“What’s it like vacationing in Puerto Rico,” is the age-old question that all my Airbnb guests ask me. The short answer is “It’s America!”
Puerto Rico is SUPER diverse in its culture and its land. So I can understand why many travelers find themselves perplexed by what to pack. You might find yourself hiking through the rainforest, reaching high altitudes, and experiencing cooler temps. Or maybe you plan to spend your days exploring the beaches, and therefore your suitcase will be filled with swimwear. Don’t be surprised if you add another swimsuit to your collection while you are there. The Island is teeming with artisanal designers! On my most recent trip to the island, I had a swimwear designer in Rincon make me a custom one-piece bathing suit for $75, and it took her three days! It’s my new favorite swimsuit!
Will you be surfing? Or doing any other types of activities that require the transportation of sports gear? Well, you may want to then research board bag fees because renting a surfboard in Puerto Rico will actually save you time, money, and damage to your sacred ocean stix! Jet blue charges $100 per board and one per case. United Airlines recently waived surfboard and sports gear fees for people traveling to California. Unfortunately, these fees still apply for flights to Puerto Rico – which is one of the top wintertime domestic surf destinations. United charges $150 per board and one per case. Remember these fees apply both ways. So renting a board from a local shop is always the most affordable way! Plus, you can switch up the size according to the waves!
For people with disabilities, Puerto Rico is very safe and convenient! My Father, who has some of the worst travel anxiety I have ever known, forgot his medication the first time he came to visit me in Puerto Rico. It took less than an hour for us to have his prescriptions filled at the nearest Walgreens! In fact, I always stop at the Walgreens after I land to pick up some of my travel necessities. It saves me weight and room in my luggage! As in the States, most of the Island Walgreens is 24 hours, except for the pharmacy.
Some of the other convenient nationally known stores on the island are CVS, JC Penneys, KMart, Sam’s Club, and Cosco. Yes! Cosco! We know that most people are not going to venture out to the nearest Cosco for the day while on vacation, but it’s important for travelers to know just how accessible these places are. Maybe you are planning a wedding or a family reunion trip? Having these stores available is only part of the reason why Puerto Rico is so easy and impressive.
The beauty of Puerto Rico is that you don’t have to weigh yourself down with bags and baggage fees to get there. Yes, you need the essential island gear such as a swimsuit, flip flops, sunglasses, shorts, and a hat. You don’t want to forget those things. But I rarely find myself in heavy clothing while I am there. Sometimes, in the height of the winter season, I may throw on a light sweater from the cool ocean breezes blowing onshore. Also, if you happen to be traveling to Puerto Rico in the winter or fall, take advantage of warm-weather clothing sales. Even though locals aren’t buying, stores still stock their shelves with sweaters, coats, and boots. I have found some one-of-a-kind pieces at my Local Marshall’s in Mayaguez! My favorite is a large leather backpack that has been serving me quite well!
And as I mentioned before, there are some spectacular, one of a kind items being made on the island. So it’s not uncommon that you may find a dress, jacket, or piece of jewelry that you can’t live without! If you’re one of those travelers who love to shop until you drop, Puerto Rico has the largest mall in the entire Caribbean, The Plaza las Americas. This mall is in between San Juan’s two main highways. Plaza las Americas has more clothing stores under one roof than any other place in Puerto Rico, and its best feature is its accessibility!
Family vacations, life events, shopping sprees, one of a kind designs, and surf sabbaticals – what more could you ask from a tropical island vacation? If you can think of something, I’m pretty sure Puerto Rico can meet your needs. Below is a list of some of the best shopping malls on the Island!