Having lived in Puerto Rico for over 18 years, my heart breaks looking at most tourists’ San Juan day trips. Cheesy Old San Juan rum tours; an afternoon at a resort in Dorado; a crowded “hike” (which could be done in a vehicle) at El Yunque Rainforest.
Puerto Rico does it better. I promise you.
So please take my advice: hunt down a flight deal, rent a car (it’s going to cost you less than USD $100-200 for the day, sitting a minimum of four people, which is less than any chore), and venture out to these gorgeous spots throughout the archipelago:
Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio, Arecibo
one-hour West (88 km), mostly down Expreso José de Diego PR-22
Silence only broken by a group of bats and feeding birds in the surrounding valley… Or foamy ocean waves, crashing against piles of rocks. Rocks which hide grottoes decorated with pre-Columbian petroglyphs!
Arecibo may be known for the second-largest radio telescope in the world, but barely mentioned as a top day trip from San Juan due to its natural beauty. Take the mere one-hour drive to explore peaceful Cueva Ventana and historical Cueva del Indio beach.
one hour, 24 minutes. West (102 km), through Arecibo
About 30 minutes southwest of Arecibo lie the third-largest subterranean river system in the world. Jaw-dropping hike through stalagmites, stalactites, and the purest water you’ve ever drunk await.
While you could wake up at the crack of dawn and do both Arecibo and Camuy, I recommend you spend the whole day taking in the grandiosity of this underground world.
Governor’s House Beach and Bioluminescent Bay, Fajardo
one hour East (63 km), through Rio Grande and Luquillo
The Bioluminescent Bay is plastered over all Fajardo brochures and I know, it’s hard to turn down! While I highly advise you take the ferry ride or flight over to Vieques and explore Mosquito Bay instead, time strapped travelers might still find value in it.
My tip then? Take your rental car, spend the whole day in Fajardo, and book the sunset Biobay tour with an outfitter directly. Start with sunrise at Seven Seas Beach; take a morning hike to Governor’s House Beach; then drive to the outfitter in time for your tour.
Scooter Road Trip, Vieques Island
one-hour drive to Fajardo port; then, a 10-minute flight or 1.5-hour ferry
If you have at least five days in San Juan, you have to spend a minimum of two days in Vieques. While renting a scooter (~USD $60/day) and beach hopping can be done in a day, the last thing you want to do is rush it.
Another tip: look up JetBlue coupons for VQS airport and see if you find a discount!
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Whether you cross the Caribbean Sea for an adventurous scooter road trip or take the easy drives East or West, these San Juan day trips will sprinkle some authentic spice to your Puerto Rican getaway.