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See allThe 10 Best Budget Islands in the Caribbean

by , SmarterTravel Staff - February 27, 2010
Puerto Rico Coastline

Puerto Rico

History, sand, and rainforest combine to make Puerto Rico the perfect vacation mix of relaxation and cultural discovery. Between exploring the forts in San Juan (both San Felipe del Morro and San Cristobal are UNESCO World Heritage Sites), El Yunque rainforest, and taking a tour of the Casa Bacardi Rum Distillery, make sure you leave enough time for the beaches.

Why It's A Good Value

With its proximity to the mainland, not to mention the plethora of low-cost carriers offering service to the island, Puerto Rico is an ideal location for an inexpensive vacation. You also don't have to worry about currency exchange, or remembering your passport. With nonstop flights from more than 20 U.S. cities, finding low fares is easy. American uses the island as a hub for the other Caribbean destinations it serves, and starting May 3, JetBlue is adding a twelfth weekly flight to San Juan from Boston. Also look to AirTran, Spirit, and Sun Country (seasonal service) when searching for flights.

For accommodations, Puerto Rico offers everything from resorts with their own golf courses, casinos, restaurants, beaches, and nightlife, to well-known hotel names (Best Western, Marriott, Radisson), small hotels, guesthouses, and paradors (small, moderately priced, privately owned hotels often located on historic plantations or other scenic settings). Hotels located within a five-minute walk of the beach (as opposed to right on it) often have cheaper rates even on the weekends.

Best Beaches

Ranked number five among Our Readers' 15 Favorite Beaches, Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico, is only a short ferry ride away from Fajardo. Reader lancomex says, "Flamenco Beach was one of my memorable moments in life; the serenity is priceless."

Reader Mercy prefers Luquillo: "Its waters are warm and clean and the sand clean and cushy; there are no rocks ... The entire beach is rimmed by mature trees and coconut palms, where you can hang a hammock."

(Photo: iStockphoto/Kurt Holter)

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