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Bilt Escape: Puerto Rico

International travel is still a bit of a wild card given ever-changing vaccination and testing requirements. On top of restrictions, the average wait time to have your passport processed or renewed is reportedly approaching 18 weeks. When you add in the possible delays, re-routings and airline hurdles that could be introduced, many Americans have said international travel is still not for them.

With those potential missteps in mind, let’s explore the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico! We’ll show you how to use your Bilt points to book a tropical escape to La Isla Del Encanto (the enchanted island) that doesn’t require a passport for U.S. citizens. Explore Puerto Rico — go island hopping, learn to surf and eat at some of the world's coolest restaurants.

How to Get There

Almost every U.S. commercial airline services Puerto Rico, typically through San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (airport code SJU when you’re searching for flights). This gives us several options to use Bilt points to book flights if you transfer your points to our airline partners. Let’s look at each of the major U.S. Airlines and how to book a flight to Puerto Rico with Bilt points.

American Airlines

Bilt Rewards transfer partner American Airlines AAdvantage® is likely to be your easiest way to book a flight to the island. American operates five nonstop routes to San Juan from Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia and will shortly launch service from Austin, TX.

From looking at AAdvantage’s 30-day award calendar, it appears flights generally start at 12,500 miles one-way in economy from multiple cities in the U.S. to San Juan. Here is the calendar from Philadelphia to San Juan, which largely resembles what you’ll see departing from other cities:

United

United operates flights from Newark, Washington Dulles, Chicago, and Houston nonstop to San Juan. You can easily book these flights with United’s partner and Bilt transfer partner Aeroplan. Flights start at 12,500 Aeroplan points one-way for an economy class seat.

If you’re not sure how to book United flights with our transfer partner Aeroplan, check out our full guide to Air Canada in the Bilt App.

Delta

Use Bilt Rewards transfer partner Flying Blue to book Delta flights to San Juan. Fly from JFK, Minneapolis, Atlanta, or seasonal service from Detroit to the island. You’ll find one-way Delta flights starting at 17,000 Flying Blue miles on the KLM or Air France website.

If you’re not sure how to book Delta flights with Flying Blue, check out our full guide with detailed instructions in the Bilt Rewards Beginner’s Guide to Flying Blue in the Bilt app.

JetBlue

JetBlue has a huge network into San Juan from 10 different U.S. departure cities, including Tampa, Washington-National, Raleigh/Durham, Philadelphia, Orlando, New York-JFK, Newark, Hartford, Fort Lauderdale, and Boston. Bilt Rewards partner Emirates Skywards has a partnership with JetBlue allowing you to book any JetBlue flight through the Skywards program.

The number of Skywards miles a JetBlue flight to San Juan will cost depending on the length of the flight you want to book. Flights start as little as 20,000 Skywards one-way from Fort Lauderdale with most routes JetBlue flies to Puerto Rico falling in this range.

 

For detailed instructions on how to book JetBlue flights with Emirates, check out our guide in the Bilt app.

If you’re headed to the west side of Puerto Rico, you can also book flights on most major carriers to Aguadilla’s Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN).

Where to Stay

Bilt Rewards' partner World of Hyatt has an impressive seven properties in Puerto Rico ranging from functional to luxury hotels. Even better: all the properties offer great deals with World of Hyatt points making for easy, free hotel nights. Let’s look at a few of our favorite properties.

Hyatt Place & Hyatt House : San Juan City Center

 

Two hotels next to each other, the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House allow for a few days of exploring Old San Juan and Condado Beach. The Hyatt Place typically has a king bed or two queen beds and a sleeper couch for a small family or group of friends. Hyatt House properties have up to two-bedroom suites and full kitchens for larger groups who may want to prepare a few meals of their own.

A free night at either property costs about 12,000 World of Hyatt points.

Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico: Rio Grande

A 30-minute drive from San Juan airport, the stunning resort is an oasis you don’t need to leave during your time on the island if you don’t want to (though we recommend exploring all Puerto Rico has to offer). The palm tree-lined beach and massive pool area are the perfect spots to sit and relax for days on end. El Yunque National Forest is eight miles away and provides a great backdrop for the whole resort as the forest rises up the mountain. Two Tom Kite-designed golf courses are also on the property.

Six onsite restaurants, including a steakhouse and hibachi restaurant, give you plenty of options to mix up your cuisine over the course of your stay. Try El Jefe Mexican food truck for pool or beachside ordering.

Free nights cost about 15,000 World of Hyatt points.

What to Do

From ziplining through the Caribbean’s largest rainforest to exploring some of the world’s most beautiful islands, the small island of Puerto Rico has big things to offer. Explore the colorful city of Old San Juan, explore the lush rainforest or relax on the white-sand beaches.

El Yunque National Forest

As the biggest rainforest in the Caribbean, no trip to Puerto Rico is complete without exploring the El Yunque National Forest. You can book a tour or hit the trails on your own. From El Portal Visitor Center, there is a walkway that winds through the surrounding treetops and trails that run to La Mina waterfall and Mount Britton. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even zipline through the forest.

Snorkeling Excursion

Grab your friends and family, and [book a day trip](https:/www.eastislandpr.com/) on a catamaran to some of the most beautiful islands in the world, like Culebra. You’ll have the opportunity to see some of the most gorgeous reefs, colorful fish, and white sand beaches. The trip includes free rum drinks, sodas and a lunch that will keep you fueled up for the duration of the exploration.

 

Explore Old San Juan

You’re not going to want to miss this part of town. With each turn you take, you’re bound to run into bold and colorful buildings that are the perfect backdrop for all of your photography needs, especially for your #Instagram content. Pop into stores, eateries, souvenir shops, and tasty restaurants.

Where to Eat

Dining in Puerto Rico goes beyond the incredible food that is served to you. Each of the below restaurants is a true experience in itself. From restaurants built into the mountainside, you’ll dine at places you’ll never forget.

Santaella

If you’re in San Juan you’ll want to check out this hidden gem that features classic Puerto Rican dishes with a twist. This sophisticated restaurant looks nondescript on the outside, but as soon as you open the door, you’re hit with a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere inside. Here you’ll find unique drinks and an exceptionally special menu.

Jose Enrique

Incredible food in a no-frills dining room located in Condado. Listen to the locals and make a reservation ahead of time or else you will not get in. Jose Enrique is one of the island’s top chefs, which is easy to tell by his ability to highlight and blend the local flavors. The restaurant has been included in the list of Top 30 Best Restaurants of the world by Food & Wine, and in Esquire magazine’s Best Restaurants of the Decade.

 

Casa Vieja

Located on the side of the Ciales mountains, Casa Vieja is more than a restaurant. It's an experience. The view is unparalleled, and the drive-up is almost worth the trip alone. The small and quaint family-owned restaurant specializes in traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, and the friendly staff will make you feel like you’re right at home.

Bottom Line

Puerto Rico is a location that should be at the top of your bucket list. It has beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, and there’s no passport required.

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