From tiny boutiques tucked into the colonial buildings of Old San Juan to designer boutiques of the Condado neighborhood and flashy malls in between, shopping is a popular pastime in Puerto Rico.
You’ll find all the big brands — high and low end— at this American port, but the five categories below will help localize your shopping list.
Like many Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico is known for its rum production. Bacardi is the leading brand, but Don Q is locally beloved. If you’re unsure which to buy, take the rum tasting tour in Old San Juan with San Juan Food Tours.
Casa Melaza Rum Boutique, in the heart of the old quarter, offers a full selection. Most cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing liquor on board, but in the case of port purchases, they will store your bottles until disembarkation. Some stores will even package the liquor for you and deliver it to the ship so you don’t have to carry it all day.
In the highlands of the island, family-owned haciendas grow a mellow style of coffee bean found in many of the capital’s independent coffee shops. You can buy whole beans and peruse the small museum devoted to coffee growing at Don Ruiz Coffee Shop, located in the historic Spanish barracks near the San Felipe fort. Spicy Caribbee stocks many island foodstuffs, including a selection of island-grown coffee.
Puerto Rican artists are well represented by the galleries of Old San Juan. Look for traditional papier-mâché masks known as caretas; wood figurines of religious figures known as santos; ceramics; or paintings and prints of pastel-colored colonial buildings at Puerto Rican Arts & Crafts on shop-lined Fortaleza Street. For fine art, don’t miss Obra Galería Alegría.
You have only to look around you at the well-dressed locals to know that Puerto Ricans love fashion, and the designers who make it here are worth seeking out. In Old San Juan, check out Concalma for handmade bags using locally designed textiles; the tiny shop Luca for local designer jewelry, accessories and gifts; and Ole Curiosidades for Panama hats. In Santurce, find Tereques, which carries a variety of up-and-coming designers.
Tobacco, the New World’s agricultural gold, has been grown commercially in Puerto Rico since the 15th century. Pick up a few cigars in Old San Juan at Cigar House, which claims to carry the largest selection of cigars in the Caribbean region. Featuring a walk-in humidor, the shop offers a lounge for sampling cigars alongside rum.