Duty-free allowances are the same as those for the US. Visitors over 21 may bring up to.. 400 cigarettes 50 cigars or 500 g tobaccos 5L Alcoholic Beverage