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Everything you should know before going to Puerto Rico

You’ve booked your Vacation In Puerto Rico, and now you need to know everything relevant so that you are prepared. In this article we cover the 10 basic things you should know before coming to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is considered a United States territory and therefore it has a lot of similarities with the U.S. But there are still many things that don’t work the same that we’ll cover in this article, so you have everything you need to know before visiting Puerto Rico.

We have other articles about Puerto Rico, explaining the must-sees and other attractions, you can check them out here: Puerto Rico

1. Transportation

There are not many options when it comes to transportation in Puerto Rico, we recommend renting a car as ridesharing and public transportation are unreliable.

- Renting A car

If you’re a U.S. resident you can use your insurance and liability from your car, you just need your policy number at the counter. Otherwise, you should know that you will need liability insurance for any car rented in Puerto Rico, which is normally sold at the counter.

There are a few things that work differently on Puerto Rican Roads that we will explain next:

• Tolls

There are toll systems on many roads in Puerto Rico and you will need to pay to activate the device for those tolls at the car rental company. Normally there is a $25 activation fee for the device, and then you will need to pay the tolls which range between $0.80 and $3.50. Some car rental companies offer an unlimited toll pass for $10 a day, which is only worth it if you stay for 3 days or less. We Paid $12 in tolls driving for 8 days around the entire island.

• Gas

Gas prices are average for the U.S. Don’t be fooled by the signs on gas stations, as the price is displayed for liters and not for gallons. You will need to multiply by 4 to get the price per gallon.

• Roads

Roads in Puerto Rico are similar to the U.S but don’t expect to see more than two lanes on most of them, roads with tolls are better maintained. The speed limit is displayed in miles per hour but markers on the road are in kilometers.

- Ridesharing

The only ridesharing app that works for Puerto Rico it’s Uber. Uber in PR is cheap, you will find Uber service around all airports and they will take you to any Hotel or area, but be aware that some areas may not have any Uber drivers so it can be hard to find a ride back. (This is not an issue in San Juan).

You should probably ask your Hotel or Vacation Rental Host what are the best options to get there and if there’s Uber service around.

- Public Transport

Public transport is not widely available in Puerto Rico, there’s service around San Juan and surrounding municipalities. Public transport isn’t very reliable, schedules and routes can be checked here but they are inaccurate and the only people that have access to the real itineraries are bus drivers.

The cost of buses is $0.75 and can only be paid in quarters, (although most bus riders won’t ask you to pay if you don’t have change). In case you’re at the bus stop and it’s been a while you can try calling (787) 657-0000 and asking if the route is in service and when they expect the next bus to arrive. (In our own experience we once waited for 2 hours for a bus that was supposed to run every 50 minutes). So have a plan B.

2. Internet & Cellpone

If you have an internet plan in the US, it will work exactly the same in Puerto Rico. If you don’t have a plan in the U.S. we recommend purchasing one beforehand as airports don’t sell any internet chips. If you are already in Puerto Rico and need a SIM card the main phone company here named “Claro” has prepaid internet plans.

3. Tourist Attractions

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017 but there are a lot of tourist attractions that are still recovering from it (As of October 2022) During Hurricane Season, (Aug-Oct) after some storms, tourist attractions close without notice. Your best option is to check if people have left recent reviews on Google and try to call the attraction beforehand. If they do not answer the phone they’re probably closed. Sometimes the only sure option to be informed is to book a Tour.

4. Safety

Puerto Rico is safer than many cities in the US and Latin America. However, you shouldn’t walk in areas that you aren’t familiar with at night. As in the rest of America, people are allowed to purchase and carry firearms.

5. Weather

Puerto Rico has a tropical climate, the temperature all year round is  88ºF high & 72ºF low,  (31ºC & 22ºC). It rains almost every day but is usually during night-time. If it rains during the day is never for more than 10 minutes. The air is very humid and it’s really easy to start sweating.

6. Food

The best place to eat real Puerto Rican food is at street vendors. Sometimes this option will even be cheaper than grocery shopping and cooking. Supermarkets in Puerto Rico are more expensive than in mainland U.S. as everything that is imported from other countries needs to go through a U.S. port and be brought on a ship that is American-built, American-owned, and crewed by US citizens or permanent residents, which rises the prices of almost every product. Learn More

7. Money & Currency

In Puerto Rico, they use the US dollar. Most major food chains and supermarkets accept credit cards but street vendors and some shops only accept cash or a system called ATH (Which is like Zelle, but it only works with Puerto Rican Banks). There are not many U.S. banks in Puerto Rico and most ATMs will charge a commission for U.S. cards. If you’re in need of cash, the best option is going to Walmart and when using a debit card to pay you will be offered up to $100 in cash back free of charge.

8. Wildlife

Puerto Rico has some really diverse wildlife, but this section is to warn you about insects. Tourists often complain about mosquito and spider bites and spraying insect repellent barely does anything. We suggest bringing the strongest repellent you can find and avoiding being close to the beach 30 minutes before sunset if you don’t want to get eaten alive by mosquitoes.

9. Language

As you probably know Spanish is the main language in Puerto Rico, but English is now taught in every school, so all young people can speak it fluently, and most people will talk to you in English anyways.

10. Power and Water

In Puerto Rico, they use the same power outlets as in the rest of the US. The company that provides power for Puerto Rico is not very reliable, so you may experience power outages. Most hotels will have generators and Vacation Rentals will have solar panels, but it’s good to find out before coming. With Power, outages come water outages, but hotels and vacation rentals are usually prepared for this too. Tap water in PR is drinkable so no need to buy bottled water.

Thanks for reading! If you think we forgot to mention anything, or you have any questions before your trip don’t hesitate to write in the comment section!

We also have other articles about Puerto Rico, you can check them out here: Puerto Rico

Thank you for reading!

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