Stroll along miles of white sand beaches in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. island territory in the Caribbean Sea. The commonwealth's relation to the United States makes it an easy and exotic getaway while being relatively safe for U.S. citizens. Know what to expect in terms of entrance requirements, exit fees, health and practical lifestyle tips to make the most of your Puerto Rican vacation.
Bring a valid passport that's current through the date that you're leaving Puerto Rico. A tourist visa is not required when visiting the territory on a vacation.
Be prepared to pay an exit fee at the airport when you're leaving Puerto Rico. Bring U.S. cash, since the airports do not accept checks, debit cards or credit cards for this exit fee. The exact amount changes according to the current exchange rate between the Puerto Rican peso and the American dollar, but typically varies between $50 to $70, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Register with the U.S. Department of State to alert the U.S. Embassy in Puerto Rico that you will be in the area. The embassy can assist you if you encounter a safety or security emergency. For serious emergencies that represent a threat to your health or safety, call the embassy from anywhere within the country by dialing 571-315-0811.
There are no required vaccinations for travelers to Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you plan to stay in rural areas of Puerto Rico, the CDC suggests you get vaccinated for typhoid.
For the most temperate weather, plan to visit Puerto Rico from December through April. Because this is the country's prime weather period, it's also the peak of the country's tourism season and prices can be elevated. Visiting just outside of the peak season, such as in late April to early May, or late November, can help you avoid the crowds but still take advantage of moderately nice weather.
Look in Que Pasa, Puerto Rico's free tourist magazine available in most hotels and airport kiosks, for lists of government-sponsored restaurants called Mesónes Gastronómicos. These offer authentic Puerto Rico food at low prices that most other restaurants cannot beat. Street vendors are also much cheaper than the restaurants found in commercial zones and resort districts.
Puerto Rico is known for its beaches, but not all of them are of equal quality. The best beaches for swimming are the Pine Grove Beach and the Carolina Public Beach, which lie adjacent to each other, according to Frommer's guidebook. Take Route 187 toward Piñones; the beaches are between Puerto Rico's Marriott Courtyard and the Ritz-Carlton. Remember to pack sunscreen and drinks to keep you protected and hydrated against the Caribbean sun.