If you want to spice up your holiday season with a bit of exotic Caribbean flare, take a trip to Puerto Rico. It's not just about Santa on this island, and it's a whole lot more than string lights and gifts under the tree. Puerto Rico brings its home-grown traditions, flavors and customs to this special holiday, making it a special occasion unlike just about anywhere else in the U.S.
01 of 05
Listing "Christmas Lights" as a reason to visit a new place for Christmas is like asking you to travel overseas for free gift-wrap. But although your neighborhood, town or city might have absolutely dazzling Christmas decor during the holidays, how many places in the U.S. can light up an ancient city that's more than 500 years old?
That's the true magic of the Christmas lights in Puerto Rico, the timeless colonial beauty of Old San Juan decorated with the colorful whimsy and brilliance of the holiday season. Not to mention that the weather is a lot warmer than what you're probably used to this time of year, so a light viewing stroll is all the more pleasant in PR.
02 of 05
Puerto Rico has become a true culinary capital, and it has done so on the merit of a unique blend of cultures, recipes and flavors. Not surprisingly, the island's culinary heritage is perhaps best expressed during the holidays, when the iconic foods and special treats of Puerto Rico come to the table.
Traditional dishes include crispy plaintain fritters with shrimp to pernil (roast pork) and pasteles de hojas (vegetable root tamales). Perhaps the most quintessential holiday treat is coquitos, similar to eggnog, but made with coconut and rum instead of milk and bourbon.
03 of 05
Puerto Rico is well known as a shopaholic's destination of choice, and not just during Christmastime. However, the holiday season is a terrific time to purchase a special Christmas gift for loved ones. Items like hand-carved wooden saints (santos), a uniquely "'Rican" souvenir, beautiful jewelry for that special someone, or even a great bottle of rum for the man (or woman) that has it all!
If you're in San Juan for the holidays, these shopping destinations should be on your list -- just check it twice!
04 of 05
El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day is celebrated all throughout Latin America, and the day adds yet another spiritual dimension to the holiday season. The day expands the observance, and fun of the world's most famous birthday celebration normally curbed in late December, well into the month of January.
Puerto Rico is known for its large Three Kings Day event and the country's incorporation of the day into their holiday season is another reason why Christmastime is so special on the island.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
While travel deals fluctuate year to year, and sometimes even by the day, you can usually expect some terrific end-of-year deals for holiday vacation packages to Puerto Rico. A past example includes a stay at the beautiful beachfront resort, the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa for just $100 a night until Christmas Eve.
If you're looking for a great deal, your best bet is to be flexible with your dates and avoid hotel stays for the major holiday dates like Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. It's always a great idea to sign up for flight and vacation savings newsletters, and if you're not afraid of a little adventure, keep and eye out for last minute deals.