Castles atop craggy cliffs. Cobblestone streets paved with blue bricks. Chirping Coqui frogs. Mountains, Caribbean Sea, tropical rainforest, and bioluminescent bays. Welcome to Puerto Rico, a lush, enchanted place that defies easy rationalization. It’s each an island and an archipelago with its personal small islands; it has a robust Latino identification regardless of belonging to the U.S. as a territory; its language, meals, tradition, and historical past are knowledgeable by a mixture of Indigenous Taíno folks, Spanish colonizers, West African folks introduced in opposition to their will, immigrants from Europe, China, different Caribbean, and Latino nations, and mainland USA. Its complexity can be its magnificence, and its story continues to be unfolding. And it’s a magical place to go to.
Spending 4 days in Puerto Rico is simply sufficient to get a style of what the island has to supply. On our 4-day Puerto Rico itinerary, you’ll discover the historic metropolis of San Juan, wander the colourful, blue-cobblestone streets of Outdated City; snorkel within the clear blue waters of Culebra, one of many islands off the coast; hike by way of the tropical rainforest of El Yunque searching for waterfalls and lagoons; and kayak by way of a bioluminescent bay.
Disclaimer: Our journey was sponsored by Southwest Fast Rewards™ Credit score Playing cards from Chase. All opinions, suggestions, dangerous jokes, and errors made throughout this journey (we made so many errors, y’all, it’s virtually spectacular) have been 100% my very own.
Psst: Check out these different posts to assist plan your Puerto Rico itinerary:
Puerto Rico Journey Suggestions
Visiting Puerto Rico from the U.S. is surprisingly fast and simple—you don’t even want a passport, or to alternate foreign money! However we do have a number of tricks to reduce stress throughout your journey.
- How one can Get to Puerto Rico: You’ll have to fly into San Juan, and since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, you don’t want a passport to go to. You additionally don’t have to undergo customs once you arrive, making it a surprisingly fast and simple direct flight from Florida! We flew on budget-friendly Southwest Airways, our favourite airline. We love flying Southwest as a result of they don’t cost change or cancelation charges (fare distinction could apply. Failure to cancel a reservation a minimum of 10 minutes previous to departure could lead to forfeited journey funds). We really needed to reschedule our journey because of a hurricane! Plus, you may verify two baggage at no cost (weight and dimension limits apply), so that you don’t want to fret about overpacking.
- Bonus Tip: E-book your journey with the Southwest Fast Rewards Credit score Playing cards from Chase You’ll maximize your Fast Rewards® factors by flying Southwest, plus get 2X factors on native transit, together with rideshare or your Fast Rewards automotive rental companion purchases—which may all be used to pay for extra flights in a while, and rely towards the coveted Companion Cross®. Southwest’s Companion Cross is the profit that permits you to choose one individual to fly with you at no cost (not together with taxes & charges from $5.60 one-way) each time you buy or redeem factors for a flight. Be taught extra right here.
- Permit a TON of time on the airport once you go away the island. Earlier than going by way of safety, you MUST ship ALL your baggage by way of agricultural management. They won’t allow you to by way of with out this. Anticipate a protracted safety line and potential delays.
- How one can Get Round Puerto Rico: Outdoors of Outdated San Juan, most of Puerto Rico isn’t actually walkable. That mentioned, we’ve designed the itinerary so that you just don’t want a automotive—you’ll be reserving excursions with lodge pickup and drop-off. You possibly can take an Uber or taxi to get to and from the airport (and get 2X the factors for doing so in the event you use your Southwest Fast Rewards Credit score Card from Chase). Should you do determine to lease a automotive, like we did, it’s fairly fast and simple to do proper on the airport and driving is not any completely different than wherever else within the U.S. Nonetheless, we don’t advocate renting a automotive and have designed this itinerary to keep away from it. Right here’s why: parking is difficult to seek out and costly, navigating Outdated San Juan is difficult, and isn’t it extra enjoyable to simply sit again and let another person drive you round anyway? Should you’ll be touring with children, go forward and lease a automotive, in any other case, skip it. You gained’t want it for this itinerary.
- We advocate basing your self in Outdated San Juan and taking day journeys, then returning to your lodge every evening. Many of the highlights of Puerto Rico are comparatively near San Juan (it’s a small island, in spite of everything) so that is one of the best place to base your self throughout your keep. Throughout our journey, we really rented a automotive and stayed in Luquillo for 2 days. We selected to lease a automotive as a result of we would have liked extra flexibility because of touring with an toddler, and we wished to attenuate the time we spent within the automotive (although actually, I’m undecided we actually did. It felt like we spent plenty of time driving round!). And whereas Luquillo is sweet sufficient, it simply didn’t really feel prefer it was definitely worth the schlep for simply 2 days, and we wished we had stayed in San Juan as a substitute. We’d solely advocate transferring from San Juan in the event you can guide lodging which are definitely worth the journey, just like the El Yunque Rainforest Inn, which we sadly didn’t guide far sufficient prematurely to expertise (however actually need to subsequent time we go to)! As for the automotive, it could have been a lot simpler to simply guide actions and never have to fret about driving ourselves round—in order that’s the way in which we designed this itinerary.
- Keep within the shade! Puerto Rico could be very near the equator, so the solar is sturdy. Standing within the shade is definitely a 15-degree temperature distinction from standing within the solar. And in rigorously designed Outdated San Juan, on one facet of the road, the sidewalk is at all times within the shade!
- Maintain onto your hats—and different easy-to-blow-away stuff. Puerto Rico is characterised by a robust commerce wind consistently blowing off the Caribbean. In reality, the wind performed a significant function within the colonization of Puerto Rico: it’s the primary giant island you hit when the wind pushes your ship west from the coast of Africa, 5,000 miles to the east. The wind is splendidly refreshing and carries with it many tales—and any hats that aren’t securely tied to your head. (My favourite sunhat stayed put!)
4-Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
San Juan is a colonial metropolis, and Puerto Rico—colonized by Spaniards—looks like a Latin nation. However it’s a U.S.-owned territory, a colony someplace between the boundaries of statehood and the independence of self-governance.
This can be a advanced liminal house that I’ve been considerably acquainted with for my whole life with out totally greedy as a result of a not-small portion of my household is Puerto Rican. On my mom’s facet, seven first cousins have been born and raised in Puerto Rico; all of them had a bunch of youngsters, and now I’ve a TON of cousins in Puerto Rico. My mother grew up near her first cousins, making frequent journeys backwards and forwards—she to their hometown of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and so they to her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
However for numerous causes, she hasn’t visited Puerto Rico for the reason that late Seventies. The Puerto Rico my mom remembered was crumbling across the edges: boarded-up buildings, rampant poverty, and a harmful place for a younger lady to be out alone at evening. However since then, the town has fully reworked itself, because of the arduous work of the group and a groundbreaking dedication to historic preservation.
So, when Southwest Fast Rewards Credit score Playing cards from Chase provided to fly us to any of Southwest Airways’ many locations, I picked San Juan. I wished my mother and I to reunite with our cousins, and for them to satisfy Jeremy and Child A for the primary time ever!
Plus, it was a once-in-a-lifetime alternative to take a three-generation journey: a 9-month-old child, my 70-something-year-old mom, and me. (…And Jeremy, in fact!)
And thank goodness we had my mom alongside—not solely did she assist us out by watching Child Some time we have been off snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking, however she talked us off of many, many ledges in the course of the course of this journey.
You see, we’ve at all times been disaster-prone vacationers. (It’s form of our declare to fame. Notoriety? Anyway, it’s undoubtedly our factor). However throwing a child within the combine? Y’all.
Like, our brains have ceased to operate as they as soon as did. We’re half-humans. It’s actually spectacular what number of absolute rookie errors we made on this journey. As an illustration:
- We missed a bioluminescent bay tour. We didn’t understand it was half-hour away from the place we have been staying till we received within the automotive, ten minutes earlier than the tour was set to depart. Fortunately, we have been in a position to guide a brand new journey for the following evening.
- We timed our go to to coincide with the 12 months’s greatest and finest competition, Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián. However then we managed to fully miss the competition by leaving a day earlier than it really began. (In equity, we did really look it up, and what we discovered on-line gave us a special date than the precise begin date!)
- Due to the competition, many of the metropolis was closed in preparation for the massive occasion. That means just about all of the museums we wished to go to have been closed. Fortunately, our cousins knew a few of the folks working there (and are extraordinarily convincing) and we managed to speak our means into a few spots—and it seems that a few of the museums simply have completely attractive grounds even in the event you can’t go inside!
- Throughout our journey to El Yunque, we didn’t understand that the principle path was closed till after we arrived. Caught in the course of the forest with no cell service, we weren’t certain which trails could be child pleasant—and Child A was NOT down for a protracted, windy drive and a bunch of stops to attempt to determine it out. We managed to make 2 two stops (which, granted, have been incredible!) earlier than driving again house to place her down for a nap.
- We left our superior lodge in Outdated San Juan to go keep at a trip rental by the seashore in Luquillo as a result of we wished to have sooner drives to El Yunque and the Bioluminescent Bay. However it solely lower our drive time by about 20 minutes, and the holiday rental was a serious letdown—the entire transfer wasn’t actually value it, actually. We wished we had both simply stayed in San Juan and brought day journeys, or booked early sufficient to snag a spot on the beautiful El Yunque Rainforest Inn!
- And the cherry on prime: throughout our lodge transfer, we managed to drive midway to Luquillo earlier than realizing we forgot our baggage in outdated San Juan. Which was completely shut down by police for the competition. Which began as we left. And was additionally 40 minutes behind us. We thought we have been so intelligent timing that drive throughout Child A’s nap, however as a substitute, we turned a fast one-hour drive right into a two-hour lengthy cry fest.
Yeah. Tough. We’re so off form. However we made it by way of. And actually? Our journey was nonetheless completely unimaginable!
And fortunate us, we had my mother, who spent a lot of her journey sitting within the backseat with Child A exuding calmness and Grandma Power as Child A screamed and we panicked. She had snacks. She had toys. She managed to get Child A to sleep! My baby-friendly journey tip? Carry your mom together with you!
… And never only for the help, both. There’s one thing so splendidly fulfilling about touring together with your prolonged household, and I’m actually grateful for the chance to journey for my real love and make new recollections with my mother. We traveled along with my grandmother Katy, my journey icon and muse, nicely into her 90s. I can solely hope that Child A nonetheless needs me to affix her on adventures once I’m older!
Anyway, again to the itinerary. See, each time we fumble the ball and make dumb errors (which is … nicely, each journey, actually) we study what NOT to do. After which cross that alongside to you, dearest traveler, with the intention to keep away from making all of our many, many errors.
So, this itinerary has been deliberate round what we WISHED we did, in addition to the issues we did try this we actually, actually loved. We additionally sprinkled in a number of baby-friendly journey suggestions for these of you who may also be toting alongside tiny vacationers.
With out additional ado, let’s bounce into your first day in Puerto Rico!
Day One: Outdated City San Juan & Meals Tour
You’ll begin your 4-day Puerto Rico itinerary by exploring the colourful streets of Viejo San Juan—the second oldest metropolis within the Western Hemisphere. The blue-bricked streets of this lovely 500-year-old metropolis are lined with vivid pastel facades painted salmon, sky blue, bubblegum pink, apple inexperienced, lilac, or canary yellow—a particularly chosen and accredited coloration palette decided by historic preservation that dates again to the Nineteen Fifties. You’ll study all about that in your tour right this moment!
You’ll start your day with the very best approach to expertise a brand new place—stuffing your face filled with its meals—on a strolling meals tour with locally-owned tour firm The Spoon Expertise. This fascinating and informative tour combines stops at native cafes and eating places with deeply researched insights into San Juan’s previous, connecting threads of historical past and delicacies with Puerto Rico’s Caribbean family, Indigenous peoples, and the enslaved African peoples who introduced their very own cooking methods and elements with them to contribute to the tradition and culinary melting pot of Puerto Rico.
You’ll style candy pan de Mallorca over domestically brewed espresso; study in regards to the Indigenous Taíno folks whereas sampling a dish that has barely modified for the reason that Spanish colonizers realized it had therapeutic powers; sip cocktails and pattern recent fish ceviche whereas studying about Caribbean delicacies; and prime it off with a candy paleta. And a complete bunch extra.
After your tour, you’ll stroll away with a full stomach, some Fast Rewards factors, and a deeply knowledgeable context for the historical past of San Juan and Puerto Rico, able to see the town in a brand new mild.
… You’ll even be stuffed, so we’re skipping lunch (and probably dinner) right this moment!
For the remainder of the afternoon, you’ll be taking it straightforward and exploring any components of the town that you just didn’t get an opportunity to see in your tour. Contemplate doing a self-guided strolling tour in the event you’re up for it, or—in the event you’re something like us and must go take a siesta to sleep off your meals coma—reserve it for the final day of your journey once you’ll be revisiting all of the stuff you have been too drained to do right this moment after your meals tour.
There are a number of museums in Outdated San Juan, a number of lovely plazas, and TWO centuries-old castles—three in the event you rely the mansion that seems to be like a citadel.
Right here’s what we advocate seeing in Outdated San Juan:
- El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal: These are San Juan’s well-known 14th and fifteenth century Spanish forts. You possibly can both stroll round by yourself or take a tour. The historical past is fascinating—and preserve an eye fixed out for kites being flown within the sturdy commerce winds in entrance of El Morro!
- Museo Casa Blanca: That is the oldest constantly occupied home within the Western Hemisphere. It was inbuilt 1521 for Juan Ponce de Leon, the primary governor of Puerto Rico (who was quickly ousted by Christopher Columbus’ brother, the drama!). Immediately, the home is embellished with Sixteenth and Seventeenth century rooms to take you again in time. Even in the event you don’t go inside to discover, it’s value a go to simply to stroll across the beautiful outside gardens and grounds, that are free and open to the general public.
- Parque de las Palomas: We extremely advocate visiting this tiny sq. nestled into the cliffside partitions, stuffed with pigeons and works of handmade artwork. You should purchase seed to feed the pigeons on the onsite kiosk if you wish to, though that’s just a little terrifying, actually. Child A was extra within the rainbow of colourful ribbons hanging from the bushes and the handmade artwork and gardens lining a pathway to the magical Cafe del Nino. This little espresso store kiosk is a gem, y’all! You’ll discover kid-friendly smoothies and grown-up drinks, too—strive a Espresso Frost, which entails a slice of tres leches in your espresso, like a Puerto Rican affogato. Subsequent to the cafe is a play space for all ages, with kid-sized chairs and toys set out for little ones, set to a soundtrack of Disney music. It’s magical!
- La Fortaleza: You possibly can’t miss this opulent castle-looking white constructing—you’ll cross it whereas exploring Viejo San Juan, and also you’ll see it from many of the viewpoints of the outdated metropolis partitions! At numerous factors since its Sixteenth-century building, La Fortaleza has served as a fortress, an arsenal, and a jail—right this moment it serves because the completely baller Governor’s Mansion. They’ve excursions right here the place you may study Puerto Rico’s historical past and try to movie a miniature model of Cribs for TikTok.
- Museo de San Juan: This museum dives even deeper into the historical past of San Juan.
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico: This artwork museum options cutting-edge, trendy Puerto Rican artwork. For much more artwork, try Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, which has all kinds of Puerto Rican Artwork. (Enjoyable truth about my mother and most of my Puerto Rican cousins: they freaking love artwork. Like, they’ll take whole journeys the place they simply go to artwork museums each single day and by no means get uninterested in them. I’m … not fairly on that stage.)
- La Casa del Libro Museum: This museum is a should for bibliophiles. It homes a world-renowned assortment of uncommon books courting again to the fifteenth Century, plus historic paperwork, printing presses, and book-related art work. And the present store is cute, too!
Should you’ve received room for dinner, choose up a chunk to eat from a meals truck at Plaza Dársenas. It’s straightforward to seek out: simply search for the completely monumental cruise ships docking within the harbor and observe the gang of sunburnt vacationers!
Day Two: Snorkeling & Seashore Day
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island surrounded by heat, good blue water filled with marine life—so that you’ll spend your day exploring underwater on a snorkeling tour to lovely Culebra, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Oh, did we point out Puerto Rico is an archipelago??? With its personal islands?!! Yup!
Situated 20 miles off the japanese coast of Puerto Rico, Culebra’s white, sandy shores are surrounded by cays internet hosting vibrant underwater landscapes. It’s what you’re in all probability picturing once you consider snorkeling on a Caribbean Island.
Properly, apart from the enormous, rusting, graffiti-covered tanks. They don’t often make the screensaver-worthy psychological photographs, however they’re an iconic function of Culebra’s seashores and hearken again to the time when Culebra was a naval base, shortly adopted by the point everybody packed up and went house and was like eh, transferring these tanks is a complete factor, let’s simply go away ‘em right here. Nonetheless, they do make a neat selfie backdrop!
Within the clear, calm blue waters off Culebra you’ll discover turtles munching on seagrass, in addition to remoras, bluetail fishes, angelfish, and even stingrays, all having fun with the thriving ecosystem within the protected Culebra Nationwide Wildlife Refuge.
To make your go to stress-free, we advocate reserving a snorkeling tour that features pickup, drop off, and lunch, so all you must do is present up in your swimsuit. This tour begins with a ship journey to Carlos Rosario Nature Reserve to snorkel with yellowtail snapper and eagle rays, then lunch on the sandy seashores of lovely Cayo Luis Peña—guide it on Viator.
- Journey Tip: Don’t neglect to pack reef-safe sunscreen, which helps shield the very wildlife you’re right here to see! We additionally extremely, extremely advocate a pair of swim leggings, which cuts down on the quantity of reef-safe sunscreen you must use (as a result of it’s kinda… thick, and never in a great way) whereas being cute and cozy AF! We additionally advocate bringing a quick-drying journey towel and a dry bag.
For dinner after your snorkel tour, head to Deaverdura in Viejo San Juan. Heads up, there’s often a line out the door—if that tells you something! The no-frills restaurant has a restricted menu that modifications repeatedly however at all times contains scrumptious Puerto Rican staples, like roast pork with a scrumptious cilantro sauce, one of the best crimson beans and rice we loved throughout our whole journey, and phenomenal coconut flan. Take pleasure in it with a rum and tamarind cocktail.
Now that we’ve informed you what we advocate, let me inform you about what we really did. We couldn’t precisely take a child on an all-day snorkeling journey (she’s extra of a scuba diver), so as a substitute, we every booked a brief tour at a seashore close to San Juan, Escambron Marine Park. The lagoon there’s a good calm spot to swim, with a tiny seashore and shallow water (nice for little ones). Should you deliver some snorkeling gear (like this set), you may attempt to spot turtles!
Jeremy took a scuba diving tour with Scuba Canine. They helped to rebuild and preserve marine life on this bay after a devastating oil spill, and so they’re a incredible and moral firm. It’s a relaxed and quiet place to dive, and also you’ll see some attention-grabbing buildings constructed from salvaged constructing supplies that are actually being transformed into coral reefs. Should you’re model new to snorkeling and don’t really feel comfy doing it by yourself, you may take a snorkeling tour with them, too.
In case you have a automotive and simply need to do a self-guided seashore day (for baby-related causes or not, we don’t choose), right here’s what we advocate:
- Mar Chiquita: That is my cousin’s favourite seashore! It’s a quiet, uncrowded seashore with a phenomenal lagoon you could swim and snorkel in. It’s hardly ever crowded and has good calm water for swimming.
- Playa Ocean Park: The biggest seashore in San Juan, there’s loads of room to unfold out, which implies no crowds. You’ll typically see kite surfers right here having fun with the wind.
- Balneario El Escambron: That is the place we went—there are a few seashores right here together with a small, calm lagoon with a number of turtles and fish. You’ll have a view of a Seventeenth-century fort right here! Carry meals, as there’s not a lot close by.
- Isla Verde and Balneario de Carolina: This seashore is beautiful however will be crowded. The principle draw is that it’s proper by the airport. We had an hour to kill earlier than our flight, so we stopped by right here on the way in which!z
Day Three: El Yunque Nationwide Park & Bioluminescent Bay
El Yunque Nationwide Forest is among the United States’ solely tropical rainforests, and it’s enchanting. Situated simply 45 minutes away from San Juan, it’s a simple day journey. The winding drive by way of the rainforest on its primary path is beautiful: you’ll climb up the mountains as the plush forest stretches under you till you may see all the way in which to the intense blue Caribbean Ocean.
There are a lot of stops alongside the street in El Yunque, the place yow will discover gushing waterfalls, azure swimming pools prepared for swimming, cliffs to leap off into mentioned azure swimming pools, and hikes winding by way of the plush rainforest, most of which result in azure swimming pools. Say azure swimming pools another time, Lia.
It’s type of a road-to-Hana scenario, the place you drive alongside and benefit from the view and pull off to make stops right here and there, besides minus banana bread and plus mountains.
The trick is to know which stops to make forward of time, because you gained’t have any cell service when you enter the park (shock!). You’ll need to plan out the place you need to go prematurely, or cease by the customer’s middle when you arrive.
However planning stuff out forward of time takes effort, so the best approach to do a visit to El Yunque is with a tour that may choose you up out of your lodge in San Juan, take you to some incredible spots to swim and hike (azure swimming pools!!), feed you, after which drop you off again at your lodge once more. You don’t have to fret about making a reservation to enter, driving, or discovering meals in the course of a rainforest whereas an overtired child screams at you from the backseat.
This El Yunque day journey is ideal for adventurous vacationers: you’ll hike, swim within the … whats, cliff-jump, do some Tarzan rope swinging, and zoom down a pure waterslide.
For a extra laid-back day, do that tour: you’ll swim, slide down a pure waterslide, and do a 15-minute hike, and then you definitely’ll head to the close by city of Luquillo to relax on the seashore and eat dinner on the well-known Kioskos de Luquillo (which is, by the way, additionally the place we advocate consuming lunch or dinner in the event you do that day journey by yourself).
As for us, we made a number of incredible stops on our self-guided journey. We climbed up the Yokahú Tower to soak up the view stretching all the way in which to the coast of Luquillo. We additionally discovered a beautiful, brief little path alongside Juan Diego Creek, which led to some attractive swimming holes and waterfalls, plus a log that Child A was like, enthralled by. I believe perhaps we’d by no means proven her a log earlier than? Anyway, she beloved it.
We have been hoping to do a number of different straightforward hikes which are speculated to be incredible with children, together with Angelito Path (which is definitely outdoors the park entrance, and a shorter drive) however after her huge log journey, Child A was too near needing a nap to be versatile sufficient to allow us to cease and discover. Nonetheless, what we did get to do was fantastic.
- Journey Suggestions: Should you’re visiting El Yunque by yourself, the beautiful Customer’s Middle on the entrance of the forest will assist you determine your plan for the day! Additionally, and that is VERY IMPORTANT: earlier than your journey, you’ll want to order your entry prematurely. Just one reservation per car is required, and it may be booked as much as one month earlier than your go to. Tickets to your automotive are free, although there’s a small charge to make your reservation. A restricted variety of reservations are launched 24 hours previous to opening.
After your rainforest tour and dinner, it’s time for an additional bucket-list journey: kayaking after darkish in a bioluminescent bay.
A bioluminescent bay is extremely uncommon—there are simply 5 on the planet, and to not brag or something, however Puerto Rico is house to 3 of them. These ecosystems happen when microscopic, single-celled organisms referred to as dinoflagellates develop in portions sufficiently big to provide a “glow-in-the-dark” impact when stimulated by motion. While you paddle or splash the water, the tiny organisms mild up like tiny fireflies or dancing sparks within the water.
You possibly can solely see them when it’s pitch black (our tour had us huddle below a tarp to dam out ambient mild) and also you’ll have to make actions underwater to see them—so don’t count on to see like, a complete glow-in-the-dark bay. We’ve heard (from my cousins) that on extraordinarily uncommon events, you may even bounce within the water and swim. Should you do get the chance, please inform us about it so we will marinate in our jealousy!
You gained’t be capable to seize the bioluminescence together with your telephone or a digital camera, (any ambient mild in any respect will make them disappear, like little water faeries) however the sundown over the palm tree-studded hills of Fajardo was so beautiful that I want I’d introduced my telephone or digital camera in a water-resistant bag like this one (however in fact I forgot to pack it as a result of my mind solely capabilities half in addition to it used to since having a child).
Puerto Rico is house to bioluminescent bays in Fajardo, on the island of Vieques, and in Ponce. All three would require a visit from San Juan to see them; and though Vieques is taken into account the “prettiest,” Fajardo is the closest one to the town in addition to El Yunque, which is why you’ll be squeezing in each adventures on the identical day (we’re all about #lowstress right here).
The easiest way to slot in each El Yunque and the bioluminescent bay kayaking journey is to guide a tour that mixes each, like this one which picks up and drops off from San Juan and contains lunch and dinner, plus mountaineering and swimming in El Yunque and the sundown kayaking tour. (You can even guide a tour individually, like this one, if in case you have a automotive and may get your self to the tour in a well timed method, which as we talked about earlier, took us two makes an attempt).
We advocate reserving your tour proper at sundown: that means you get a phenomenal sundown kayak and think about over the bay after which a cool evening kayak! Actually, the precise bioluminescence a part of the tour, whereas cool, is fairly transient—however a sundown and night kayaking tour continues to be actually freakin’ cool.
- Journey Suggestions: Should you can, attempt to time your journey as near the brand new moon as attainable, (though we did our journey ON the brand new moon, and I’m undecided how a lot of a distinction it made). And keep in mind that the ecosystem in these bays are delicate, so please don’t go on a tour that makes use of a gasoline boat to drive you round! Kayaking is finest.
Day 4: Viejo San Juan & Sundown Cruise
In your remaining day in Puerto Rico, you’ll probably be exhausted from two straight days of adventuring and need to spend your final day taking it straightforward. (Ask me how I do know).
So, for right this moment, you’ll be exploring Outdated San Juan once more and stopping on the many museums, plazas, historic properties, and castles you didn’t get an opportunity to go to in your first day since you have been handed out in a meals coma.
However first, begin your break day proper by placing your self again right into a meals coma with brunch at Chocobar Cortes, a chocolate store slash brunch spot slash espresso store. The menu creatively incorporates bitter, nutty Caribbean-grown chocolate in completely surprising methods, like chocolate French dressing, chocolate ketchup, and chocolate-ham-and-cheese croquettes (they’re scrumptious)!
Attempt their twist on conventional Puerto Rican meals like pan de Mallorca and upgraded variations like chalupitas de mofongo, stuffed mofongo shells with chocolate guacamole (kinda bizarre? Sure. Kinda good? Additionally, sure). Scrumptious. The price of your meal will profit Fundación Cortés, which helps Caribbean artwork and native artists.
After brunch, get out and discover these blue-bricked streets! Pop into native shops to choose up souvenirs (you may browse locally-crafted souvenirs on the handicraft market in Plaza Dársenas), hit up extra museums and plazas, see whichever citadel you skipped on day one, and seize a candy paleta from Señor Paleta to chill off within the warmth.
In your final night in San Juan, take a phenomenal sundown cruise within the bay on the foot of the historic forts and partitions of the outdated metropolis. You’ll get pleasure from cocktails and appetizers on board a schooner because the solar units over the Caribbean horizon.
When you’ve mentioned your remaining goodbye to the solar, head to top-of-the-line eating places in Puerto Rico for dinner: Santaella. The flagship of world-renowned Chef Santaella options upscale variations of genuine Puerto Rican dishes and cocina criolla crafted lovingly with native elements (sourced from a farmer’s market a number of ft away, as native because it will get) made tapas-style, which is my favourite as a result of it means you get to strive plenty of issues with out actually committing.
After dinner, make your means again to your lodge one final time. Say goodbye to the pleasant stray cats alongside the way in which, the chirping Coquí frog, and that heat commerce wind breeze. Perhaps cease by a bar for one final piña colada, as a result of like, they have been invented right here so that you in all probability can’t get them at house, proper??
After which, lastly, say your goodbyes. Adios, Puerto Rico—you have been magical.
The place to Keep in San Juan, Puerto Rico
For our itinerary, we advocate staying in San Juan and taking day journeys to discover close by points of interest on the East Coast of the island. This implies you gained’t must lease a automotive or fear about transportation apart from taking an Uber to and from the airport—straightforward peasy.
What we really did throughout our journey, although, was just a little completely different since we have been touring with a child (being caught on a day tour with a child—are you able to think about?!). We rented a automotive and moved halfway by way of our journey from San Juan to a seashore city near El Yunque Nationwide Park and the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo, in order that we have been near our day journeys and minimized the time spent with a cranky child in a automotive seat. However in the event you aren’t touring with a child, that’s fully pointless and actually not what we might advocate based mostly on our expertise.
That’s, until you may snag a reservation on the El Yunque Rainforest Inn, a attractive eco-lodge that we actually wished to guide however didn’t work out with our dates!
On the subject of lodging in San Juan, you’ll see plenty of beachfront resorts close to the outdated metropolis in an space referred to as Condado, a few 10-minute drive from Viejo San Juan. Personally, we actually aren’t resort folks and we choose to be inside strolling distance to “stuff,” so we selected to remain inside Viejo San Juan itself, which was superior. Town is small and walkable, so we have been at all times just some minutes away from our lodge. We have been comfortable to commerce off a personal seashore for ocean views from the excessive partitions across the metropolis, walkability, and colonial appeal!
- We stayed at Villa Herencia Resort, a small and exquisite boutique lodge within the coronary heart of Viejo San Juan, subsequent to the town partitions, a phenomenal plaza with a beautiful view of the cliffside Governor’s Mansion (La Fortaleza). The rooms are small, nevertheless it’s greater than made up for by its phenomenal location, and a beautiful roof-side terrace! We might fortunately keep right here once more.
- We additionally advocate Resort El Convento in Outdated San Juan. This centrally-located lodge was an outdated convent (therefore the identify) however is now dwelling its finest life as a superb boutique lodge with a baller rooftop pool and ocean views. Plus, it’s a Southwest Resort Associate, so you may earn 2X the factors throughout your keep in the event you use your Southwest Fast Rewards Credit score Cardfrom Chase!
Puerto Rico Non-Income to Help
As moral and sustainable vacationers, it’s deeply necessary to us that we’ve got a constructive affect on the locations we go to. Puerto Rico has a strained relationship with tourism. On the one hand, the revenue from vacationers straight helps locally-owned companies—as long as guests such as you proceed to hunt out and patronize them! Then again, as a U.S. territory, Puerto Ricans are likely to really feel like the fantastic thing about their island is commonly offered to the best bidder, leaving locals and communities and not using a say within the growth and preservation of their properties.
Puerto Rico, like many Caribbean islands, can be topic to frequent hurricanes. In recent times, the islands have been devastated by a number of hurricanes—and whereas it has bounced again in great methods, there’s nonetheless a lot work to be completed. An area journey blogger pal of ours, Jen Ruiz, wrote a incredible article on the significance of visiting Puerto Rico even within the wake of hurricanes—learn it right here.
We’d encourage you to take your patronage of domestically owned companies a step additional and contemplate donating to those non-profit organizations that are working to keep up, enhance, and assist Puerto Rico’s area people. This checklist was offered to me by one in all my Puerto Rican cousins and consists of organizations both she or her community have been concerned with personally.
A community-based feminist non-profit group targeted on offering sources and schooling on feminine growth in areas like well being & healthcare, financial empowerment, decreasing home violence, and activism. Additionally they present emergency aid and funds to ladies in impacted communities (for instance, when Hurricane Fiona hit, they have been actively working in Loíiza—a municipality that was unable to get fast help from FEMA and the Crimson Cross—to supply a soup kitchen and provide drive).
Home violence and gender-based violence are big points in PR. Governor Pierluisi issued a state of emergency on the difficulty in 2021 (that lasted till June 2022) to analysis it. Even Dangerous Bunny has launched two songs elevating consciousness of it, “Solo de Míi” and “Andrea.”
This is a corporation that goals to have 33% of Puerto Rico’s land below protected standing by 2033 to guard Puerto Rico’s ecological techniques. Not solely do they handle numerous lands across the island (that are donated to them or they buy), however additionally they provide instructional excursions that vary from the historical past of sugar plantations to one in all Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays, volunteer actions like tree planting or fowl counting, and scientific analysis alternatives.
As a Caribbean Island, Puerto Rico is extremely in danger to the affect of world warming (which you’ll see within the frequency of lethal hurricanes like Maria or Fiona). Coastal sealines are disappearing and flooding is turning into increasingly frequent. By defending Puerto Rico’s ecological techniques, Para la Naturaleza hopes to maintain these techniques intact to assist preserve the island ecologically sustainable and supply residents and vacationers alike a brand new appreciation for connecting with their atmosphere and the affect they’ve.
You’ll see stray animals all around the island. Save a Gato works solely with the feral cat colony in Outdated San Juan (you’ll in all probability see them whereas strolling round!). They apply entice and launch (TNR) the place they seize the feral cats, neuter or spay them, and launch them again into the colony as these cats are too skeptical and aggressive to people to be rehomed. Nonetheless, if a feminine cat is pregnant, they let her go totally to time period and have the kittens adopted as soon as they’re of age.
Not solely are there tons of stray cats, however stray canine as nicely (right here in PR they’re referred to as “satos”). Moreover, many of those stray animals escaped abusive or hoarding conditions.
Amigos de los Animales is a shelter and academic non-profit that not solely fosters and adopts stray or abused animals to loving properties, but in addition supplies a six-week animal cruelty and investigation course to native police, animal welfare, and animal management facilities (or anybody normally) to boost consciousness on the indicators of animal cruelty and abuse.
This can be a no-overhead fund that invests 100% of donations to affiliated organizations working in critically affected areas in Puerto Rico. It goes to each short- and long-term humanitarian efforts from emergency provides after a hurricane to re-building faculties or group amenities.
Each a non-profit and fund, United Method works with 123 organizations all through the island offering them with funds and sources to proceed their work. Their primary focuses are schooling, monetary independence, and well being, but in addition present an emergency aid fund throughout instances of crises like Hurricane Fiona.
Casa Julia de Burgos was the primary home violence shelter in Puerto Rico and continues to supply sources, consciousness, and help to these dealing with home violence. Not solely do they provide shelter and a fast re-housing program, however additionally they provide trauma-informed childcare to the kids of home violence.
Are you able to pack your snorkel fins and head to Puerto Rico? What questions on visiting can we reply?
Psst – earlier than you guide your journey, don’t neglect to take a look at the Southwest Fast Rewards Credit score Playing cards from Chase so you will get all these candy, candy Fast Rewards factors.
Psst: Planning a visit to Puerto Rico? These posts would possibly assist:
Psst: Save this publish on Pinterest!
Disclaimer: Our journey was sponsored by Southwest Fast Rewards Credit score Playing cards from Chase. Be taught extra right here. All opinions, suggestions, dangerous jokes, and errors made throughout this journey (we made so many errors, y’all, it’s virtually spectacular) have been 100% my very own.
Accounts topic to credit score approval. Restrictions and limitations apply. Playing cards are issued by JPMorgan Chase Financial institution, N.A. Member FDIC. Provide topic to vary. All Fast Rewards guidelines and laws apply.
Our Prime Journey Suggestions & Sources
- Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Cash-saving suggestions: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a funds airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
- Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique lodges or personal rooms in hostels. We use Reserving.com to guide lodges (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to guide hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and wonderful evaluations). For trip leases, we choose to guide utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher assist than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe report. You can even guide trip leases on Expedia and Motels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our house and our fur-child) and vacationers!
- Journey Insurance coverage: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Journey Insurance coverage Information to seek out out why. We advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is among the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, and so they have wonderful month-to-month insurance policies which are good for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
- Journey Credit score Card: We guide all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely will we earn money again that we will spend on extra journey, however the card presents incredible journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automotive protection, which helps shield us on our travels. Be taught extra right here.
- Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC web site to analysis beneficial drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times advocate getting each vaccine beneficial by the CDC! You may get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
- Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get a neighborhood’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We guide our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
- Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine the best way to get from place to position, and guide native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we will. Once we guide a rental automotive, we use DiscoverCars to match rental corporations and discover one of the best deal.
- Baggage Storage: At any time when we’re testing early or making the most of a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to soundly retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital data (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and so on) secure, even once you’re related to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it permits you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO once you join!
- What to Pack: Listed below are the journey necessities that we deliver on each journey. We even have packing lists for warm climate, chilly climate, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!
READ THIS POST
How one can Go to The Galapagos Islands With no Cruise: A Full Information
Leave a Reply