Puerto Rico has been hit with a powerful hurricane which is devastating their infrastructure and leaving thousands of American citizens without power, food, water or even the ability to contact friends and family. What’s it like on the ground there now?
The “puerto rico travel warnings” are a topic that is currently being discussed. The government of Puerto Rico has issued multiple travel warnings for the island. They warned tourists not to visit due to the damage from Hurricane Maria.
On a recent journey to Puerto Rico, I wasn’t sure what to expect after the U.S. territory was devastated by Category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017, followed by the second blow of the COVID-19 epidemic, which wrecked tourism throughout the world. Following Hurricane Maria, I remember seeing photographs of the island’s gorgeous El Junque jungle nearly stripped naked, and I worried how the island’s various regions would recover. However, following my visit, I’m pleased to report that the island is more than ready to welcome visitors.
It was simple to fly into and out of San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. Passengers arriving from the United States must now fill out a Travel Declaration form, which you may complete ahead of time and should do so. When you’re done, you’ll get a QR code. When you arrive, you’ll be able to join the considerably shorter baggage claim queue at the end, making entrance into Puerto Rico a breeze. A negative molecular or antigen test (conducted within 72 hours of arrival) is also necessary for passengers older than two years who have not been vaccinated.
We slept at the La Concha Resort, a nicely refurbished Renaissance hotel on the beach in San Juan’s famed Condado tourist district. The resort’s safety precautions pleased me; we were asked to present evidence of vaccination upon entry as well as at check-in. We were given wristbands to wear (similar to those at amusement parks or all-inclusive places) that acted as immunization evidence after we were checked at check in. Even the famed Serafina restaurant in La Concha requires evidence of vaccination, which set our minds at ease.
I inquired about the La Concha Resort’s COVID reaction with Luz Gonzalez, Director of Sales and Marketing. He stated that, in addition to the security checkpoint at the hotel entry, masks are needed in public areas, and guests may use the Marriott Bonvoy app for contactless check-in and special requests.
He said, “Communication is critical.” “We keep our guests up to date on all needs prior to their visit, and there is pre-arrival communication about hotel events for their delight.” While on vacation, we’ve all learned to prioritize safety. Our visitors are free to use our facilities as normal, and we will continue to improve their stay now, more than ever, to make it unforgettable after such a long time apart.”
Gonzalez said that the resort saw an increase in tourist numbers as soon as travel intent rose in early 2021.
“We remained one of the top alternatives for U.S. tourists searching for a Caribbean vacation with outdoor adventure, nature, and lots of sites to explore without the need for a passport due to the accessibility of domestic flights to and from Puerto Rico and the mainland,” he added.
The pool deck at La Concha Resort is ready for another day of welcome guests. (Photo courtesy of Paul Heney)
While in town, I received largely favorable comments from store owners and tour guides, while one local ice cream shop owner informed me that weekends are OK but weekdays “have been dreadful.”
Joe Dunn, a Buffalo native, now owns Triple G Tours (think “Gay Gringo Guide”), a firm that provides activities such as waterfall treks, jungle natural waterslide experiences, cave tubing, and local beach trips. Tourists began returning in large numbers during Spring Break, he discovered, since Puerto Rico was still a very exotic place that Americans could visit without a passport. Tourists continued to flock to Puerto Rico even after curfews were enforced.
We went on a fun-filled half-day trip with Triple-G (which amusingly advertises itself as “straight friendly”), and were pleased to see that the rainforest had recovered and was lush and green, a far cry from the terrible news photographs from 2017. The natural waterslides we attempted were fun and not too crowded, although we did see a lot of visitors there and at the wonderful Playa Azul beach that Joe drove us to.
Learn more about the island of Puerto Rico.
(As a bonus, we found on our visit that single-serving fruity rum punch packets can be purchased in Puerto Rico, similar to adult Capri Suns.) Fantastic! Why hasn’t this gained traction on the mainland? I’m officially at a loss for words. Pro tip: You may purchase them to take home at the airport’s duty-free store.)
Maria also wreaked havoc on another of Puerto Rico’s natural wonders: the island’s and adjacent regions are home to four of the world’s only bioluminescent bays. Local guides informed me that after the storm, several people were worried that the little creatures that create these amazing light displays might be wiped away forever. However, although three of the bays saw a drop in bioluminescent plankton counts immediately after the storm, they all rebounded. We took a midnight kayak trip of Laguna Grande in Fajardo, approximately a 90-minute drive west of San Juan, and saw it in all its grandeur. I’m relieved to say that nature has won.
After a long day of visiting Puerto Rico, relax with tropical cocktails at the La Concha Lobby Lounge. (Photo courtesy of Paul Heney)
“Puerto Ricans have taken advantage of adversity to grow and emerge with new enterprises to meet the demands of every consumer, native or tourist,” stated Gonzalez of La Concha. “Many firms in the San Juan region, like ours, never shuttered and continued to adjust to market needs.” Beyond San Juan, our destination now provides a diverse range of sites to visit where visitors and residents may enjoy gastronomic and cultural experiences like never before.”
Gonzalez predicted that the resort would have a busy Christmas and winter season, comparable to — if not greater than — what they had in 2019.
“We’ve seen that this winter, visitors are keen to discover new destinations or escape to the balmy Caribbean beaches.”
Check out the guide below for the most up-to-date information about visiting Puerto Rico:
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The “is it safe to travel to puerto rico in august” is a question that many people are asking. The answer, unfortunately, is still not clear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to go to Puerto Rico now?
A: The hurricane that hit Puerto Rico has not caused any major damage. Many people have been moved to FEMA camps in the southwest of Florida, so you should be able to go there now if you want!
Is Puerto Rico Ready for Tourists?
A: Puerto Rico is a beautiful and diverse island of 3,419 square miles that has been part of the United States since 1898. It would be an ideal destination for your next vacation if you are looking to escape from the hustle and bustle or want to experience something new!
Is Culebra open for tourism 2021?
A: Unfortunately, this is not a question that can be answered.
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