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.
San Juan Puerto Rico

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.

Safety

Puerto Rico has been known to have problems with corruption within the governmentDespite 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.

Foreigner tolerance

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.

Recreational activities

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:

  1. Old San Juan
  2. Fuerte San Felipe del Morro
  3. Castillo de San Cristóbal
  4. Museo de las Américas
  5. La Fortaleza
  6. Iglesia de San José
  7. Condado and Ocean Park Beach

Local language

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.

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Gregory

Thanks for very interesting esse you very nice person

Gregg T Williamson

My name is Gregg

Antoinette Stuart

Looking good nice thinking about it maybe in the summer

Haydee Vazquez

I’m from Puerto Rico and know very well my island

Daniel Morones

Yes wasn’t the island devastated by a hurricane is it cleaned up enough to visit or are just some places devastated and the ones you’re talking about or not

Carmen

If you had seen the mountains full of green trees I say you would know it was hit hard you could see the mountains rocks. But the people are friendly & they as hostality they treat you good that I can say & it has sorounding islands as Vieques ,Culebra & another one i dont remember the name you need to go by boat. There’s El Yungue its a tourist place you have to stay with your guidance leader many people have gotten loat for going wondering with out your guidance person. Many people have gotten lost & never return…have… Read more »

Michael

What you mean people get lost and never found someone killed them and hide the bodies I dont need to go there and were about my life

Jaime Flores

It was only some parts of the island. Not this other places

Christian

Do you know the Big Island of Hawaii??

Margie

Thank You for the information on sanJuan and PuertoRico. I may someday visit there now( when I become financially free!!)I never thought of it but I bet the weather is nice.
Margie P

Laura

I went to San Juan Puerto a few years ago for the first time & I stayed 4 months that’s how much I loved it !

Hattie Shealy

Would love to go to San juan puerto Rico

Naomi Elena gregson

That’s so crazy really have been thinking on getting away on a faction somewhere this was my first thought your story was beautiful evetuthing i amanged my name is naomi in 38 gonna be 39 December 1 in currently unemployed just got in a car accident thank god im ok ever since my husband died almost 3 years ago I have lost everything never get away so it would be nice to but have no money

Nora Borosak

Hi Naomi,

I’m very sorry to hear about all of that! Hopefully, you can take a nice vacation to Puerto Rico soon. Check out our article on how to finance your dream vacation for some tips that will help you get there. Thanks for reading!

https://wealthgrowthwisdom.com/travel-loans/

Fitzroy Brown

Look amazing thanks

Janie Douglas

I searching a vidit a couple months stsy a month very Happy

Fran Eversley

Awesome information! !

Tonya Basford

Trust me iam sure to believe its gorgeous there. But iam not financially ready to take a trip there. But thanks for the offer to visit such a beautiful place!

Nora Borosak

Hi Tonya,

Hopefully one day you will be able to make the trip. It is truly beautiful! Check out this article for some helpful tips that could get you going on vacation sooner! Thanks for reading!

https://wealthgrowthwisdom.com/travel-loans/

Olga

Although i wasnt borne in Puerto Rico. Both parents were borne there. I thank you for all that you shared with us….
Olga Brunner.

SM.Esquer

Thank you so much for sharing always a treat to see and dream of white sand beaches other cultures and the blue greens of the oceans living in Iowa the winters here are sometime brutal. .

Gerry Layer

Yes,I have been to PR numerous times. Stayed in San Juan rented a car and drove around.I will try to get back some day

Sarah Brock

my husband & I were in Puerto Rico some years ago as we were stationed at Ramey AFB it is truly a beautiful place. Pur children learned to speak Spanish while there. Such a great experience.

Ophelia Barton

My family and I went there in 2018 on a cruise. Enjoyed

Sharekia Thrasher

Will love to visit.

Yanick Joseph

Yes I love Puerto Rico, my parents whent to PR in the late 60s from their land of Haiti, and move to NY in 1977 we haven’t go back yet we used to live in Rio piedras in my teenage years l miss it and probably will go back when i retired.
It’s a beautiful place to live. I recommended to any one who willing.

Christian

I’m totally down for that!!

Christian

And share the thrashing!!

Marcelina

I would love to travel see the world and make money also

Marcelina

I would love to travel have the experience next summer

Carmen

I was born in PR a little town of Hormigueros I was 8 yrs old. some people even from PR don’t know where it’s at is at the othe end of the Island close to Mayaguez. i when Last year in May It was devistating that i found out that my aunt had died. Well I went with my Nephews & Sister we went to lots of places. And we went to the old SanJuan.. We took lots of pictures we had lots of fun. i would love to go again. Maybe God will give me the Oportunity to go… Read more »

Eugenio Mannella

That is interesting. I would like what is retiring there, how much to rent a nice place close to the beach, school quality for children, my daughter is 7, having bank accounts, I guess same as U.S? Thank you

Nancy Alvarez

My family lives there & I haven’t been ×4 yrs ago. Planning a trip for January with my husband. It’s spectacular!

Naomi Negron

Well hello my name is Naomi Negron and both of my parents were born in Puerto Rico, Rio Grande was one of the places my dad was born and raised my mom I believe was san juan .I was very young when my family took me there so I dont really remember it all. But I have heard all kinds of GREAT THINGS about the island. I can only hope that before I get too old I can at least take my family there. God willing….it would be a wonderful experience. Thank u for the BEAUTIFUL story of ur journey… Read more »

Laurs russrll

Yes somfay i lpve tto go therr

Laurs russrll

I love to go there someday

Gema Delgadillo

Gregory
Thanks for very interesting esse

Brenda Soare

San Juan is a very interesting place to visit. I would love to go on a cruise for a visit. Thanks for sharing. Brenda

Jim Christian

Great summary of Porto rico Timothy, that is also my son’s name timothy dalton. Maybe I can vacation there one day. Good luck on your travels.

Beslinda

Thank you Mr. Timothy Hansen, I really appreciate the time you spent on writing this story and your experience about our island Puerto Rico it’s a great feeling to know people appreciate and love it. For those who haven’t been there and do go will not ever forget the sites and fun.

Gregg Williamson

I was raised in Hato Rey lived there from 1962-1973 home sweet home

Ida Betancourt

I born in Santurce, Puerto Rico (San Juan Neighborhood). I had lived in Puerto Rico for 43 years and had do all the Internal Tourism you cannot imagine. The only place I had never visit was some little Islands like Culebritas, La Mona…But Thanks for ask.

Shari Bradley

That’s nice glad you all had a good time I been having some health issues but I’m still really interested in making money and living comfortable thanks.

Marie Ridenour

I would love to visit San Juan but my funds are limited