I embarked on a world cruise, and now I’ve experienced my home of Puerto Rico as a tourist. I went from growing up poor and calling the island my home to Puerto Rico being just another destination on my journey.
When you live somewhere, you often don’t go out and do tourist things. Not many people get to see their home city through the eyes of a tourist. It was refreshing to get to experience Puerto Rico as a vacation for a change.
I’m from a small town outside San Juan. As a kid, I remember going to El Castillo San Felipe Del Morro to fly kites in the green grass overlooking an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean. Puerto Rico will always have a special place in my heart for its stunning tropical beauty.
What you should know about San Juan
Puerto Rico, an island located in the Caribbean, has some of the most beautiful sunshine, weather, and beaches — all year round. It doesn’t matter if you go to PR in the middle of January. You’ll still find yourself enjoying the warm sunshine. When the end of the day comes, and the sun is going down, look up at the sky. Here you’ll see some of the most beautiful sunsets you have ever experienced.
San Juan is the capital and largest Puerto Rican city, and as a tourist, you must see it. However, there is more to Puerto Rico than just San Juan. The island is filled with rainforests and secluded beaches full of nature and wildlife like the gorgeous cliffs and beaches of Rincón.
If you plan on leaving San Juan to explore the rest of the island, you should know the public transportation isn’t the greatest. You’ll need to rent a car to leave the city.
Also Read: Why You Need Travel Insurance
San Juan and Puerto Rican culture
San Juan is richly filled with traditional and modern Puerto Rican culture. The island’s culture consists of centuries-old traditions, festivals, art, cuisine, and music.
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but it’s still fully consumed by the Latin American community and lifestyle. If you’re looking for a Latin American vacation without needing a passport (if you’re American) and not needing to know Spanish, you’ll love this city and island.
Fun fact: The piña colada was invented in Puerto Rico and is the official beverage of the island. Your trip to PR is not complete without grabbing a piña colada.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, we always ate lots of beans and rice every day. Beans and rice may sound boring for some, but that’s not the only food Puerto Ricans eat. Here is a list of foods you can’t leave without trying.
Local dishes to try:
- Mofongo is a traditional Puerto Rican comfort food made from deep-fried plantain mashed with salt-cured meat or seafood.
- Arroz con gandules is a Puerto Rican dish cooked with pigeon peas (gandules), rice (arroz), and sautéed pork, all coated with a sofrito sauce.
- Frituras are deep-fried fritters stuffed with meat or seafood.
Quick tips for surviving San Juan
- Be prepared for spontaneous rainfalls. Double-check the weather before you go out so you can prepare accordingly.
- Always tip at restaurants, hotels, and taxis. Remember, you’re still technically in the United States.
- The currency is U.S. dollars. It’s helpful to carry cash here when you go out.
- It won’t hurt to learn some basic Spanish. The locals will appreciate it.
My review of San Juan
Cost to stay in San Juan
Finding affordable accommodations in San Juan may be a little difficult. The average hotel will charge around $100 a night.
Don’t stress. Not everything here is expensive. The food and drinks are more affordable to make up for the pricey hotels.
Puerto Rico has been known to have problems with corruption within the government. Despite this reality, San Juan is a lot safer than a lot of popular cities in the States.
The most common issue you’ll have to keep in mind is petty theft. Just stay aware of your belongings when you’re in more crowded, touristy areas, and you’ll be fine.
Most Puerto Ricans are descendants of Spanish, Taino, and African people. Puerto Rico is a part of Latin America, and everyone is treated well.
You’ll notice here that Puerto Ricans are very hospitable to outsiders.
Founded by the Spanish in 1521, San Juan has nearly 500 years of colonial history behind it. With centuries of profound history running through San Juan, there are plenty of culturally rich and breathtaking sites to explore.
The whole island of Puerto Rico is packed with things to do and see. However, here is my list of some of the top sites to see just in San Juan.
Top seven sites to see in San Juan:
- Old San Juan
- Fuerte San Felipe del Morro
- Castillo de San Cristóbal
- Museo de las Américas
- La Fortaleza
- Iglesia de San José
- Condado and Ocean Park Beach
Everyone in Puerto Rico speaks Spanish, and most speak English. Some older people may not be as fluent in English, but typically everyone here is bilingual. In San Juan, almost everyone speaks English, but this may not be the same for the rest of Puerto Rico.
However, English speakers will get along fine here, and if you speak Spanish like me, you’ll be even better. Signs and restaurant menus are written in English and Spanish.
Quality of life
PR has some of the best weather, people, food, and parties and festivals in the whole world.
Here, healthcare and college education is more affordable than in the States. On the downside, skilled workers have a difficult time finding work here because of the weak economy. Because of this, a lot of Puerto Ricans have been leaving.
It may not be the best place for residents looking for work, but it’s home to me, and it’s an excellent place for a vacation.
My conclusion of San Juan
Coming back to my home of Puerto Rico with Viking Cruises was something I highly anticipated. I was so excited for people from around the world to experience this extraordinary place.
If Puerto Rico knows how to do one thing right, it’s how to have a good time. Words cannot explain how much I love this place! Everyone in the world should experience San Juan and Puerto Rico, hands down. San Juan will never let you down.
I want to hear from you. What questions do you have for me about San Juan or my home, Puerto Rico? Drop your questions below.