A getaway to Puerto Rico is exactly what your winter break calls for. Crystal blue waters, great food and drinks with plenty of opportunities to soak in the sun.
Puerto Rico is a Spanish-speaking Caribbean island known for more than 300 miles of coastline and flawless beaches. There are inexpensive direct flights from almost anywhere in Texas, making it a popular destination. There is no need for a passport or to exchange your currency, as Puerto Rico is a United States territory, making travel even more convenient. (As for any destination, do check the current travel restrictions before your trip.)
Arrive in San Juan and grab a car or shuttle to your final destination. You’ll soon understand why the island is a coveted getaway.
Where to Stay
Mayagüez acts as a central hub on the western side of Puerto Rico, giving visitors access to several smaller cities and towns. It is the third-largest city in Puerto Rico, making it a favorite destination for tourists. Just minutes from Mayagüez vacationers can visit Rincón, Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo and Isabela, among others – each offering their own flavor and unique destinations.
Things to Do
The clean sandy beaches and crystal blue waters of Puerto Rico rival any other. Like beaches in other parts of the Caribbean, each offers something a little different. There is something for everyone from family time to secluded spots or beaches with the best waves. Newcomers should talk to locals or research to find out which is most appropriate for their needs.
Water sports should be a part of the itinerary, no matter which beach you choose. Crash Boat Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the western part of the island. Visitors can find boats and water skis to rent along with scuba and snorkel gear – the clear water is excellent for both scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts. Although Crash Boat Beach might be the most well-known, you’ll find water sport rentals up and down the coastline, including surfboards and surfing lessons.
Along with miles of beautiful coastline, the western side of Puerto Rico also has an abundance of rich history. Each city and town has unique cultural landmarks, murals, and public buildings to explore. Historical tours are available through the individual municipalities or from local tour guides. As one of only five United States territories with permanent residents, it is worth finding out about Puerto Rico’s exciting history.
Food in Puerto Rico is a diverse mix of West African, U.S., and indigenous Tanio flavors, and if one thing is certain – Puerto Ricans take great pride in their food. Bold flavors, fried meats, seafood and starches take center stage on most menus.
One of the most traditional dishes in Puerto Rico is Mofongo. It can be found everywhere, from street vendors to the most upscale menus. Mofongo is deep-fried plantains mashed up with other ingredients like meat, seafood, or vegan-style – with vegetables. It can be eaten as a main course or as a side dish.
Lechón is roasted whole pork that is cooked for hours over an open fire or hot coals. It is traditional in the countryside, but famous all over the island. Lechón is often served at large celebrations but can be found in many restaurants or sold by street vendors.
Rum + Beer
It is a coin toss as to which Puerto Ricans are most proud of – their food or their rum and beer. Several brands are popular on the island, including Bacardi, primarily exported to the mainland, and Don Q. The self-proclaimed “Rum Capital of the World” has stringent rules to distinguish Puerto Rican rums from all others, including color and age. Puerto Rican rum is the only spirit with these particular legal requirements worldwide.
If beer is more your speed, Medalla Light is the most popular in Puerto Rico. It is an award-winning beer produced on the island, and soon it will be in most parts of the United States. Cervecera de Puerto Rico makes Medalla Light, but it also has several other brands popular on the island, including Malta India, Silver Key, Mgana and Del Oeste.
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Cover photo courtesy Discover Puerto Rico
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx