Category TOP 10 PUERTO RICO

Beach Hotels

With its colorful wooden cabins under shade trees and edging up to the beach, this low-key resort is one of the nicest places near Playa de Jobos. The rooms have attractive furnishings. Activities available here include tennis, volleyball, and kayaking. d Map C1

• Carretera 466 Km 8.9, Isabela • 787 872 2045

• hauhotelvillas. com • $$$

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R(o Mar Beach Resort & Spa

This 672-room high-rise sprawls across a former coconut plantation near the beach. Its luxurious rooms are furnished in contemporary tropical – island fashion, with plush fabrics. Make the most of its superb watersports facilities, Oriental-themed spa, and 11 restaurants. d Map M2 • Bulevar Rio Mar 6000, Rio Grande

• 787 888 6000 • www wyndhamriomar. com • $$$$

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Four Points by Sheraton Palmas del Mar ...

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San Juan Hotels

Exuding 18th-century charm, this former 17th – century convent has deluxe rooms, a superb restaurant, and a splendid location in the heart of Old San Juan. The romantic, individually styled rooms have elegant period furnish­ings. d Map U6 • Calle del Cristo 100, Old San Juan

• 787 723 9020 • www elconvento. com • $$$$$

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The Gallery Inn

Comprising three restored 18th-century town houses, this hotel offers elegance and luxury. Its rooms are adorned with antiques and whimsical trompe l’oeil walls. Enjoy splendid views over Old San Juan from the rooftop deck. d Map V5

• Calle Norzagaray 204, Old San Juan • 787 722 1808

www. thegalleryinn. com

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• $$$$$

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Hotel Miramar

This charming hotel is located in one of San Juan’s oldest residential neighb...

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Eating and Accommodation Tips

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Colmados and Fondas

These brightly painted general stores scattered throughout the country sell pastries, sandwiches, and cheap meals – usually simple local dishes such as fricase (stew) or roast chicken with rice and beans. An interesting alternative is to savor a hearty, inex­pensive lunch at a fonda, a simple workmen’s cafe.

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Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

There is no shortage of delicious tropical fruit to be enjoyed in Puerto Rico, but be sure to peel or thoroughly wash the food items before eating. Salads and other raw preparations in higher – end establishments are usually safe to eat, but should be avoided in colmados and fondas.

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Bills and Tipping

Most upscale restaurants include a 10-15 percent service charge in the bill...

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Budget Tips

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Low-Season Travel

You can save a good deal of money by visiting between June and mid – December. This is the hurricane season, so prices are lower for hotels and car rental, and sometimes for airfares.

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Street Food

Food prepared at street stalls and beach grills, or in coimados (see p112), is usually an excellent bargain. Often a plate of barbecued chicken or pork served with rice, black beans, and piatanos will cost less than $5. Some of the best street fare is at Playa Pinones (see p49). Make sure your meal has been freshly cooked and hasn’t been sitting out in the sun for too long.

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Haggling

Most street stalls and souvenir stores mark up prices beyond what may be reasonable for crafts, necklaces, and other souvenirs...

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Tours and Special Interests

Although the best way to explore San Juan is on foot, free trolleys make sightseeing easier on hot days, although there is no narration.

Also popular are Segway tours of the city, which run to 45 minutes or 2 hours and are narrated in English. Rent a Bicycle (see p36) runs fun bike tours. By night, a guided walking tour with Legends of Puerto Rico brings the past back to life. d Segway Tours:

www. segwaytourspr. com • Legends o f Puerto Rico: www. legendsofpr. com

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Excursions to Vieques & Culebra

Day trips are a great way of sampling Vieques (see pp16-17) and Culebra (see pp18-19). East Island Excursions offers daily trips to Culebra aboard a high-speed cata­maran, and nightly trips to Vieques to see the Bahia de Fosforescente. d East Island Excursions: www. eastwindcats. com

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Things to Avoid

Rush-hour traffic is notoriously bad in San Juan, which can get appallingly congested, as can almost every other town in Puerto Rico. Traffic jams are common at popular beach resorts, especially on weekends and public holidays. At these times, congestion is particularly bad when re-entering San Juan from the east.

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Taxi Scams

Tourist taxis in San Juan operate within zones with pre-fixed rates (see p105). Else­where on the island, including metropolitan San Juan, the taxis use meters. For longer journeys and sightseeing, you will have to negotiate a fare with the driver before you set off. Most are honest, but there are a few who will attempt to bamboozle you out of large sums. Ask your hotel concierge for an appropriate fare.

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Running Out of Cash

Banks in Puerto Rico are usu...

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Banking and Communications

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The US Dollar

The US dollar ($) is the local currency, some­times referred to as the peso or dolar by locals. The dollar is divided into 100 cents (centavos or chavitos to locals), with coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars in circulation.

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Foreign Currencies

Some tourist entities may accept payment in Canadian dollars and Euros, although these are the exception. Major foreign currencies can be exchanged on the island at banks, casas de cambios (see below), and hotel reception desks.

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Banks and ATMs

Puerto Rico has many US – and foreign-owned, as well as local, banks. Most will change foreign currencies at the official rate. Opening hours are typically 9am-3:30pm Monday to Friday...

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Sources of Information

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company has offices in the US, Canada, UK, and Spain that provide brochures, maps, and general information on attractions, activities, and accommodations.

For more detailed information, consult independent travel agencies and websites (see below). d Puerto Rico Tourism Company:

800 866 7827 (US)

• (416) 368 2680 (Canada)

www. seepuertorico. com

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Local Tourist Offices

There are local tourist offices scattered around the country, with the main Puerto Rico Tourism Company information bureau in San Juan. Specialist tour operators are also good sources for maps, brochures, and personalized travel advice. There are very few tourist information offices outside San Juan. d Puerto Rico Tourism Company: Map V6; La Casita, Pier 1, Old San Juan; 721 2400 (San Juan)

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Getting Around

Left A rental car Center A colorful bus in San Juan Right A Cape Air plane



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Internal Flights

Cape Air offers regular connections between Luis Munoz Marin International and Ponce, Vieques, and Mayaguez. Vieques Air Link flies from Isla Grande Airport to Vieques and Culebra, and Seaborne Airlines links San Juan and Vieques. d Cape Air: 1800 352 0714 or 508 771 6944; www. capeair. com • Vieques Air Link: 1888 901 9247; www. viequesairlink. com • Seaborne Airlines: 877 772 1005 or 787 977 5044; www. seaborneairlines. com

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Long-Distance Buses

Although large buses serve metropolitan San Juan, there is no scheduled long-distance service. Travel between island towns is by small publicos (see below)...

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Planning Your Trip



Passports and Visas

All travelers must show a passport. Most European citizens, as well as Japan­ese and a few others need a non-refundable return ticket from outside the US to qualify for a 90-day visa. Travelers visiting under the Visa Waiver Program must register and pay a fee at https://esta. cbp. dhs. gov. Other nationalities must secure a visa, before traveling, from a US consulate or embassy.

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Insurance

Get insurance for loss or theft of valuables as well as for medical purposes. Visitors intending to go scuba diving or spelunking must ensure that their policy covers these sports.

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When To Go

The tourist season runs from December to April. This period is drier and cooler than the rest of the year, although January temperatures still average 77°F (26°C)...

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