After the recent earthquakes that rocked Puerto Rico, tourists may be nervous about traveling to the island. But even though a few spots are still recovering — and some areas still haven’t been fully rebuilt after Hurricanes Maria and Irma — many parts of this U.S. territory were unaffected by the earthquakes and have bounced back from the storms.
The earthquakes took place along Puerto Rico’s south coast near Guayanilla, Guánica and Ponce, but San Juan, the most popular tourist destination, is on the north side of the island, far from the worst of the damage. Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, told TPG that all three main airports on the island are open and no cruise ship operations have been disrupted by the seismic activity. In fact, most of Puerto Rico is ready to welcome tourists for a winter or spring getaway.
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In This Post
(Image courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico)
It’s a short flight away for sun-seeking U.S. visitors, you can use U.S. dollars and you won’t need to dig out a passport.
A post d by Brian Kelly (@thepointsguy) on Jan 7, 2018 at 8:58am PST
Splurge on stays at the stunning St. Regis Bahia Beach, which reopened after a $60-million renovation in early 2019, or Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (its Positivo infinity pool is positively perfect). Budget travelers can opt to use points on select Hyatt properties in San Juan, such as the Hyatt House and Hyatt Place San Juan, that go for 12,000 points per night.
Besides lounging on San Juan’s sandy beaches, wandering the colonial streets of historic Old San Juan and admiring a glowing sunset from the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, you can lace up your sneakers for the Tropikal Half Marathon in San Juan on March 1, 2020. There is also a food festival dedicated to Puerto Rican cuisine, Saborea, in early April, and Major League Baseball’s Puerto Rico series, a three-game event between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets, takes place at the end of April.
Related: A beginner’s guide to visiting Puerto Rico
Bright colors of La Perla in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael)
Ferry service to both Culebra and Vieques islands is up and running. You may have heard of Vieques, but Culebra glides under the radar, overlooked in favor of its fancier island sister to the south. Culebra is for those who want to get off the beaten path and don’t worry too much if the roads aren’t paved, the ATMs run out of cash, the Wi-Fi goes down or the only activity is relaxing on a glorious, serene beach. (Flamenco is the most famous stretch of sand on the island.)
This island’s hurricane recovery has been slower than in San Juan and our usual pick, the W Retreat Spa–Vieques Island, is closed for repair until further notice, but other hotels on the island (like the ecologically-minded and geometrically unique Hix Island House) are open for business.
Luquillo and Fajardo
These resort towns, which are about an hour east of San Juan, are ready to welcome visitors. The area’s main tourist attraction, El Yunque National Forest, suffered extensive damage in both hurricanes, but several areas of the park are open even as programs are underway to restore the landscape in damaged areas.
La Mina Falls in El Yunque National Forest. (Photo by Alisha Bube/Getty Images)
Visit Via the High Seas
Another option is to visit Puerto Rico and other Caribbean destinations on a cruise. All of the major cruise lines have no plans to modify their itineraries and will pull into San Juan as usual. Discover Puerto Rico told TPG that, “cruise ports are still open — there was a five-day period after the earthquakes where we had almost 60,000 cruise passengers disembark in Old San Juan.”
Cruise port, El Morro Castle and city of San Juan. (Photo by fallbrook/Getty Images)Rincón
Surfer paradise Rincón is ready for you and your board. It has always been a laid-back beach town, not a resort area, so don’t expect many luxury hotel chains here. Instead, plan to stay at comfortable home rentals, cute boutique hotels and welcoming bed-and-breakfasts. The city hosts weekly farmers markets on Sundays. Also, check out the Corona Pro Surf Circuit in mid-March and the Rincón International Film Festival in mid-April.
Surfer at sunset in Rincon. (Photo by Marc Pagani/Getty Images)Bottom line
Parts of Puerto Rico have weathered serious natural disasters over the past few years, but much of the island is safe and ready for visitors on spring break. Your tourism dollars will help boost the island’s economy and you’ll be welcomed with open arms — not to mention lots of sunshine.