In my previous. post Tips on Visiting Puerto Rico Part 1 I covered Airports, rental cars, groceries, and other topics that are important to know while traveling. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly suggest you do as you’ll find more gems of knowledge in that post. While I’ve had people ask me for tips on traveling to Puerto Rico, I find I always forget to mention something, which is why I also wanted to share them in a more permanent way, blog posts. So here is tips on Visting Puerto Rico Part 2.
Money and mode of paying are the same as in the United States. The U.S. Dollar is the currency, so there is no need for exchanging money if you’re coming from the U.S. When it’s time to pay your bill at a restaurant the waiter may bring the credit card machine over to the table. You may see the letters ATH when it’s time to pay, or the waiter will ask if you’re paying with ATH, that simply means you’re paying with a card. Tips are given the same way they are in the U.S. via cash or on your card. Although having cash is always a great idea, especially if you’re in a rural area. Such was the case for me when I visited attractions on the Tiano route, where they only accepted cash.
The rules for driving are pretty much the same. You CAN turn on a red light, NJ drivers rejoice. Although I will give you fair warning, drivers there can be very chaotic. You may see U-turns in the craziest of places, Red lights being eaten, and drivers who don’t like using signals. So my best advice is to have a good driver and keep your eyes open at all times.
I have some experience driving there although I didn’t do most of the driving. But I can tell you with confidence, that the drivers can be a bit crazy. As per roads, the infrastructure is not great and there are a lot of potholes, so it’s also a good idea to take it slow and let people pass you. Another tip on driving, if you go into the mountains, the roads are one lane, so a slow speed is best.
When you rent a car, it will be installed with an AutoExpreso or their version of EZ-Pass. This will allow you to drive through all the tolls without stopping at a booth. In fact, most of the highways in Puerto Rico are AutoExpreso only. The bill for the tolls will come around a month later. There is no need to refill the AutoExpresso for rentals, as that will be done by the rental company when you pick up the car.
Gas is self-service in Puerto Rico. So if you live in a self-service state you’ll have an idea of what to do. If you don’t here are the steps in the simplest way I can think of:
- Pick a Pump and insert it into your car
- Go inside and tell the cashier which number pump you’re at. At which point you will hand over your driver’s license for them to hold until you’re done.
- Flip the switch up or down on the pump and proceed to pump your gas.
- Once you’re done put the pump back and return to the cashier to get your license and pay for the gas.
- If you’re having trouble, go inside for help!
Ah, the food! There is nothing like eating Puerto Rican food in Puerto Rico for me. And other Puerto Ricans will tell you, even if we have great restaurants here that serve Puerto Rican food, it’s not the same! You’ll see a lot of popular dishes like Mofongo, Arroz con Habichuelas, Tostones, Alcapurria’s, Pastelillos, and lots of other fried dishes and seafood. Desserts you may see are Flan de Queso, a personal favorite, and many desserts with guava, and coconut. As per drinks, Puerto Rico is home to the Pina Colada, so you will see that everywhere. While more traditional drinks like Guarapo, a sugar cane drink are for the more adventurous.
And of course, you will see fast food like Wendys and Starbucks, which will have items on the menu with Puerto Rican ingredients or flavors. My personal favorite fast food while there is El Meson, a Puerto Rican fast-food chain that has some locations in Florida. Here you’ll find a variety of sandwiches among other items. And finally, while you’re eating others in the restaurant will say Buen Provecho as they see you, it’s a sort of Boun Appetite wish and is part of the manners of the locals, you simply reply thank you (gracias).
As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a lot to see and do in Puerto Rico including a variety of adventurous activities. Thanks to the normally great and sunny weather, you should have many opportunities to get outside and have fun in the spectacular nature of Puerto Rico. Here are some places I used in past adventures. These companies offer multiple activities on site so you can have an activity jam-packed day or go back multiple times. Tip: Make sure to bring cash to tip your guide at the end.
Puerto Ricans are generally happy and VERY helpful. They will try and help you, even if their English is not good. Don’t be surprised if you ask yourself a question out loud and someone answers you. They are also very polite, you will be addressed as Senorita, Senora, Senor, or Joven if you’re young.
If you are Latinx and are visiting Puerto Rico, please don’t assume the curse words you hear in Reggaeton or Trap are used freely on the streets. I heard this on one of my excursions while there by another Latinx person, and locals had to explain not to use certain words. Manners are very important in Puerto Rico, and locals will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. The last thing you want is to offend locals or get into a confrontation, especially when you don’t really know the culture firsthand.
You will always hear music in cars, in restaurants, on beaches, and pretty much everywhere. It is an island with many forms of music from Salsa, Reggaeton, Spanish Trap, Boleros, and traditional Bomba and Plena. As well as other forms of music, like Spanish Rock. Music and dancing are very much a part of the Puerto Rican lifestyle.
I hope these tips help you on your next trip to Puerto Rico. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments. And feel free to reach out to me on social media. And most importantly have fun on your trip, while remaining respectful of the place and people you visit.- T.S.