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All About Puerto Rican Arepas
No trip to San Juan is complete without a dive into the local Caribbean cuisine. A local favorite — in homes and restaurants — is Arepas Puertorriqueñas, the island's unique take one of Latin America's favorite street foods. Ingredients and cooking method (pan-frying vs. deep frying) may vary depending on where you order them, but we’re pretty confident you can’t go wrong with any arepa recipe.
What makes an arepa Puerto Rican?
The Puerto Rican version of the arepa is almost always made with wheat or coconut flour instead of corn flour, more common in South America.
Puerto Rican arepas tend to be smaller than those found south of the equator, and can be served stuffed – typical across Latin America - or plain, more akin to a fry bread. Puerto Rican cuisine is also unique in its extensive use of seafood in arepa recipes.
The Piñones culinary team has its own fresh take on the dish – an arepa de coco with shrimp a la Criolla, a light, sharable arepa topped with fresh, seasoned shrimp.
Arepas Around the World
If you prefer sweetness, consider adding sugar or coconut to your arepa recipe. You can also try sweet corn arepas or arepas de Choclo (griddled sweet corn cakes). They’re most popular in Colombia, where professional and novice chefs alike will mix sweet corn with masarepa, a special precooked cornmeal perfect for arepas. And because they are made from corn, these arepas are generally gluten-free.
Colombian arepas tend to be thinner and flatter, like a tostada. They’re most often consumed for breakfast — especially when they’re made sweet. And most every Colombian arepa recipe you’ll find will call for masarepa, so be sure you visit the local supermarket before embarking on your arepa-making journey.
Most grocery stores carry this dried precooked corn flour. It just has to be combined with a few ingredients to make a dough that's easy to work with — saving you time and energy.
Another favorite is the Venezuelan arepa, specifically the arepa rellena. These thicker arepas are often stuffed with ingredients like beef, chicken, black beans, or pork, similar to a sandwich. They’re also often seasoned with spices that offer a kick — think chili powder or onion. Depending on how these arepas are prepared – they can be fried or grilled. It’s completely up to you!
If you’ve never made arepas rellenas before, you can find relatively easy recipes on Relish.com.
How to make Puerto Rican arepas
With a little patience and a desire to experiment, you can pull together your own South American or Puerto Rican arepas platter at home. This recipe is for a traditional Puerto Rican arepas de coco, similar (but not identical) to those used as the basis for our arepas dishes at Piñones.
Arepas de coco
- Vegetable oil (about an inch)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ tsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup of coconut milk (regular milk is ok to substitute)
In a large bowl, whisk together the baking powder, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Use a spatula to add in the coconut milk. Stir until
Add some flour across a cutting board so you can knead the dough for 5 minutes. Transfer to a covered bowl for about 20 minutes before you roll the dough out.
After the 20 minutes is up, move back to the floured cutting board to roll the dough. It should be very thin. You can use a round cookie cutter to cut out pieces when it’s ready.
Next, it’s time to pan fry. Use a large skillet at medium temperature. Make sure the oil is hot before adding the arepa mix.
Let them fry to a light golden brown, and they’re ready to serve — once they slightly cool down, of course.
Puerto Rican Domplines
This recipe is courtesy of San Juan’s Raul and Richard of The Mindful Grub.
- 1 ½ cups wheat flower
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp oil
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 tsp adobo
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2 cups oil for frying
Mix all dry ingredients first. Then, add 1 tbsp of oil and mix again.
Add water little by little (you may not use all of it).
Knead the dough with your hands while incorporating the water until you reach a dough-like consistency.
Once it doesn’t stick, take a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball with your hands. Then, use a rolling pin to stretch out until it’s about 1/16th of an inch and uniform in thickness.
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan and place the flattened dough in the oil for frying.
Using a spoon, take some of the hot oil and pour it over the top of the dough while frying. This will allow it to puff up on the outside, yet keep an air pocket inside the dough.
Once golden on both sides, place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Serve with stewed beans. The best way to eat domplines is to open them on one side and fill them with beans.
Where to find Arepas in San Juan
Not up for the challenge of making your own arepas? We can help! We can help! We have so many tasty options at Numero Uno Piñones. From pinchos and tostones to chicharrones and Puerto Rican arepas, we're home to the island's ultimate unique locally-inspired dining experience.
All meals are prepared fresh daily using healthy and local ingredients.
What are Pinchos: Kabobs with Puerto Rican Flare
Pinchos are snacks that originated in Northern Spain. Widely consumed as appetizers or tapas, pinchos are traditionally served by bars, restaurants, and street vendors. The traditional Spanish pincho comes in various flavors and offerings and involves many different ingredients, usually served on a small piece of bread, held together with toothpicks or even skewers. The Spanish word pincho means "thorn" or "spike," which refers to the toothpick, kebob, or skewer.
Pinchos are slightly different in Puerto Rico. This tasty little snack is a local and traditional staple of the island. Usually, it consists of pieces of chicken, pork, or sometimes vegetables that have been marinated, grilled, and typically served with bread. The deciding factor that sets decent pinchos apart from amazing pinchos is seasoning. How flavorful the marinated meat is is vital, and those with the best sauce or marinade are sure to be among the favorite local vendors.
The marinade or special sauce can make or break a pincho. Olive oil provides a base followed by either a little distilled water or white wine vinegar and, of course,lots of spices. Spices traditionally used are sazon, adobo, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, and often a barbecue sauce.
Pinchos de Carne
Pinchos de Carne are beef skewers bathed in their own unique spice-sauce blend. In Spain, these are also referred to as brochetas de carne, and these meat-centric pinchos most often use a toothpick to prepare and serve to keep the ingredients held tightly together.
Pinchos de Pollo
Pinchos de Pollo are chicken skewers or kabobs. The chicken thigh or breast -- pechuga de pollo in Spanish -- is the portion of chicken often used. The chicken is cut up into small pieces, trozos de pollo, or chunks and threaded onto a wooden or metal skewer. Some believe that the best cut is the thigh, since it is more tender than the breast.
Finding the Best Pinchos in Puerto Rico
For vegans and vegetarians visiting Puerto Rico, Numero Uno Piñones innovative new poolside bar and restaurant has exciting new takes on Puerto Rican classic cuisine, including zesty cauliflower pinchos. For those looking to dine on the beach, Numero Uno Beach House serves up steak and chicken skewers at their toes-in-the-sand dining experience in ocean park.
While pinchos are sold all over the island in Puerto Rico, food trucks and street vendors will be the most common way to get them. The street food culture in Piñones is a strong local tradition and is a popular tourist draw. Piñones’ rich Afro-Caribbean culture adds to the uniqueness and depth of the street food and culture found here.
While visiting Puerto Rico, you should certainly spend some time exploring Piñones and enjoy the street food offerings there. There are food tours for the enthusiasts who wish to taste-test their way around Puerto Rico, and one of the stops will undoubtedly be Piñones. Among the top places for traveling foodies to visit on the island include Old San Juan, Piñones, and Luquillo Beach. Pinchos are among many of the popular food offerings you will find while there.
Top Kiteboarding Destinations in Puerto Rico
Kiteboarding and Puerto Rico go hand in hand. The thrills, the adventure, the views — it all adds up to an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. But with so many kiteboarding options on the island, how do you know which is best?
Here are some of the best kiteboarding spots in Puerto Rico
San Juan Kiteboarding Spots
As Lou Martin of USA Today tells us, the San Juan area offers several kiteboarding beaches worth exploring. Visitors near the capital city should take the time to check out Isla Verde, Caballos, and Punta Las Marias. All three locales are just minutes away from the international airport and are known for their large waves.
Numero Uno’s affiliated kite boarding and surfing outfit, Kite Puerto Rico, offers part day, single day and multi-day options for all ability and interest levels. Recently added: a downwinding experience that wraps all the way around San Juan’s oceanfront.
It’s easy to see what makes Gilligan’s Bay one of the most notable kiteboarding beaches on Puerto Rico’s south coast. Shallow crystal water and remarkable vistas everywhere you look will have you wanting to come back again and again. Note that you’ll have to launch from a boat because there are no launching pads at the bay.
If you’re willing to drive further away from San Juan, La Parguera could be the ultimate kiteboarding destination. La Parguera is one of three bioluminescent bays found along the region’s coastline. However, swimming and kiteboarding are only allowed in La Parguera.
Those looking to plan a kiteboarding trip on the northwest coast should have Jobos Beach at the top of their list. The water starts off shallow at the shoreline before quickly getting deeper. Whereas beginning kiteboarders typically prefer waters near the shore, more experienced kiteboarders favor the outer edges of this spot.
Put your skills to the test with a kiteboarding adventure in some of the more difficult conditions in Puerto Rico. Shacks Beach, located near Jacobs, features a sharp coral reef where waves crash throughout the day. We suggest assessing the conditions once you arrive and only kiteboard if you’re well-versed in the activity.
When’s the best time to kiteboard in Puerto Rico?
Except for September and October, which are typically hot, low-wind months, Puerto Rico has fairly consistent wind throughout the year. You could say conditions are often perfect for kiteboarding, with winds ranging from 15-18 knots. However, even during the offseason, we can still experience up to 20 windy days a month!
We suggest experienced kitesurfers visiting the island between December and April for the best waves and conditions. Trust us; the wind can make all the difference in your sessions! Don’t hesitate to talk to a kiteboarding instructor about the forecast once you arrive.
Where to Learn Kiteboarding in Puerto Rico
If you’re new to Puerto Rico, you want to experience everything the area has to offer! You’ll learn right away that kiteboarding and other water activities are a huge part of the lifestyle here. That’s why we suggest booking a few sessions with a professional who can show you the proper skills and techniques before you venture out to any of the above beaches.
Kite Puerto Rico is the premier kiteboarding school on the island. Not only do they have IKO-certified instructors on their staff, but they have a real passion for kiteboarding. These people love sharing their knowledge and then watching customers become independent kiteboarders in a matter of hours.
Whether you’re new to the activity or consider yourself an expert, Kite Puerto Rico has a lesson with your name on it. Sessions include both instruction and equipment, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself. In addition to ensuring customers have the time of their lives, the Kite Puerto Rico staff always make safety a top priority.
So, what are you waiting for? Book a lesson at Kite Puerto Rico today!
Puerto Rico COVID-19 Reopening Status and Travel Tips
As vaccination brings COVID-19 under control, Puerto Rico is again welcoming American and International tourists and we are pleased to welcome you to our beachfront dining, bar and hotel accommodations in San Juan’s Ocean Park.
Puerto Rico’s health authority still maintains some coronavirus-related precautions, though the island is approaches full reopening as of June 2021. Vaccines are now freely and widely available throughout Puerto Rico — even at the San Juan International Airport! COVID-19 cases continue to recede on the island and vaccinated visitors will enjoy exceptionally easy passage.
Do I need a negative COVID-19 test to travel to Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is considered a domestic destination for U.S. travelers. The island no longer requires COVID-19 testing for visitors vaccinated against COVID-19. Arriving travelers should upload their vaccination card through Puerto Rico’s online health portal prior to arrival.
Likewise, travelers returning to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico arrive domestically and are not required to complete COVID-19 testing.
Does Puerto Rico require quarantine for visitors?
Puerto Rico does not require a quarantine for domestic foreign visitors entering with a valid negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of departure. Puerto Rico does not require visitors from the mainland United States to quarantine if they provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
What if I don’t receive my COVID test before arriving in Puerto Rico?
Travelers arriving in Puerto Rico without a valid negative COVID-19 test result, or CDC proof of vaccination, face a $300 fine. Untested arrivals must self-quarantine for up to 14 days. However, this quarantine period will be terminated upon completion of a negative COVID-19 test, and Puerto Rico will refund the fine at that time.
How do I prove vaccination status when travelling to Puerto Rico?
Before arriving in Puerto Rico, vaccinated travelers should upload their CDC vaccination card using Puerto Rico’s online travel portal. Arrivals should also complete a travel declaration. After processing a vaccination card, the travel portal returns a QR code to be presented at the arrival airport.
What is open or closed in Puerto Rico right now due to coronavirus restrictions?
- As of June 7, 2021 all businesses in Puerto Rico are cleared to reopen, including bars and nightclubs at 50 percent capacity.
- If you are travelling soon, some closed businesses may be planning reopening or may be in the process of reopening. Be sure to check with your favorite spots before heading out.
- All prior coronavirus curfew restrictions have been lifted. Please check with specific businesses for updated hours of operation.
- All watersports and beach access in Puerto Rico is fully open to the public and to visitors.
Does Puerto Rico still require masks?
- As of June 1, 2021, Puerto Rico still has mask requirements in place for many indoor businesses. The FAA still mandates masks on flights to and from Puerto Rico and inside Puerto Rico airport terminals.
In outdoor spaces, including Numero Uno Beach Bar and Restaurant, masks are optional for vaccinated guests.
What to expect regarding COVID-19 at Numero Uno Beach House.
Kiteboarding and other watersports activities are fully open at Numero Uno Beach House and Kite Puerto Rico.
At Numero Uno Beach House, we want our guests to always have peace of mind. While we are fully open, we are following advanced cleaning protocols that meet or even exceed CDC and local public health requirements.
Interested in dining on the beach or drinking at our Ocean Park beach bar? Our tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis for up to three hours. Each table must meet a minimum spend of $30. Bar and kitchen hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
Watersports activities, including kiteboarding, winging, foils and e-foil are fully available. Masks are not required for vaccinated visitors. If you’re interested in kiteboarding lessons at Kite Puerto Rico, or other watersports adventures, you can make a reservation online or by phone!
Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
On your search for things to do in Puerto Rico, you might have already read about the bioluminescent bays (bio bays). They make for a truly unique and unforgettable experience — one you can’t miss out on. The great thing about it, it’s an activity that’s accessible after dark. It’s meant for all types of travelers, nature lovers, and families alike. Where can you find the bio bays and when is the best time to see them? Here’s what you need to know before planning a tour at one of the three bio bays on the island.
What are bioluminescent dinoflagellates?Before planning your tour, it’s good to know a little bit of background on dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates are unicellular organisms that light up like glow in the dark stars and cause the effect we call bioluminescence. They are incredibly tiny marine organisms, but sometimes they’re found in freshwater as well. It’s a type of plankton, and usually harmless for humans to be in contact with. An exception to this would be an overpopulation of certain types that cause ‘red tides.’ The dinoflagellates in the bio bays we’re talking about are harmless. The moment something gets in touch with them, they light up for a second. These white firefly-like lights you can then see is caused by the chemical reaction that happens upon contact. This effect is why swimming or playing around in the water with bioluminescent dinoflagellates is such a cool experience. You can literally ‘throw’ glistening water up in the air and for a split second witness being surrounded by the tiniest stars.
Exploring Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays
Mosquito Bay, Vieques IslandTo see the bioluminescence at Mosquito Bay, you’d have to fly or ferry over for at least an overnight trip to the small island called Vieques. It’s just east of the island of Puerto Rico. Mosquito Bay is the biggest and also said to be the brightest bio bay in the world (Guinness Book of World Records, 2006). After Hurricane Maria in 2017, for a moment, it looked like there was a setback for Mosquito Bay. But by 2019, the brightness is double than it was before. This is due to the relocation of dinoflagellate colonies after the hurricane. At Mosquito Bay, you can take an electric boat or glass-bottom kayak tour, that allows for a very close-up magical experience while staying dry yourself. The 2-hour guided kayak tours start at around $60.
La Parguera, LajasNear the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, and a 3-hour drive from San Juan, there is the bio bay of La Parguera. Right at the lively little town center of La Parguera in Lajas, motorboats depart after dark (starting 7:30 pm) to the nearby bioluminescent bay. You can’t miss the vendors near the dock, and it’s very easy to get a ticket for this experience. Prices for a 30-minute tour start as low as $10. Bring your swimsuit, as this tour allows for swimming unless the weather is unpredictable. On the way back, you can see the lights of the town and the scenic wooden fisherman’s houses right at the waterside with their boats docked out front.
Laguna Grande, FajardA one hour drive from San Juan to the east coast of the island brings you to the town of Fajardo. There you can see the bioluminescent bay of Laguna Grande. For Laguna Grande, the best and most common way to see the bioluminescence is by one of the kayak tours that start at sunset and have you paddling into the dark to see the phenomenon. The other options include a walking tour and an electric boat tour. In this bio, bay swimming is not allowed to protect the health and ecosystem of the bio bay. Kayaking tours will take around two hours total, and they leave from Las Croabas in Fajardo. The average price for this tour is $60.
4 tips for a next-level bioluminescent bay experience
- Plan your trip around a new moon. A quick Google search will tell you when that is. You’d want to go when it’s as dark as possible out. Or, in other words, with the least amount of light pollution. Around the new moon, there’s hardly any moonlight, and that makes the bioluminescence even more visible. If you go during a full moon, the moonlight will dim the organisms.
- Look up as much as you look down to the water. In dark places like these, when the sky is clear, there’s usually an impressive amount of stars visible in the air. While on your boat or kayak ride, you should watch the stars in the endless sky — it’s unreal. Especially if you’re a city-dweller, this is something you won’t often see where you live.
- Don’t do it for the ‘gram. Forget about taking pictures or videos, as they won’t turn out the way you want to. Far from that: most likely, your shots will be all black, unless you carry highly professional equipment (and skills) with you. Instead, use your time on the water to be in the moment and enjoy it. You will be in an out-of-this-world type of environment.
- Be an environmental-friendly human. When you plan on swimming, try not to wear any creams or make-up as the chemicals can end up in the water and slowly but surely this is damaging this beautiful ecosystem. Biodegradable bug repellent might come in handy.