Puerto Rico climate
Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with sunny days almost year-round and average temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius. It's humid too, with levels hovering between 74 and 81 per cent. Temperatures along the coast are moderated by the cooling sea breezes; inland, temperatures are in the 22 to 26-degree range. May to October are the rainiest months. The north coast gets double the amount of rain as the south coast, about 61 inches compared to 36 inches. January to April are the driest months. Hurricane season runs from June to November and the island is at greatest risk between August and October.
Getting around Puerto Rico
Travellers to San Juan can get taxis and buses at the airport into town, and some hotels run courtesy vans. Puerto Rico is 160km long by 59km wide with some of the best scenery in the Caribbean. Although best seen by car, be aware that the locals drive erratically and that speeds are posted in miles and distances in kilometres. To see the island’s interior, and get a few thrills, take La Ruta Panoramica along the mountains. The panorama is dazzling but be prepared for passages with precipitous drops on both sides of the road and sections without dividers.
In a major city or resort you may not need a car. Sightseeing on foot is often fun and you can take a publico. Publicos are minivans that service most towns on the island. They don’t have set schedules, but you can flag one down. Publicos are identified by “P” or “PD” on the license plate.
Taxis are available in San Juan and major tourist areas. Tour buses and ferries are another option for getting around, as is chartering a boat or plane. There are also several airlines that fly to small airports in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.
Puerto Rico insider information
One venue for Puerto Rico's Latino chic is surprising — the Museo de Arte. Some Puerto Ricans come to the art museum at least once a week, and not just for its fine collection of Puerto Rican art. They also come for productions in the 400-seat theatre. And trendy locals can be seen strolling the museum’s lovely five-acre garden.
San Juan has done a great job of adapting old buildings to new uses. La Princesa, for centuries one of the most feared prisons in the Caribbean, now houses the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. It features an exhibit of art by Puerto Ricans, which is free to the public.
Another example of reuse is the 19th century insane asylum, the Antiguo Manicomio Insular, which is now the home of the Puerto Rican Academy of Fine Arts, with its lovely courtyard fountains surrounded by elegant iron fences.
One of the largest cave systems in the world is Camuy Caverns. Visitors explore the cave by trolley and on foot, over ramps and bridges. You can walk down the 205 steps into the Spiral Sinkhole and view the petroglyphs etched in the wall of Cathedral Cave by ancient Tainos, Puerto Rico’s original inhabitants.
In addition to the beaches, Puerto Rico has many golf courses and tennis courts. There is some good bicycling as long as you avoid the main streets and roads. For biking, walking, or jogging, check out the boardwalk at Parque Lineal Marti Coli, with a stretch of nearly 3km along Cano de Martin Pena; eventually, the total length will be nearly 19km, from the old city to Rio Piedras.
For spectacular natural beauty, visit El Yunque, a cool, semi-tropical rain forest in the mountains at the eastern end of the island. The rain descends in rocky rivers with many waterfalls and pools. At higher elevations, the water is clean enough for drinking and swimming. You will find unique plants and animals, including the lovely endangered emerald green Puerto Rican Parrot.
San Juan remains true to its old school roots. It’s hard to find information about San Juan online, as very few attractions are on the Internet. Take an up-to-date guidebook with you on your flight to San Juan and read up on the city's history and tourist attractions before you arrive.