Puerto Rico

From Halal Explorer

Beach at Puerto Nuevo, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico ticks all the boxes for a picture-perfect Caribbean island holiday. Its white sandy beaches can compete with any in the world and vary from metropolitan heavens and bustling surfing hotspots to quiet island get-a-ways. Easily accessible diving and snorkelling spots and the excellent bioluminescent bays offer great maritime experiences. Still and there's more to this tropical island than sunny beach life. The Spanish-American influences make for a fun melting pot of culture with an abundance of legacy to explore and some delightful food to enjoy.

As Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth of the United States, it's a particularly hassle-free and therefore popular destination for US Muslims - but well worth any trip to get there. It is known as the "Island of Enchantment".

Contents

An Introduction to the regions of Puerto Rico

  Northern Coast
  Porta del Sol
  Porta Caribe
  Eastern Coast
  La Montaña
  Vieques
commonly called Isla Nena or Little Island, is a small, rural island roughly 10 km east of the big island of Puerto Rico.
  Culebra
a tiny island off the east coast of Puerto Rico where you will find Flamenco Beach, considered the second most beautiful beach in the world by Discovery Channel, and other touristic attractions.

Other Muslim friendly Cities in Puerto Rico

La Casita

  • San Juan — the capital has one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean
  • Arecibo — home of the world's largest radio telescope
  • Aguadilla — surfing and Thai food]
  • Caguas - a inland municipality on the island
  • Carolina (Puerto Rico) | Carolina — Luis Muñoz Marín Airport, Isla Verde club scene, hotels and casinos
  • Fajardo — marina, bioluminescent bay, ferries to Vieques and Culebra
  • Mayagüez
  • Ponce — Puerto Rico's second city hosts a number of important museums like the Ponce Art Museum and the Museum of Puerto Rican Music, as well as the Tibes Ceremonial Indigenous Center, a Taino Amerindian site, to the north
  • San Germán - Home to the Oldest Catholic Church in the Caribbean, Porta Coeli

Islam in Puerto Rico

Islam's presence in Puerto Rico is a unique and intriguing aspect of the island's cultural diversity. The history of Islam in Puerto Rico dates back to the early years of Spanish colonization in the 16th century, when Muslims, often referred to as Moriscos, played roles as adventurers, traders, or enslaved laborers. Enslaved Muslims from West Africa were also brought to the island during this time. While their numbers were likely significant, these early Muslim communities didn't manage to endure, as many converted to Catholicism or other syncretic African diasporic faiths.

The modern era of Islam in Puerto Rico began to take shape in the mid-20th century with the arrival of Palestinian and Jordanian immigrants between 1958 and 1962. By 2007, the Muslim population had grown to over 5,000 individuals, making up approximately 0.1% of the total population. The early Muslim community was centered primarily in Caguas, a city in the central region of the island. These immigrants established businesses such as restaurants, jewelry stores, and clothing outlets, contributing to the local economy while also forming a unique cultural enclave.

In terms of religious practice, a storefront mosque on Calle Padre Colón in the Río Piedras district of San Juan initially served the Muslim community. This mosque played a crucial role in providing a place of worship and communal gathering for Puerto Rico's Muslims. Over time, the community's needs led to the establishment of additional mosques and Islamic centers in various parts of the island, including Aguadilla, Arecibo, Hatillo, Ponce, Vega Alta, and San Juan. These centers provided space for prayer, religious education, and community events, fostering a sense of belonging among the Muslim population.

One significant development in Puerto Rico's Islamic landscape was the founding of the Centro Islámico de Ponce in Ponce and the Río Piedras Mosque in San Juan, both of which were established in 1981. The Río Piedras Mosque, in particular, holds historical significance as the first mosque established in Puerto Rico. Situated near the University of Puerto Rico's Río Piedras Campus, the mosque has become a focal point for both religious and educational activities.

Another important mosque, the Al-Faruq Mosque in Vega Alta, was founded in 1992. With a capacity to accommodate 1,200 men and 120 women, it stands as the largest mosque in Puerto Rico and has played a vital role in fostering a sense of community among the island's Muslims.

In more recent years, there has been an increasing number of conversions to Islam in Puerto Rico. This trend has contributed to the continued growth and diversification of the Muslim community on the island.

Overall, Islam's presence in Puerto Rico reflects the island's rich history of cultural exchange and migration. The early Muslim communities that emerged during the Spanish colonization era, the subsequent arrival of immigrants from the Middle East, and the growing number of converts all contribute to the mosaic of religious and cultural diversity that defines Puerto Rico today.

Islamic Center of Puerto Rico (Centro Islámico de Puerto Rico)

Located in Rio Piedras, San Juan, this center is one of the main hubs for Muslims in the area, offering regular prayers, educational programs, and community events.

Masjid Al-Faruq

Situated in Vega Alta, this masjid provides a place for daily prayers and serves as a community center for local Muslims.

Masjid Al-Tawheed

Located in Ponce, this masjid offers prayer services and Islamic educational programs, playing a significant role in the spiritual life of Muslims in the southern part of the island.

Muslim Community of Puerto Rico

This organization, based in San Juan, oversees various Islamic activities and events, including the establishment and maintenance of prayer spaces and community outreach programs.

Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Puerto Rico

  • Guánica State Forest - (Bosque Estatal de Guánica) is also the name of a small dry forest reserve east and west of the town and the largest remaining tract of tropical dry coastal forest in the world, and designated an international Biosphere Reserve in 1981. The park comprising much of the dry forest is known as el bosque seco de Guánica.
  • San Juan National Historic Site - includes forts San Cristóbal, San Felipe del Morro, and San Juan de la Cruz, also called El Cañuelo, plus bastions, powder houses, and three fourths of the city wall. All these defensive fortifications surround the old, colonial portion of San Juan, Puerto Rico and are among the oldest and best preserved Spanish fortifications of the Americas.
  • Mona Island (off of the west coast of PR, half way to the Dominican Republic) - this island is a secluded island only inhabited by wildlife. You can only go to the island by appointment.
  • Rio Camuy Caverns (in the north/northwest) - a 45-minutes guided walking tour of the main cave, Cueva Clara, including a view of the "3rd largest underground river in the world" and an enormous sinkhole.
  • Bioluminescent bay at La Parguera
  • Caja de Muertos Island, or Caja de Muertos for short - is an uninhabited island off the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The name means "Box of the Dead", which some have linked to the "Dead Man's Chest" of pirate lore. The island is protected because of its native turtle traffic. Hikers and beachgoers are often seen in the island, which can be visited by ferry or through diving tour operators from the La Guancha Boardwalk sector of Ponce Playa.

Puerto Rico Halal Travel Guide

San Juan, Puerto Rico (2529298606)

History of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean, has a rich history that reflects its cultural diversity and geopolitical changes over the centuries. Originally named "San Juan Bautista" by Spanish explorers in honor of Saint John the Baptist, the island's capital, San Juan, holds this legacy to this day. However, it is the name "San Juan" itself that has become synonymous with the island's bustling heart.

Christopher Columbus, during his second voyage to the New World in 1493, first bestowed the name "San Juan" to the island. The name was intended to signify its potential as a "Rich Port," highlighting the strategic and commercial significance of the island's natural harbors and prime location in the Caribbean.

The Spanish influence on Puerto Rico's history was profound. Explorer Juan Ponce de León became a key figure in the island's colonization, establishing settlements and introducing the Spanish way of life. For over four centuries, Puerto Rico remained under Spanish control, during which time its culture, language, and traditions were shaped by European and indigenous influences.

In the late 19th century, Puerto Rico found itself at the center of the Spanish-American War, a conflict that ultimately led to the island's transition from Spanish possession to United States territory. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1898, marked the end of the war and resulted in the transfer of Puerto Rico, along with other territories, to the United States.

As part of this territorial transfer, Puerto Rico underwent a series of changes, both politically and culturally. The island's status as a United States territory paved the way for a unique relationship between Puerto Rico and the mainland. In 1952, the United States passed Law 600, granting Puerto Rico the authority to draft and ratify its own constitution, subject to approval by the United States Congress.

The political arrangement that emerged between Puerto Rico and the United States is often referred to as a "commonwealth" in English. However, there is no direct Spanish equivalent for this term. Locally, it is translated as "Estado Libre Asociado," which roughly translates to "associated free state." This status grants Puerto Rico a certain degree of autonomy, allowing it to govern its internal affairs while still being subject to U.S. federal laws and regulations.

While Puerto Rico enjoys certain benefits of self-governance, such as having its own Olympic team and managing its internal affairs, there are limitations to its political representation. Despite its status as a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico's residents do not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress, nor are they allocated electoral college votes in presidential elections. This has been a subject of ongoing debate and discussion, with various perspectives on how to address the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.

In conclusion, Puerto Rico's history is a tapestry woven with Spanish exploration, colonization, American territorial control, and efforts to strike a balance between autonomy and affiliation with the United States. The island's unique status as an "associated free state" within the United States has shaped its culture, politics, and identity, creating a complex and dynamic relationship that continues to evolve.

How is the Climate in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, which is mild and has little seasonal temperature variation. Temperatures range from 70 to 90 ˚F (21 to 32 ˚C), and tend to be lower at night and up in the mountains. Year round trade winds take part in ensuring the sub tropical climate. The average annual temperature is 26 °C (80 °F). Rainfall is abundant along the north coast and in the highlands, but light along the south coast. Hurricane season spans between June and November, where rain showers occur once a day, almost every day. Periodic droughts sometimes affect the island.

Terrain

Puerto Rico is mostly mountainous, although there is a coastal plain belt in the north. The mountains drop precipitously to the sea on the west coast. There are sandy beaches along most of the coast. There are many small rivers about the island and the high central mountains ensure the land is well watered, although the south coast is relatively dry. The coastal plain belt in the north is fertile. Puerto Rico's highest point is at Cerro de Punta, which is 1,338m above sea level.

What is the Geography of Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico is a rectangular shape and is the smallest, most eastern island of the Greater Antilles. It measures almost 580km of coast. In addition to the principal island and the commonwealth islands include Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, Palomino, Mona, Monito and various other isolated islands. Puerto Rico is surrounded by deep ocean waters. To the west Puerto Rico is separated from Hispaniola by the Mona Passage which is about 120 km wide and as much as 3,300m deep. The 8,000m deep Puerto Rico trench is located off the northern coast. Off the south coast is the 5,466m deep Venezuelan Basin of the Caribbean. Because Puerto Rico is relatively short in width it does not have any long rivers or large lakes. Grande de Arecibo is the longest river in Puerto Rico which flows to the northern coast. Puerto Rico does not have any natural lakes but it does however have 15 reservoirs.

Local Language in Puerto Rico

Catedral de San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico - DSC06868

Both Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language. Fewer than 20 percent of Puerto Ricans speak English fluently, according to the 1990 U.S. Census. Spanish is the mother tongue of all native Puerto Ricans, and any traffic signs and such are written exclusively in Spanish, with the exception of San Juan and Guaynabo. Even in tourist areas of San Juan, employees at fast-food restaurants generally have a somewhat limited comprehension of English. However, people who are highly educated or those who work in the tourism industry are almost always fluent in English. Locals in less touristed areas of the island can usually manage basic English, as it is taught as a compulsory second language in most schools.

That said, as anywhere, it's respectful to make an effort and try to learn at least the basics of Spanish. Average Puerto Ricans appreciate efforts to learn the most widely spoken language of their territory, and most are more than happy to help you with your pronunciation. If you're already familiar with the language, be aware that Puerto Rican Spanish speakers have a very distinct accent, similar to the Cuban accent, which is full of local jargon and slang unfamiliar to many outside the island. Puerto Ricans also have a tendency to "swallow" consonants that occur in the middle of a word. Puerto Ricans also speak at a relatively faster speed than Central Americans or Mexicans. It is not offensive to ask someone to repeat themselves or speak slower if you have trouble understanding them.

Examples of words that are unique to Puerto Rican Spanish include:

  • chína - orange (ordinarily naranja)
  • zafacón - trash can (basurero) zafacon comes from zafa in southern Spain derived from an Arab word zafa meaning trash container.
  • chavo - penny (centavo)
  • menudo - loose change, moneda is coin
  • flahlai - flashlight (linterna)
  • wikén - weekend (fín de semana)
  • Guagua - bus (autobus) guagua is Spanish, autobus is an anglicism just like futbol.

Taino influence When the Spanish settlers colonized Puerto Rico in the early 16th century, many thousands of Taíno people lived on the island. Taíno words like hamaca (meaning “hammock”) and huracán (meaning "hurricane") and tobacco came into general Spanish as the two cultures blended. Puerto Ricans still use many Taíno words that are not part of the international Spanish lexicon. The Taino influence in Puerto Rican Spanish is most evident in geographical names, such as Mayagüez, Guaynabo, Humacao or Jayuya. You will also find Taino words in different parts of the Caribbean.

African influence

The first African slaves were brought to the island in the 16th century. Although 31 different African tribes have been recorded in Puerto Rico, it is the Kongo from Central Africa that is considered to have had the most impact on Puerto Rican Spanish. Many words originating among the Kongo people are used in Puerto Rican Spanish today.

Travel as a Muslim to Puerto Rico

Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico

Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, travelers from outside the United States must meet the requirements that are needed to enter the United States. For travel within the United States and there are no passport controls between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, or vice versa. There are also no customs inspections for travel to and from the U.S. mainland, but the USDA does perform agricultural inspections of luggage bound from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland.

Buy a Flight ticket to and from Puerto Rico

Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (IATA Flight Code: SJU), situated in Carolina near San Juan, Puerto Rico, stands as the main gateway to the island for both domestic and international travelers. It boasts a robust lineup of airlines offering services connecting Puerto Rico to various cities around the world. Among the major U.S. carriers, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United operate Flights to and from the United States. Additionally, Air Canada Rouge and WestJet cater to travelers from Canada, American serves Venezuela, Avianca connects Colombia, Copa Airlines links Panama, JetBlue and PAWA Dominicana offer connections from the Dominican Republic, and Volaris brings in passengers from Mexico. Notably, Air Europa and Norwegian Air Shuttle extend their services from Europe.

For domestic travel within Puerto Rico, Cape Air and Vieques Air Link facilitate air transportation from various points on the island. Meanwhile, Liat provides a link from St. Lucia.

Given Puerto Rico's status as a U.S. territory, U.S. Immigration and Customs Laws and Regulations apply to travelers. This means that travel between the mainland U.S. and destinations such as San Juan, Ponce, and Aguadilla is akin to traveling between two mainland cities.

The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is renowned as the largest and most modern airport in the Caribbean region. Its facilities are on par with those of major city airports, offering various conveniences and amenities such as fast-food chains like McDonald's (Please do not support McDonald's as McDonald's supports Israel. Shun this restaurant group and go for altertative brands and if possible for a Muslim owned restaurant), Dominos, and Starbucks (Please do not support Starbucks as Starbucks supports Israel. Shun this coffee and go for alternative brands and if possible for a Muslim owned brand.). The airport is divided into two terminals housing five concourses (labeled terminals A-E), connected to each other. JetBlue and Cape Air have established hubs at this airport.

In addition to Luis Muñoz Marín Airport, there's a secondary commercial airport in San Juan known as Fernando Ribas Dominicci Airport, commonly referred to as Isla Grande Airport. This airport caters to limited air services, primarily connecting the Dominican Republic and the United States Virgin Islands, as well as the Puerto Rican island-cities of Culebra and Vieques through Cape Air and Vieques Air Link. Notably, this airport is conveniently located near Old San Juan, Condado Beach, and the Caribe Hilton Hotels.

For travelers with significant luggage, it's important to note that baggage carts are unavailable in the domestic terminal. However, baggage porters are available to assist for a tip or fee. Luggage carts are available in the international terminal. Upon exiting the airport, porters can assist with luggage for a fee.

Transportation from the airport to hotels typically involves taking a taxi, although some hotels provide complimentary transportation via special buses. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company representatives at the airport are readily available to guide travelers in finding appropriate transportation. All major car rental agencies can be found at the airport, and some even offer free transportation to their off-airport locations.

Typical flight times to and from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport may vary depending on the destination, with outbound flights often taking slightly longer due to prevailing headwinds.

Customs

When embarking on a journey from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States, it's important to be aware of the regulations and procedures set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These guidelines are designed to protect both the local ecosystems of Puerto Rico and the agricultural interests of the mainland.

Similar to the rules applied when returning from a foreign country to the U.S. mainland, there are certain restrictions on bringing agricultural products with you. However, Puerto Rico has some unique allowances due to its status as a US territory. For instance, you're generally permitted to bring back local fruits such as avocados, papayas, coconuts, and plantains. These items are often associated with Puerto Rico's vibrant culinary culture and are allowed entry into the mainland.

On the other hand, there are restrictions on other fruits like mangos, sour sop, and passion fruit, as well as plants potted in soil. These restrictions are in place to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases to mainland agricultural systems. The USDA takes these precautions seriously to maintain the health of American crops and ecosystems.

When you are transporting agricultural items, they will be carefully inspected for any signs of disease or contamination. This inspection helps ensure that any potential threats are detected and mitigated before they can impact mainland agriculture.

For travelers carrying prescription medications, especially prescription narcotics, there are specific requirements that must be adhered to. It's crucial to have the original prescription with you or a letter from your physician that explains the necessity of the medication. This is to prevent any misunderstandings or legal issues related to the possession of controlled substances during your travels.

A unique consideration applies to cruise ship passengers who possess ship luggage tags. These passengers are often exempt from some of the typical customs screenings that individuals traveling by air or other means might undergo. This can expedite the process for cruise ship passengers, making their journey smoother and more convenient.

Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in Puerto Rico

Ferrymaya

A commercial ferry service connects the west coast city of Mayaguez and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. This service is very popular and convenient way to travel between both cities. Also, more than a million passengers visit the island on cruise ships every year, whether on one of the many cruise lines whose homeport is San Juan, or on one of the visiting lines. No passport is required for U.S. citizens who use this service.

How to get around in Puerto Rico

Public transportation in Puerto Rico is fairly bad: outside the Metro Area (San Juan, Guaynabo, Carolina and Bayamon) and there are no scheduled buses or trains. Most travelers choose to rent their own cars, but intrepid budget travelers can also explore the shared cab (público) system.

Best way to travel in Puerto Rico by a Taxi

Official Tourism Company-sponsored taxis on the Island are clean, clearly identifiable and reliable. Look for the white taxis with the official logo and the "Taxi Turístico" on the front doors.

Under a recently instituted Tourism Taxi Program, set rates have been established for travel between San Juan's major tourist zones. See San Juan#By taxi for details.

Official Puerto Rico Tourist Taxi (787) 969-3260

Several other taxi company numbers:

Asociación Dueños de Taxi de Carolina (787) 762-6066

Asociación Dueños de Taxi de Cataño y Levittown (787) 795-5286

Cooperativa de Servicio Capetillo Taxi (787) 758-7000

Cooperativa de Taxis de Bayamón (787) 785-2998

Cooperativa Major Taxi Cabs (787) 723-2460 or 723-1300

Metro-Taxi Cab. Inc. (787) 725-2870

Ocean Crew Transport (787) 645-8294 or 724-4829

Rochdale Radio Taxi (787) 721-1900

Santana Taxi Service, Inc. (787) 562-9836

By car

Arco_de_San_Juan,_Merida,_Yucatan,_Mexico

If you are planning to explore outside of San Juan, renting a vehicle is by far the most convenient way to get around. Rentals are available from the airport as well as larger hotels. There are sometimes long waits of up to an hour when renting a vehicle at that airport, especially with some companies. Rental cars can be had for as little as $28 a day.

Many U.S. mainland vehicle insurance policies will cover insured drivers involved in rental vehicle accidents that occur anywhere in the United States, including outlying territories like Puerto Rico, so check with your own insurer before you rent a vehicle in Puerto Rico. If you have such coverage, you can probably decline collision insurance from the vehicle rental company and request only the loss damage waiver.

Red lights and stop signs are treated like yield signs late at night (only from 12AM to 5AM) due to security measures.

The roads can be quite bad, with potholes and uneven pavement. Be cautious of other drivers, as turn signals are not commonly used or adhered to. Most natives do not drive like mainlanders are used to. Watch out for cars pulling out in front of you, or crossing an intersection, even if you have right of way. Also and there are many cars with non-functional head lights or tail lights, making driving in traffic even more dangerous. If you are not a very confident, even aggressive driver, you may not wish to drive in urban areas. Speed limits are considered suggestions for the local residents (particularly taxi drivers), but high fines should make wise tourists cautious.

Parking in the Old Town of San Juan is virtually non-existent. There is a public parking lot called "La Puntilla". On weekends you only pay a fixed rate for the whole day and on weekdays you will pay less than $5 for a full day. The lot usually has available parking spaces. Traffic in all major cities is bad during rush hour (8AM Monday - 10AM, 4PM Monday - 6PM), so give yourself plenty of time coming and going.

Road signs are Spanish language versions of their U.S. counterparts. However, note that distances are in kilometers, while speed limits are in miles. Gas is also sold by the liter, not by the gallon, and it's a little bit cheaper than on the mainland.

In addition to the regular free highway (carretera) network and there are three toll roads (autopista) on Puerto Rico. They're much faster and less congested than the highways, and it's worth using them if in any kind of hurry. Tolls for a 2-axle vehicle range from $0.50 and $1.50. The lanes on the left are reserved for people with RFID (Autoexpreso) toll passes (an electronic pass typically called a speed or E-Z pass in the states), which you probably won't have on your rental car. Lanes marked with an "A" generally accept only coins. If you need change, head for the lanes marked with a "C", usually the furthest to the right. Note that if you are heading to Ponce on PR-52 and the autopista toll system has gone all RFID, so head to the first "C" booth you come to and buy a travel card if they will let you, or they might require you to buy the Autoexpreso RFID tag for $10. If you put $10 on the tag it will get you to Ponce and back once.

Off the main highways, roads in Puerto Rico quickly become narrow, twisty and turny, especially up in the mountains. Roads that are only one-and-a-half lanes wide are common, so do like the local residents do and beep before driving into blind curves. Signage is often minimal, although intersections do almost always show the road numbers, so a detailed highway map will come in handy. Expect hairpin turns in the mountains - experience driving in West Virginia can help a good deal here. Don't be surprised if you see chickens in the middle of the road - Puerto Rico is one place where the local fowl are still trying to figure out the old joke. They are harmless to vehicles - just drive around them or wait for them to move aside.

Navigating a vehicle can be very challenging because most local residents give directions by landmark rather by address and using maps in Puerto Rico can be very challenging for visitors. Google Maps has lately been improving and now most small roads and all major roads are covered. Google Navigation doesn't work. Slight problems include street names either missing or incorrect, and address lookups & business entries (POI's) either give no result or are wrong. Other online maps suffer the same issues. Note that the larger metro areas, especially San Juan, can obtain several streets with the same name, so it's important to know the neighborhood (urbanization) name when communicating with taxi drivers, etc.

Police cars are easy to spot, as by local regulation and they must keep their blue light bar continuously illuminated any time they are in motion. Avoid getting a speeding ticket: fines start at $50 + $5 for each mile above the speed limit. It is also against the law to talk or text on a phone while driving, except when using BlueTooth or a speakerphone. The fine for talking or texting on the phone is $50.

By público

A público is a shared taxi service and is much cheaper than taking a taxi around the island, and depending on your travel aspirations, might be cheaper than renting a car. Públicos can be identified by their yellow license plates with the word "PUBLICO" written on top of the license plate. The "main" público station is in Río Piedras, a suburb of San Juan. They're commonly called colectivos and pisicorres.

There are two ways of getting on a público. The easier way is to call the local público stand the day before and ask them to pick you up at an agreed time. (Your hotel or guesthouse can probably arrange this, and unlike you and they probably know which of the multitude of companies is going your way.) This is convenient, but it'll cost a few bucks extra and you'll be in for a wait as the vehicle collects all the other departing passengers. The cheaper way is to just show up at the público terminal (or, in smaller towns and the town square) as early as you can (6-7AM is normal) and wait for others to show up; as soon as enough have collected, which may take minutes or hours, you're off. Públicos taper off in the afternoon and stop running entirely before dark.

Públicos can make frequent stops to pick up or drop off passengers and may take a while to get to their destination terminal, but you can also request to be dropped off elsewhere if it's along the way or you pay a little extra. Prices vary depending on the size of the público and the distance being traveled. As an example, a small público that can seat three or four passengers from Ponce to San Juan will cost roughly $15, while a 15 passenger público that is traveling between San Juan and Fajardo will cost about $5 each person.

By ferry

Ferries depart from San Juan and Fajardo & the most popular arrivals are Cataño, Vieques Island & Culebra Island. Also the Mayaguez ferry travels between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays in Puerto Rico

Tren Urbano — or Urban Train in English — is a 17.2 km (10.7 mile) fully automated rapid transit that serves the metropolitan area of San Juan, which includes the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamón, and Guaynabo. Tren Urbano consists of 16 stations on a single line.

The Tren Urbano complements other forms of public transportation on the island such as the public bus system, taxis, water ferries and shuttles. The entire mass transportation system has been dubbed the “Alternativa de Transporte Integrado” (Integrated Transportation Alternative) or “ATI”.

Its services are very reliable and are almost always on time.

Fares - A single trip costs $0.75 including a 2-hour public (AMA) bus transfer period. If you exit the station and wish to get back on the train the full fare must be re-paid; there is no train to train transfer period. Students and Seniors (60–74 years old) with ID pay 35 cents per trip. Senior citizens older than 75 and children under 6 ride for free. Several unlimited passes are also available.

A stored-value multi-use farecard may be used for travel on buses as well as on trains. The value on the card is automatically deducted each time it is used. It is a system similar to the Metrocard system used in New York City.

Travel on a Bus in Puerto Rico

First Transit Of Puerto Rico bus (01)

Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses, also known in English as Metropolitan Bus Authority or by its initials in Spanish, AMA, is a public bus transit system based in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The AMA provides daily bus transportation to residents of San Juan, Guaynabo, Bayamón, Trujillo Alto, Cataño, and Carolina through a network of 30 bus routes, including 2 express routes and 3 "Metrobus" routes. Its fleet consists of 277 regular buses and 54 paratransit vans for handicapped persons. Its ridership is estimated at 112,000 on work days.

The daily, weekend and holiday bus service from 4:30AM to 10PM with the exception of a few routes that are limited to certain hours and the express routes.

There are two routes which are very reliable, Monday - I & Monday - II, commonly called Metrobus (metroboos). MetroBus M1 transit between Old San Juan to Santurce downtown, Hato Rey Golden Mile banking zone and Rio Piedras downtown where a nice open walking street mall and great bargains could be found and the Paseo De Diego. The Metrobus II transit from Santurce to Bayamon city, passing Hato Rey, including Plaza Las Americas Mall and to Guaynabo City. Many interesting places could be found on the routes, like the remains of the first European settlement on the island and the oldest under USA government and the Caparra Ruins (Ruinas de Caparra Museum).

As a tourist staying in the Isla Verde hotel neighborhood, be aware there is a bus line going to and from Old San Juan. It costs only 75 cents, but takes 45 minutes to an hour and the right bus comes by irregularly. The bus till only takes quarters and no bills, so plan ahead. So the trade-off is between low cost versus your time and convenience. In the rainy months, standing at the bus stop can be uncomfortable.

Buy a Flight ticket to and from Puerto Rico

Cape Air (6544774239)

Cape Air flies between San Juan-both SJU and Isla Grande airports-and Culebra, Mayaguez and Vieques. Vieques Air Link flies between San Juan, Culebra and Vieques, with onward connections from it's Vieques hub to other Caribbean islands. Vieques Air Link also flies from Culebra to Vieques and from Ceiba to Vieques. Air Culebra also flies from San Juan to Culebra and Vieques as does Air Flamenco. Air Culebra also flies from Ceiba to Culebra. MN Aviation provides charter flights between San Juan, Culebra and Vieques and from Ceiba to Culebra and Vieques. Tickets from San Juan-SJU to Vieques on Vieques Air Link cost around $250 return (2022), and the flight takes about 30 minutes.

What to see in Puerto Rico

There is one UNESCO World Heritage Site on Puerto Rico, namely La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site.

Coffee Plantations Coffee, sugar cane, and tobacco were the three main agricultural products exported by Puerto Rico in the old days. Sugar cane was produced in the hot low-lands by the sea while tobacco and coffee were grown in the mountainous interior of Puerto Rico. A few coffee plantations are still active or have been turned into museums. Most of them can be found and visited in the mountains region just North of Ponce.

Bioluminescent Bays The bioluminescent bays near Fajardo and in Vieques are a soul-healing experience that should not be missed. The microscopic organisms that live in every drop of water in these bays will glow when they dart away from movement. Take a kayak or boat tour during a new moon for the best results; they're hard to see during a full moon and imfeasible to see in sunlight. The bioluminescent bay in Lajas is by far the most famous one to visit with many kiosks and restaurants there for the traveler to enjoy as well as boat tours.

Best things to do in Puerto Rico

Blue Flag in Puerto Rico The Blue Flag Program, initiated in Europe since 1987 has been modified for implementation in the Caribbean. It is a voluntary program and it has proven along the years to be a very effective strategy to guarantee the best quality in beach services for bathers in different parts of the world.

El Yunque

El Yunque, Puerto Rico's rainforest is a must see. It spreads out over a mountain, so if you walk uphill from the road you're in an amazing rain forest. At any altitude you'll see numerous varieties of plant and animal life. If you're lucky you can catch a glimpse of the endangered Puerto Rican parrot & hear the song of the local Coqui tree frog. There are many hiking trails and the Yokahu tower is a great spot to see the forest from above. There are also two trails that lead you straight down to La Mina waterfalls. You can swim at the bottom of the falls in the cold refreshing water. There are short hiking trails and long hiking trails and they do overlap. Pay close attention to the signs to ensure that you do not bite off more than you can chew.

Since it is a rain forest, expect it to rain daily and frequently. This means you may wish to leave your expensive Louis Vuitton hand-bag at the hotel.

Horseback riding Whether you're dreaming about spectacular surfing waves, a challenging golf course, or the perfect sunbathing beach, Puerto Rico offers the active traveler a tremendous array of opportunities. Surfing and golf compete with tennis, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, and horseback riding, not to mention windsurfing and parasailing, for your active time. The island has over 15 championship golf courses a short drive away from the San Juan metropolitan area.

Learn about the different character of Puerto Rico's favorite beaches, or find out where to participate in your favorite sports. The hardest part will be choosing what to do first.

Outdoor adventures There is plenty to do outside the metropolitan areas. Many small family owned tour companies provide guided tours of the Central Mountains in Utuado near Río Tanama, Repelling in Arecibo, kayak tours of Lake Guajataka, and horse back riding on the beach in Aguadilla. Some of the tour operators also provide low cost or free lodging. Let's Go Puerto Rico has listed a few of these outfitters or you can simply do an internet search with the name of the area you would like to visit to find things to do. The individual towns also have yearly festivals listed in the tourism guides available at both major airports.

Snorkel and scuba dive Puerto Rico's coastlines and minor islands such as Vieques and Culebra are best. They each contain scenic landscapes and a diverse population of wildlife. But be sure that if you book with a snorkel trip—that they guarantee you will be taken to true snorkeling sites. Dive operators (for instance and the outfit named Sea Ventures) have been known to book snorkelers on day trips along with scuba divers, taking them all to deep water sites suited only to scuba diving!

Muslim Friendly Shopping in Puerto Rico

Money Matters & ATM's in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico uses the U.S. dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" (ISO code: USD).

There are plenty of ATMs around the commonwealth. Most are linked to the Cirrus, Plus, American Express and Discover networks.

Muslim Friendly Shopping in Puerto Rico

Tourist Bus in San Juan

Plaza las Americas is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean and one of the largest in Latin America. It offers a wide array of stores, eating facilities, and a multi-screen movie theater. Most major U.S. mainland and European mass retailers are located in the mall.

The Condado section of San Juan is home to fine designer stores such as Cartier, Gucci, Ferragamo, Mont Blanc and Dior.

You might want to check out the Belz Factory Outlets and Puerto Rico Premium Outlets (Barceloneta). They house stores like Polo Ralph Lauren, Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Puma, Gap, PacSun, etc.

Most of the large cities on the island have a large regional mall with very familiar international stores.

If you're looking for local crafts of all sorts, and want to pay less than in Old San Juan while getting to know the island, try going to town festivals. Artisans from around the island come to these festivals to sell their wares: from typical foods, Candies, coffee and tobacco to clothing, accessories, paintings and home décor. Some of these festivals are better than others, though: be sure to ask for recommendations. One of the most popular (yet remote) festivals is the "Festival de las Chinas" or Orange Festival in Las Marías.

Don't forget that Puerto Rico is a large rum-producing island. Hand made cigars can still be found in San Juan, Old San Juan, and Puerta de Tierra. Also a wide variety of imported goods from all over the world are available. Local artesanías include wooden carvings, musical instruments, lace, ceramics, hammocks, masks and basket-work. Located in every busy city are gift shops with the typical tee-shirts, shot glasses, and other gifts that say Puerto Rico to bring home to friends and family. Make sure to visit the Distileria Serralles and the home of Don Q, one of the oldest rums made in Puerto Rico. You would not only enjoy tours of the process of making rum, but a little taste of the rum. They also have a museum and it is an enjoyable place for a warm afternoon in the Enchanted Island.

Halal Restaurants in Puerto Rico

La Shish, located in San Juan, Carolina, Puerto Rico, is a well-regarded halal restaurant with a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. The restaurant offers a diverse range of dishes, likely Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisine given its name. The establishment appears to be closed on the day of the review and reopens at 11 AM on Mondays. Unfortunately, the review provided cuts off before the details about the portions could be included, but it suggests that the portion sizes might be satisfactory.

Ali Baba Turkish Restaurant is another notable halal dining option in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With a solid rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, this Turkish restaurant is highly recommended for those seeking halal food on the island. The review suggests that this restaurant is a must-visit for halal cuisine enthusiasts.

Istanbul Restaurant is yet another option for those interested in halal dining in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, this Turkish restaurant offers a variety of dishes. The review highlights that the lamb is halal, which caters to the preferences of diners seeking halal options, and also notes that the Chicken is kosher.

These three restaurants, La Shish, Ali Baba Turkish Restaurant, and Istanbul Restaurant, offer halal dining options in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's clear from the reviews that they have garnered positive feedback for their food quality, halal offerings, and overall dining experiences. For travelers or residents in Puerto Rico seeking halal cuisine, these restaurants could be excellent choices to explore.

eHalal Group Launches Halal Guide to Puerto Rico

Albizu University

Puerto Rico - eHalal Travel Group, a leading provider of innovative Halal travel solutions for Muslim travelers to Puerto Rico, is thrilled to announce the official launch of its comprehensive Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide for Puerto Rico. This groundbreaking initiative aims to cater to the diverse needs of Muslim travelers, offering them a seamless and enriching travel experience in Puerto Rico and its surrounding regions.

With the steady growth of Muslim tourism worldwide, eHalal Travel Group recognizes the importance of providing Muslim travelers with accessible, accurate, and up-to-date information to support their travel aspirations to Puerto Rico. The Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide is designed to be a one-stop resource, offering an array of invaluable information on various travel aspects, all carefully curated to align with Islamic principles and values.

The Travel Guide encompasses a wide range of features that will undoubtedly enhance the travel experience for Muslim visitors to Puerto Rico. Key components include:

Halal-Friendly Accommodations in Puerto Rico: A carefully selected list of hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals that cater to halal requirements, ensuring a comfortable and welcoming stay for Muslim travelers in Puerto Rico.

Halal Food, Restaurants and Dining in Puerto Rico: A comprehensive directory of restaurants, eateries, and food outlets offering halal-certified or halal-friendly options in Puerto Rico, allowing Muslim travelers to savor local cuisines without compromising their dietary preferences in Puerto Rico.

Prayer Facilities: Information on masjids, prayer rooms, and suitable locations for daily prayers in Puerto Rico, ensuring ease and convenience for Muslim visitors in fulfilling their religious obligations.

Local Attractions: An engaging compilation of Muslim-friendly attractions, cultural sites such as Museums, and points of interest in Puerto Rico, enabling travelers to explore the city's rich heritage while adhering to their values.

Transport and Logistics: Practical guidance on transportation options that accommodate Muslim travel needs, ensuring seamless movement within Puerto Rico and beyond.

Speaking about the launch, Irwan Shah, Chief Technology Officer of eHalal Travel Group in Puerto Rico, stated, "We are thrilled to introduce our Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide in Puerto Rico, a Muslim friendly destination known for its cultural richness and historical significance. Our goal is to empower Muslim travelers with accurate information and resources, enabling them to experience the wonders of Puerto Rico without any concerns about their faith-based requirements. This initiative reaffirms our commitment to creating inclusive and memorable travel experiences for all our clients."

The eHalal Travel Group's Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide for Puerto Rico is now accessible on this page. The guide will be regularly updated to ensure that Muslim travelers have access to the latest information, thus reinforcing its status as a reliable companion for Muslim travelers exploring Puerto Rico.

About eHalal Travel Group:

eHalal Travel Group Puerto Rico is a prominent name in the global Muslim travel industry, dedicated to providing innovative and all-inclusive travel solutions tailored to the needs of Muslim travelers worldwide. With a commitment to excellence and inclusivity, eHalal Travel Group aims to foster a seamless travel experience for its clients while respecting their religious and cultural values.

For Halal business inquiries in Puerto Rico, please contact:

eHalal Travel Group Puerto Rico Media: info@ehalal.io

Buy Muslim Friendly condos, Houses and Villas in Puerto Rico

Isla verde

eHalal Group Puerto Rico is a prominent real estate company specializing in providing Muslim-friendly properties in Puerto Rico. Our mission is to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the Muslim community by offering a wide range of halal-certified residential and commercial properties, including houses, condos, and factories. With our commitment to excellence, client satisfaction, and adherence to Islamic principles, eHalal Group has established itself as a trusted name in the real estate industry in Puerto Rico.

At eHalal Group, we understand the importance of meeting the unique requirements of Muslim individuals and families seeking properties that align with their cultural and religious trainings. Our extensive portfolio of Muslim-friendly properties in Puerto Rico ensures that clients have access to a diverse selection of options tailored to their needs. Whether it's a luxurious villa, a modern condominium, or a fully equipped factory, our team is dedicated to assisting clients in finding their ideal property.

For those seeking a comfortable and modern living space, our condos are an excellent choice. Starting at US$ 350,000 and these condominium units offer contemporary designs, state-of-the-art facilities, and convenient locations within Puerto Rico. Each condo is thoughtfully designed to incorporate halal-friendly features and amenities, ensuring a seamless integration of Islamic values into everyday living.

If you are looking for a more spacious option, our houses are perfect for you. Starting at US$ 650,000, our houses provide ample living space, privacy, and a range of customizable features to meet your specific requirements. These houses are located in well-established neighborhoods in Puerto Rico, offering a harmonious balance between modern living and Islamic values.

For those seeking luxury and exclusivity, our luxury villas in Puerto Rico are the epitome of sophistication and elegance. Starting at US$ 1.5 million and these villas offer a lavish lifestyle with private amenities, breathtaking views, and meticulous attention to detail. Each luxury villa is meticulously designed to provide a serene and halal environment, allowing you to enjoy the finest living experience while adhering to your Islamic principles. For further details please email us at realestate@ehalal.io

Muslim Friendly hotels in Puerto Rico

Puente Dos Hermanos

There are over 12,000 hotel rooms in Puerto Rico and 50% are located in the San Juan area.

  • All major international hotel chains have properties in Puerto Rico. Guests can expect a high level of service even in lower quality properties. The San Juan area is very popular and perennially full of visitors but also suffers from a shortage of hotel rooms which results in high prices during the winter season. New developments on the horizon look to alleviate this problem.

International chains such as Sheraton, Westin, Marriott, Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, Holiday Inn as well as some luxurious independent resorts offer very reliable accommodations. There is a boom underway in boutique hotel construction which promise a higher level of service and Miami-chic appeal. Most large cities have at least one international chain hotel.

There are properties to rent, buy, or lease available, whether it is a quiet home or a vacation rental. There are also many fully furnished apartments you can rent by the day, week and month, especially in Old San Juan. These are usually affordable, clean and comfortable and owned by trustworthy people. They are located mostly in the residential area, which is safe (day and night), and within walking distance to everything from museums to nightlife.

See the San Juan section for contact numbers for hotels and short-term rental apartments.

Study as a Muslim in Puerto Rico

Most universities in Puerto Rico are accredited by US authorities and they offer quality educational programs. It's extremely simple to find Spanish courses as well as learn to dance salsa.

Puerto Rico has 3 ABA-accredited law schools which are very competitive. The University of Puerto Rico Law School is very friendly towards international students and is a great option for foreigners looking for a quality, affordable education (subsidized by the government) that is less than 10 minutes from a beach!

Also the island has major medical teaching centers which are internationally acclaimed such as the University of Puerto Rico Center for Medical Sciences and the Ponce School of Medicine.

How to work legally in Puerto Rico

Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico

There is a small international workforce on the island. In general, it's feasible to find a nice job on the island doing various things. The island is full of international businesses which look for skilled labor all the time. Tourism is obviously a big industry for Puerto Rico. Also and the majority of pharmaceutical companies can be found here and the island plays a very important part in pharmaceutical manufacturing for the U.S. and other places in the world.

Stay safe as a Muslim in Puerto Rico

If you look at the statistics, it's clear that Puerto Rico has a crime problem, but tourists generally encounter no major problems when simply applying common sense. The tourist areas of San Juan and Ponce are heavily patrolled by police, and violent crime directed against tourists is extremely rare. The main problem is theft: never leave your belongings unattended anywhere (on the beach, in a restaurant/bar, etc.) The crime rate is lowest in the wealthier suburbs outside major metropolitan areas, such as Isla Verde, Condado, San Patricio, and Guaynabo. Car theft is a minor issue, so park your vehicle in a garage and don't leave valuables inside.

Medical Issues in Puerto Rico

Freshwater lakes and streams in metropolitan areas are often polluted so avoid going in for a dip. You can, however, find freshwater streams and ponds in the rain forest that are safe to swim in. Generally, if you see Puerto Ricans swimming in it then you are probably okay, especially high in the rain forest. Puerto Rico is a tropical island, but is free of most diseases that plague many other tropical countries of the Caribbean and the world. Tap water is safe to drink almost everywhere, and your hosts will let you know if their water is suspect. Bottled water, if necessary, is available, at grocery and drugstores in gallons, and most small stores have bottled water as well.

Medical facilities are easily available all around the Island, and there are many trained physicians and specialists in many medical fields. There are a number of government as well as private hospitals. Health services are fairly expensive. Keep in mind that a visit to the doctor may not be as prompt as one is used to, and it is common to have to wait quite some time to be seen (three to four hours would not be exceptional).

Visitors should expect a high level of quality in their medical service - it is comparable to the U.S. mainland. Drug stores are plentiful and very well stocked. Walgreens is the biggest and most popular pharmacy chain, although Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Costco offer medicines, as do numerous smaller local chains.

Local Customs in Puerto Rico

Friends chatting outside the Mercado in Ponce, Puerto Rico

Politeness and a simple smile will get you far. Unspoken rules regarding personal space differ somewhat from the American mainland; people generally stand closer together when socializing. For either gender, it is very common to customarily kiss on one cheek when greeting a female. This is never done by a male to another male (except between relatives). Puerto Rican society is generally very social, and you will commonly see neighbors out at night chatting with each other.

It is wise in some cases to avoid discussing the island's politics, especially with regards to its political status with the United States. Arguments are often very passionate, and can lead to heated debates. In the same manner it may be wise not to discuss the political parties either, as Puerto Ricans can be very passionate about the party they affiliate with. Puerto Rico has 3 political parties, marked (among other things) by different stances towards the relation to the United States: PNP (statehood), PPD (commonwealth) and PIP (independence). PNP and PPD share the majority of the voters, whilst PIP has a relatively negative rating.

It is fairly common for attractive women to have cat calls, whistles, and loud compliments directed at them. These are usually harmless and it is best to just ignore them.

Puerto Ricans love board games. Some would even say that the national game of Puerto Rico is dominos. It is a very common pastime, especially among older people. In some rural towns, it is common to see old men playing dominos in parks or the town square. Chess is also popular. Either a chess set or a box of dominos makes a great gift.

Respect for the elderly is very highly valued in Puerto Rico. When saying goodbye to an older person, it is a gesture of great respect to say "Bendicíon" (a request for his/her blessing), to which s/he will respond, "Díos te lo bendigan" ("May God bless you").

Telecommunications in Puerto Rico

Cellular phones

Ciudad de Caguas desde otro punto - panoramio

Puerto Rico has a modern cellular network. All the major US carriers are represented and are not roaming for US subscribers with nationwide plans. Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile have native coverage (as of February 2023 AT&T has the best coverage on the island, with T-Mobile being second. Sprint works in several areas, but is not as reliable), while Verizon roams (69 cents per minutes as of February 2023) on their legacy network now operated by Claro. Other CDMA carriers also use Claro or Sprint. For non-US travelers, AT&T and T-Mobile are the GSM carriers, while Sprint and Claro are CDMA and probably not compatible with your phone.

Voice coverage

All of the major metro areas have solid coverage with all carriers. For rural areas and the islands Culebra and Vieques, coverage is pretty good but can be spottier than in the states and you may find poor or no coverage at the beaches. AT&T is generally regarded to have the best voice coverage, followed by Sprint and T-Mobile, and then Claro (Verizon).

Data coverage

T-Mobile has 4G data in the major metro areas, averaging over 1,500 kbit/s, but they only have 3G outside those areas. Personal locations work well for streaming and other uses in the 4G areas. T-Mobile's data network has been updated(HSPA+) giving 4G data rates on capable phones.

AT&T has the most consistent and by far the fastest data coverage on the island, with solid 4G LTE/HSPA+ and 4G coverage in the metro areas and 4G or 3G in the rural areas. Data rates average around 500 kbit/s on 4G and speeds on the 4G LTE network can be up to 10 times fast than 3G. Personal locations work well for streaming and other uses in the 4G and 4G areas.

Sprint has coverage similar to AT&T, but their data rates average around 200 kbit/s and are bursty with a lot of latency. Personal locations don't work well for streaming but are okay for basic data.

Mail

Puerto Rico uses the U.S. Postal Service with zip codes 00601-00795 and 00901-00988 with a state code of "PR". Postage to the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii), Street Thomas, and to overseas U.S. military and diplomatic posts (with APO, FPO or DPO addresses) are the same domestic rates as it would be to send something within Puerto Rico and to Vieques and Culebra Islands.


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