Puerto Rico has a wide range of accommodations. Book ahead in high season.
- Hotels Available islandwide in price ranges from $60 to $400+ nightly, with a good selection under $200.
- B&Bs A relatively new mid-range accommodation option; owners always live on or near the premises and breakfast is included.
- Guesthouses These range from family-run places with a few rooms to larger motel-like stays; many can also be apartments under another name.
- Resorts World-class properties line San Juan's beachfront and other coastal areas. There are, however, few all-inclusive resorts.
- Camping Possible on Culebra and in a handful of nature parks.
Camping is a difficult proposition in Puerto Rico, as reservations must usually be made at least 15 days in advance (perhaps not coincidentally at least a day longer than most tourists' vacations). Reservation offices and ranger stations have maddeningly erratic hours and the quality of facilities varies greatly.
Beach camping You can find campsites on or near the sand on Vieques and Culebra. It's also possible at some of the beaches along the northeast coast, moving from Luquillo east.
National Forests and Forest Reserves Contact the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales at least 15 days in advance for reservations and a permit. Commonwealth-run forest-reserve campgrounds are likely to have showers and RV hookups available; national forest campgrounds tend to be less developed.
- Bring anything you might need from home; outdoor outfitters are rare on the island.
- Use caution camping alone at a site without a guard.
- Camping reservations through state agencies require a valid credit card.
- Summer is high camping season; during other seasons public camping areas are often closed (although sometimes you can just set up camp for free and no one will bother you).
Places calling themselves ‘guesthouses’ can differ vastly from one to the next. While some guesthouses may have as few as two rooms, others may have dozens. One guesthouse may look like a roadside motel, another may be a beach house with a pool. The phenomenon of Airbnb has hit Puerto Rico in earnest and 'guesthouses' now are, in the majority of cases, rental apartments with few further amenities. Most guesthouses are mid-range in price.
An accommodation category still in its early days in Puerto Rico, bed-and-breakfasts have been growing in numbers on the island of recent years. Comparable in quality with many of the better hotels and often indistinguishable from boutique hotels, the hallmarks of Puerto Rican bed-and-breakfasts is that they are family-owned places where the owners live on the premises to attend to your needs and always rustle up a good breakfast included in the room price, which varies between $100 and $300.
There is now a Puerto Rico Bed and Breakfast Association where you can find out more.
Puerto Rico has many top-end resort hotels and a growing number of boutique options. Most major chains have properties in San Juan and all other sizeable cities. Despite a difficult economic climate, there are still new resorts opening, most notably of late the lavishly restored and expanded Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan and the swanky Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach resort to the west.
This is a wildly varying category of accommodation, and at top-end resort hotels you'll pay $200 a night minimum, and tariffs can run to many hundred dollars more. Smaller boutique hotels, which maintain very high standards on the whole, are between $125 and $300 per room. At the low end of the scale here are the more 'motel-style' hotels on highways and in the provinces where prices can dip as low as $60 for a no-frills room.
At all hotels and resorts, watch out for mandatory 'resort fees' that can add charges of $50 a day or more to room prices. Service charges are also common at top-end places.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC; www.seepuertorico.com) endorses about 20 paradores (inns) scattered across the island and they are a mixed bag. Some are modern and generic hotels, others are quaint, oozing with charm. Some are beautifully housed in old coffee plantations.
All those condo towers lining San Juan's beautiful beaches have owners within hoping to rent out their units to visitors, often at rates much better than hotels. Another good spot for apartment rentals is Rincón. Consult Airbnb.com and vrbo.com for scores of listings in a variety of locations and price ranges.
Lodging rates in Puerto Rico vary, sometimes by more than 30%, from season to season. In general, rates are highest from mid-December through to the end of April. They are also high from mid-June to August, when many island families take their vacations. Rates are lowest from September to mid-December.