It's been one year since Hurricane Maria devastated the Island of Puerto Rico. And even though recovery efforts are still underway there is no time better than now to visit the Island.
I could sum up in three reasons why you should go to Puerto Rico. (1) The Food; (2) The Culture; (3) The People.
It is also my ideal Poor In a Private Plane destination as it continues to be relatively inexpensive.
However wouldn't it be better to hear first hand from those that have visited since the Hurricane a year ago.
Puerto Rico Travel Guide: Visiting Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria
There is no better time than now to visit Puerto Rico. But in case you need a reason I have put together 6 reasons why you need to go now. Let's start with one of the most important. The food of course.
(1) Luquillo Kiosks
“Get ready to chow down at these amazing kiosks. Every Puerto Rican dish you can imagine is waiting for you at the Luquillo kiosks. Located along route 3 along the beach in Luquillo, they kind of look a bit run down.
But don’t judge a book by its cover, especially when you smell the deliciousness! There are 60 different kiosks to choose from, and they are numbered. You can get some drinks, as some of them are bars, or you can fill up your stomach with good authentic food.
Or if you miss home, there are kiosks serving meals from other ethnicities. For the most authentic taste, try #8 de Sylvia, or #53 Ya Yola. If you want a taste of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, try #2 La Parilla (My personal fave!).
Be advised that some kiosks are open certain hours and days, while others can be open all week long. Make sure to have a backup choice or ask a local for some advice before you go.”
For more on the Luquillo Kiosks and all the best food in and around Old San Juan check out Kaila's guide on Nylon Pink.
Photo Credit: Kailayu
(2) Snorkeling in Rincon
Rincon is known as a surfer's paradise however in the summer months it is a great place to go snorkeling. Be careful when visiting the beaches in Rincon as there is a lot of drop-offs which don't make it ideal for non-swimmers.
“One of the most charming places to visit in Puerto Rico is the town of Rincon, on the northwest corner of the island.
Rincon sits where the calm Caribbean waters meet the churning Atlantic, which produces fabulous waves. This has made the area a haven for surfers and quiet resorts with very reasonable prices.
Ricon is quite welcoming to visitors, and your tourism dollars are particularly welcome as the area is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.
There are several beaches wrapped around the town, meaning there is always one that is right, whether looking to watch the surf crowd or to sit alone in the sand.
Those who prefer grassier areas can overlook the seas from the park of El Faro de Punta Higuero, the Rincon lighthouse.
If walking and exploring is more in line, the Tres Palma Marine Reserve is known for its hawksbill turtles. Wherever you go in Rincon, make sure to find an outdoor spot in the evening, to watch the glorious Caribbean sunsets.
Puerto Rico is a small island, so Rincon makes a great base for several unique attractions on the west side of the island, such as the Arecibo Observatory, or the nearby Cueva Ventana, or window cave, or to the coffee plantations in the mountains near Utado and Ponce.
It is also a quick drive down to Cabo Rojo to see the stunning salt flats. I made all of these day trips from Rincon, as a solo female and felt entirely comfortable and safe doing so.”
Read more about Roxanna's adventures in Puerto Rico at Gypsy with a Day Job
(3) Hiking in El Yunque
While clean up efforts are still underway in El Yunque the year long clean up effort from volunteers around the world has made it possible for visitors to enjoy the only rainforest in the United States National Forest Service.
Located in the Northeast part of the island, El Yunque is the perfect day trip from San Juan. Though it is partially closes there are plenty of hikes which will give you an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this rainforest including the waterfalls which are my all time fave.
At the moment the following recreation sites and trails are open however be sure to check the Forest Service website before heading out to get the most up to date information.
La Coca Falls
Towering 85 feet La Coca Falls is one of the first falls you will come across when visiting El Yunque. Although the La Coca Falls trail is closed you can still drive up to the Falls and take in their beauty.
The Yokahu Observation Tower recently re-opened this year. Make the 100 step climb to the top and you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the Rainforest. It is absolutely stunning and a must visit every time I go to El Yunque.
While the trails around Puente Roto are still closed you can still climb the rocks and take a dip in the river on a hot day. Use caution though as the rocks can be very slippery.
Angelita Trailhead and portions of the Angelito trail
While the entire trail is not open if you are looking for a bit of an adventure ending in a river to cool off on then make sure the Angelito Trail is on your list. It is very popular so be prepared to share the trail with some new friends. However it is great opportunity to see how the forest is starting to recover.
Interested in heading to Puerto Rico. Check out these travel sites that will help you find the best deals including flights, hotels and even things to do.
What better way to get a feel for the Island after the hurricane than to hear if first hand. Jen from Jen There Done That has made Puerto Rico her home.
Puerto Rico is my newly adopted home and I love to explore off the beaten path spots around the island. Despite the destruction from Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September 2017, the majority of the island is back and ready for adventure!
While our beaches are not to be missed, somehow our mountain regions are the best kept secret on the island.
Coamo, Puerto Rico is one of these mountaintop hidden gems located southwest of the famous Pork Highway of Guavate. Coamo and the surrounding mountain region offers a completely different experience of mountain views looking out to the Caribbean Sea.
The area is surrounded by cool, freshwater pools and rivers, plus a natural hot spring. Walking through the lush tropical vegetation, exotic trees bloom year-round and the only sound is the birds during the day and the soft chirping of the coqui frogs at night.
The mountain landscape is rejuvenating and every ounce of stress will drain from your body. Pack a picnic and watch the spectacular sunset that performs every evening on this island of enchantment.”
For more about Coamo check out Jen's video here.
Photo Credit: JenThereDoneThat
In addition to Puerto Rico’s world-class beaches and the colorful streets of its capital city San Juan, it is Puerto Ricans themselves that are the best reason to travel to the Island of Enchantment.
While volunteering with All Hands and Hearts in Yabucoa, the community that was hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria, I had the tremendous pleasure to meet a whole host of incredible people who remained both strong and positive during the long recovery.
Many of the people I met there went without electricity for over 10 months and their roofs were damaged in the hurricane which caused toxic mold to grow inside their homes. The mold made their families sick but many simply could not afford to repair the damage themselves.
Despite these challenges, they still danced in the streets and insisted on cooking positively insane amounts of food for me and my fellow volunteers.
While working all day repairing a hot roof was definitely hard, it was evident how much it was helping people who had suffered far too long. That being said, it wasn't all hard work though, since
I also had the opportunity to visit the staggeringly beautiful island called Culebra where I lounged on the world-famous Flamenco Beach and SCUBA dived the nearby bay.
After my volunteer term was finished, I stayed in peaceful Luquillo for a week where I ran on the beach and saw my very first leatherback sea turtle in the wild!
To cap off a perfect trip, I also toured colorful Old San Juan, where many businesses proudly display “#PuertoRicoSeLevanta” or “Puerto Rico is rising” on their storefronts.
While the island’s beauty is unquestionable, it is the warmth of its people that impressed me the most and left me wanting to return. Puerto Rico is very much open for business and Puerto Ricans are ready and waiting to show you how just great they can be.”
To read more about Thea's experience volunteering in Puerto Rico at Zen Travellers.
Photo Credit: Zen Travellers
(6) Old San Juan
Old San Juan is a paradise within Puerto Rico, with fun colors, historical sights, and delicious food to enjoy. The fortress that surrounds Old San Juan has been standing since the 1600’s, through revolution, plagues, and extreme storms.
Today, you can visit and learn about it’s history and explore the grounds. Take your time exploring the beautiful neighborhoods of Old San Juan. The buildings are painted bright colors, giving this area of the city a fun and picture-perfect appearance.
Walk along the seawall, or down to the market. Come lunchtime, try Mofongo, a Puerto Rico favorite, and top it off with a quesito for dessert from the snack stand in Central Square.
This area is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular tourist areas. There are plenty of things to do in Old San Juan, and it’s been restored to its former glory following Hurricane Maria. Support local businesses, restaurants, bars, and tours on your visit!
For more on what to do in Old San Juan Check out Nina's post at Nina Near and Far
Photo Credit: Nina Near and Far
I will be headed to Puerto Rico later this year and I cannot wait to visit my island. If you have not been to Puerto Rico, or are unsure about traveling to Puerto Rico consider it again.
Looking of another great idea for your next beach getaway. Check out our budget friendly guide to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
While there is still a long way to go the island is ready for you and there is also an opportunity for giving back through volunteering. Come enjoy what Puerto Rico has to offer.
Don't forget to pin for later and share the love. Puerto Rico is waiting with open arms.