I visited Puerto Rico for a few days before jumping on a cruise through the Caribbean. Although the island is no stranger to natural disasters of late, my experience was that it’s a clean, safe, and beautiful place to visit. The food is wonderful and the scenery is spectacular. I highly recommend spending a fews days or more in San Juan, and exploring the surrounding area. Below are five experiences I recommend when visiting Puerto Rico.
5 Awesome Experiences for a Short Trip to Puerto Rico
Use this guide to visit my top experiences when you only have a few days in Puerto Rico! I’ve divided these experiences by type: Culture, Adventurous, and Relaxing.
1). Explore Old San Juan
Old San Juan is vibrant, beautiful, and historic. The cobblestone streets are narrow, and every corner has a unique bar, shop, or restaurant. During the daytime, Old San Juan is the perfect place to enjoy a tasty brunch, take photographs, and people watch. You can also walk the Paseo Del Morro for spectacular views and a little taste of history. At night, get ready to party with a fancy mojito or put your foodie hat on at one of the many top rated restaurants (several located on the rooftops)!
I suggest getting your hotel or AirBNB in or near Old San Juan to really experience it, because getting a taxi in those narrow alleyways can be a challenging task!
The cute old town reminded me so much of Cartagena, Colombia and Antigua, Guatemala, which are both worth a visit!
2). Try Puerto Rican Mofongo
On almost every menu in Puerto Rico, you will find some version of this traditional mashed plantain dish. You can even order it stuffed with crab! If you’re looking for a place with a lot of authentic culinary options (although not very cheap), check out the kiosks De Luquillo beach.
3). Night Kayaking in Bioluminescent Bay
This was the most unique experience I had in Puerto Rico. The islands are famous for their bioluminescent bays, in fact Puerto Rico is home to 3 of only 5 bio bays on earth! We chose to do a tour of the closet one to San Juan: Laguna Grande in Fajardo. The tour company supplied the kayaks, and we paddled out at sunset, through a mangrove tunnel, to reach the bay after dark.
The illumination of the microscopic organisms varies, but on the night we did the tour, the glow was visible when you waved your hand under water. It was pretty cool, but I couldn’t capture a photograph of it (you need to do a long exposure, so most of the photos you see online do not accurately represent what your eye will see). We then paddled back through the mangroves after dark.
Traveler’s tip: wear a poncho! It rains often in this area.
4). Visit El Yunque National Forest
Only an hour drive from San Juan, you can swim in a waterfall and/or take a hike through a lush jungle. El Yunque is a relatively small National Forest, and you can drive through it in a few hours, stopping at the major sights. I highly recommend grabbing lunch at Mi Vida Cafe, in the town of Palmer, before or after your visit. The burgers are incredible!
It’s easy (and cheap) to rent a car in Puerto Rico, so I highly suggest doing that. Driving there is the same as in the mainland USA, but the signage is mostly in Spanish and the gas is priced in liters.
5). Visit the Beach
What could be more relaxing than a day at the beach with a six pack of beer? Puerto Rico has several beaches near San Juan, including Isla Verde, where you’ll see all of the resorts have set up shop.