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Puerto Rico

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Description

Puerto Rico is the smallest island in the Greater Antilles, located in the Caribbean Sea. The island is 110 miles long by 35 miles wide and an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means American citizens don't need a passport to visit. The primary language there is Spanish but English is widely spoken around most of the island. The U.S. dollar is the main currency there and prices for food, lodging, transportation, etc. tend to be similar to the U.S. but cheaper options can be found.

Puerto Rico has a year round tropical climate which means it never really gets cold but it can get very warm during the summer months (90's). Late September through December or early January is the rainy season and mid January through March is the best time to climb with temps in the 80's during the day and 60's at night.

Puerto Rico most frequently climbed areas (Cerro Las Tetas, Bayamon, Ciales) and of course the new spot, Roca Norte, have very good anchors and bolts conditions and annually there’s a climbing event where donations are used to replace bolts and anchors.

For rest days there are all the activities that you would expect on a tropical island from hiking, cave exploring, sky diving, boat rides, reef diving, snorkeling, hundreds of magnificent beaches, mountain bike, fishing trips, surfing and much more. Most of the parks have good hiking trails with El Yunque National Forest being one of the more popular ones, Toro Negro Forest, Bosque Seco dry forest, Maricao forest and Susua forest. The beaches around Rincon are the surfing hotspot in the winter with everything from beginner to expert depending on conditions. Snorkeling and diving can also be found around the island but to access the best reefs you'll need to rent or hire a boat to take you out to some of the smaller islands around Puerto Rico.

Overall the atmosphere in Puerto Rico is tropical, relaxing and you will find yourself in a unique place where you can find a lot of things to do in a very small island, with mountains, reefs, different forests and hundreds of beaches! The locals are friendly and the Pina Coladas and coconut water are the best you'll ever have! The climbing is fun with some of the areas having incredible views. If on the other hand you want to get away from winter and just have a good time then I would highly recommend a trip to Puerto Rico. A typical sport rack of 18 draws and a 60 or 70m rope should get you up anything on the island and helmets are recommended.

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Approach

If you're going to Puerto Rico then you'll be flying into Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan. Plane tickets can be found for as little as $300 in the winter but the average price is closer to $500 round trip. The climbing areas are scattered all around the island and there is no real public transportation outside of San Juan so renting a car, or using Uber is pretty much mandatory.

There are several things you should know though about driving in Puerto Rico. Some of the highways are toll roads but an "Auto Expreso" pass is available at all the car rental places so you can just drive right through the toll stations. These passes cost a little more but the convenience and time savings might be worthy.

Where to stay

Accommodations for climbers can be tricky but here you can find some very private and spectacular scenic options which may be booked via 21 Climb & Tour or get in contact with Marianela Mercado Burgos:

  • Camping Malua, Cayey
  • Mountain Top Camp Site, Cayey
  • Camping Cerro Las Tetas, Salinas
  • Beach Camping Playuela, Aguadilla
  • Ciales Camp Site

Some camping on the island is administered by three government agencies, the National Parks of Puerto Rico, Departamento de Recursos Naturales (DRNA) and the U.S. Forest Service. Reservations are required at some of these campgrounds. Other options is to stay at guesthouses or inexpensive hotels. Guesthouses typically average about $20 a night but you may be able to find cheaper rates in some of the smaller towns. It is easy to book accommodations online. The most frequently climbing areas might be Bayamon and Cerro las Tetas and there’s is plenty of places around to stay. A newly added climbing spot and bar in Vega Baja has been named Roca Norte with 18 routes and bolting more.

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