Old San Juan after Hurricane Maria

Visit Puerto Rico; What You Need to Know and Why You Should Come after Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria pounded Puerto Rico September 2017, and while the full recovery is expected to take years, many island attractions are open now with more improvements every day.

Here are a few of my favorites that are open and ready for your Visit to Puerto Rico!

San Juan and surrounding metro areas are 99% (according to USACE estimates) electricity restored.  Arriving at the airport and driving around San Juan, it certainly feels like 99% restored.

Old San Juan and El Morro Fort are open! Grab a refreshing popsicle from Senor Paleta and go explore Old San Juan. The Spaniards knew what they were doing when they built this city and it weathered the storm beautifully. Get lost down the meandering cobblestone streets and picturesque views along the old city wall.

Condado Vanderbilt patio

The luxurious Condado Vanderbilt resort and spa, located in the upscale Condado community of San Juan, is open and ready to spoil you on your visit. Open throughout Hurricane season and early recovery after Maria, the Condado Vanderbilt is pristine and perfect.  Relax poolside, or enjoy the spectacular views from the patio and lounge. Every dinner is a celebration at the fabulous 1919 restaurant.

Love.Soul.Beautiful B&B rooftop patio in Luquillo, PR
Love.Soul.Beautiful B&B rooftop patio in Luquillo, PR

Outside of San Juan, the best option for lodging is to book with the small guest houses and privately run rentals (check Trip Advisor, AirBnB, and VRBO for options).

Many guesthouses and private rentals are offering low rates and exceptional hospitality! Puerto Rico is a budget travelers dream, especially now.

El Yunque Rainforest is back open! The first trail cleared and open to visitors is Angelito Trail with an easy, well-maintained path down to the stream. A short cross over the slowly flowing water leads down to the river and a large freshwater swimming hole. The main road and other trails are still being cleared, with new sections opening every day. The Visitor Center is not expected to reopen for at least a year.

After minor repairs and road clearing, the Arecibo Observatory is open and under new management.  Still the World’s Largest Operational Radio Telescope, AO is an engineering marvel and important site for Science.

Seven Seas beach Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Seven Seas beach in Fajardo, PR

Most of the beaches throughout the island are reopened.  There are a few beaches along the east coast near Naguabo and about 50% of the beaches on the nearby island of Vieques that are closed as of early 2018. The cleanup crews are working in those areas and current beach status can be found here (click on ‘Muestreo de Playas’ for the updated beach report).

There are sunset sails from San Juan, and day sailing options from  Puerto del Rey and marinas in Fajardo for snorkel and sail trips to nearby islands of Vieques, Culebra, and Cayo Icacos.

Many dive shops are splitting their time with coral restoration efforts and guided Scuba trips. Check with 5 Star PADI operation Sea Ventures and Paradise Seekers for current dive trips.

Grab a cup of local Puerto Rican coffee over lunch at Cafe Hacienda Munoz coffee plantation. Enjoy a delicious cup of Puerto Rican coffee in the most spectacular mountain views.

Not everything is 100% yet.

Debris cleanup in Humacao, Puerto Rico
Debris cleanup in Humacao, Puerto Rico

Here are a few tips when planning your visit to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

  • Bring extra cash. There will be a few unexpected places that cannot process credit cards, bring extra cash as payment. Food stands, restaurants, souvenir shops, and some attractions are still having difficulty processing credit card payments consistently. It is not your card, nor the business, often the WiFi and phone systems fail at the least opportune time.
  • Allow extra drive time. Some bridges and side streets are still closed from the damage which adds a bit more traffic to the main highways and a few detours in the less populated areas of the island. Not all of the road signs are back in place, and you may miss the unmarked exit when driving.
  • Pardon the mess. Outside of San Juan and the city centers, there are piles of debris. Crews are working hard to clear the roads and residential areas, these piles represent communities beginning the first step to recovery.
  • Shop Small. Small businesses are the hardest hit on the island. Every visitor can make a big difference by starting small. Remember every dollar that you spend at the local restaurant helps to keep people fed and employed.

Sadly, the beach and area around Monkey Island (Punta Santiago) on the east coast is off limits.  Hopefully, kayaking around Monkey Island will resume in 2018 and for now, we still have kayaking and SUP in Condado Lagoon and other nature reserves around the island.

Now is the perfect time to Visit Puerto Rico and show your support for this little island!

30 thoughts on “Visit Puerto Rico; What You Need to Know and Why You Should Come after Hurricane Maria”

  1. Jen, are you still in PR? I am planning on going next week if possible. I am a backpacker at heart (42 years old) I love to hang my hammock between two trees for the night but I also want to support the local businesses. I don’t mind renting a chalet for the night and still sleep outside in my hammock. I am looking for culture encompassing lessons. I appreciate the ease of city life but hate being in a city. If there are locals outside of the city that live simple and can host I am down with that. 🙂

    Any chance you know of people with resources to rebuild but need skilled labor? I am not looking to get involved with someones organization (I have my own registered 501c3 NP) I would love to just know a family that needs a guy to build them a safe place to recover in on the long road ahead.

    1. Going on three years living in Puerto Rico, I love it here! You should definitely come for a visit. The island is fairly small, you can cover all four corners and mountains within 2 weeks. I know beach camping is legal throughout Puerto Rico and there are some great spots around the East and West coasts to hang a hammock. Hiking around El Yunque is just opening up and you might like some of the guest houses around Luquillo. I know El Faro Animal shelter needs skilled laborers so you may want to contact them at https://elfaropr.org/

    1. Check AirBnB and VRBO for the best options for you (price, size, etc). I have stayed in beautiful villas in Old San Juan as well as recently in the Rincon Beach Resort. There are literally hundreds to choose from!

  2. I honeymooned in Puerto Rico a year before the hurricane, but we were in Fijardo. We did go to the El Yunque and San Juan, too. I was obsessed with the waterfalls and the tiny bits of gold in the water! Over here in the states people are still trying to get the attention of the gov’t saying PR still has no power- I think most people here are under the impression that it’s a total blackout of the whole country, I’m relieved that at least the major cities are active so that people can at least get some things they need. I was also really sad about the homeless dog population during the hurricane, and the roosters and Iguanas! SO many. My brother’s home in Key West got hit as well, but they’re probably at 99%, too.

    1. There are still some hard-hit towns without electricity, but the island and residents are resilient. It is the perfect time to come back to Puerto Rico!

  3. A lot of tips with some unique information, Their have many beautiful places in Puerto Rico. I saw your videos, it was a great adventure, Its make me so exciting, you enjoy there a lot. It was a great motivation and inspiring us for traveling. I always get a unique idea from here. Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. Just got home from PR volunteerd for 3 weeks in barranquitas, beautiful people!!
    And they need help !! Please visit !!
    It’s just so beautiful
    Looking to move there myself

  5. It’s nice to hear that there is still so much happening out there. The underwater life looks so pure too. I am particularly interested in visiting the El Yunque Rainforest. Cheers!!

  6. So glad to see this post! We have considered planning a post-hurricane trip to Puerto Rico, but have hesitated as we were unsure if they were ready to have visitors again yet. I feel terrible for the people still struggling with the impact of the storm, but I’m glad to see the coastal areas at least are starting to rebuild. Glad to see the rainforest trails are starting to open again, too!

    1. Yes, please come visit! Puerto Rico needs tourism to return to the island and help us rebuild the economy. Plus the beaches are amazing!

  7. I would love to visit Puerto Rico simply because I have read and heard that the people there are amazing. Its tragic what the island went through but i believe it brings communities closer and work together. Your pictures are great, it looks like an amazing experience.

  8. Great article Jen, tourism is a great way to help Puerto Rico after the hurricane! I haven’t had a chance to go there yet, but looks so beautiful! Plus, for a coffee lover like me, that Hacienda Munoz coffee plantation is paradise 🙂

  9. While I understand that things are still returning to normal, that is a remarkably fast recovery given the extent of damage caused by the hurricane. Loads of respect for the people of Puerto Rico for their resilient spirits. It is nice to see someone encouraging tourists to return so that some much needed revenue is pumped in.

  10. I am so glad that they’re back on their feet and opened up to visitors after the hurricane, which was a tragic one. I’d love to visit Puerto Rico, it has been on my bucket list for a while now. By the way, El Yunque Rainforest looks really cool!

  11. It makes me happy to read that Puerto Rico is slowly getting back on its feet. I’d definitely like to come and see the sights here, especially the beaches and El Yunque Rainforest too. Great tips on visiting the island, especially about bringing cash!

  12. I was stranded in Puerto Rico for a night, so I don’t have the best track record when it comes to visiting this tiny island. I’d love to give it a second chance, especially if my tourism dollars can help rebuild the island. My friends are actually heading over there in a few weeks to work, as they’re both builders/carpenters. I’d love to go snorkeling and check out the Rainforest!

  13. I have so many family members there and it has been absolutely tragic seeing them go through this. Puerto Rico is so beautiful and the people. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  14. Rincon, Puerto Rico is beautiful and is open for business !
    I live here on the western coast of the island and in love with the people and island !

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