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Puerto Rico Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Puerto Rico

Special purchases are cigars, coffee, hammocks, rum, straw weavings, sculpture, santos (carved religious figures), festival masks (called vejigantes) and stringed musical instruments. Note that cigars labelled as Cuban are not actually Cuban; because Puerto Rico is a US commonwealth, it is bound by the terms of the US embargo against importation and sale of Cuban goods. Lace is also a popular take-home item; made in the small town of Moca, mundillo (literally ‘little world’) is a special, traditional form of lace-making typical of Puerto Rico that can be traced back to Spain. It remains a vibrant craft today, and is even celebrated with an annual festival.

Watch out for cheap souvenirs in Old San Juan's trinket shops; many of the items are not authentic and are imported. A safe bet is to shop at Puerto Rican Arts and Crafts, which certifies that all of its products (typical island arts and crafts) are made by local artists. You can also buy directly from artists at street fairs, which are held on Paseo de la Princesa in Old San Juan on weekend nights.

Shopping hours

Mon-Wed and Sat 0900-1900, Thurs-Fri 0900-2100, Sun 1100-1700 (shopping malls). Many shops in Old San Juan have variable hours, determined by the current cruise ship schedule. Plaza las Americas, the Caribbean's largest shopping mall, is located in the upscale banking neighbourhood of Hato Rey in San Juan. Plaza las Americas has many of the same shops you would find at a mall on the US mainland, as well as a food court, cinema, and rotating events and exhibits, including antique car shows and live music presentations.

Nightlife in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's nightlife is abundant and varied. In the capital, you can sit in the squares of Old San Juan and indulge in people watching. A recommended walk is down La Princesa, a promenade along the San Juan Bay that leads to the only remaining original doors to this walled city. On weekends, you can often find artisans selling wares here; groups of older Puerto Ricans also gather here to sing bohemia, nostalgic, folkloric tunes. Another favourite nightlife activity in San Juan is to join locals at Plaza del Mercado in the Santurce neighbourhood. Live music, both planned and impromptu, is played here each weekend. The market, while closed at night, is ringed by bars and restaurants.

Hotels provide some of the entertainment, but there are also different types of clubs, both modern and more mainstream. Many Puerto Ricans favour traditional Latin dance clubs with large dance floors, which often have live bands playing salsa and merengue music. One of the most popular clubs, however, is the Nuyorican in Old San Juan, a small dive bar with live music, exuding local culture.

Puerto Ricans are passionate about their nightlife, and often dress up. Casinos are intimate and friendly, generally opening at noon and closing at around 0400 daily.  Outside the capital, nightlife options are more limited, and activities tend to be low-key, family-oriented events, centred around a town's main plaza.

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