Puerto Rico is the smallest island in the Greater Antilles, located in the Caribbean Sea. The island is 110 miles long by 35 miles wide and an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means American citizens don't need a passport to visit. The primary language there is Spanish but English is widely spoken around most of the island. The U.S. dollar is the main currency there and prices for food, lodging, transportation, etc. tend to be similar to the U.S. but cheaper options can be found.
Puerto Rico has a year round tropical climate which means it never really gets cold but it can get very warm during the summer months (90's). Late September through December or early January is the rainy season and mid January through March is the best time to climb with temps in the 80's during the day and 70's at night.
Accommodations for climbers can be tricky in Puerto Rico since there are no camping areas near the climbing areas. All the camping on the island is administered by three government agencies, the National Parks of Puerto Rico, Departamento de Recursos Naturales (DRNA) and the U.S. Forest Service. Reservations are required at some of these campgrounds and campsites are not suppose to be left unattended so staying at them can be complicated. The best option is to stay at guesthouses or inexpensive hotels. Guesthouses typically average about $20 a night but you may be able to find cheaper rates in some of the smaller towns. In San Juan it is easy to book accommodations online but this might not be possible in many of the smaller towns around the island so you'll probably just have to show up and start asking around.
For rest days there are all the activities that you would expect on a tropical island from hiking to surfing. Most of the parks have good hiking trails with El Yunque National Forest being one of the more popular ones. Great beaches can be found all around the island and they vary from flat calm water to 10'+ surf. The beaches around Rincon are the surfing hotspot in the winter with everything from beginner to expert depending on conditions. Snorkeling and diving can also be found around the island but to access the best reefs you'll need to rent or hire a boat to take you out to some of the smaller islands around Puerto Rico.
Overall the atmosphere in Puerto Rico is pretty laid-back and no one is in much of a hurry. The locals are friendly and the Pina Coladas are the best you'll ever have! The climbing is fun and there is a lot of opportunity for new crags but this place isn't Kalymnos, so if your on a mission you might be a little disappointed. If on the other hand you want to get away from winter and just have a good time then I would highly recommend a trip to Puerto Rico. A typical sport rack of 18 draws and a 70m rope should get you up anything on the island and helmets are recommended.
If you're going to Puerto Rico then you'll be flying into Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan. Plane tickets can be found for as little as $300 in the winter but the average price is closer to $400 round trip (as of 2014). The climbing areas are scattered all around the island and there is no real public transportation outside of San Juan so renting a car is pretty much mandatory.
There are several things you should know though about driving in Puerto Rico. For one the roads are in poor condition around most of the island and pot holes should be expected on any road, large or small. The highways are generally in a little better condition but still keep an eye out. In residential areas speed bumps are a popular way of slowing people down but they are not always marked and can be very hard to see. The rule of left lane is the passing lane doesn't apply in Puerto Rico so expect slow vehicles in any lane and just go around because they're not going to move over for you. Some of the highways are toll roads but an "Auto Expreso" pass is available at all the car rental places so you can just drive right through the toll stations. These passes cost a little more but the convenience and time savings is worth it in my opinion.
One final note is that although the island is small it takes a long time to get most places. Road conditions, traffic, construction, getting lost, etc. will all slow you down so give yourself plenty of time and relax, you'll get there eventually.
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['4 Stars',10],['3 Stars',30],['2 Stars',25],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]
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