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Fodor's Puerto Rico, 1st Edition: Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore On and Off the Beaten Path, Smart Travel Tips fr om A to Z (Fodor's Gold Guides) Paperback – November 14, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Paperback, November 14, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Fodor's Puerto Rico 1ed"Fodor's guides cover culture authoritatively and rarely miss a sight or museum." - National Geographic Traveler

"The king of guidebooks." - Newsweek

No matter what your budget or whether it's your first trip or fifteenth, Fodor's Gold Guides get you where you want to go.

Insider info that's totally up to date. Every year our local experts give you the inside track, showing you all the things to see and do -- from must-see sights to off-the-beaten-path adventures, from shopping to outdoor fun.

Hundreds of hotel and restaurant choices in all price ranges -- from budget-friendly B&Bs to luxury hotels, from casual eateries to the hottest new restaurants, complete with thorough reviews showing what makes each place special.

Smart Travel Tips A to Z section helps you take care of the nitty gritty with essential local contacts and great advice -- from how to take your mountain bike with you to what to do in an emergency.

Full-size, foldout map keeps you on course.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Destination: Puerto Rico

What makes Puerto Rico distinctive among Caribbean destinations is the sheer breadth of experiences available to you. If you crave a luxury resort, you'll find several world-class options to choose from. If you're a nature lover, you'll find an abundance of wonders to explore. If you're a surfer or an art aficionado, a golfer or a history buff, a deep-sea diver or a gourmet, you'll find satisfaction here. And perhaps foremost, lending a distinctive flavor to any Puerto Rico experience, you'll find a sophisticated, centuries-old culture -- a mix of Native American, Spanish, African, and contemporary U.S. influences that's unique to the island.

Puerto Rico will wow you with its gorgeous beaches and deep blue waters. If all you want is to sit on the sand and enjoy a piña colada, there's no better place to do it. But if you want something more, Puerto Rico is rich with possibilities.


A Puerto Rico visit isn't complete without some time in the sand and sun. By law, all Puerto Rican playas (beaches) are open to the public. The government maintains more than a dozen balnearios (public beaches) around the island, with dressing rooms; lifeguards; parking; and in some cases picnic tables, playgrounds, and camping facilities. Admission is free, parking is $2. Hours vary, but most balnearios are open 9-5 daily in summer and Tuesday-Sunday the rest of the year.


Many Puerto Rican chefs have taken cues from the international set, and "world cuisine" is the buzzword at trend-conscious restaurants. Throughout the island you'll find everything from French haute cuisine to sushi bars, as well as superb local eateries serving comidas criollas, traditional Caribbean-creole meals.

If you're looking for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, one indication is the mesòn gastronómico label used by the government to recognize restaurants that preserve culinary traditions. There are more than 40 such establishments island-wide, and while not every one is of the highest quality, there are fine restaurants in the system.

Puerto Rico is also known for a number of trademark drinks. The renowned locally grown coffee is excellent served espresso-black or generously cut con leche (with hot milk). Legends trace the birthplace of the piña colada to any number of San Juan establishments, from the Caribe Hilton to Gran Hotel El Convento to a Calle La Fortaleza bar. Puerto Rican rum is popular mixed with cola (known as a cuba libre), soda, tonic, juices, or water, or served on the rocks or even straight up.


The time when one of the main tourism activities in Puerto Rico was gambling has passed, but casinos still draw crowds. Today, rather than high rollers out for a week of intense dice and card games, the casinos tend to be filled with couples looking for fun and a chance to hit the jackpot.

Dress for the larger casinos tends to be on the more formal side, and the atmosphere is refined. The law permits casinos to operate noon-4 [am], but individual casinos set their own hours. The minimum age is 18.


Music is the heart and soul of Puerto Rico. One of the island's first musical forms was bomba y plena, folk music that originated with slave groups on the island and utilizes drums, scratch gourds, and the cuatro, a five-double-string Spanish guitar. The form is still heard at island music and cultural festivals and in the countryside.

The brash Latin sound today is best exemplified by salsa, as interpreted by a flock of internationally known Latin entertainers. Puerto Rico's contributions include pop sensation Ricky Martin and the late, great Tito Puente. Salsa, Spanish for "sauce," meaning the sauce that energizes the party, is a fusion of West African percussion and jazz with a swing beat and is eminently danceable. Other Latin beats heard on the island, with origins in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Spain, are mambo, merengue, flamenco, cha-cha, and rumba. Bands both small in the country tradition and large in the Big Band tradition play at local hotels, casinos, and concert halls throughout the island.


What would a vacation be without a few souvenirs to carry home? You will find unique buys in Puerto Rico. Popular local items include santos, which are small, hand-carved figures of saints or religious scenes used in religious festivals. Hand-rolled cigars are always a good bet, and the craftsmen who create them can be seen at work in several spots. Veijigantes (colorful masks made of papier-mâché and coconut husks and used during Carnival and local festivals) are one-of-a-kind buys, and exquisitely crafted Panama hats are sure to set the tropical mood. Local fine art follows the Puerto Rican tradition of passion and dignity -- and the island has plenty of art galleries.

Product Details

  • Series: Fodor's Gold Guides
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fodor's (November 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679007202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679007203
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,739,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I can tell you right off the bat that I like this guide better than the October 2011 (5th Edition) of Lonely Planet. I am up and down on LP, but I was genuinely unimpressed with that version (I did a review saying as such, but my revisiting that guide reminds me why). Meanwhile, I have been liking Fodor's pretty much in the last year or so; this is typical to them.

First, the map in the back is fairly worthwhile, which is more than I can say about almost any pull out map from any brand. You get a road map of the country on one side with blow-ups of famous drives on the other. Trust me, you don't need Old San Juan as it is small and can be gotten for free almost anywhere (you can find one in the regular book as well).

The book in general has a good element of being browseable. That is, you can pick it up and browse anytime and get your mind thinking about your upcoming trip - and to me, this part is as important as having a "guidebook" while at your destination. ...truthfully, I don't care much for hotel and restaurant recommendations from any book, but at least you get some contact info and ideas in a pinch. Fodor's gives you a sampling at all levels instead of shunning the high or low ends completely.

I used to think Fodor's was more for the unimaginative tourist compared to LP and Rough Guides. But I think both they and I have changed in recent years. Fodor's does cater to all, (but importantly, they're NOT missing the cooler and more adventurous) but I'm now mature enough to realize that repeating ANYthing seen in ANY guidebook is not going to make me a legendary explorer. Short of a local companion? Nice to have a good guidebook.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is not the first FODOR's PR Guide I have purchased; but they are all excellent.

Compared to earlier publications this book is smaller and more compact in size. However it is NOT tropical (meaning NOT Puerto Rican) "weather friendly" and so your pages will start to curl. This is easily solved with a rubber band or two.

They include a pull out map which is quite good; but if you are lost and away from Major Highways, the map is useless.
PLEASE. If you decided to leave the Resort or venture beyond Metropolitan San Juan, make sure you have a GPS Device in your car and a much better / detailed map.

The information and the illustrations (photos) in this book are first class and you understand exactly what you are going to see and encounter. Their price guide is also very accurate.

I have been a frequent visitor in Puerto Rico since the 1980s and many years ago I decided to live here. I LOVE IT HERE in Paradise -- its not perfect but it is amazing!

If you are ever tired of Puerto Rico; you must be tired of life!

Be aware that regarding things like places to stay (HOTELS) and places to eat (RESTAURANTS) that THINGS CHANGE.
So do CALL before to go so as not to be disappointed.
In this edition several hotels and restaurants are no longer in business and others have opened. You understand what I am saying of course!

I hope you are excited about Puerto Rico as a vacation site; and if you want any further advice or information about your Puerto Rican Vacation just ask!

GOD BLESS YOU! And welcome to the best vacation experience of your life!
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I found this book to have answers to all my questions about lodging, tourist spots, leisure activities, food, parks and natural places, entertainment, festivals, etc. It had suggestions for family vacations, eco-tourism, gay interests, romantic settings and just about any other type of vacation for which you could wish. It marks restaurants (and a few other things) with dollar signs (one, two, or three) to rate their cost. The book discusses different aspects of travel, divided by region, and it includes a tear-out road map at the back of the book (opens to about 18 x 24"). The book is small enough to fit into a handbag or tote, though it might feel heavy by the end of the day.
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Format: Paperback
We are on the island, as I write. The guide has been accurate for us. No misinformation we see. Seems up to date.

Food recommendations in two cases were really on the money, namely for places away from our resort, local restaurants.

Book is nicely organized with great pics. Has a tear out map.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for a trip to San Juan this summer. It was a preorder. It came out the week before I left and when we started looking up locations and restaurants they were in the wrong place, they had been closed, and not just one place, multiple times. In the book, it talks about swimming in the bioluminescent bays, which later I found out has been outlawed by the government for over a year. Save your money. Frankly, my phone apps were more useful.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Here is the real scoop. Want information on hotels and restaurants? Then this is the guide for you. If you want to pre-plan the trip, then this is for you. If you want outfitters to set up tours and hikes, then this is for you.

If you are an independent traveler who wants to get out and explore region by region, hiking up secluded trails, and visiting great local restaurants and watering holes, then get: Puerto Rico (Regional Travel Guide). The Lonely Planet guide is more of an interactive listing of sights broken down by region. Fodor's is a lot like having a printed out listing of all the regular spots favored by tourists. Helpful for planning, but it makes for a less interactive book while actually in Puerto Rico.

Other reviews mentioned a few items the book failed to update, but like many books, they become outdated quickly. Laws change. I've traveled to wonderful beaches at times of the year they are reputed to be open only to find them closed due to water contamination (lovely), inclement weather, strong riptides, or huge populations of dangerous jellyfish. I don't fault the guide so much for these omissions. I'm also sure they will update the guides again soon to reflect current changes.

A solid Travel Guide with many spots covered that are recommended. The descriptions are very good, and the reader gets a bit of the flavor of the place before visiting. I would say that the places recommended tend to be the 'safer' tourist spots (not safe in a crime sense - but safe in the less chance of you not liking it way).
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