Puerto Rico may be one of the most beautiful islands I have been too, and that’s saying a lot coming from me. I was there in the Fall of 2019 and am anxiously waiting to go back. I guarantee by the time you get to the end of this guide you’ll be adding Puerto Rico to your must-see list!
Getting to Puerto Rico
If you are like me and live in the USA, good news – getting to Puerto Rico is a piece of cake, and you don’t even need a passport! We flew out of Newark airport and it was about a 4-hour flight nonstop right into San Juan. I can’t speak too much to others traveling to Puerto Rico, and especially during these COVID times, so check that out before making any plans!
Unlike many islands, there are little to no all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Rico (at least not any budget-friendly ones that I saw). We chose to stay in an Airbnb in Carolina, and I would 100% recommend staying there. We were right on the beach and the views were absolutely breathtaking. We had beaches to either sides, plenty of restaurants in walking distance, and we felt totally safe at night walking around. It was about a 15-minute drive to Old San Juan, so you really can’t beat the location. Plus, the Airbnb itself was beautiful and the owners were some of the nicest people.
Getting Around Puerto Rico
Before heading there ourselves, I read a few other posts regarding getting a car out there or not. We had planned to drive to the west side of the island one day, so we needed a car (I can’t imagine what the Uber prices for that ride would have looked like!). I will say that if you are staying in Carolina or even in Old San Juan, you may not need a car, as everything in that area is a quick Uber ride away. If you are staying in Old San Juan especially, everything in that area is walking distance and the streets are a little too tiny and twisty for me!
Must-See in Puerto Rico
Old San Juan
You cannot come to Puerto Rico and NOT check Old San Juan! Between the colorful buildings, all the places to eat and drink, plus the culture – it is a must see. The top thing I wanted to do in Puerto Rico was see the buildings. All the photos I’ve ever seen showed buildings of all different colors and I thought it was just beautiful. I am happy to report that the photos did not lie! Pink, yellow, blue – every color you could think of. There are also so many other artistic areas to visit: Castillo San Felipe de Morro, Parque de las Palomas, Calle de la Fortaleza and so many others. Also just stopping in small restaurants, checking out the local bars and just enjoying walking around is a must.
El Yunque Forrest
Head here early and enjoy the day! We did not actually do any hiking while here, but we drove through and got to appreciate all the beauty. There were still a few areas that were closed due to previous hurricanes, but there’s still plenty to see. Waterfalls, towers, and just green, lush trees as far as the eye can see. Climb to the top of the Yokahu Tower for some breathtaking views.
Ponce and Cabo Rojo
One day was spent driving to the southwest area of Puerto Rico. Ponce was one of the areas we were told to stop in, but we were only able to stop for breakfast and some photos. Cabo Rojo was our final destination that day and it did not disappoint at all. It was a bit of a mission driving to the beach, some of the roads were unpaved and a bit scary. At certain points, it didn’t seem as if the car was going to make it! We powered through and were gifted with probably the most beautiful beach I have seen in my life. Also, due to the fact it is a bit difficult to get to – we were one of two couples there at first. Boy I wish I had my drone then!! Even though it was a 3+ hour drive from old San Juan, I can’t recommend heading here enough. Also, just driving through Puerto Rico was a nice experience because it is a beautiful sight the whole way there.
If you are a rum fan, definitely check out the tour here. We actually spent part of my boyfriend’s birthday here and it was a perfect afternoon. The grounds are amazing on their own, and it is always cool to get an inside look into Bacardi’s process. You can also take home a few bottles, and even get them engraved!
Honestly, spending time in Guavate was one of my favorite things we did that week, and I’m sad we only went the morning before our flight home. My friend’s mom told us about it, and we stopped one day during the week, but it’s a whole other vibe on the weekend. If you love pork as much as we do, GO HERE ON A WEEKEND! There are countless lechoneras to stop at – these are outdoor restaurants specializing in whole-pig slow roasted over an open fire. It may look a little weird while you’re driving up the street but keep going! Our favorite spot was El Rancho Original … I’m drooling thinking about the cuero now (the crispy skin). There’s something for everyone there – shopping, eating, drinking, dancing! Don’t miss this.
La Placita de Santurce
This was a place we heard so much about – it’s an area of bars with outdoor seating and just looked like a really fun time. Sadly, the night we tried to go was raining, so we didn’t get to enjoy it in its glory. If you check it out, let me know!
All in all, Puerto Rico is a beautiful place to travel to, and easy to get to if you’re in the US. I can’t recommend going there enough, and I can’t wait to go back!