There’s nothing I love more than helping friends and family discover the best things to do when visiting Puerto Rico! And just this week I learned my cousin Jordan and his family are making the trip (over dangerous Cancun- thank God) this July (21-28). Jordan’s wife Barbara asked for some recommendations so instead of sending her a six page itinerary I thought it might be easier to see everything from a birds-eye-view on this interactive map.
However, the first thing to decide when visiting Puerto Rico is what part of the island you want to see. The west coast (Isabela, Rincon, Aguadilla and even as far south as Cabo Rojo) are AMAZINGLY beautiful and a totally different vibe than the east. If you surf, fish or a set on some really great snorkeling I would say the 3 hour drive is worth it. Or if you’ve been to Puerto Rico before and are looking for a taste of something different and new.
Then you have to weigh the pros and cons of visiting one of Puerto Rico’s islands- Vieques or Culebra- which are seriously the most beautiful places on earth. The each have unique selling points but I haven’t been to either since Maria so I can’t 100% vouch for the condition. (I do know people who have been and I think both are okay…) —-> I also need to do a blog post about both islands with pictures, but here is a view of some of the beaches on both islands.
If you want to visit the islands you have three choices:
- A catamaran snorkeling trip. EastIslandPr.com has a full day trip that includes lunch and snacks and all your gear. It’s $99/person – $79/kid under 11- and leaves out of Fajardo. (We just bought a Gustazo for an AquaAdventure boat ride to Culebra for around $68/person – all taxes included- and LOVED it!)
- The ferry. The ferry goes to both islands several times a day but you’ll need to check the schedule in case the trips are less frequent after the storm. It’s only $4/person and my friends and I went that route to Vieques last year and it wasn’t a terrible experience. Just took a lot more time than a fight and not the best way to spend an hour+ out of your day if time is limited. (You can watch this really bad and long video with some pics of the ferry around 2:30 in…)
- A flight from Ceiba airport. We’ve used Vieques Air Link for both Vieques and Culebra and it was awesome each time. You can also leave from SJU or the Isla Verde airports in San Juan but I don’t see any flights right now. Trips to Vieques are $40/person/each way- or $80 + tax. They have several flights per day so you could leave early one morning and return late the following day and that would be plenty of time to traverse either island, especially Culebra as its pretty small and not much to do besides lay on the most gorgeous beach on earth! Culebra is $100 + tax but VAL doesn’t have as many fights and if you’re going with a group of more than 3 you might be out of luck. (There are other airlines that fly out of Ceiba- Air Flamenco and a few others- so just check around online if you’re interested).
You’ll also need to rent a car on Vieques (I have a hookup if you don’t mind a beater!) and a car or golf cart on Culebra. Transportation + lodging can get pricy but it’s absolutely worth it if you have the means!
So back to my original thought- this map. I’ve marked the best areas to stay (if you’re doing Airbnb) in San Juan, the best beaches and a few of the best areas for great restaurants. I also noted the towns on the west and both islands if that’s on your itinerary. This is a very high level map that should help you plan your trip by day and area. Once you decide that I’m happy to go into more detail on restaurants, lodging, tours and other activities that I know would be fun.
Click to expand and interact
I hope this is helpful! Please leave me a comment if you want more exact recommendations on places to stay, eat or visit while visiting Puerto Rico!