Visiting Puerto Rico is a lot like flying to Boise, except you magically land in a tropical paradise instead. The Caribbean island has a lot of the comforts of home – but without all the hassles that typically accompany any trip outside of the U.S.
Just last month, I was invited to Puerto Rico by the local tourism board. While there, I ate crazy-amazing food, explored beautiful historic San Juan, and saw scenic mountains, breathtaking waterfalls, and beautiful beaches. At the conclusion of my six-day trip, I was convinced that Puerto Rico is the ideal destination for a Caribbean getaway.
If you’re considering a trip of your own, here are ten reasons you won’t regret it, I mean beside the fact that you can pay for the majority of it by using some of the best credit cards for travel rewards:
#1: You don’t need a passport.
Remember how I said flying to Puerto Rico is a lot like flying to Boise? I said that because, as a U.S. territory, they don’t require visitors to have a passport. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can simply board the plane as if you were flying a domestic route without filling out any paperwork or lugging your passport around. Even better, this is a huge savings! If you want to visit the Caribbean without spending $129 each on passports, Puerto Rico is your place.
#2: You don’t even have to go through customs.
If you have ever traveled outside of the U.S. before, you know what a nightmare going through customs can be. Fortunately, U.S. citizens who visit Puerto Rico don’t have to go through customs at all. You just land and get in your taxi or rental car and leave. If you’re traveling with kids, this is a huge time-saver!
#3: Puerto Rico is beautiful!
One thing I really like about Puerto Rico is how diverse its landscape is. One one hand, you’ve got lush mountains and hills around every corner, but you’ve also got white sand beaches and even big cities to explore. One such city is the capital of San Juan, which is definitely worth a visit. In San Juan, you can lay out on the beach, shop in the local stores, or take part in a wide range of nightlife and entertainment options. Here are a few pictures I took during a clear, sunny day in San Juan:
#4: You can pay for everything in U.S. dollars.
While it’s true you can use U.S. dollars almost everywhere in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico actually uses the dollar as its currency. This is a great perk since I hate trying to figure out currency conversion rates or worrying that I’m short-changing someone on a tip. Carrying around U.S. dollars is also just plain convenient.
#5: They’ve got the gorgeous beaches.
I love all beaches, but especially white sand beaches with crystal clear water. Puerto Rico has all of that and more. The beaches in San Juan have a golden brown sand to die for, but what I really loved was the beach on Palomino Island at the El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo.
The El Conquistador has its own private island that you access by ferry, and I have to say it was one of the most beautiful spots I have ever been. Not only is it surrounded with a mountain backdrop that left me speechless, but they have giant iguanas everywhere, plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, and hunky bartenders serving the island’s famous drink, the Palomino Adventure. During the afternoon I spent on Palomino Island, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. (Fun Fact: Part of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was filmed just off the island.)
Here are a few pictures – one of Palomino Island and the other of the view from the El Conquistador Resort & Spa. Learn how you can earn two free nights here below (see #10)!
#6: You can zip line on the world’s tallest zip line.
While I was in Puerto Rico, we visited Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park – the home of the tallest zip line in the world. In case you are wondering, “The Beast” starts at an altitude of 853 feet and is 4,745 feet long – and yeah, I totally went through with it and cried the whole time. I wasn’t really scared; I would call it “exhilarated.” And I would totally do it again. I also ate lunch at the top of the park, and the view was amazing! Here are a few pictures – one is of my view during lunch at the park, and the second is of the group before us gearing up for The Beast!
#7: Puerto Rico has the world’s coolest children’s museum.
Just a short drive away from San Juan sits Museo del Nino, the coolest children’s museum in the world. This children’s museum was absolutely amazing! Not only do they have a ton of interactive and entertaining exhibits for children inside, they also have a cool petting zoo (with the world’s nicest cow) and a swamp ride attraction as well. We spent about an hour there and I cannot wait to take my kids back. If you’re anywhere near San Juan and have kids under the age of 12, I would suggest setting aside a half-day to spend at this museum.
#8: El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest on U.S. territory.
When you visit Puerto Rico, you can’t miss the rainforest! The El Yunque National Rainforest is the only tropical rainforest that sits on U.S. territory. I spent a day hiking the rainforest and driving around the mountains. It wasn’t just beautiful, it was educational as well. To say the rainforest is tropical is an understatement. From giant bamboo, to huge palm trees, and all kinds of wildlife, El Yunque has something to offer all nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
See also: Our Trip to Italy on Credit Card Rewards
#9: You can kayak through a bioluminescent bay.
In addition to beaches, mountains, and the nation’s only tropical rainforest, Puerto Rico is home to two separate bioluminescent bays. Although I kayaked through the bay near Fajardo, Puerto Rico’s most popular bioluminescent attraction is on Vieques Island, hidden along the Caribbean coast. Unfortunately, we had poor visibility on the night I went, but I still thought the kayak ride itself was a hoot. Whether you see a lot or not, I would highly recommend it!
#10: You can even pay with credit card rewards.
If you’re worried about the cost of visiting Puerto Rico, I can help! Both properties I stayed at – the El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo and the Caribe Hilton San Juan – can be paid for with hotel loyalty points! There are a slew of ways to earn airline miles so that you can fly your whole family there for free.
For great deals on flights, try the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card. Right now you can get up to 80,000 bonus points when you sign up for a new card. You’ll earn 50,000 points by spending $2,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 30,000 points by spending $10,000 in the first 9 months. That’s usually enough for four round-trip tickets to Puerto Rico, provided you’re flexible with your dates.
If you want to earn free stays at either of the hotels, you should check out the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve card. (Editor’s Note: this card is no longer available). With it, you can earn two free nights at any Hilton hotel in the world – including the El Conquistador in Fajardo which is fantastic! (It’s part of the Waldorf Astoria brand of hotels, so you know it’s super nice.) Find these and more of the best travel cards by using the banner below!
Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? If so, what did you love most about it?