Souvenir shopping in Puerto Rico goes far beyond t-shirts and shot glasses. You can find expertly crafted products here that are unique to the island, ranging from fine Puerto Rican rum to huge, elaborate papier-mâché folkloric Vejigante masks. 

1. Rum

Though rum is produced throughout the Caribbean islands, over 70% of rum sales in the United States come from Puerto Rico. One of Puerto Rican leading rum labels is Don Q, produced by a family distillery that has been around for 145 years. Don Q is a fantastic quality rum, particularly for the price, and is difficult to find in the mainland US. 

Where to buy:

  • Casa Don Q
Paseo Gilberto Concepcion de Gracia
500 Bldg. Edificio Ochoa
Old San Juan, PR
787 977-1720
Tuesday – Saturday 9am-6pm
  • Airport Duty-Free Shop

2. Cigars

The Spanish brought them back to Spain from Puerto Rico and called them “cigarillos.” Cigar making is still considered an art form in Puerto Rico. There are a variety of Puerto Rican-made cigars, but one of the oldest and best-known brands from the island is Don Collins. Don Collins cigars are handmade in the oldest surviving cigar factory in the Caribbean. The factory itself dates back to 1506 and is available for tours. 

Where to buy:

You can find cigars available for purchase from street vendors or one of the many tobacco shops in San Juan, or just head straight to the Don Collins shop.

Don Collins Cigars
59 Calle Cristo
Old San Juan, PR
787 977-2983
Daily 10am-8pm

3. Vejigante masks

The vejigante is a folkloric figure who's origins trace back to medieval Spain. The legend goes that the vejigante represented the infidel Moors who were defeated in a battle led by Saint James. To honor the saint, the people dressed as demons took to the street in an annual procession. Over time, the vejigante became a kind of folkloric demon, but in Puerto Rico, it took on a new dimension with the introduction of African and native Taíno cultural influence. The Africans supplied the drum-heavy music of bomba y plena, while the Taíno contributed native elements to the most important part of the vejigante costume: the mask. Vejigante masks are often seen during Carnival or the St. James Festival in Puerto Rico, which takes place in July.

The Vejigante masks of Puerto Rico come from two towns of historic importance. Loiza is a small town whose population was once made up of freed or escaped African slaves. The masks in Loiza are made from coconut shells and have a strong African influence in their tradition and design. In Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, the masks are made of paper-mache. The art of mask-making comes from both Spanish and African culture and has been passed down from generation to generation. These decorative masks can be found in different colors and sizes and hang nicely on a wall.

Where to buy:

  • El Galpon
154 Calle del Cristo, San Juan, PR 00901, United States

+1 787-725-3945

  • Street vendors

4. Coffee

Overshadowed by more famous coffee-growing destinations, many people don't know that Puerto Rico makes a mean bean and has been doing so for centuries. Coffee was once one of Puerto Rico’s top exports until a decline in production forced most of the smaller coffee plantations to close. Recently, there has been a resurgence of small family farms coffee production and a handful of micro-roasteries and coffeehouses have opened, serving single-origin coffee grown in the island’s interior mountains.

Recommended brands & where to buy:

  • Alto Grande: this coffee is rated one of the best in the world can be found in grocery stores
  • Yaucono: can be found in grocery stores
  • Cuatro Sombras: their store in San Juan, Calle Recinto Sur #259
  • Gustos: their shop in San Juan, Urb. Mario Julia Industrial Park 530 Calle A