The Travel Professor
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Caribbean travel is still possible even without a passport

For those of you who enjoy the pleasures of a Caribbean vacation and do not have a passport they are a couple of options still available. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, both United States territories, permit US citizens to travel there without a passport. But please if future travel plans calls for foreign travel get started on your passport today.

Puerto Rico is the eastern most islands of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, approximately a thousand miles (2 ½ hour flight) southeast of Florida and just east of the island of Hispaniola-home to the Dominican Republic & Haiti and west of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rich Port in Spanish PR as the locals refer to the island is basked in brilliant sub tropical sunshine and its terrains range from palm-lined beaches on four cost lines to rugged mountain ranges, gently rolling hills, and dry desert-like areas. The island boasts 20 designated forest reserves. The most notable is El Yunque the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Forest Service.

Spanish and English are the official languages, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language. Knowledge of Spanish will be very useful, although English is widely spoken. (Sometimes you will find yourself surrounded by Spanish speakers only, but be sure that in every store, restaurant, medical and/or government facilities, they would search around and find one person, who knows enough English to help you.)

An agreeable climate is one of Puerto Rico's most attractive characteristics. Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, with an average annual temperature of 80°F (26°C). Puerto Rico enjoys year round summer temperatures. The dry season is December to March. Note that temperatures in the mountains are significantly cooler than the coast, so if you intend to travel inland bring a sweater for the evenings regardless of when you visit.

Puerto Rico is a complex island with Spanish Caribbean culture found in the architecture and attractions of the island. Abundant beaches provide water activities such as diving, sailing and surfing. Hiking opportunities abound particularly in the rainforest of El Yunque; bird watching and whale watching can also bring a thrill for any seasoned traveler.

Personally I enjoy the hustle and bustle of San Juan the capital city. It is both modern and old. The Condado beach area of the city features elegant beachfront hotels, high energy nightlife, casino gaming wonderful dining. A short drive away is the neighborhood termed “Old San Juan”. To me it whisks you back to the Spain of Christopher Columbus and the age of Spain’s empire in the new world. Narrow cobblestone streets offer plenty of duty shopping and fine Spanish-Caribbean dining. The architecture magnificent palaces adorned with iron grill work and the fortress El Morro makes this area a great walking tour.

Away from the metropolitan San Juan area you’ll discover many of the other secrets of the island. Whether it is a long weekend getaway or a longer vacation PR makes a great foreign yet familiar tropical getaway. Air service to the island is excellent with most major US carriers offering daily service with familiar name brand plus local hotels provide a wide range of rates and amenities. Another money saving option is to look into booking a tour package that bundles your air, hotel and other surface features.

If you venturing away from San Juan check out staying at some of PR’s small country inns called paradores. These quaint places offer amazing service and allow you to mingle with the locals.
Enjoy Puerto Rico I sure did. For more information contact your travel agent or favorite travel supplier.

Got questions? Email