Aerial plane view

Puerto Rico: The Gateway to the Caribbean

June 30, 2017

For four centuries, it was a jewel in the Spanish imperial crown. Puerto Rico marks the eastern reach of a mighty archipelago, with Cuba at the west end and Hispaniola in the center. Cooled by trade winds and soaked in tropical sunlight, Puerto Rico has now become a jewel of the entire modern Caribbean region.

No other Caribbean island is as easy to reach, with numerous direct flights connecting cities all over the United States to Puerto Rico. And no other island is better situated as a staging area for exploring the Caribbean. By boat or plane, the Windwards and Leewards, the British, the Dutch, and the French islands are all within quick and easy reach. Once storied outposts of those three empires, the islands of the Caribbean still offer quiet echoes of the lore and customs of long-vanished European colonial settlements.

Old San Juan ruins

The Puerto Rican population is truly unique, having sprung from Iberian and Creole origins; it’s now favored with American values and methods. Ninety-five percent of Puerto Rico’s population is bilingual in English and Spanish. Yet from its pristine beaches to its rain forest, the island basks in ageless tropical splendors. Seasoned travelers often favor the “Gateway to the Caribbean” over all the other islands, simply because there’s no other place like it.

Getting here has never been easier

Travel to your Palmas del Mar villa is simple and inexpensive. There are direct flights — many of them nonstop — from most major airports in the United States and even around the world. In all, 21 U.S. cities dispatch flights to Puerto Rico every day, and another 15 arrive from international cities, including those in Europe and Latin America. There’s even a direct flight from Norway — that’s how popular Puerto Rico has become in recent years. The added financial incentives and tax advantages are attracting residents and investors from many countries, including the United States.

Family at airport

For U.S. citizens, traveling to Puerto Rico is the same as traveling within the 50 United States. No passport is required, and there are no U.S. Customs formalities. Pack your bags and you’re off! No other Caribbean island receives as many flights from the United States as Puerto Rico. There are three international airports on the island — a record for so relatively small an aviation center, and there are even three general aviation airports for people who prefer to fly themselves.

The island is an ideally situated home base for people who want to explore the Caribbean in depth. They’re served by scheduled and charter flights to virtually all the other Caribbean islands on U.S.-based airlines, together with several based in Europe.

Connecting flights are available for travel among the smaller — and even some of the tiny — islands. As long as there’s an airport, someone will fly you there. People with private planes easily become addicted to the joys of island hopping.

For people who want to explore by sea, scheduled ferry services carry passengers from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands — American and British. That service is augmented by numerous other ferry systems that ply the Bahamas and the Windward Islands, including the large, cosmopolitan French ones of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Keep in mind that there you will need a passport.

Family beach

Once in Puerto Rico, visitors find the usual array of rental car agencies they’re used to at home. The island is ringed at the shoreline by a highway based on the U.S. interstate system. Visitors are given a feel of foreign travel, however, by the road signs, which are in Spanish, an accommodation to the island’s population, 95% of whom are fluent in both Spanish and English.

There’s frequent complimentary transport from San Juan airport to all major hotels in and around the capital, a thoroughly modern, convenient city. In “Old San Juan” — a United Nations World Heritage Site — there’s even a free trolley to carry visitors to and from the exceptionally ancient landmark attractions.

Credit cards are accepted everywhere as readily as they are at home, and the currency is the U.S. dollar. The only preparation U.S. travelers need to make for a trip to Puerto Rico is to buy a ticket and pack their bags. Getting here is easier than you think. Book a vacation home in Puerto Rico and see for yourself why here, we’re Always in Paradise. Bienvenidos!