Puerto Rico is quite a familiar place to many of us, even if only in name. Here you’ll be able to find out more about it, and also about the very familiar currency it uses – namely the US dollar.
The US dollar is divided into 100 cents and there are both cent and dollar coins available in general circulation today. The cent coins are available in 1, 5, 10 25 and 50 cent denominations. You can also get a dollar coin.
While there are officially seven banknotes available for the US dollar currency - $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 – the $2 note is not usually seen very much. You may end up never seeing this to be honest.
Puerto Rico has had a few different currencies during its history. In the past it has been recognised as a colony of Spain and also of the US, which partly explains its familiarity with different currencies during history. The first banknotes came out during the 1700s in the Spanish real currency.
When an economic crisis then reared its ugly head in the 19th century, the country ended up with its own version of the peso instead. As you can see, the changes in currency were very often as a result of a major occurrence in the country that led to the change being made.
All the while thus far Puerto Rico had been a territory of Spain. However the Spanish American War put paid to this and the US claimed it as their territory instead. The Puerto Rican dollar was created at this point, and for a short while at the start of the 20th century Puerto Rico used the US dollar as well as the Puerto Rican version of the dollar. Finally in 1913 the country started using only the US dollar, and it has remained this way ever since.
Quite a history, as you can see!
As you might imagine the US dollar is probably one of the easiest currencies in the world to get hold of. You can easily buy some at a bureau de change prior to going to Puerto Rico, so you only need shop around to find the best exchange rate.
There are also plenty of cash machines throughout Puerto Rico; look for ‘a todos horas’. This basically means they are available ‘at all hours’, which is just what you need. A Cirrus bank card should be quite easily accepted throughout the country when you need to use a cash machine.
You might also want to take at least one credit card with you. This is a good way to pay for things and in some cases it might well be the preferred option. Puerto Rico is thankfully not one of those countries that only accepts cash. You can also take traveller’s cheques in US dollars to exchange while you are there if you wish.
You might already be vaguely familiar with the exchange rate between your own currency and that of the US dollar. However you can get an up-to-date rate by using a good quality currency converter that should make life easier. This won’t take into account any currency charges you would incur by getting foreign cash or traveller’s cheques but at least you will have a point to start from.
You can learn a little more about Puerto Rico and also find out about embassies throughout the world associated with the US at http://london.usembassy.gov/rcstates.html.
Puerto Rico doesn’t pose any particular problems to tourists but it is wise to take reasonable precautions to keep you and your possessions safe at all times. Think about what you would do at home and take those same measures at the minimum.
Really you just have to be aware of things like using cash machines safely and not flashing too much money around – common sense things like that. If you can make sure you take a little care on your daily adventures you should be just fine.
Puerto Rico is an island located in the Caribbean. Its closest neighbour is the Dominican Republic out to the west, while Anguilla lies some distance away to the east. In between these two you will also find the Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
The capital city is San Juan. As you might expect this is a major hub for tourism and many people arrive here taking San Juan as their first taste of the island as a whole. You could do worse than to spend your whole holiday here but you’ll probably want to explore a bit as well.
While you are in the capital you should definitely see the older part of the city. This is officially known as the San Juan Historic Site and is recognised as a US landmark. It has also been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The site itself is marked out by an old wall rising more than 12 metres high. There is a city gate here too, not to mention many old buildings. The best way to see it is to walk in and simply take your time to explore the streets.
As you might guess from an island that is situated in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico won’t leave you feeling disappointed with its beaches. Far from it in fact – there are many to choose from and you can enjoy some lazy days whiling the time away stretched out on the sands. Try the likes of Condado Beach, a large beach not far from the capital itself. There is a lagoon nearby you can look out over as well if you wish, offering great views near the city and the beach too.
Another popular spot many people visit is Isla Verde. Even if your Spanish language skills are very rusty you might (correctly) guess this means Green Island. Again it offers some lovely beaches and you can also check out the Pinones State Forest nearby, an ecological area many people enjoy visiting. It certainly makes a change from the beaches and you can also enjoy getting out of the sun a little.
Many tourists also enjoy going to the Camuy River Cave Park. The entrance is in Camuy, hence the name, but the caves stretch out underneath a series of towns in the area. No one can be 100% certain of the history of these caves but it is known they saw human activity and exploration hundreds of years back. While you can go below ground level to explore some of what has already been discovered, you cannot see it all. Furthermore it is believed there are countless more caves down there that are yet to be discovered. It makes you wonder just how big it is, doesn’t it? This isn’t the only set of caves on the island either. Others can be found at Cueva Ventana and Pozo de Jacinto.
There are plenty of different regions in Puerto Rico that are appealing as well. Take for example the entire western area of the island, known as Porta del Sol. There are all kinds of delights to be found in this part of the island alone. As you might expect some of them are beaches, but there are other things to do here as well. One is Mayaguez Zoo, which is home to lots of different animals including caimans (which look a little like crocodiles) and giraffes.
Another area to visit is the Guanica State Forest, which offers great views over the coast but provides a so-called dry forest to look around in and wander through – quite a change from the beaches you will enjoy while you are here.
The Caribbean has plenty to commend it but as you can see there are lots of activities, destinations and things to do while in Puerto Rico. While it is ideal as a beach location for holidays of that nature, you are never too far away from lots of other diverse areas to see either. For example you may never have known about the huge cave system beneath your feet if you hadn’t read about it here.
As such it is worth doing a little bit of research about the various areas available to visit in Puerto Rico before you book a trip there. This should give you some good opportunities to make sure you can enjoy the type of holiday you would like to have. There is a lot of history on this island, as evidenced by the number of currencies the people have gone through over the centuries. Discover more of this history while you are there spending your US dollars.