Are you looking for souvenirs made in Puerto Rico? Puerto Rico is known for its unique culture, tasty food and world renowned music. For this reason, there are lots of unique products made in Puerto Rico to bring home and remind you of your trip to the island or as gifts to friends and family. You’re in luck, as I’m an artisan for over 18 years and know all the products and artisans recommended in this guide.
Why Buy Local Souvenirs?
- To Support the Local Economy! When you spend your money on local souvenirs, you are providing stability to our local economy by keeping the money in Puerto Rico.
- To Support a Way of Life!. By buying locally, you help local artisans and help preserve Puerto Rican culture.
Continue reading below for a list of the top 10 things to buy made in Puerto Rico:
Puerto Rican Coffee
Coffee from Puerto Rico is known around the world. I think, it is the most gifted of all souvenirs. The coffee is really good, and makes a great Puerto Rico souvenir for someone who loves to drink coffee!
Enjoy a good cup of Puerto Rican coffee in Old San Juan’s many cafes. It’s one of the best things to do in the old city.
Lately, there has been an explosion on the market of small coffee producers which can be found in local supermarkets.
The Caribbean is known for its rum. Rum is made from molasses, a by product of sugar production. That’s why every sugar producing country in the Caribbean has their own rum.
Puerto Rico is one of the best places in the world to sample and buy rum. Most of the rum sold in the United States comes from Puerto Rico. Here, they have several local producers of rum with flavors varying from coconut to lemon.
While on the island, you should taste drinks made with local rum. Don’t worry you’re on vacation! From the famous Piña Colada, Mojito, Cuba Libre (Rum & Coke) to the Daiquiri and many more….
You can visit La Casita Rums in Dársenas plaza on the waterfront in Old San Juan.
One of the best Mojitos in town are in Punto de Vista, a rooftop restaurant in Hotel Milano. You will find authentic Puerto Rican food in an informal atmosphere at great prices.
Bacardi has its own distillery you can visit across the bay from Old San Juan. Local Tip!!! Take the Lancha (Ferry) to Cataño. It’s a fun ride and cheap around 35 cents each way (True!). The, grab a taxi to the Bacardi distillery. You won’t need to hire an expensive tour.
Another Puerto Rican rum labels is Don Q, produced by a family distillery in Ponce that has been around for 145 years.
A lesser known but superb quality is Ron del Barrilito. Also called the “Cognac of the Caribbean,” is a blend of rums aged six to 10 years in charred oak barrels.
Palo Viejo is used to make Coquito, a Puerto Rican drink made with coconut milk and always made during the Christmas season.
Finally, there’s ron caña, the local equivalent of moonshine. You’ll need to befriend a local for him to share his “caña”.
You can find excellent artisanal bath products and handmade soaps in the island. One local brand is Caribbean Soaps. They pioneered the soap making business in Puerto Rico since 2001. Caribbean Soaps makes all their bath products in their soap shop in San Juan using local ingredients like sea salt, honey, fresh aloe and local herbs.
Another great buy, is virgin or unrefined coconut oil. Coconut oil had excellent health benefits for skin and hair care. You can use it for sunbathing (careful, no spf protection!), for hydrating the skin and hair after a bath and even for removing makeup in the evening.
Treat yourself to a relaxing bath. Try local handmade bath salts. They use solar sea salt from Cabo Rojo, on the island’s southwest side. This salt is rich in minerals and iodine. Create a spa-like experience in your bath with the fizzing action of the bath salts.
Dulces Típicos (Traditional Candy)
What is life without indulging in some sweet treats?
Artisanal candy makers in Puerto Rico make use of all the tropical fruits available on the island. Traditional candies are made with fresh local fruits like coconut, pineapple, guava, papaya and many more.
Pilones are a hard candy lollipop every kid loves. One of my favorites!
Pastas de Frutas (Fruit Paste), fruit pastes, are made with the pulp of the fruit mixed with sugar and individually wrapped. You can try flavors like orange, pineapple, coconut, guava, papaya, and even sweet potato (Batata).
Dulces de Coco are soft candies made with ground coconut, sugar with sometimes fruit paste mixed in.
Ajonjolí candy is made with toasted sesame seeds and sugar then cut into small squares. The toasted flavor of the ajonjolí along with the sweetness of the sugar makes this candy an addictive one.
You can find dulces típicos in any artisan fair. A well known artisan is Edgardo Rivera at Herencia Borincana (787) 321-1192. Although a bit more commercial, you can find products like Dulzura Borincana in supermarkets around the island.
No, not the traditional candy but a kitchen tool. A pilon is a wooden mortar and pestle that’s used to smash the plantains to make mofongo or but also to crush ingredients like garlic when making adobo seasoning.
Mofongo is one of the most popular traditional Puerto Rican dishes. So, if you want to make this dish at home, you’ll need to buy a pilon.
A pilón is useful but can also serve as a decoration in your kitchen. Just make sure the pilón is made by a local artisan! Beware of cheap imitations made of wood of dubious origin.
Pique or Hot Sauce is a Puerto Rican vinegar based hot sauce made in house at many restaurants and roadside stands. You’ll find many variations depending on the household recipe.
Traditionally, Habanero or its close relative Scotch Bonnet, peppers are used. Locals dash it over meats and stews.
This is a souvenir that makes a perfect gift for anyone who loves food. An inexpensive gift found in local supermarkets plus it’s lightweight to bring in your suitcase. Local brands are Pique Mi Madre and my favorite but more difficult to find is Don Antonio Hot Sauce.
What says more Caribbean than a coconut candle? The candles are hand poured by Caribbean Soaps into a real coconut shell and fragranced with tropical aromas.
Güiro and Maracas
Music is a big part of the Puerto Rican culture, and the Güiro is an indispensable musical instrument in Puerto Rican folk music.
A Guiro is made from gourd shaped like a cylinder. It is dried and parallel grooves are carved. It is played by rubbing a “puya” , set of wire tines in a wooden handle, along the grooves to produce a ratchet sound
Another important instrument made from gourds are the maracas (rattles). It is a round gourd in which seeds are inserted for creating sound and a wooden handle is attached in the opening. It is shaken by the handle and usually played as a set,
Stroll around in San Juan and you’ll find beautiful local jewelry made of natural materials such as sea glass and coconut shells.
I know… I know! But I’m not talking about the cheap 3 for $10 t shirts that will last for only a couple of washes. What I recommend are t-shirts screen printed by local artisans. They feature elements of Puerto Rico culture like Taíno hieroglyphics, important events and people of local importance.
Bonus: Handcrafted Wood Work
You can find some really amazing work here such a very well made sturdy dominoes tables, tostoneras (for salty crisp plaintains), Saints, 3 Wise Men (known as 3 Reyes Magos in Puerto Rico), as well as famous sights from Old San Juan like El Morro o La Garita.
Where to buy these souvenirs made in Puerto Rico?
So now you know what to buy, but where can I find them?
Caribbean Soaps has a shop in Cupey, about 20 minutes from Old San Juan. You can visit the soap shop and purchase handmade soaps, coconut candles and more all made on premise. As a bonus, you can also see how soaps are made! Google Maps Directions.
Galeria Artesanal in Rio Hondo Mall is owned and operated by local artisans (787) 396-0793 You can find “artesanías” from over 150 artisans.
Also, when you’re in San Juan, you can find many talented artisans throughout the different squares or “plazas” and along the Paseo de la Princesa especially on weekends. Maybe even watch some locals play competitive dominoes.
Souvenirs made in Puerto Rico never fail to delight tourists from all across the globe. So, shop local for a better souvenir to remember your visit to our island!