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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a better than average, no nonsense guide to Puerto Rico, one of the Caribbean's best and most popular destinations and a possible, future 51st US State.

Guidebooks used to distinguish themselves by niche and the Lonely Planet guides were the go to books for outdoor adventurers and backpackers. While this particular guide has chapters that deal with the island's huge range of outdoor adventures, it now caters more to the general tourist....and is thus less distinguishable from its two main competitors: Fodors and Frommers.

The guide starts with some decent maps and an illustrated chapter on the 20 top (not to be missed) experiences. The back of the book has a fold out map of San Juan which is OK but nothing great. There is a helpful "If You Like" chapter that matches your interests (Beaches, Music, Architecture, Wildlife, etc.) with places to go. There is a monthly entertainment and event calendar and a chapter with various suggested itineraries. Towards the back there are brief but informative chapters dealing with the island's rich culture and history. Hotels and restaurants are mentioned but are not this guide's forte. The suggestions are sound and up to date but are limited in scope. Unlike other guides, there are no shopping or late night suggestions, and if there is an Island that knows how to party, it's Puerto Rico.

I would have no hesitancy to use this guide while I was visiting Puerto Rico. It is well written, comprehensive and well organized. For trip planning, however, I might want a guide with more detailed information about hotels in particular.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
Let me start off by saying I have a small library of Lonely Planet guides, and, though I'd never admit it, I never go overseas without one. The reason I pick Lonely Planet over all the rest is because, generally, they are easy to navigate, have great maps, and put a stronger focus on budget travelling than all the rest. What's more, perhaps the most essential portion of Lonely Planet guides is the "Getting To/Getting Around" sections... knowing how to get from the airport, to the city, and then from city to city, is arguably the hardest part of travelling. Lonely Planet generally excels at this.

I don't know if it's just the kindle version, or if the printed one is the same, but the Puerto Rico guide was pretty close to worthless. The main problem is that it is extremely difficult to navigate. Clearly, nobody is going to read this thing front to back, like a novel... rather, they'll just skip to the required section and then skip back to a different one. A good travel book is organized like a good dictionary... you'll know exactly where you need to go and how to get to it. The printed versions of lonely planet are generally great with this, with a somewhat logical orginization, and colored tabs on the page edges to guide you to proper section. For the kindle version, there are only a few "bookmarks", and then, when you get to, say, the San Juan section, you have to endlessy scroll to find the section on "Sleeping", or "Getting There/Away". As a traveller who likes to hop from place to place, I found it frustrating-to-the-point-of-aggrivation to try and plan anything with this book. Something needs to be reworked with the kindle edition to make it more user-friendly... like, some simple, more general, clickable links at the beginning of each section would have worked wonders (e.g. at the start of the San Juan section, have a clickable link to the "Eating/Drinking" section, the "Sleeping" section, and, ESPECIALLY the Getting There/Away section). There needs to be more cross-links and the like to make the experience more conducive to travel planning.

The other equally terrible aspect of this book is that it seems to have been written by and for a wealthy cruise-ship traveller. This is seriously contrary to the typical Lonely Planet, that focuses on the budget concious traveller. There is literally not one single hotel or hostel listed in here with rates under $60. A quick google search shows that there are at least a few hostels in San Juan with $20/night beds, and a few others around the island. What's more, the "Getting Around" sections are almost entirely lacking. They just write it off with a brief comment on how there isn't an established island-wide bus system, and how you'll need to take shared mini-vans around the island. There is seriously lacking information on where to get these mini-vans, how much they should cost, how long the journey should take, etc., which is all standard information in your average Lonely Planet.

I give this 2 stars, instead of 1, because the maps are a SERIOUS improvment from the Kindle LP-Mexico book I purchased last year. They are clear, high-resolution, zoomable maps, rather than just poorly scanned images straight from the printed version.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 16, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
LONELY PLANET PUERTO RICO by Cavalieri and Kohan is a 311-page guidebook with blue graphic design on every page, 22 color photographs (not glossy) on the first 17 pages, and a pull-out map. The full color pull-out map shows various districts of San Juan (Old San Juan, Greater San Juan, Isla Verde, Miramar, and Ocean Park). Tiny red dots on the map indicate locations of museums, cafes, and landmarks. The 17 color photos are really of a token nature. There is one beach, one baseball player, one museum, and waterfall, one underwater photo, one rain forest, one pretty girl, and so on. In contrast, another series of guidebooks (FODORS) has glossy color photographs on every other page, with some 200 glossy photos altogether, including photos that are 2-page spreads. Choosing vacation spots in Puerto Rico from this LONELY PLANET PUERTO RICO guidebook is like ordering a mail-order bride from a catalogue that only has writing and no pictures. Anyway, let's review the writing in LONELY PLANET PUERTO RICO. The edges of the pages are color-coded with seven blue tabls, for chapters on: (1) San Juan; (2) El Yunque and east coast; (3) Culebra and Vieques; (4) Ponce and south coast; (5) West coast; (6) North coast; and (7) Central mountains. Page 42 cleverly summarizes the entire Puerto Rico experience with little icon-like maps of the country, with regions of interest in the icon shaded in black. The reader quickly learns that what Puerto Rico is all about is beaches, surfing, and snorkling. However, the patient reader will learn that there are other unique things, even though no pictures are available. These unique things include:

*NUYORICAN CAFE for salsa music. This cafe is named after New York (page 82).
*HORNED DORSET PRIMAVERA, an extremely fancy resort hotel (page 180).
*EL YOUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST with La Coca Falls (85 feet) and La Mina Falls (35 feet) (pages 92-99).
*SURFING beaches map, identifying 50 distinct surfing spots, each with a black dot indicating whether the spot has a coral reef (coral reefs are very dangerous to surfers). Each surfing spot is indicated by its name, e.g., Spanish Wall, Gas Chambers, or Oyo del Buey(pages 34-35).
*BACARDI RUM FACTORY tour (pages 87-88).
*COCK FIGHTING ARENA (page 80).
*WORLD'S LARGEST RADIO TELESCOPE at Arecibo (page 206). It is interesting to point out that Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey had a little tryst on the site of Arecibo's radio telescope, at least, they did in a film called, "Contact." For the prospective traveler interested in actual pictures of Puerto Rico, instead of just writing, I suggest watching the movie, Contact.

The writing in the book is lively, but not excessively fanciful and not excessively decorative. To provide one compelling example of the writing, we learn about the La Perla district in San Juan. Comments about this unsafe area lend a postive spin, as you can see, "This ramshackle hodgepodge of pastel-colored houses and steep, narrow access roads is one of Puerto Rico's most notorious slums, though as slums go, it is remarkably picturesque, at least from a distance."

Despite the need to write concise, factual paragraphs about things like restaurants and hotels, the writing is maintained at a lively level, for example, in a narrative about a tiny hotel we read, "all have bamboo furniture, basic kitchen facilities, and a fantastically sustainable ethos--they're even solar powered." (page 179)

I have only one complaint. On page 141 it states that the MAMAS AND THE PAPAS, a rock'n'roll group from the 1960s was a psychedelic band. This is false. The MAMAS AND THE PAPAS was not a psychedelic band. The MAMAS AND THE PAPAS was a "folk-rock" band. Psychedelic rock'n'roll is distinguished by scorching arpeggios by the lead guitar, with the treble turned up high, as one might find in the music by Jimi Hendrix, by Country Joe and the Fish, or by Mad River.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 19, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What do you want in a travel guide? I want plenty of information about the sights and events so that I can plan my trip before I go. Great photos help with this stage, and I like to be able to get a sense of prices at this point, too.

On the way to my destination, I like to have lots to read: information about the history of the place I'm visiting, for example, and details of the customs and characteristics of the region. Knowing these things enriches the experience for me, and helps beguile the time in airports, too.

Once I've arrived, I want maps. Lots of maps. I don't want to have to rely on having access to Google Maps on my phone, and I like to be able to write on the maps. Useful phrases in the local language are helpful, too, and a heads-up on any laws I might unwittingly break or dangers I might not consider are also good.

Lonely Planet's Puerto Rico includes all these things. It's a satisfying read for the armchair traveler, covering music, dance, politics, sports, cuisine, and daily life in Puerto Rico. It's also a terrific resource when you need a swift answer on dengue fever or San Juan's laws about drinking in public.

Above all, it's a guidebook. Each region of the island is presented with large-scale maps, street maps, and lists of sights, restaurants, accommodations, and shopping. Opportunities for outdoor sports and nightlife are given, and there are lots of special tips and bits of interesting information, from where to watch out for mosquitoes to the best places to look for ATMs.

The book is well-written, small enough to tuck in your backpack, and contains a full-size pull-out map.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 21, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I can only attest the value of this guide for two areas: San Juan and Rincon/Mayaguez. Rincon is indeed a surfing hub, but also offers the best sights and attractions on the west coast. Mayaguez has the larger downtown, with a number of good restaurants. The lodging descriptions in the guide are accurate and important since the lodging options can be more limited than elsewhere.

The sections of the book on San Juan, particularly Old San Juan, are extensive and quite informative. The restaurant portion of the guide, which is of course a very time sensitive section, is what I found to be the most useful section here.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I'm a big fan of Lonely Planet: I've used China, Argentina, USA, DC and they were great. But this one, Puerto Rico, is REALLY bad. They probably never went to the places they recommended. Restaurants were REALLY bad. They didn't tell how crowded some places, such as the bio-luminescent bay, could get. Several of the places mentioned, ranging from clubs to restaurants, were closed. Additionally, the kindle version has no systematic table of contents. It's impossible to find anything there.

Just go to Puerto Rico and go to the office of tourism. It's much better and zero dollars. Utterly disappointed.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Planning to travel to Puerto Rico? Or just want to learn more about Puerto Rico? Lonely Planet's Puerto Rico is an amazing gem of a guide book jammed pack with information to help you get the most out of your trip. Regardless if you're traveling with your family or traveling alone, big budget or small, party time or lay back and relax time, you will find what information you need to enjoy your trip the max with Lonely Planet Puerto Rico.

For such a small investment, this book can help you decide:
1 - Which part of the island to stay in depending on the activities you like to do.
2 - Traveling with family? Find out which sites and places children would enjoy.
3 - Hiking or bike riding? This guide will show you where and when it's best to do so.
4 - Enjoy an alternate lifestyle? It will show you where the hot spots are.
5 - Want to know what the local is like? What language they speak? Do they like to bargain? This book has the answers.
6 - Find out unique characteristics of local restaurants and hotels, i.e. find out where you can get duck tacos.
7 - What inherent dangers/nuisances are common there? IE - Be wary of dengue fever, sand fleas, - oh - and the flying cockroaches. (If there was ever a reason NOT to want to go there...I hate flying cockroaches.)
8 - What to expect from local cuisine and steet side markets.

Then a map of San Juan is included too. There truly is so much to this book, it's hard to put down all the wonderful information without making a book myself. Their goal is to make your stay at Puerto Rico as worthwhile as possible without surprises. They describe the good but they also warn you of the bad.

I got this book so I can learn more about Puerto Rico, a land of my heritage. However, it has ignited a desire to go there on a vacation with my family. It also makes me want to cook all those delightful puertorican dishes I've enjoyed since my childhood. Roast pork, rice and beans, mofongo, and so much more.

This book is a true gem! It will be my guide in planning my vacation to Puerto Rico without having to stay stuck with my relatives.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 2, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've never been to Puerto Rico, but have thought about a trip for years, and have read other guides. In that context, I found this guide to be well written and informative. It breaks the island up into regions, and for each region describes key attractions followed by the usual lodging, food, etc. listings and recommendations.

Well certainly solid, I didn't find this guide particularly exciting or compelling. I have a sense that over the years the Lonely Planet guides have lost their edge, and have become more anodyne, more along the lines of a Fodor's or Frommer's. But that doesn't mean it won't be a help in planning your trip. I never rely on single guide for planning a trip to somewhere I haven't been before. I usually get the DK Illustrated guide for the visuals, something edgy for an unconventional view, and one of the stolid guides for balance and comprehensiveness. I guess Lonely Planet now falls in the latter category. But stolid has its place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I used this book for my recent trip to Puerto Rico. For the purpose of my visit, it was not the ideal guide. Although, it did have sections and provides a general description of various things, I found myself double-checking or searching the internet for more information. I could have easily learned what I needed via internet search. However, if you are planning day tours, go on day trips and hiking, then this guide might be more helpful. I personally did the basics, walked Old San Juan, the forts and dined at various restaurants. Many of the restaurants are expensive, so be prepared to spend a good deal of cash on dinner. Those listed in the guide tend to be pricey, if you're looking for less expensive places to eat, this guide is rather limited and to be honest anything in Old San Juan or near the hotel (despite actual quality) is pricey. Taxis are also fairly expensive for short rides (average $21 one way). This books gives a general over view, but not necessarily a practical guide for the resort tourist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Yes, you can visit an exotic Caribbean island without leaving the United States.

Lonely Planet is slowly becoming more colorful. A few years ago, their books were entirely densely spaced black-on-white printing. This Puerto Rico book has a few color photos and lists of highlights in the first few pages, but 95% of the book is still densely spaced black printing. You do get tons of information about sights and activities in smaller towns and basic reviews of a very wide variety of restaurants and hotels. On the other hand, many people are fans of the "a picture is worth a thousand words" style of tourist guidebook and this book is lacking in the photo area.

If you're planning to spend time in lesser known parts of Puerto Rico, this may be the only book with a decent amount of coverage. If you're spending your entire vacation in the big cities, some of the other books will have more photos and better organization.
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