Puerto Rico is a charming vacation destination and the perfect place for a solo traveler to visit. With beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and dramatic mountain landscapes, there’s an enormous amount of stunning natural beauty to enjoy, while the gorgeous architecture and vibrant atmosphere of San Juan are an absolute treat.
One of the best things about Puerto Rico, particularly for solo travelers, is how easy it is to immerse oneself in the local culture. When traveling to some exotic destinations, it can be hard to get out of the tourist bubble and discover a more authentic experience, but in Puerto Rico, this is not a problem at all.
So if you are cruising to San Juan next year and want to discover the best that Puerto Rico has to offer, here are some of the most exciting and interesting ways to experience the island like a local.
Eat like a local
One of the best and most important ways to experience a new culture is through its food, and Puerto Rico offers a fantastically delicious and varied cuisine. From traditional dishes like mofongo (mashed plantains) and asopao (rice stew) to fresh seafood and tropical fruits, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The island is full of great restaurants, but the most authentic experiences come from the hole-in-the-wall joints in San Juan and Ponce. These spots offer the tastiest and most reasonably priced food on the island, with the seafood particularly spectacular.
Drink like a local
Puerto Rico is famous for its rum, and no trip to the island would be complete without a comprehensive sampling of the best local distillations and locally-produced varieties. Puerto Rican rum is some of the best in the world, and you can discover what makes it so special straight from the source at places like Casa Bacardi, Castillo Serrallés, and Destilería Coquí. Don’t miss the Puerto Rican delicacy of Sangriiia – a mixture of rum and acai that is sold in convenient portable packets by the roadside, or as a frozen, daiquiri-style cocktail at more upmarket spots!
Party like a local
Puerto Ricans love to party, and immersing yourself in the culture of the island means letting your hair down and enjoying yourself when the sun goes down. For a real local experience, head to one of San Juan’s lively open-air cantinas where you can drink, dance, and mingle with the locals well into the early hours of the morning. For a slightly less hard-core and more low-key experience, there are loads of great bars, restaurants, and late-night drinking dens where you can enjoy a rum (or two!) in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Walk around Old San Juan
San Juan is a charming, picturesque city, and incredibly walkable. The Old Town is a must-see for any first-time visitor, and just strolling around the cobbled streets and beautiful, pastel-colored buildings lets you get under the skin of the city incredibly quickly. Head to El Morro Fort or San Cristobal Fort for gorgeous ocean views, and enjoy the many great shops, cafes, and restaurants that the city boasts.
Explore the island
Puerto Rico is a relatively small island, but there’s still plenty to see and do, and the best experiences are often found some way off the beaten track. Go for a hike in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest network. Explore the beautiful islands of Vieques and Culebra. And most importantly, look for the tiny, undiscovered beaches that are scattered all around the island as you explore! These are the best and most authentic ways to enjoy the best that Puerto Rico has to offer.