From the East Coast of the US, Puerto Rico is an easy, short and cheap flight away. If you want to see the real beauty of Puerto Rico, get away from the mainland. The two islands off the east coast of PR–Culebra and Vieques–are both well worth the trip. There are no big hotels and no cruise ships, just chickens on the street and men playing cards.
If you rent a car to get around, you don’t have to drop off your rental car at an office. Just leave it parked on the street somewhere and they’ll find it (no kidding). But best just to walk or bike the islands, though, to enjoy the pace of life. And don’t forget to go swimming at night under their pitch-black skies, to experience the bioluminescent plankton in the water.
Getting there is half the fun, especially if you decide to take the island hopper plane run by Air Flamenco. It only costs about $50 and takes about 30 minutes. Sure, it is a little bumpy and the fact that the pilots look about 18 does not make one feel particularly safe (and don’t mind the red, flashing “STALL” warning light on the dashboard as you’re coming in for a landing), but seeing all the miniature “Robinson Crusoe” islands in the blue Caribbean sea from a bird’s perspective is a much better (and faster) option that taking the ferry. Try it at least one way.