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Puerto Rico Guide

Driving

While Puerto Rico’s Spanish name, ‘rich port’, initially referred to its flourishing trade and economy, it might as well have referred to the rich, varied landscape possessed by this small island. Puerto Rico has old cities, pristine beaches, wild rainforests and arid deserts. A trip here is not complete without a drive to Luquillo Beach, considered the best beach in the country, or Cabo Rojo along Highway 102, the region’s most scenic coastal road.

Driving Tips for Puerto Rico

The motorways and city roads are modern and generally good as the government has devoted resources and infrastructure to their development. Signs are in Spanish, but are easy enough to figure out. Heading inland, road quality varies so motorists are advised to exercise caution.

Driving licences: a UK driving licence or any foreign licence is good for 120 days. For longer periods, a national permit is needed.

Which side does Puerto Rico drive on: the right.

Speed limits:
Motorways: 60mph (97kph) to 65mph (105kph)
Rural areas: 45mph (72kph) to 55mph (89kph)
Built-up areas: 25mph (40kph) to 35mph (56kph)

Alcohol limits: 0.02 per cent for drivers 18 to 20 years of age, 0.08 per cent for drivers 21 and above (the same as the UK limit).

Driving age: 18 years.

Seatbelts: compulsory for drivers and passengers. Children under 12 years need to ride in the rear seats. Children aged four and under need to be seated in a suitable car seat.

Mobile phones and GPS: laws banning the use of mobile phones while driving unless with a hands-free device will take effect in January 2013. GPS can be used but some Puerto Rico addresses are not GPS-friendly.

Cost of fuel in Puerto Rico: significantly cheaper than in the UK.

Car hire and fuel payment: petrol stations and major car hire companies accept credit cards. It is best to contact your credit card company before travelling.

Insurance: major car hire companies include insurance in the rental but it is best to check, especially when using small local companies, as coverage can vary.

Traffic and parking: parking can be hard to find in the cities, with more than half of the population having private vehicles. As a result, traffic congestion is a problem in urban areas during rush hour.


Transport

Trains
To date, there are no long-distance railway lines that connect cities and regions in Puerto Rico. However, a punctual, reliable and cheap city train services the greater San Juan metropolitan area, the country's capital city. The Tren Urbano is a heavy rail commuter metro system which stops at 16 stations along a single line which runs to and from the cities of San Juan, Bayamón and Guaynabo. Fares start at around £1.

Taxis
Taxis are reliable in that the official ones are clean and easily identifiable by their white colour, official logo and taxi turístico sign on the front doors. The tourism authority in San Juan has set fixed fares to most tourist attractions, ranging between £6 and £15. Cabs can easily be hired in airports, outside hotels and on the streets. A shared taxi service exists and is locally referred to as público, colectivo or pisicorre. Público fares between San Juan and Ponce cost around £9, while fares to Farjardo cost just £3.

Buses
No commercial coach services exist for travel between the main cities away from the San Juan Metropolitan area. Visitors will have to charter a bus with a private company such as Grayline. The Metropolitan Bus Authority, meanwhile, runs services between San Juan and the neighbouring cities of Cataño, Bayamón, Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto and Carolina via 36 fixed bus routes. The route between Old San Juan and the Isla Verde hotel district costs just £0.50.

Ferries
There are three major ports in the country: San Juan Port in the north, Port of Ponce in the south and Mayagüez Port in the west. They handle a combination of freight, fishing vessels, private boats and cruise ships. Ferries run between San Juan and Cataño, Fajardo in the east and St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands (fare: £50 return), Culebra and Vieques islands, and Ponce and Caja de Muerto Island.

Airports
Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, just three miles from San Juan, receives seasonal flights from London as well as year-round flights from major US cities including New York, Miami and Orlando. Transport into the city is via taxi, hotel shuttle or car hire. Around 30 domestic airports are available, but most only service private aircraft. Aguadilla’s Rafael Hernandez Airport in the northwest is the main entry point for the Porta del Sol tourist region and its beaches from the US cities of New York, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Explore

Exploring Puerto Rico

San Juan is the best place to begin exploring the rich Puerto Rican history and culture. The country's capital has a nicely preserved and still thriving old colonial quarter with an old yet active harbour. Adding to the city’s appeal are historic churches, museums, city parks and beaches.

Those looking for some of the best public beaches the entire Caribbean has to offer will want to drive east along Route 3 to the island's capital del sol or sun capital, Luquillo. On the west coast, meanwhile, Rincón offers beaches with ideal conditions for surfing.

A natural phenomenon worth seeing on the island is the bioluminescent bay of La Parguera in the town Lajas. Microorganisms in the water glow brilliantly at night, while the marine sanctuaries here offer the best diving sites around the island.

Moving away from the coast, visitors can explore El Yunque National Forest via the gateway city of Rio Grande. In this tropical rainforest, the only one of its kind registered in the US National Forest System, adventure seekers can explore waterfalls, lush hills and rivers.

Weather

The climate in Puerto Rico is tropical marine with very little temperature variation throughout the year. With trade winds keeping weather conditions consistent, the country's temperature range averages from 21˚C to 32˚C, dropping slightly in the mountainous areas inland. The northern coast and mountain regions experience heavy rainfall in the hurricane season that runs from June to November.

All cities in Puerto Rico

We compare car rental suppliers in each of the following cities: