What to do in Puerto Rico

I can’t believe this was my first time to Puerto Rico! Since I’ve been living in England for the past 6 years I really haven’t traveled much of the Caribbean. I tended to just stay on the other side of the pond while I was there. Now instead of being in Med in a few hours flight I can be in a Caribbean! My first trip to Puerto Rico was packed full of sight seeng and Pina Coolada tasting so I’m super excited to share with you what to do in Puerto Rico .

Getting There:

Fly into San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport from NYC and it took just under 4 hours. The 5am flight was painful at the time, but ended up working out great. I felt like I got a whole extra sun day in! The airport is about a 20 minute drive from old town San Juan and 15 minutes from where I stayed in Condado. I chose to stay on Condado (close to a beautiful beach) and just grab the 5 minute uber into town.  The taxi ride from the airport to Olive Boutique Hotel in Condado costs $25.

**Uber app said no airport pick ups allowed
TIPthere are beaches REALLY close to the airport so it’s a great move to head there a few hours before your flight your flight for max sun time.

Getting Around

For some reason when I opened the uber app at the airport it said it could not pick up there. Otherwise uber was awesome and affordable!

Renting a car is a great option. Not having a car will restrict you on what to do in Puerto Rico, unless you’ll only be in San Juan.In that case, San Juan its a very walkable city and even if you wanted to go ten minutes away the uber will be no more than $7. In terms of road safety,  I did a mini road trip from San Juan to Rincon to San Sebastian and back to San Juan and had no major  issues.

Where to Stay

You know I love my boutique hotels and Puerto Rico has some incredible ones! Here is my guide to Puerto Rico Hotels.

San Juan Hotels

OLV:55 + Olive Boutique Hotel – Sister Hotels in Condado. A five minute drive to Old San Juan and a walk to either the Condado Lagoon or Condado Beach. Whether you prefer modern and glamorous or globally inspired rustic chic they have got you covered. Stay in either and you are welcome to use the facilities in both hotels.

The Dreamcatcher – A gorgeous Eco Hotel. The only vegetarian hotel is San Juan, it is known for it’s brunch. Boho chic decor with a treehouse feel. Located in the residential area of Ocean park.

Hotel El Convento – This historic hotel was built in 1646, was the first Small Luxury Hotel of the World Member in Puerto Rico and is the oldest member of the Historic Hotels of America. This hotel some some amazing amenities including access to their Beach Club, fitness center, pool and a nightly complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres reception.

Hotels in Other locations

Villa Montana Beach ResortPrivate luxury at this lush boutique hotel. Boasting secluded beaches, extensive gardens and two restaurants. Located in Isabela.

Tres Sirenas – On the beach hotel in Rincon, close to the best surfing beaches in Puerto Rico. All 5 of the accomodations at this hotel have an ocean view! The stay includes a gourmet breakfast spread.

Hostels

  • Nomada Urban Beach Hostel
  • Vieques Good Vibes House
  • Rincon Inn
  • Conturce Hostel


  • Booking.com

Where to Eat & Drink

I just loved the food and constant supply of Pina cooladas in Puerto Rico. Here are some of my favorite spots.

  • OceanoA mansion on the beach offering views, cocktails and cuisine. Perfect date night or occasion spot.
  • Jungle Bird + La Factoria + CanecaA trendy set of nightlife spots by Colectivo Icaro. All three are located within a 15 mile radius of San Juan.
  • Barrachina – Famous for creating the Pina Coolada! They serve food and drinks and have an adorable courtyard.
  • Cuatro Sombras – A cafe with delicious coffee and light breakfast located on the edge of Old San Juan.
  • La Cambija – Casual seafood restaurant in Rincon. I loved their fish tacos and watermelon juice! SO fresh and very affordable.
  • Numero Uno Beach House– A boutique hotel on the beach with a restaurant where your chair is literally in the sand!

 

ahi tuna salad on the beach

What to Do

 San Juan 

Of course visiting San Juan is a must! It has one of the most adorable old towns filled with colorful houses, bars, restaurants and even some Instagram spots!

Take a Tour of Old San Juan

Tour Old San Juan yourself or join a guided one. There are food tours by Flavours of San Juan or the Spoon Experience and a walking tour where you pick the price.

Walk down the Umbrella Street

OnLa Fortaleza street leading up to the governor’s mansion there are dozens of pretty umbrellas above you.  It is known as the Umbrella project and is an art installation put in place after the hurricane to bring people back to San Juan. It’s become quite the Instagrammable location!

Visit the Govenor’s Mansion- La Fortaleza 

 At the end of Fortaleza street in the 16th century governor’s mansion. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. It’s a pretty pale blue and sits on the edge of the city walls. Guided tours are offered daily and entree is free.

Explore a Fort – Castillo San Felipe del Morro & Castillo de San Cristobal

You can visit Forts El Morro and San Cristóbal. Incredible structures that have protected the city of San Juan for centuries. A $7 entry fee gets you into both forts within a 24 hour period. 

fort view

El Morro

Have a beach or pool day

Condado Beach

Ocean Park beach

Searafina

Pamper Yourself

Spa at Condado

See la Perla

Check out a Food Park

Beaches

Puerto Rico is surrounded by gorgeous blue water and the beaches are plentiful. Here are some of the best ones.

 

red lifeguard stand

Lifeguard stand, Luquillo

  • Luquillo – About an hours drive form San Juan this beach is popular with locals and tourists alike. $5 to park and stay all day! There are facilities including bathrooms, showers and snack bar. You can buy a pineapple filled with Pina colada for $12!! The El Yunque Rainforest in the distance makes for a lovely backdrop.
  • Beaches by airport – Isla Verde and Balnaerio de Carolina are ideally  located right next to the airport! Since my flight home was at 9pm, after hotel checkout I drove here and sun bathed until the last second. I paid $5 to get into the beach.
  • Playa Sucia – Definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico. Its secluded and rustic with turquoise waters. If you are heading here you will drive through the salt flats and maybe see the pink lake it creates!
  • Crash Beach – This beach gets its’ name from the ship remnants left on one side of the beach. It has plenty of vegetation and lots of seashells.
  • Condado Beach is a ten minute drive from Old San and is where many of the high end hotels are located. I went to this beach a couple times because it was an easy walk from Olive Boutique Hotel and there are dining options all along the main road behind it. Somewhat of a Miami vibe!
  • Flamenco Beach is on island of Culebra and is frequently rated one of the top beaches in the world. You can catch a ferry to Culbera from Ceiba.
  • Domes Beach Possibly the best surfing beach in Puerto Rico. Located in Rincon. The reason for its’ name is that there is a Dome on the beach which used to be home to a nuclear power plant.
  • Ocean Beach– further down from Condado is Ocean Beach, a more residential area.

 

What to do in Puerto Rico

Ocean Park Beach, Puerto Rico

Visit Neighbouring Islands 

Why not head to Culebra or Vieques, two of Puerto Rico’s islands. Take the ferry from Ceiba, but be sure to book in advance on PorFerry.

Culebra

Culebra is known for Flamenco beach, which is said to be the best beach in the world. It is also home to a National Wildlife Refuge. Culebra is a place for relaxation and biking is encouraged here to keep the islands pristine condition.

Vieques

Vieques has the incredible natural phenomenon, (Mosquito Bay) bioluminescent bay and is more populated that Culebra. Watersports and horse back riding can keep you busy or choose to sun bathe on one of the handful of beaches!

 

Embrace Nature

 Visit El Yunique Rainforest 

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the US Forest System. There are 16 different hiking trails. You will see waterfalls and wildlife. Explore on your own or book a tour with an expert. This is my top choice of what to do in Puerto Rico.

Yokahu Tower-Use Mount Britton Trail

 Chase Waterfalls

  • San Sebastian I think my favourite activity has to be the Waterfalls at San Sebastian. Park for just $5 and explore two huge falls. Use the rope swing or just people watch here. The falls are very close to the parking.  The lower falls are down a steep staircase and the other is via a flat cement path.
  • La Choca- In El Yunque
  • Salto Curet Waterfall
  • La Mina Waterfall-In El Yunique visa La Mina trail.
  • Doña Juana Waterfall
  • Juan Diego Waterfall
  • Las Cataratas Waterfall

 Experience Bioluminescent Bays

There are only 5 Bioluminescent bays in the world and 3 of them are in Puerto Rico! Mosquito Bay, is located on the island of Vieques, Laguna Grande on the north side of the island in Fajardo and La Paguera on the far southwestern side. Micoorganisms in the water glow a blue green when they are disturbed making for quite the light show!

Explore the towns

Rincon 

A cute surfer town. It is home to the famous Domes Beach, a lighthouse and one of the cutest boutiques I’ve ever seen! Since Rincon is on the west side of Puerto Rico the sunsets are epic.

Cabo Rojo

Home to salt flats, rustic beach and a lighthouse. A scenic area do explore for a day in the Southwest part of Puerto Rico. 2 and a half hours from San Juan.

Luquillo

Fajardo

Isabela

I had so much fun in Puerto Rico that I’m heading back with my family! I can’t wait to share even more of what to do in Puerto Rico!

 

Interested in finding the best places to take photos in Puerto Rico? Check out my Instagram Guide!

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