Whether you are looking for a vacation diving in crystal Caribbean waters, rock climbing on a rugged mountain range or hiking through a tropical rain forest, Puerto Rico can provide all this and more. With an average temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit and steady breezes from the northeast trade winds, this island territory of the United States is a favorite for travelers. But as with any destination, knowing a few key tips can make your journey more pleasant.
Both English and Spanish are spoken in Puerto Rico, but Spanish is by far the dominant language especially in rural areas. If you are planning a trip to the island's famous caves or to the rain forest, expect the locals to speak Spanish only.
Passports and Money
Since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the U.S., citizens don't need a passport to visit the island or enter back into the U.S. Be aware though, if you travel to any other island, you may need a passport and visa, so check before you go. The locals refer to the local money as Pesos, but the official currency is the U.S. dollar. Canadian dollars are also taken in most places, but it is advised to change the currency to avoid potential problems, especially if your itinerary takes you to more remote areas.
Crime rates in urban areas are comparable to most U.S. cities, and it is advised to lock your car and store valuables in a safe place. Muggings are common in remote areas so remain vigilant about your surroundings and report any suspicious behavior. Most tourist areas have English speaking police officers available, but the outer regions generally do not.
Immunizations and Precautions
Because Puerto Rico is in the tropics, take precautions against tropical diseases. Vaccinations against hepatitis A is required and recommended for hepatitis B and rabies. Tetanus-diphtheria, measles and chicken pox immunizations are also suggested. Peel or wash all produce before eating and make sure milk is pasteurized before you drink it. Water standards are dictated by the EPA so most water sources should be safe, but if you are traveling in an isolated area and are unsure of the water source, boil it for five minutes before drinking.