Mask Requirement (updated 18 Apr 2022)
😷 Masks are not required, neither indoors (with some execptions) nor outdoors. Masks are recommended in indoor situations where you cannot be certain of the vaccination status of other people
😷 Masks are required inside airports, per Federal/CDC mandates
😷 Masks are required at events/activities where 1000 or more people are gathered, effective 18 Apr 2022
😷 Masks are required indoors in places like hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing homes, medical offices, health centers, clinics, labs, pharmacies, and on public transportation (including taxis and buses). The Department of Health may make masks mandetory in other situations where their use is deemed necessary.
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks.
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Restaurants, Bars & other Food Establishments (updated 08 Mar 2022)
👪 The capacity limit has been removed, as has the requirment to check for vaccination card or negative test result
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Hotels, Resorts & other Lodging (updated 08 Mar 2022)
👪 The requirment to check for vaccination card or negative test result has been eliminated
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Tours & Excursions (updated 08 Mar 2022)
⛵ Tour operators may require proof of vaccination or negative test results to participate. Check with the operator to make sure you have what they require.
Events, Stadiums & Theaters (updated 18 Apr 2022)
👪 The capacity limit has been removed, as has the requirement to wear a mask (if less than 1000 people are gathered)
😷 Masks are required at events/activities where 1000 or more people are gathered, effective 18 Apr 2022
🏟️ All attendees at group activities of 1000 or more people at facilities that encourage crowding — indoor or outdoor — must show proof of vaccination with booster (if eligible), OR negative test (molecular or antigen) results of test administered by an authorized health provider no more than 72 hours prior to arrival at the event. Facilities include theaters, amphitheaters, stadiums, conference and activity centers, and any other place where events are held. Effective 10 Mar 2022, per executive order EO-2022-019 and administrative order OA-2022-533
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Cruise Ship Passengers (updated 08 Mar 2022)
🚢 All cruise ship passengers and crew who wish to disembark in Puerto Rico must be fully vaccinated, OR must have a negative molecular or antigen COVID test performed within 48 hours before disembarking in PR. All passengers and crew who test positive, or have been in close contact to someone who has tested positive, will not be permitted to disembark in Puerto Rico, regarless of vaccination status.
Air Travelers Arriving in Puerto Rico (updated 08 Mar 2022)
📄 The requirement to complete the travel declaration has been eliminated for ALL travelers arriving in Puerto Rico
✈️ DOMESTIC TRAVELERS (effective 10 Mar 2022, per EO-2022-019)
• The requirement to present a vaccination card or negative test results has been eliminated for DOMESTIC travelers
✈️ INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS (effective 06 Dec 2021, per CDC)
• All INTERNATIONAL air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show (before boarding flight to the US) a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the US. This applies to all travelers, 2 years old and up, flying from INTERNATIONAL (outside of the US) destinations. Flights between Puerto Rico and the States are domestic flights, so this does not apply to travelers arriving in Puerto Rico from the States.

Visit Hatillo for a Cheese Making Tour

Quesos Vaca Negra

I knew that Puerto Rico has a thriving dairy industry, but I had never really given it much thought. But cheese is made from milk, and I love cheese … so when I learned about a cheese-making tour offered by Quesos Vaca Negra … it piqued my interest.

This was not a walk through a factory and watch cheese being made through a window tour, but a hands-on cheese-making and tasting tour. Though you have to get up pretty early in the morning (the cows are milked early and they use today’s milk), it is so worth it! We learned a lot and made a 2-pound cheese wheel … with our own hands.

Some Background

Quesos Vaca Negra

The town of Hatillo is located on the north coast, about 1 hour west of San Juan. It is the Dairy Capital of Puerto Rico, with almost as many cows as people! The town produces about ⅓ of all the milk consumed in Puerto Rico. So it only makes sense that you will find the Quesos Vaca Negra cheese company in Hatillo.

Quesos Vaca Negra makes differnt types of artisanal cheeses, and then flavors them differently. They open their "cheese factory" to the public, not only to learn about cheese-making but also to participate.

Our Tour

Quesos Vaca Negra

We got to Hatillo a little before the tour was scheduled, so we had some time to drive around and see a little bit of the town and the lovely rolling hills filled with with spotted Holstein cows.

The tour started with our guide (and owner) Wanda Otero, talking for about a little about the milk industry in Puerto Rico and how cheese is made. She shared loads of really interesting information about dairy farming and milk production in Puerto Rico.

As it turns out, Puerto Rico dairy cows are "free range" and hormone-free. They produce high-quality milk, but less of it (as compared to the same type of cows in the States), due to heat stress.

Quesos Vaca Negra

As it was explained to us, cheese-making is really pretty simple. Quesos Vaca Negra uses raw (non-pasteurized) milk for all their cheeses, so it still has beneficial enzymes in it. First, the milk is heated and starter cultures are added to begin the conversion of milk into cheese. Next, a milk-clotting enzyme called rennet is added to coagulate the milk. This causes the milk to change from a liquid into a custard-like gel. Next, it is cut into curds and constantly stirred. Finally, the whey (liquid) is removed, and the remaining solids are packed for sale. Usually, the cheese is aged prior to being packed. It all sounded pretty simple and pretty quick. So we donned our hairnets and latex gloves, and went into the back of the building where the cheese is made.

Quesos Vaca Negra

The milk was already in the heating tray, and the cheese cultures and coagulant had been added earlier in the morning. Wanda explained the process, and then let us feel,taste and help cut it into curds.

Next we went into the other room for a cheese-tasting.

They had prepared a large tray of each of their cheeses and crackers, and offered us wine or juice to drink. We were able to try all types of cheeses that Quesos Vaca Negra produces commercially, plus some special flavored ones. Wanda explained the differences in the cheeses, how they were made, and how long they were aged. Man was that yummy!

Quesos Vaca Negra

After our cheese tasting, it was back into the prep room, where we saw that the soft curds had transformed into clumps of thicker curds. Now it was time for us to make our personalized cheeses.

We all got our cheese-making equipment and picked the seasonings that we would add to our cheese. We lined up at the cheese vat to fill our cheese bowl with curds. We added our seasonings to the curds, and squished it around with our hands to make sure the seasonings were evenly mixed, and the clumps were small. We tried to press out as much of the whey as we could.

Quesos Vaca Negra

Since we were making Capaez cheese, it needs to be aged. So we turned our cheese out of the cheese mold. They stacked our cheeses so that some more whey could drain out, then they were moved into the refrigerated storage locker for 60 days of aging. All in all, it was a fun and interesting morning.

Details

Quesos Vaca Negra

The tour includes making a 2-pound cheese wheel and the cheese tasting. The price of this tour is about $85/person — each person makes their own cheese wheel. They also offer it for a special price for a couple — but you make a single 2-pound cheese wheel between the two of you.

Currently, tours are offered on Saturday at 2pm. Reservations are required. They may have more tours in the summer months if there is more demand. They may also do tours for groups on other days.

The cheese that you make has to age at least 2 months. So, you either have to go back and get it, or they can arrange to ship it to you for an additional charge.

Kids have to be at least 6 years old to go on the tour. Younger kids may get bored.

Allow about 3 hours, start to finish.

You can call Quesos Vaca Negra at 787-262-5656 for more information or to make a reservation.

You can visit the Quesos Vaca Negra Facebook page or try Quesos Vaca Negra web site for more information.

The tour is in Spanish, but they can do a bi-lingual tour. Request that when you make your reservation. If you need an English-only tour, you can arrange a private tour.

Quesos Vaca Negra is located at Carr 493 KM 0.7, in Hatillo. From San Juan, take Route 22 west until it ends on Route 2. Turn right (east) on Route 2 and then a quick right onto RT 493. They have free parking in front and in back of the building.

Travel time from San Juan is a little over 1 hour.

Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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