8 Reasons Why Puerto Rico Doesn’t Suck

So fresh and so clean

So fresh and so clean

Puerto Rico is pretty damn awesome for these 8 reasons Alone 

Yep, I'm that drunk tourist (in the middle)

Yep, I'm that drunk tourist (in the middle)

1. You can swim in a waterfall, in a tropical rainforest, for free.

El Yunque National Rainforest has everything from observation towers offering 360-degree views to the two-note chants of Puerto Rico’s beloved Coqui frogs. There are also a ton of manageable hikes, some of which have a waterfall as a payoff for the not-so-hard work. La Mina Falls, which can be accessed from the Big Tree Trail, is the most popular waterfall at the park and provides one heck of a back massage if you have the strength to keep yourself steady. Access to the park is totally free. There is a $5 fee, however, if you wish to tour the visitors’ center and watch a pseudo-informative film about El Yunque.

2. You can drink on the street.

Okay, so technically drinking on the street is not exactly legal. But that doesn’t stop drunk tourists from wandering the streets with a mojito in hand. Cops tend to look the other way unless you’re causing a scene. So drink up, my friends.

3. The party goes all night.

The nightlife in San Juan is banging. (There’s an Electric Daisy Carnival here for God’s sake.) A typical night out might involve dinner around 9 p.m., early drinks at a chill bar around midnight, dancing to EDM at a club until 3 a.m. and then drinking until the sun comes up at a bar in Condado, a neighborhood known for its late-night bars and restaurants.

4. Everything is fried.

One word: mofongo. The ubiquitous Puerto Rican dish, mofongo, is made up of plantains that are twice-fried in pork fat and then mashed into the shape of a dome. It’s often served with tender pork and onions and topped with a spicy garlic broth. Puerto Rico’s other greatest hits include tostones (fried green plantains, often served with garlic sauce), papas rellenas (fried balls of potato stuffed with pork) and chicharron (fried pork skin).

5. You don’t need a passport.

No visa or passport is required to visit. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, so all you need to board the flight is a state issued ID. Fun fact: Puerto Rico is the only current U.S. territory whose legal system operates primarily in Spanish. English is widely spoken, but brush up on common phrases, including the imperative, “Cervezas más por favor.”

6. The island of Vieques has 40 awesome beaches.

If you’re a fan of beach hopping and sun tanning, the nearby island of Vieques is going to be the highlight of your visit. Bonus: It only costs $4 to get to Vieques from Fajardo by ferry. Once you’re there, check out Playa Negra, a black-sand beach; La Chata, a surfer’s favorite; and Blue Beach for snorkeling and lounging around like a boss.

7. You might find yourself on the set of a movie…with Diplo.

Channing Tatum, Diplo and Jillian Bell on the set of "22 Jump Street"

Channing Tatum, Diplo and Jillian Bell on the set of "22 Jump Street"

This winter season, “22 Jump Street—the sequel to “21 Jump Street,” starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill—wrapped in San Juan. Guests staying at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino had a front row seat to all of the action, including helicopters dropping stunt doubles into the Atlantic Ocean, Channing Tatum punching up bad guys and Diplo dropping the club banger, “Boy Oh Boy,” to the delight of hundreds of dancing extras. “Fast Five” and “Eastbound & Down” also mixed business with pleasure here, thanks in part to generous tax breaks and Puerto Rico’s kick ass location.

8. There are three bioluminescent bays.

Seriously, there are THREE. Undisputedly, the best bio bay in Puerto Rico is Mosquito Bioluminscent Bay, located on the island of Vieques.  Mosquito Bioluminscent Bay features up to 160,000 microscopic dinoflagelates per liter of water, which means that this bay can glow brighter than the others. At night, visitors can take a guided tour of the bay by kayak or boat. Don’t expect the water to be a crazy electric blue at all times though. Like anything good in life, you have to work for it. Agitate the water with your paddle to briefly see the blue-green light emitted by the microscopic organisms all around you. Then, be sure to take a shower.

My trip to Puerto Rico was made possible by the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Views expressed are my own.