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Puerto Rico: Travel to Puerto Rico with tips from a Local

By: Lindsey Wolf

During the winter months, it’s safe to say we’re all dreaming of a warmer place. Puerto Rico being one of them. With its beautiful scenery being enjoyed at a 70-degree average all year round, it has us in the Northern states, eager to pack our bags.

Enrique Rivera, a Puerto Rican local and long-time friend of our co-founders, sat down to discuss the launch of ZYN in Puerto Rico and gave us an insider's guide to the best places to explore on the island. Whether you’re a vacationer who likes to kick your feet up at the beach, an adventurous sight see-er or, a returning explorer, this small island is filled with many wondrous sights and opportunities for everyone. 

Places to explore in San Juan

For Enrique, home is in the metropolitan area just outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and main entertainment center. However, Enrique emphasizes “Puerto Rico is more than just San Juan”.

Old San Juan is where Enrique suggests every traveler first go when they come to the island. It captures all of the history and modern-day elegance of Puerto Rico that can be admired at stops like elMuseo de Arte. If you are a music lover, San Juan also holds the best area for a wide variety of artists. You can visit elColiseo, popular for Reggaeton music, andArena T Mobile Puerto Rico’s premier entertainment center for area events happening during your stay.

If you want to avoid some of the more touristy areas like Condado, head over to Miramar, where you can find great restaurants that will give you a more local feel. Those include;Casita Miramar,Melanzana, andEter Rooftop.

Pro Tip: Checka Cruise Ship schedule and plan to avoid touristy places on cruise stop days when there are multiple ships if you don’t prefer large crowds. 

What are some unique experiences outside of San Juan?

On the lower East Side in Luquillo, about 40 minutes from San Juan, Enrique states everyone must explore the many small tents, known asKioskos de Luquillo. You can find many things in Kioskos, from fritters and beer to bagolitas (small handbags), and other items that make for great souvenirs!

From here on, you can swing right down into Fajardo, another East side beach town favorite, famous for itsEl Conquistador Resort. Fajardo is more of a private area that is out of the way from city life but still holds many great treasures, such asBioBay. You can enjoy the captivating bioluminescent waters of BioBay by Kayak or boat tours during the night.

Following along the Northwest coast, another favorite that brings many ocean lovers is the city of Rincón. Rincón is known for its great fishing but more importantly, it is named the surfing capital of the Caribbean, by having the most incredible waves year-round. 

Where should I go to avoid the crowds?

If this isn't your first trip to Puerto Rico or if you’re trying to avoid the larger groups, Enrique shares a few local favorites for relaxation. 

A locals' getaway and beloved beach town on the island, Cabo Rojo, is located approximately three hours from San Juan. The small city is a hidden gem that is notorious forLas Salinas - Salt Flats that create Pink Waters. An hour East of Cabo Rojo you can find the second largest city on the island, Ponce. Ponce is known for being rich in history, with it only being an hour and a half away from San Juan, it surprisingly brings a calm amount of tourists, still holding the relaxing appeal and some great local restaurants:Lydia’s, El Bohio, andRancho Playero.

Another option to explore is the two smaller islands right off of the coast, Vieques and Culebra. Culebra, the smaller one of the two, is home to the beautiful Flamenco beach, known for its clean sand and clear waters along the shore. On the other hand, Vieques holds home to many retired Americans. In Vieques you will also find ZYN in the local supermarkets, the popular one being Supermax. 🙂

Both of these islands can be accessed via a 15-minute plane ride or the Ferry, which takes about 40 minutes from the main island. 

Where are some hidden gems in Puerto Rico?

Finally, for the adventurers seeking the road less traveled, this is where the center of the island emerges. Often the least explored area, the center of Puerto Rico is filled with an abundance of farmland. Within these mountains, you can find small bars and shops that are great for family days on a slow Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Not to mention this area is packed with Kioskos, a common phrase shared amongst the locals when they are heading to this area is “Let's go to Chinchorrear”, which means let’s go to the kiosks. For a  thrilling experience hidden within the middle of the island isToro Verde Ziplining. Found in Orocovis, this new attraction is the longest zipline in America that holds a variety of other activities as well.  

Last but  not least, hidden within the Sierra de Luquillo mountains in the Rio Grande liesEl Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. El Yunque is only 40 minutes outside of San Juan and is great for hiking and viewing a few of the most serene waterfalls. 

So if you are looking for a place for this upcoming spring break, it’s safe to say that Puerto Rico is a must-go destination on your list. As always, don't forget to grab your ZYN Daily Wellness Drink Mix, which is the perfect on-the-go hydration.

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