Often times, people get facts wrong about Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is known world wide for its beautiful beaches, world class fishing, centuries old fortifications, unique flora and fauna, and even a few political mishaps. However, as a local, a lot of people get the following facts wrong. My extensive experience with guests of all countries and walk of life have led me to share with you these 10 common facts people get wrong about Puerto Rico. After all, then you visit the island, you do not want to be wrong about Puerto Rico.
1. Puertoricans are born US citizens
If you are born in Puerto Rico, you are a US citizen. Puertoricans have US passports and can travel to and from the US at their leisure, without having to go through customs.
2. As a US Territory, US citizens can visit as they please
If you are a US citizen, there are no special requirements for you to enter either by plane or ship to Puerto Rico. That means to travel to PR no passport is necessary for US citizens. Isn’t that convenient? This makes PR a very attractive destinations for people from the mainland.
3. Gambling is legal if you are 18 years old or older
This is great. That means if you are traveling with an 18 year old, they can come with to casinos. There are many casinos in the island and they are tons of fun. If you have an 18 year old teen you can introduce him/her to the joy of slot machines.
4. Drinking is legal is if you are 18 years old or older
Another benefit is the drinking age in PR is 18. This could be convenient for concious teens who practice self-control. If you do not have a teen like that, then you are in for an adventure. Another cool fact is that there is no curfew for bars like in many cities of the US. Here, they can still be open at 5 or 6am. Old San Juan and La Placita are very popular spots to have drinks.
5. The currency used is the $ US dollar
Even though locals call the dollar “peso” in slang, please don’t take this literal. There are no ‘pesos’ in Puerto Rico like in other countries of Latin America. Just like in the USA, the currency is the green dollar.
6. Police lights are different colors
Depending on the kind of popo you see, their lights could be blue, which is state police or green which is the municipal or town police. Then of course school busses are yellow, and party busses are all kind of colors.
7. US Banks do not have a presence in Puerto Rico
US Bank or Bank of America do not exist in Puerto Rico. The ever present Banco Popular dominate the landscape of banking in Puerto Rico. Eons ago, we had Chase and Citibank, but they are long gone. However the ATMs work with all the networks from the US, you will have no trouble making withdrawls. And credit cards are widely accepted in all establishments in PR.
8. Beaches are public domain
This is very important and access to the beach cannot be restricted. There are no private beaches in the island. Land owners can restrict access to cars but no to people.
9. Puertoricans cannot vote on Presidential elections
Locals are not allowed to vote on the presidential elections. However, they are allowed to vote on the primaries. Often, the candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties visit the island in the hopes to drum up some votes. Both parties have a presence in Puerto Rico.
10. There is more than one tropical rainforest in the USA
There is only one tropical rainforest that is part of the US, and it is called El Yunque. It is located in the town of Rio Grande. Even though the US Forest Services have other rainforests located in Alaska and Washington, El Yunque is the only TROPICAL rainforest in the US National Forest System. The tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico can garner more than 400 inches of rain a year. Puertoricans are very proud of their forest and welcome visitors to it as it has a wonderful collection of native flora and fauna.