Since we all know that Thanksgiving break is coming up, what better way to spend it than in the breathtaking island that is Puerto Rico with your friends (AKA Friendsgiving)?!?!?! This is the perfect timing for writing this story because Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I can already feel the heat of the Puerto Rican sun so go pack your bags and get your tickets everyone, Puerto Rico here we come!
I will be talking about, my amazing home, the island of Puerto Rico and the fun and different activities college students can do for fun this Thanksgiving break. Don’t worry, I know we are still in a pandemic and we have to be careful and safe. But there are still tons amazing and entertaining of things you could still do with your friends. The island of Puerto Rico has everything nature has to offer, from beautiful sunny beaches, to a rainforest adventure inside the mountains, you can even go to two other islands that are part of Puerto Rico called Vieques and Culebra. I will talk about what the locals, AKA my friends and I, like to do for fun since we are also college students. I will also spice things up and give my readers a taste of the different typical Puerto Rican foods that we eat here on the island basically every day, trust me is THAT good.
Puerto Rico is reopening slowly but surely and soon the whole island will open for good, if the Coronavirus cases continue dropping of course. But even though the beaches, restaurants, and many more activities are reopening we cannot lower our guard and think that this pandemic is over.
If you are planning to travel to Puerto Rico, because after reading this I am sure you would like to visit. Since everyone wants to stay healthy and safe you will have to follow certain guidelines. Having those types of rules are very important during the times that we are living in.
Before traveling to Puerto Rico you will need to do this first:
- Travelers must complete an online travel declaration form from Puerto Rico Health Department
- All visitors age 2 or older must also produce a negative molecular COVID-19 test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel departure time.
- Travelers will automatically receive an airport exit confirmation number and QR code, which when uploading their molecular test results to the Puerto Rico Health Department’s online portal.
- If you cannot get tested before traveling to Puerto Rico, you will be subject to on-site testing and 14 days of mandatory quarantine while awaiting your results. If you test positive, you will be placed in isolation and required to get medical treatment at your own expense.
- Travelers who display symptoms on arrival will must undergo a rapid COVID-19 test and required to self-quarantine, even if the result is negative. The quarantine will be lifted once a negative molecular COVID-19 test result is presented to the health department. If the rapid test comes out positive, the visitor will be required to take a second molecular test, and seek medical treatment in isolation at their own expense.
Where should you go?
After talking about all of the important and serious business that needed to be assessed now it is time to talk about something fun and cool. All of the fun things you can do on the island of Puerto Rico and believe me there are many and they are amazing. I will be talking about the island as a whole, not just the metropolitan area that many tourists go to.
- Old San Juan is always a great idea, you can never go wrong hanging out there because there is always something happening no matter what time it is. College students, including myself, love to go there at night and have fun with our friends. I usually go to “El Morro”, which is a very beautiful historical fort that has a massive landscape, and have a picnic with my friends until sunset. I totally recommend doing that it is very fun and relaxing.
- This is one of my many personal favorite places to go if you are in Puerto Rico. If you want to go all out, many of the locals drive to a little town called Parguera and rent a boat house which are located literally on the ocean. People usually rent out boats and go to the mangroves that are near the mainland which are beautiful and spend the whole day there. Afterwards when it is getting dark all of the boats go to the famous bioluminescent bay and hang out until sunrise. I remember one time jumping on the bioluminescent bay with one of my friends and you could see the MASSIVE fishes swimming under you because the water is so bright.
- If you are more the adventure type, you and your friends could hike up El Yunque which is our National Rainforest and spend the day with Puerto Rico’s beautiful mountain views.
- You could also beach hop your way around the island since it takes about like 4 hours to drive from one side to the island to the other one. Every time that I get a chance to do this it warms my heart because I get to experience and see all the beautiful beaches that Puerto Rico has to offer and makes me feel proud of who I am, a Puerto Rican.
- If you are into water sports you could go scuba diving on top of a shipwreck on a beach in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico called Crashboat. After getting my scuba diving license, me and my brother went and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. We got to see all of the shipwrecks and the fishes which were swimming around them.
- Puerto Rico has also many rivers and you could even go cliff diving which is very fun. One time my dad had the craziest idea to take me and 20 of my friends on a tour on a river called Rio Cubuy. It was so much fun, we got to cliff dive, rock climb, zip-line and many more adventures things. This was a very cool and adventurous experience that I totally recommend doing.
- Since in the of Puerto Rico is legal to drink at the of 18, I recommend to go to the Bacardi Factory Tours to learn how to make Puerto Rican cocktails. I went for the first time this year on Spring Break with two of my suite mates that were staying with us and we had a blast they loved it and want to go again.
- There is also a place to go and adventure called Carabali which you can go horseback riding, drive ATV’s, etc… I have done both and I prefer ATV’s because it is a different kind of experience and they take you to a river where you can swim to cool off.
Local Puerto Rican cuisine:
- If you want to taste most of the Puerto Rican foods all in one day you should go to the “Kioskos de Luquillo” which are very famous, and the locals go to eat almost every day. They are basically many kiosks aligned next to each other and each kiosk sells different kinds of foods and drinks. I always go here after a long day horseback riding/ driving ATV’s in Carabali because it is very near.
- Churrasco con arroz, habichuelas y tostones this is my all-time favorite meal that i could literally eat every single day if i could. It is basically a skirt steak with rice and beans with a side of fried plantain.
- Empanadillas are also one of my favorite snacks to eat. It is a fried pastry and you could choose any filling that you want. The typical fillings that the locals get are meat, chicken, or cheese.
- Alcapurrias, are made with yucca and plantains they are fritters filled with ground beef. Think of an American corndog, they are similar. The good thing is that my mother knows how to make them so that is a definite plus.
- Pernil: this specific food that Puerto Ricans usually eat during Christmas and it is a very delicious roasted pig.
- Another favorite meal of mine is called pastelon, which is a Puerto Rican version of lasagna but with a twist. The filling is produced using singed meat prepared with oregano and cumin and blended in with sofrito, olives, and pureed tomatoes. This is set between layers of ready, meagerly cut plantains, finished off with cheddar, and prepared in a stove.
I wish I could keep talking about my home and the different adventures you could do on the island and talk about all of the different kinds of foods which are very delicious, but it is time that you check it out for yourself. Puerto Ricans are optimistic and energetic people so that is definitely a plus when it comes to visiting the island. I am very excited to go back home to see my friends and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family.