With passport applications taking up to 13 weeks, many travelers are looking for beach destinations that don’t require a passport. The Caribbean features numerous tropical destinations with luxurious resorts, relaxing beaches, clear blue water —and destinations that are accessible without a passport.
One Caribbean destination travelers love is Puerto Rico. It’s an easy flight from the U.S., uses the American dollar and English is commonly spoken in the tourist areas of the island. But, one of the main questions travelers ask is, “Do you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?”
Learn more about this island destination, including the best time to travel to Puerto Rico, the most popular attractions and whether you need a passport in order to visit there.
Where is Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island that is about a 2.5-hour flight from Miami. The primary airport in Puerto Rico is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Airlines that service Puerto Rico include, but are not limited to:
The island is located between the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands, and it is due north of Caracas, Venezuela. It is the smallest and most eastern island of the Greater Antilles.
How do you get to Puerto Rico?
Nearly 20 commercial airlines offer flights to Puerto Rico, which receives more than 1,300 nonstop flights per week. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) is the main airport in Puerto Rico and is the busiest airport in the Caribbean. It is located in the Carolina district of Isla Verde, which is about 20 minutes from the heart of San Juan.
This chart highlights direct flight times from popular U.S. airports.
What time zone is Puerto Rico in?
Puerto Rico is in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
When is the best time to travel to Puerto Rico?
The island is close to the equator, which means that it has warm temperatures most of the year. Throughout the year, the temperatures range from highs of 83 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit and lows from 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest months of the year are June to October, and the coldest are December to February.
Beyond the temperature, rainfall and hurricanes may also affect the weather during your visit. Puerto Rico gets an average of 62 inches of rain per year. While you can expect it to rain every month of the year, it gets the most rain from July to November, and the least from January to March.
When is hurricane season in Puerto Rico?
Based on its location, hurricanes are a major concern when visiting Puerto Rico. Hurricane season typically lasts from June through November. If you plan on traveling during these months, book your flight with a credit card that offers travel protections or buy a separate travel insurance policy to protect your trip.
Are there any festivals that I should attend during my visit?
During your trip, you may be able to enjoy some of the island’s many annual festivals, events and celebrations. A few of the festivals you may want to experience include:
Fiesta de los Reyes Magos (January): Locals throw parades featuring the Three Wise Men who pass out presents to children.
Festival del Frío (February): This event celebrates the coldest peak in Puerto Rico with carnival rides, local artisans, food, music and more.
Carnaval Ponceño (February or March): This festival lasts a full week and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. It features colorful parades and long-snouted vejigantes, plus the coronation of the Carnival Queen.
Noche de San Juan (June): The unofficial celebration of San Juan — locals jump backward into the ocean seven times for good luck.
Nochebuena (December): On Christmas Eve, locals gather with friends and family to eat, drink and sing. Many hotels and restaurants host special Christmas dinners to celebrate this event.
What are the most popular attractions in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico offers numerous attractions and experiences that you can’t find in the continental U.S. Here are a few of the most popular attractions that you can plan your trip around.
Old San Juan: Cobblestone streets line this area of the island that offers 500 years of history. It features numerous landmarks, such as El Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, Cuartel de Ballajá and La Fortaleza.
El Yunque Rainforest: Located on the eastern side of the island, this is the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System. It is home to more than 240 types of trees, birds and frogs and spans more than 28,000 acres. You must make reservations in advance.
Islands of Vieques and Culebra: These two nearby islands offer some of the world’s best beaches. You can visit for the day or book a stay at a local campground or bed and breakfast.
Bioluminescent Bays: Puerto Rico is home to three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays. These “bio bays” offer a glow-in-the-dark experience when you paddle or splash the water.
La Cueva del Viento: This cave is located in the Bosque Estatal de Guajataca forest. There are many trails in the forest, one of which leads you to La Cueva del Viento. Visitors can climb a wooden staircase to explore the cave.
Can I book a room using hotel points in Puerto Rico?
Yes, there are numerous hotels where you can book rooms with points in Puerto Rico. Examples include:
Abitta Boutique Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection (Choice Hotels): Starting at 16,000 points per night.
Aloft San Juan: Starting at 24,000 points per night.
Caribe Hilton: Starting at 70,000 points per night.
Holiday Inn Ponce & Tropical Casino: Starting at 25,000 points per night.
Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico: Starting at 20,000 points per night.
Wyndham Palmas Beach and Golf Resort: Starting at 15,000 points per night.
Do you need a passport to visit Puerto Rico?
When visiting this island paradise of Puerto Rico, do you need a passport? It depends on what type of passport you have. Regardless of where you’re traveling from, you should always have a valid ID, like a driver’s license, state ID card or passport with you.
As a U.S. citizen, when you visit Puerto Rico, do you need a passport? The answer is no. As a territory of the U.S., you do not need a passport to visit Puerto Rico. It is one of several places Americans can travel without a passport.
However, when you live in another country, you do need a passport for Puerto Rico. For foreign citizens, the same rules apply to Puerto Rico as if they were visiting the continental U.S. or any state in America.
The bottom line about visiting Puerto Rico
When booking your trip to Puerto Rico, you may be wondering, “Do I need a passport for Puerto Rico?” If you have a U.S. passport, the answer is no.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, therefore, you can travel without needing a passport. This Caribbean island destination has frequent flights from across the U.S. and it offers warm weather, numerous attractions and a variety of hotels you can book with points.
Is Puerto Rico part of the United States?
What language is spoken in Puerto Rico?
What currency is used in Puerto Rico?
How old do you have to be to drink in Puerto Rico?
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