Heads Up! My video edit of our trip is at the bottom of the page if you want to check it out!
I traveled to Puerto Rico in May of 2019 and it was amazing! I also learned some things about planning a trip to Puerto Rico; I wish I would have been more specific and detailed with my trip planning. I thought I was not one for detailed itineraries when traveling, I tend to like to make decisions as I go, or rather change my decision as I go. How could I possibly know which tours will sound good in the moment, or if I’ll want to stay in the same city for 3 days? I have learned that ultimately it’s better to at least have a general plan.
So, I loved Puerto Rico. I was actually supposed to go back this May (2020), with friends to celebrate Birthdays and my graduation from college. However at the time that I am writing this, well, there is just a lot going on in the world and I am self-quarantined at home still. At least I have had extra time at home to plan my next travels…
The top thing I would do differently in the future is rent a car. We took a taxi from the airport to our Airbnb, Ubered in the city, and took an Uber when we went to the airport to head home. Uber and buses are only really available in San Juan. And heads up, you can take an Uber to the airport but not from it. If you want to travel outside of the city (which you should!) you may have to book a tour with transportation. A car rental ultimately is cheaper and just makes it easier to do what you want to do. I wish I would have rented a car and planned to explore multiple cities on the island, but I now know I prefer to visit multiple locations in one trip. Yes, the roads and traffic may take extra attention but if you have driven in bigger cities like L.A. or Chicago, I think you’ll be fine. Like when traveling anywhere, do your research about driving in that area (laws, signs, etc.).
I didn’t book any tours in advance. I actually thought I could just book things, like a tour to El Yunque Rainforest once I got there, it didn’t work out. I also missed out on going to Vieques and Culebra islands to see the bioluminescent bay and wild horses. A lot of tours were booked, and a few tours that were left that I could find on Airbnb, through our hotel, etc. were pricey! Having a rental car would have also solved this by allowing us to drive to the rainforest or the ferry dock in Fajardo that goes to the islands. I now know, that it is important to figure out logistics of how you will go exploring in advance. I think the how is really the biggest thing; knowing what to do on a trip is great, but it can take a lot of extra time during the trip to research how to do those things.
What I did right and would do again.
Okay, the food! The food is so good. My boyfriend Camron, and I went to multiple restaurants and instead of ordering two meals we would get appetizers or one thing to try so we could hop on over to the next place and try more food. Things to try: Mofongo, Arroz con gandules, Empanadas. Depending on where you go a meal will cost you between 10 and 15 dollars. (pro tip: PR is a part of the U.S. so you don’t need a passport if you are from the U.S. and the currency is USD)
The Bacardi distillery is located in Puerto Rico, you can even do a tour and rum tasting. Walk around Viejo San Juan to see all the colorful buildings, the umbrella street, and get some food. We really enjoyed piña coladas at Barrachina. They supposedly are the place that invented the piña colada, it’s a little touristy but…they’re really good, and we had a lot of fun there! We also drank a lot of mojitos, also recommend doing that. Oh and pay attention to happy hour specials. That is an easy way to save some money on drinks, appetizers and of course try a lot of things! For a fun dessert, go grab an alcohol infused milkshake at Rare Candy Creations Ice Cream Shop & Bar, so perfect to enjoy while walking around Viejo San Juan.
We got coffee twice from Café con Cé, it’s right off of Calle Loiza. This area is a hot spot for food and food trucks. It’s artsy and even a little hipster but it still has a local cultural flair. I recommend getting an oat milk (or whatever kind of milk you want) latte and checking out the outdoor patio in the back, it is so cute! It was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb, and sitting out there just chilling was a great way to start the morning!
There are two forts that you can check out, we went to both. One ticket is $10.00 (children 15 years old and younger are free), it is good for 24 hours and for both Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and Castillo de San Cristóbal. They are walking distance from one another (as long as you don’t mind walking a bit, maybe 15 mins). It was cool getting to read about Puerto Rico’s history while exploring the forts and the view of the ocean is pretty great too!
Lastly, the beaches are amazing! Take time to walk around, go to the local grocery store, swim in the clear blue ocean, check out the forts, rent kayaks, look for manatees (we randomly saw some while walking on a bridge over the bay), do some yoga, explore cities besides San Juan (I’ve Rincon is the place to go) and don’t forget sunscreen…I did on the first day and well, peeling red skin isn’t cute.
Hope these tips and my insight inspires you take a trip to Puerto Rico and helps you plan it!