Part 1: The beautiful island of Puerto Rico
What’s the status of your passport? If you answered, “I don’t have one” or “It’s expiring soon,” I’m here to tell you that it’s going to take awhile to renew or apply for a new passport--up to 16 weeks on average right now. You might not want to jump through those hoops for yourself or your kids currently. Is there a warm, beachy Caribbean destination you can travel to this winter without a passport? Yes! And it’s not Hawaii. There are actually two Caribbean locations you can escape to without a passport. The first is the beautiful U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is an easy destination for U.S. travelers because all you need is a driver’s license! This is a great way to explore the Caribbean on a smaller budget than many other islands.
Puerto Rico is a land with a vibrant culture and beautiful people. Here are five amazing things to do in Puerto Rico:
1 – Water fun. No matter where you are traveling in the Caribbean, the beaches and ocean are an essential part of the trip. In Puerto Rico, areas like Culebra, Vieques, and El Yunque are great places to visit. Flamingo Beach in Culebra is the perfect spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Vieques is the home of a beautiful bioluminescent bay, and El Yunque is the location of the only subtropical rainforest in the United States.
2 – Visit an old Spanish Fort. Castillo San Cristobal is a 500-year-old Spanish fort that was erected to protect the Spanish interest in their New World colony. This fort was the
largest that the Spanish built in the New World: six stories tall, encompassing 27
acres of real estate on the tip of the island overlooking the ocean. Definitely a must-see in the city of San Juan.
3 – Attend a festival. Puerto Rico is an island that knows how to party, and they know how to do it well. Festivals are scheduled every month, year round. These celebrations include parades, music, food, drinks, and dancing. December and January host the biggest festivals, and daytime is the best time to experience them. At night, they tend to get a lot more crowded and rowdy.
4 – Experience the food. Puerto Rico has been called “The Dining Capital of the Caribbean.” Puerto Rican cuisine is a harmonious blend of Taino (the native
people of Puerto Rico), American, and Spanish influences. These cultural combinations generate amazing dishes like mofongo (mashed plantains) and Arroz con
gandules y Lechon (rice with pigeon peas and pork).
5 – Spend time in Old San Juan. San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico, and Old San Juan is the colonial remnants of her days as a Spanish colonial city. Old San Juan is the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere. The brightly colored buildings and cobblestone streets preserve the old-world feel. Take a guided tour and learn of the 500+ years of history here. And you won’t want to miss the amazing food and drinks in Old San Juan.
What are the Puerto Rico travel requirements right now?
If you’re vaccinated, Puerto Rico isn’t requiring an additional negative Covid test, but if you’re not vaccinated, you’ll need to provide a negative Covid test, taken within 72 hours of traveling. You’ll also need to fill out an online health Travel Declaration Form. Masking is required in closed spaces. Pretty simple requirements!
Whether you have a passport or not, you might want to consider visiting this beautiful island for your next Caribbean getaway. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated this amazing location, and it has been a long, hard road to rebuilding. The resilience of the people is evident when you see how far they have come since then. Tourism is an integral part of their economy, and it is an important part of how they are rebuilding their island, one brick at a time. Your vacation to Puerto Rico is not just for you, but also for the island of Puerto Rico itself.