n typical years, Puerto Rico is an easy getaway for U.S. tourists thanks many direct flights from major cities and the fact that no passport is required to visit. But Hurricanes Irma and Maria left three-quarters of residents without power and destroyed numerous hotels and restaurants, hurting the tourism industry, which contributes $4 billion dollars to the economy each year. On a recent visit, the island seemed to be operating usual as far as tourists are concerned. Sunny blue skies over San Juan shone down on vibrant green fields around Castillo San Cristobal, where visitors took selfies and ate shaved ice. Hotels around the city were booked and restaurants were buzzing — someone who hadn’t watched the news last fall might never have guessed a category 5 hurricane hit the island five months ago. Outside of San Juan reality was more sobering. Popular islands Vieques and Culebra were practically empty and many restaurants were shuttered. The eateries and hotels that were open were running on generators (as was much of San Juan). Some areas of El Yunque National Forest were open, though many areas were closed. Roads and street lights across the island were still under repair. Yet, this is exactly why you should visit. “Restaurants cannot open without visitors, but visitors will not come without restaurants,” said Denisse De Leon of Jak Water Sports in Vieques. There are enough places open to have an enjoyable stay wherever you go in Puerto Rico, and visiting the best way to help. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Divi Aruba Hosted the Largest Michelin Pop-up Restaurant in the Caribbean. Here’s What We Ate.