Day trips to el yunque from san juan: Day Trip to El Yunque Tropical Rainforest from San Juan 2022

El Yunque Rainforest Half-Day Trip from San Juan 2022

Discover the natural wonders of El Yunque Rainforest on this laid-back half-day exploration from San Juan. Visit a beautiful waterfall, incredible views and more than 240 species of plants and animals that call this sub-tropical habitat home. Your Puerto Rico rain forest tour also includes round-trip transportation from most hotels in San Juan, professional guide and all park entrance fees.

  • Half-day trip to El Yunque rainforest

  • Enjoy an amazing world of waterfalls and scenic views

  • Learn about the history and biology of the area from your knowledgeable guide

  • Complimentary pickup and drop off from most San Juan hotels

Reviews

918 reviews

Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers.

Showing 1-10 of 918 reviews

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Great Rainforest tour w/ Charles!!!

Nadia_B, Dec 2021

Charles was awesome. We were picked up at the Marriott Sterrlis Casino in San Juan and on the drive, he shared a lot of history of Puerto Rico. We visited 2 waterfalls, climbed the overlook tower, and went for a wonderful hike. This was about a 4 hour adventure. Well worth it. Make sure you wear your sneakers and expect mud and a little bit of incline.
You’ll enjoy your time with Charles. He’s informative, attentive and made sure to stop for many bio breaks.

Response from Host,

Dec 2021

Thank you for praising Charles. He is really wonderful. Hope to see you again

A must see visit to the rainforest…

Francis_M, Feb 2020

This was a very informative visit to the rainforest. Our guide, Ramon, was extremely knowledgeable, not only about the rainforest, but Puerto Rico in general. The three stop in the rainforest were all different (watch tower, water falls, river). Ramon provided general information at each stop and answered individual questions from the group until all questions were answered. The only downside for the tour (which had nothing to do with the tour company or Ramon) was that parts of the rainforest remain closed after Hurricane Maria. If you are visiting San Juan or any other venue in northeastern Puerto Rico you need to take this tour.

Response from Host,

Feb 2020

Thank you very much for this fabulous review and very nice comments regarding Ramon.

Our tour guide Ricky was very…

Mike, Nov 2015

Our tour guide Ricky was very knowledgable and professional. The length of tour was just right, getting back to Old San Juan for lunch around 1:30pm. The walking trails are easy in the Yunque where the guides take you. Pretty flora with the sound and sights of waterfalls . Tennis shoes and shorts.

This is a very good tour of a beautiful…

Richard W, Apr 2016

This is a very good tour of a beautiful part of Puerto Rico. The Rainforest is only about half an hour’s drive from San Juan, but is a whole different world. Lushly green and wild, it is beautiful to walk through. The tour we took had an excellent and friendly guide, who not only knew the area but, as a native, told us quite a bit about the island.
Our first stop was the very modern visitor center, which was quite informative. The National Forest Service this is not a National Park had good exhibits set up explaining the basic ecology of the region.
The second place we visited was a hidden series of waterfalls. They are hidden in that it was a fairly steep climb through dirt and rocks to reach their upper levels. If you had a bathing suit you could even swim in the highest one’s pool. Everyone in our group—ages 7 to 65 that was my wife and I did it, but to fully see the system you have to be able to walk over some very uneven ground.
Next we went to an observation tower—easy steps this time, only 98 to the top, and the view to the ocean was great. The final destination was a very wide waterfall that you can see from the highway. Most people admired it from the road, but some me included climbed the rocks by the side and walked out on the big stone ledge halfway up. It was quite a view from there.
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to get a sense of the natural Puerto Rico that is away from the beaches and hotels. It takes a little effort, but the landscape is spectacular and the trip very well run.

Its a pretty good trip to see something…

Na C, Jun 2016

Its a pretty good trip to see something different than beach and the Old San Juan. The tour guide picked up a bit late b/c of the traffic but he is a very nice dude.

My wife and I did the 1/2 day…

NealC, Apr 2012

My wife and I did the 1/2 day Rainforest tour during a quick escape 4-day weekend trip to San Juan. For us, it was an ideal tour. Tony, our driver and tour guide, did a great job! He was very personable, entertaining, and knowledgeable of the rainforest.
This tour offers an introduction of the park, highlighting some of the more easy-to-access attractions. If you’re an outdoor adventurer or Survivor wannabee it may not be for you, but for us it was a perfect way to get out of San Juan city for a day and see some of the beauty of the island. If you’re in San Juan for a long weekend, and especially if you’re a first time visitor to Puerto Rico, I’d highly recommend the tour!

This tour is worth doing if you want to…

Balaji R, Dec 2010

This tour is worth doing if you want to take it easy like we did. It was an easy drive from san juan and we made a few brief stops in inside the rainforest (got picked up at 8:30am and were back around noon). If you are interested in any activities or even hiking, this tour is probably not for you. El Yunque is beautiful and we had a nice realxed time driving through and listening to our guide’s commentary (who was knowledable and pretty entertaining).

Great tour and not too tiring of a…

LORI B, Nov 2014

Great tour and not too tiring of a hike. We were picked up at a location close to our B and B in Ocean Park, San Juan and had a very informative, nice ride to the El Yungue Rainforest. If you don’t mind having a relaxing stroll (do have comfortable, non-slipping shoes), then do take this tour. It’s just enough of a hike to see a waterfall and climb a tower, and enjoy the rainforest. . This is just perfect for those who don’t want a wild, extensive rainforest experience. It sure was perfect for my daughter and I.

Our tour started at one of the local…

Solveig V, May 2017

Our tour started at one of the local hotels in San Juan. Due to the time to get to the rain forest, the tour proper was short.
There was a 30 min walking tour within an abandoned resort active in the 1950s , and some time spent in the visitor center. The tour guide described what we were looking at: La Coco falls, Yokahu reservation tower, El Yunque peak.
We got a sense for the lay of the land, but there is definitely a whole lot more of exploring we would like to do in this park. We would like to return to Puerto Rico and stay near the park to do some serious hiking.

We were looking for a tour that would…

Scott R L, Jan 2015

We were looking for a tour that would take us away from San Juan for a few hours, that would not require us to drive, and that would visit someplace interesting. The tour did all that. Our guide, Joshua, was very friendly, knowledgeable, kept things moving, and took very good care of us. We got to spend a few hours away from the urban setting and to visit a rain forest in a very effortless way.

Best rainforest excursion!

mwillms19, Jan 2020

Was very happy with what we stopped to see and the tour guide. Charles Rodriguez was our guide and he was amazing!

Response from Host,

Jan 2020

Thank you for the fabulous review, we very much appreciate your kind words about Charles. Looking forward to welcome you back

Good introduction to the rain forest

James_M, Dec 2019

On this tour you get to see the highlights of the rain forest, swim in the rive if you would like, sample authentic Puerto Rican food for lunch, and learn about animals and plants. Carlos was an informative tour guide, answered all questions and made things pleasant and interesting. This is a good way to see El Yunque.

Air and Breeze

LISA_W, Oct 2019

From the operator with booking the tour to the end of the tour, amazing! El Yunque was still under repair from Hurricane Maria, but still enchanting. The eco life, kids swimming, La Coca waterfall and Puerto Rico history. Wonderful and safe experience.

Response from Host,

Oct 2019

We are thrilled that you enjoyed your Excursion and that you had a memorable experience
Thank you for sharing

Sight Seeing Tour of Yunque

630elainef, Sep 2019

I was not quite sure what to expect from this tour due to the reviews. There is not walking or hiking involved. The tour guide took us to the visitor center at the start of the rain forest and we watched a 20 minute video. That part was a little boring but shortly we got back into the van and drove to a creek bed area to take some pictures near a small waterfall and then headed back in the van to the observation tower. After that we saw the Coco waterfall and had lunch at the concession stand near by. The tour guide Carlos was very information but my husband was upset we did not get to do any hiking. It is definitely more of a history lesson and stops along the way to see the more touristy areas of the Rain forest. If you want to explore the rain forest more I would suggest a different tour.

Response from Host,

Sep 2019

I would like to thank for being our guest and taking the time to share your observations. We don’t offer hiking trip until they reopen the regular hiking trail without limitations. That’s why we don’t have that in our description.

Basic Tour of a Must See

Sidney_C, Jun 2019

You should not go to San Juan and miss El Yunque. This was a relaxed bus ride. Very little walking. Several stops including one for lunch. Guide was pleasant and knowledgeable.

Response from Host,

Jun 2019

Some of the great unique qualities of visiting a tropical destination in the Caribbean is that you will experience tropical flora and fauna. Thank you for sharing

Rainforest Tour

Christy_D, Jun 2019

Our trip to the rainforest was a lot of fun. We were able to see different sections of the rainforest and learned about the history of the area. Carlos was a great tour guy.

Response from Host,

Jun 2019

Thank you very much for taking the time to review and giving us a 5 star review. Hope to see you again

Our tour driver made the difference

Rogelio R, Jun 2019

The tour itself was an ok intro to the El Yunque. We first stopped at a visitor center in the town closest to the rainforest where tour guide Carlos gave up a short talk about the various plants found in the area. Then we watched a short video about El Yunque and then we went to a newly opened crafts shop that featured locally made (not in China) items.We then stopped along the way up to see and take pix at a nice stream, waterfall and the Yokahu Tower. There are other tours available I’m sure that one can take that are more extensive. This one is easy on the legs since hiking isn’t involved. We had taken the previous day’s tour to the Window Cave with Carlos and enjoyed his company, so were happy he did this tour. He’s very calm, easy going and respectful of his clients. And having lived in NYC like us, we got along great. I would recommend Castillo for their tours.

Excellent half-day trip to El Yunque

656ryanl, May 2019

Highly recommend this half-day trip. They pick you up from a variety of hotels/resorts in San Juan (provided you book early enough). The tour is by bus with several stops along the way to get out, experience the sights, take pictures, etc. There is a stop for lunch (which is not covered in the price for the tour). The bus picked us up around 8am and we returned around 1:30pm.

Must Do!

Shanel_W, Apr 2019

Driver was prompt and well educated on the rain forest.
The trip is mixed up with driving and walking. In my view is good bc if your going out partying the night before— your def. not able to hike for 5hrs. Lol
Anyway— we stopped at the waterfall- it was raining so we were advised not to climb the rocks to get a good picture bc it was slippery. But still standing in front of the waterfall we got good pics. The half day was well worth it. The rain forest is beautiful even after Maria…

Visiting the rainforest

lisa_l, Apr 2019

Great tour guide. Enjoyed view from tower. Sorry couldn’t take hike in forest. Waterfall at minimal flow.

15 Day Trips from San Juan for 2022 (By a Local!)

Most tourists to Puerto Rico enter through San Juan and, honestly, you could spend your whole vacation here checking out the hundreds of things to do in San Juan

But, as a Puerto Rican myself, I know that the island has much more to offer beyond San Juan. Just a day trip away, you can find incredible experiences like bioluminescent bays, mind-blowing beaches, and the only tropical rainforest in the USA. 

Feeling excited yet?

Just wait until you finish my local’s list of the best day trips from San Juan around the island of Puerto Rico.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Table of Contents

  • Best Day Trips from San Juan, Puerto Rico
    • El Yunque National Rainforest (Río Grande) 
    • Arecibo
    • Vieques
    • Culebra 
    • Cataño
    • Cayey
    • La Parguera, Lajas
    • Cabo Rojo
    • Luquillo
    • Ponce
    • Rincón
    • Orocovis
    • Utuado
    • Isabela
    • Carolina
  • FAQs About Puerto Rico Day Trips
    • How many days do you need in San Juan?
    • What is the best one-day trip from San Juan?
    • Can you drive around Puerto Rico in one day?

Best Day Trips from San Juan, Puerto Rico

🚗 Important Note: In Puerto Rico, public transportation is mostly limited to metropolitan areas in the island’s north. Some of these day trips can be visited via guided Puerto Rico tours, but I suggest renting a car to move freely outside of San Juan. Use Discover Car Hire, which is a great site for comparing prices and rental agencies reviews – just be sure to book ahead, as inventory does sell out!

El Yunque National Rainforest (Río Grande) 

La Coca Falls in El Yunque

Distance from San Juan: 40 to 60 minutes | Google Maps | El Yunque National Forest Website | El Yunque Guide | Tours to El Yunque National Forest

Río Grande is a place where you can ride horses, shower in a waterfall, and view the entire coastline at once. Río Grande is in the north of Puerto Rico, close to Luquillo, and sports the only rainforest in the United States, El Yunque National Rainforest. El Yunque has different hiking trails for outdoor activities lovers. But, the main attractions are the stunning cascading waterfalls, many of which you can swim in!

Visit and you’ll realize why El Yunque is high on my list of the best stuff to do in Puerto Rico.

👉 Local Tip – When you go to El Yunque, bring water, a good pair of sneakers, a change of clothes, and good company. Don’t go within the trails alone since accidents are frequent.

Arecibo

The view from inside Cueva Ventana

Distance from San Juan: 1 to 1.25 hours | Google Maps

If you’re looking for a mix of nature and history, Arecibo should definitely be on your list of places to go in Puerto Rico. Check out Cueva Ventana, a cave on top of a hill in Arecibo. It is famous for its window-like opening and petroglyphs. Getting inside is tricky, but seeing the petroglyphs the Taino Indians drew on the walls and the scenery is worth the effort. 

After visiting the cave, go swim in La Poza del Obispo, next to Arecibo’s Lighthouse, or in the waterfalls of La Planta River. The locals call one of these the “Jurassic Park” for the similarity of the trail with a scene from the movie.

🛏️ Need a hotel in San Juan? If you’re still wondering where to stay in San Juan, you should check out El Convento. This hotel in the heart of Old San Juan started as a convent over 300 years ago and it’s now a spectacular luxury 4-star hotel.

Vieques

The beaches on Vieques are unreal

Distance from San Juan: 2.5 to 3 hours | Google Maps | Puerto Rico Ferry to Vieques Website

If you’re looking to slow down and unplug from the world, the island of Vieques awaits you. It’s a bit of an adventure to get there, but that’s part of the fun. See my guide to going from San Juan to Vieques for instructions. Once there, relax walking on the Black Sand Beach, and visit Puerto Ferro Lighthouse ruins.

Finish your day kayaking in Mosquito Bay, one of the three Puerto Rican bioluminescent bays and the most brilliant bio bay in the world. The bio bay is truly an experience not to be missed, but you will need to plan to stay in Vieques overnight to enjoy it. There is just no way to get back to San Juan that late at night. It’s worth it though, as there is a lot of stuff to do in Vieques.

👉 Local Tip – To experience the bio bay, it’s best to spend the night in Vieques and take the ferry to Culebra the next morning. Bravo Beach Hotel is the highest-rated hotel within walking distance to the ferry to the mainland. It’s the best place for a one night stay, but it does book up!

Culebra 

The famous military tank in Playa Flamenco

Distance from San Juan: 3 to 3.5 hours | Google Maps | Puerto Rico Ferry Website | How to Go From San Juan to Culebra

If you’re looking for paradise on Earth, then you need to visit the island of Culebra. You can snorkel with turtles or visit Flamenco Beach, which has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top beaches in the USA and the entire world. Flamenco Beach’s white sand and turquoise water are ideal for snorkeling.

While you’re in Culebra, hop on a boat to visit Culebrita. This small island belongs to Culebra and it’s home to one of the oldest lighthouses in the Caribbean. You can only get to Culebrita by renting a private boat ride. You can rent one here!

👉 Why and Where to Stay Overnight – Culebra is one of the longest day trips from San Juan on this list, and so it’s really best to plan to stay a night on the island if you can. Accommodation options are limited, so be sure to book ahead. Villa Ensenada Hotel is the top-rated option on Booking.

Cataño

Put your padlock in the pink bridge

Distance from San Juan: 25 minutes | Google Maps | Bacardí Official Website

If you like gastronomy trips, then the best day trip from San Juan for you is to Cataño. Start in Casa Bacardí Cataño for rum-tasting tours and mixology classes where you’ll learn how to make mojitos and piña coladas.

Later visit the “pink bridge” in Cataño’s beach boardwalk. This popular bridge has padlocks all over it and is an Instagram perfect spot featuring Old San Juan as your background.  

Finish your day eating local food and posing with the flag of Puerto Rico as painted by Hector Collazo.

👉 Local Tip – Hector Collazo has been painting one flag per city for a few years now. He has 10 cities left to paint. If you’re looking for something fun and different to do in Puerto Rico, you can check off all the existing 67 flags.

Cayey

Hike in the Pine Tree Forest in Cayey

Distance from San Juan: 45 to 60 minutes | Google Maps

A day trip from San Juan just to eat all day? Totally worth it! Food is the main attraction in Guavate, a town in Cayey known for the restaurants that sell roast pork. People hop from lechonera to lechonera, while eating, dancing, and listening to music. This is why locals call it La Ruta del Lechon or The Pork Highway.

After you eat, don’t miss the chance to swim in Charco Azul or hike through the Pine Tree Forest in Cayey.

🍽️ Read Next: The Best San Juan Restaurants to Eat At

La Parguera, Lajas

Distance from San Juan: 2 hours | Google Maps | La Parguera Website | 👉 Book a La Parguera Glowing Bioluminescent Bay Boat Tour from San Juan

La Parguera is a nice fishing town in Lajas that adventure seekers will love. You can start your day trip diving in La Pared on the coast of Lajas, where you’ll see coral reefs, manta rays, and turtles. Go for a walk in El Malecón to find something delicious to eat and swim later in Playa Rosada. 

The best thing to do in Lajas, though, is to swim in the other bioluminescent bay of Puerto Rico! While not quite as spectacular as the one in Vieques, it’s still amazing and much more manageable as a day trip from San Juan. Just sign up for this tour from San Juan, whose many 5 star reviews have earned it Viator’s coveted Badge of Excellence. 

🚢 Visiting on a Cruise? Check out my list of the best cruise excursions from San Juan port!

Cabo Rojo

Distance from San Juan: 2.25 hours | Google Maps | Cabo Rojo Website | 👉 Book a tour to Cabo Rojo

Cabo Rojo is situated in the west of Puerto Rico and it offers some of the best sunsets on the island.

Start by visiting the breathtaking Faro Los Morrillos. The lighthouse is on a cliff above the sea that belongs to the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. You can find the popular beach Playa Sucia, which made my list of the best beaches on the island, plus the Pink Salt Lakes in the refuge too.

Be sure to bookmark my guide to what to do in Cabo Rojo.

👉 Local Tip  – If you’re short on time this tour combines both a stop in Cabo Rojo and the bio bay in La Parguera. It also makes another stop in a colorful town in Yauco, so you can really maximize your experience in Puerto Rico.

Luquillo

Distance from San Juan: 40 minutes | Google Maps

La Pared Beach in Luquillo is a great year-round destination for surfers. Even if you don’t surf, you can have fun snorkeling, paddleboarding, or kayaking in Playa Azul. Right in front of the Luquillo beach, you’ll find the famous Luquillo kiosks, where you can enjoy the island’s traditional cuisine.

Ponce

Distance from San Juan: 1.5 to 2 hours | Google Maps | 👉 Book a Ponce Historical City Tour

Do you love walking between historic buildings in Old San Juan, and want more? Then you need a day trip to Ponce in the south of Puerto Rico! Ponce’s best attractions include its many historical buildings and landmarks, but the most iconic one is Parque de Bombas, the first firefighter station in Puerto Rico.

Art and history lovers must go to the Ponce Museum of Art and the Serralles Castle Museum. This last one belonged to the Seralles family, creators of Rum DonQ. It has attractions like a Japanese garden and a Butterfly nursery.

Finish your trip in Ponce eating local food in La Guancha and feeding the pelicans.

Rincón

Distance from San Juan: 2 to 2.5 hours | Google Maps | Rincón Website | San Juan to Rincon Transportation Guide  

Every year, between January and April, humpback whales swim in the waters of Rincón. You can watch them from Punta Higüeras Lighthouse Park, where you can admire the lighthouse that has been guarding the shore since 1892.

If you happen to be in Puerto Rico out of the whale season, you’ll find other things to do in Rincón like surfing on Maria’s beach or snorkeling in Tres Palmas Marine Reserve. 

If you don’t have experience snorkeling you can book this guided tour with professionals. They will show you the correct and safe way to snorkel while protecting the ecology of the reserve.

Orocovis

Distance from San Juan: 1.25 to 1.5 hours | Google Maps

Are you the friend in the group that always does crazy things and lives with YOLO as your life motto? Then choose Orocovis for your day trip from San Juan.

Orocovis is located in the center of Puerto Rico and it’s where you’ll find Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park. Toro Verde is famous for having the longest zipline in America. The park also offers suspended bridges, bikes on ziplines, and climbing towers.

In Orocovis, you can make a stop at Mirador Villalba, dive in Charco La Guitarra or conquer the hike in Cerro Mime too.

Utuado

Distance from San Juan: 1.25 to 1.5 hours | Google Maps | Utuado Website | 👉 Book a Utuado Canyon, River & Waterfall Adventure

One of the best day trips from San Juan is to the not-so-touristy city of Utuado. Even if it’s not on your typical style to go off the beaten path, you’ll find fun things to do in Utuado for everyone from adventure and food lovers.

In the Tanamá river, you can book excursions to do rappelling, kayaking, and river caving. You can visit the hanging bridge La Hamaca or the beautiful Cañon Blanco river. 

If you want to explore the local gastronomy instead, Utuado has plenty of farms to choose from. Café Gran Batey offers free tours for visitors during specific hours. Here you can learn about the coffee-making process and start your day with a cup of coffee in your hand.

Utuado also offers the only vineyard in Puerto Rico, located in Finca Vista Bella. You can make a tasting reservation to learn how locals make wine!

Isabela

Distance from San Juan: 1.5 to 2 hours | Google Maps 

Isabela is a day trip from San Juan that offers something to every type of traveler. Go for a relaxing stroll on the 4km boardwalk that goes from the main street to a rock cliff next to Jobos Beach.

Next visit the impressive cave La Cueva del Viento. Located inside The Guajataca Forest, you’ll find hiking trails ready to explore. To get into the cave, you must descend using wooden stairs that wobble as you walk on them. It’s a little scary, but the amazing interior is worth a visit on your day trip.

And if you are looking for a day trip from San Juan with kids, make sure to take them to the Guajataca Tunnel. It was once a railroad in the 20th century, but now there are food trucks, farm animals, and local artisans around it. You can even ride a small train inside the tunnel. Finish your day by taking a great picture with the Insta-worthy sculpture La Cara del Indio.

👉 Read Next: 11 Best Puerto Rico Towns

Carolina

Visit Carolina Public Beach for a fun day

Distance from San Juan: 25 minutes | Google Maps | Carolina Website 

If you are just looking for a day trip close to San Juan, I suggest you spend your day exploring things to do in Carolina.

Start by visiting Piñones, a route from Carolina to Loíza with dozens of local food kiosks. The best thing? You’re right in front of the beach. 

You can choose to take a dip in La Pocita or enjoy the view while walking along the beach boardwalk. Or you can go to Carolina Public beach instead, where kids can have fun in Aquasol, a small aquatic park on the beach. There are water sports for adults too.  

In Carolina, you’ll find the Campo Rico Hacienda. On this farm, you can ride an ATV or go horseback riding. Other activities on the hacienda are ziplining, sightseeing, and archery tag.

👉 Read Next: The Best Beaches in San Juan

FAQs About Puerto Rico Day Trips

How many days do you need in San Juan?

To see and enjoy everything in the city, you need to stay in San Juan for 4 to 6 days. Besides Old San Juan, you’ll need time to visit other areas of Puerto Rico’s capital. Some of them are Santurce, Rio Piedras, Hato Rey, Condado and Distrito de Convenciones.

What is the best one-day trip from San Juan?

The best one-day trip from San Juan is El Yunque National Rainforest in Río Grande. El Yunque is one of the greatest symbols of Puerto Rico and it offers something to every visitor. It’s the only tropical rainforest in the United States, and easy to visit as a day excursion from San Juan.

Can you drive around Puerto Rico in one day?

Driving around Puerto Rico in one day is technically possible but not recommended if you want to enjoy the island. The drive around Puerto Rico takes 7 to 8 hours, without stops. For a shorter route with culture, food, and scenery, take La Ruta Panorámica through the mountains. See our full Puerto Rico driving guide for more info.

***

And those are the best day trips from San Juan you should be adding to your Puerto Rico bucket list! 

Are you still looking for more amazing places to visit? Go check out my guide to the top 33 spots around the island!

What day trip will you do in Puerto Rico? Leave a comment below! 

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15 Best Day Trips from San Juan / Travel Guides

Every city in the world has its own unique vibe and San Juan is no different. The city has many historical sites and festivals that contribute to its aura, making it a preferred tourist destination. Visitors come here not only for the stunning views, but also to immerse themselves in the rich culture; this combination makes San Juan a top tourist destination. San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and is located on the north coast, making it the country’s most important seaport. The soft sand on the beaches makes it an ideal place to relax.
This beautiful city is strategically located, making it the perfect springboard for visiting the tourist destinations that are nearby. Here is our list of the top 15 day trips from this capital city of Puerto Rico:

1. Casa Blanca

Source: www78 / Flickr residence of Juan Ponce de Leon. The house was occupied by Juan’s descendants until the middle of the 18th century. This building was declared a historic building at 1967 year.
Entering this house, you feel as if you are going back in time. If you are a history lover, you will fall in love with the architecture, paintings, historical antiques and artifacts from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Just a few blocks from El Morro, Casa Blanca overlooks San Juan Bay. The view from the windows of this small museum is breathtaking. Outside, there are lush gardens and various water features.
Check out recommended hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico

2. El Yunque Rainforest

Source: IrinaK / shutterstock
El Yunque Rain Forest
A visit to this unique jungle in a subtropical mountain rainforest has a calming effect. This is where the trade winds meet the island, which results in rain. The forest lies entirely within the El Yunque National Forest Reserve.
This rainforest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo and is the largest piece of public land in the country as it covers 28,000 acres.
El Yunque Forest is a 20 minute drive from San Juan in northeastern Puerto Rico. To get to the rainforest itself, you need to drive or walk to the top to see the forest of gnomes..
Recommended Tour : San Juan: El Yunque Rainforest Half Day Tour

3. Arecibo Observatory

Source: Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock
Arecibo Observatory
Arecibo Observatory is a concrete bowl the size of a monster . Visitors, including scientists, come from all corners of the earth to explore the wonders of the universe.
This huge radio telescope is the largest in the world. This allows people to listen to the sounds of the universe. Scientists use it to study radio emissions from distant galaxies, stars and planets.
Arecibo, also known as La Villa del Capitan, is about 80 km from San Juan. The view from the deck of the observatory is amazing.

4. El Arsenal de la Marina

The beautifully built El Arsenal was built in the 19th century by the Spanish military and is located in Old San Juan. The strategic location was chosen due to its remoteness and connection to the mainland by bridges.
El Arsenal is gray in color and still looks as impressive as it was when it was built. Today, El Arsenal functions as an art gallery, which presents decorative items created by local residents. The building has 3 galleries.

5. Mangrove National Forest

Source: Boriqueddy / Wikimedia
Mangrove Forest
Most of the mangrove forests in Puerto Rico are located along the coastline of the island. Trees surround sandy ocean beaches that can be explored on foot. There are many places in this picturesque forest where you can pose for photos.
The beaches become more secluded as you walk further along the promenade between the forest and the coastline. There are many rivers and lagoons in the forest, which are inhabited by reptiles, birds and mammals..
This dense mangrove forest is just 20 minutes from San Juan.

6.

Bio Bays

Source: tvanhoosear / Flickr
Parguera, Puerto Rico
There are 3 bioluminescent bays throughout Puerto Rico. These are Mosquito Bay, La Parguera and La Laguna Grande. The biological bay is a body of water that contains microorganisms that glow in the dark after being agitated.
When visiting the bioluminescent bays, get ready for an unforgettable experience. Most people come here and think they are hallucinating, while some think that what they see is some kind of special effect. This rare phenomenon is experienced at night and becomes brighter when there is no moon.
The best place to appreciate this unique phenomenon is Laguna Grande. At the moment, however, the bay does not sparkle as it should due to the large influx of algae.
Suggested Tour : Bioluminescent Lagoon or Full Moon Kayaking Eco Adventure

7. Cueva Ventana

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Cueva Ventana
Cueva Ventana translates as «Window Cave». The incredible Cueva Ventana is a large cave located in the northwest of San Jose, on top of a limestone cliff. This causes the floor of the cave to be slippery.
The cave window offers a picturesque view of the Rio Grande de Arecibo valley. All the land surrounding the cave, including the cave itself, is privately owned..
If you like to find places that little is known about, then Cueva Ventana is what you need. When packing your bag, don’t forget to bring a flashlight with you. You will need one to walk through and through the underworld of this underground cave.
Given the bats, the cave has no unpleasant odor. This is because the cave is open at both ends, so a lot of wind gets through.
Recommended tour : Cueva Ventana Tour

8. El Morro Fort

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El Morro Fort
The full name of this fort is El Castillo de San Felipe del Morro. It was built in 1539 to protect San Juan from enemies coming from the sea. However, the layout was improved by two engineers, Juan de Tejada and Juan Bautista, in 1587.
Since 1983, El Morro has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. experience first hand the power commanded by this bastion of defense located at the northwest end of San Juan. The fort was also used during World War II by the US to track the movement of German submarines.

9. Castillo de San Cristobal

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Castillo de San Cristobal
This Castillo was built to protect El Morro and San Juan from land attacks. This fort was designed by Irish engineer Thomas O’Daly and built by the Spanish between 1634 and 1790. Today, the fort is part of the San Juan National Historic Site.
This fort basically encircled the entire city and covered over 27 acres of land. The main entrance to the city was sealed with gates.
The elegant courtyard is commonly used as a wedding venue due to its fairy tale feel.

10. St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery

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St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery
This whitewashed cemetery dates from the 19th century and is strategically located between Fort El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal. The cemetery is known simply as Old San Juan Cemetery to the locals.
The cemetery overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, which symbolizes the passage of the spirit to the afterlife. There is a small chapel in the center of the cemetery.
The gravestones are located very close to each other, so you need to be very careful when walking.
It is important to be careful when visiting this area as it is notorious for petty theft.
Check recommended hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico

between the El Yunque rainforest and the ocean. Its location contributes greatly to the beach’s unique ecology; when visiting this beach, you may encounter rare or endangered species such as turtles.

The beach is just the perfect shot. It has fine sand and lots of palm trees that provide shade, against the backdrop of the rainforest.

12. Ponce Historic Zone

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Ponce Historic Zone
The Ponce Historic Zone goes by various names such as Ponce Centro, Ponce Traditional, Historic District, Ponce Historico and often La Perla del Sur. This historic district in south San Juan has numerous buildings that date back to the 19th and 20th centuries..
The zone was named after the great-grandson of Juan Ponce de Leon.
It is located in the city center, about 4.8 km from the Caribbean coast. coast and is home to the most vibrant bioluminescent cove, Mosquito Cove. The island is 34 km long and 6 km wide.
Anyone visiting San Juan should have this island on their bucket list. Come to Vieques Island to experience the true meaning of tropical bliss through its unrivaled beauty. Driving on this tiny island is an enjoyable experience as there are no traffic lights; the roads are narrow here.
This little gem is also home to a nature reserve that covers 3,100 acres of land. It is part of a group of islands called the Spanish Virgin Islands. -Juan. It is located about 1 mile from the ferry terminal in Old San Juan..
The company was founded in 1852 and has contributed greatly to the development of the city throughout its battles with financial crises and natural disasters. The Bacardi family helps their hometown recover from catastrophic disasters and often makes international donations to organizations that provide emergency relief.
Rum is bottled in Jacksonville, Florida.
A visit to San Juan at the Bacardi factory is by ferry. Expect your distillery tour to end with a tasting of Bacardi products..

15. Gozalandia Waterfall

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Gozalandia Waterfall
Gozalandia Waterfall makes one of the best day trips from San Juan.
The Twin Falls of Gozaland, as they are also called, include the Upper and Lower Falls. These natural beauties have a variety of scenery for you to see, depending on your sportsmanship and climbing ability.
There are trails that you can climb to get to the upper waterfall, which is quite far from the gate. Anyone up for an adventure should take a stroll along the trails; it will make you feel like Indiana Jones. The good thing about the tracks is that they are paved.

Travel guides

Puerto Rico. Itinerary for 5 days

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Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico doesn’t just have fantastic style — this Caribbean gem has heart and soul and a beat that’s irresistible. It is a land steeped in Spanish history and heritage, in the American present, and still contributing to a distinctly Puerto Rican spirit. With an amazing experience for everyone, this is a place that offers its visitors the ultimate island experience.

Day 1 — Get your beach.

You’ll want to make the most of your time here, so I would recommend taking the earliest flight you can find at San Juan, where the international airport is located. Check into your hotel, and once you’re settled in, grab some rum, head to the beach, and relax. There is no better way to start a vacation.

For dinner, check out Oceano Restaurant for amazing contemporary cuisine. Your taste buds will thank you.

Hotels Athens — A guide to the best areas

Day 2 — Old San Juan.

After a hearty breakfast, it’s time to go for a walk in Old San Juan. I recommend you start your trip at El Morro National Monument, which is an impressive 16th century Spanish fort that costs less than $5 per person. The views from here are amazing. From here, take the free white tram, get off and back along the road to visit the many quirky boutiques. It’s in the old town where you’ll want to roam freely and admire all the colorful old world buildings that surround you. Along the way, you’ll end up buying a fresh fruit rum or frappe at one of the many watering holes.

For lunch, check out local favourite, Restaurante Raices , serving delicious mofongos and chimichurri, with waitresses dressed in traditional Puerto Rican attire.

After lunch, you can continue exploring or return to the hotel and use the beach or swimming pool.

Scotland Route

If you’re looking for a sunset cruise, plan a boat trip that departs from San Juan Bay.

San Juan is one of the nightlife capitals of the Caribbean and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it! Dive into the energy and show off your best dance moves at La Placita. Salsa, hip-hop, bachata, reggaeton — everything is here. The best part is that locals come here too, so you know it’s authentic.

Day 3 — El Yunque. Puerto Rico

It’s time to hit the road on day three and head to one of Puerto Rico’s best attractions, El Yunque National Forest . This rainforest is filled with incredible waterfalls, dense forests suitable for hiking, and plenty of wildlife worth seeing. You’ll want to start at the El Portal Rainforest Center, where you can learn more about the area’s wildlife, grab some maps, and ask for hiking advice.

One hike I would recommend is one that takes you to La Mina Falls, which is only 30 minutes away. If you’re up to the challenge, there are also several 3-4 hour hikes. At a minimum, make sure you stop at La Coca Falls and climb Yokahu Observation Tower, for breathtaking views from the top. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see a Koki frog and a Puerto Rican parrot while you’re here.

Tip: Be sure to bring a poncho because you never know when it’s going to rain. After all, this is a rainforest.

For lunch I recommend the many stalls in nearby Luquillo . These modest restaurants on Highway 3 are a great place to sample Puerto Rican favorites like arepas and bananas.

In Luquillo there is a natural water mountain slide called Las Pilas, where descend smooth rocky rivers that make for an exciting ride. It’s free as it’s only part of the local river, but you can pay $5 to park at a local’s house, where it’s separated from the parking area and provides easy access straight to the river. As always, beware of slippery rocks and talk to people first to find out where the easiest access to the top of the slides is.

Once you’re done, head over to Cieba (moving from the original Fajardo ferry terminal) which is a 25 minute drive from Las Paylaş. Here you will take the ferry to Isla de Vieques in 1 hour. It will only cost $2. Be aware that the two late ferries leave at 4:45 pm and 8:15 pm.

You can now book this ferry online with PorFerry, but as this is a third party service the cost will be slightly higher.

Once in Vieques, take a taxi to one of the many hotels nearby, such as El Blok Hotel and Malecon House.

How to get there: From the point of view of logistics you can either rent a car one way from San Juan (make sure to use our car rental coupon codes) for the day, or you can coordinate with the travel company that runs tours for half a day in El Yunque, and to discuss the landing at Fajardo.

Day 4 — Isla de Vieques. Puerto Rico

Isla de Vieques is a Caribbean island to the east of the main island that usually goes under the radar but is a treat for anyone who knows about it. This is an island that has eschewed major commercial developments, so you get a tropical paradise full of secluded beaches and wild horses that roam the countryside.

Spend the day lounging on the beach at your hotel or head to some of the beautiful beaches scattered all over the island. Blue Beach and Beach Caracas are easy to get to, but be sure to bring food, drinks and other beach equipment with you because there are no shops.

You are probably wondering why I didn’t include the Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo. The reason is that there is an even better bay here as it has been left mostly untouched and unpolluted. In the dim moonlight, you can kayak across a body of water, where every paddle stroke you make makes the water glow around you. It’s really unusual for this world. For this I would recommend booking in advance as the tours fill up quickly. A company like Black Beard Sports runs night tours to Vieques Bio (Mosquito) Bay. If you are in San Juan, you can also visit this bio bay with these tours.

Tip: For the best experience, visit Bio Bay on the dark night before the New Moon for one of the best glows.

If you’re close to Esperanza, end the night with drinks at Bananas and dinner at El Quenepo (be sure to book a table).

Day 5 — Culebra. Puerto Rico

If it was my decision, I would keep this place a secret, but you really need to visit Culebra Island . Think of it as an anti-tourist destination. If you thought Vieques was quiet, this is another island where you won’t find luxury hotels, tour buses, golf courses, casinos, fast food chains or rush hour traffic. Instead, you get long stretches of white sand beach and a sleepy and quaint town.

From Isla de Vieques, an early wake-up call will wake you up so you can take the 6am ferry back to Fajardo and then take the 9am ferry from Fajardo to Culebra . When you get here, check into your hotel.

With Flamenco Beach awarded by TripAdvisor in 2015, it really isn’t hard to figure out where you’ll end up spending the day. As your last full day, this will be your chance to do everything you didn’t do on the trip, or just a whole lot of nothing. Go snorkelling. Go diving. Sailing. Jet ski rental. Watch the sunset. Excellent day!

For nutritional advice, depending on where you are, visit Zacco’s Tacos, Dinghy Dock, or Vibra Verde.

Day 6 — Return to San Juan. Puerto Rico

Not really a full day, as most of you will want to fly home from Puerto Rico. Depending on your schedule, you will either have extra time to explore or focus on getting back to San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport .

As for the ferry, to get to Fajardo, board at 6am (weekdays only), 1pm or 5pm. Once you get to Fajardo to get to San Juan, you have the option to take a taxi (approximately $80) or rent a car again one way.

The week will be like a whirlwind, but when you get home, you will reflect and think how great the holiday was for you.

KNOW BEFORE YOU DRIVE Puerto Rico

Currency: USD

Ferry timetable: complete information about the ferry to Vieques or Culebra.

Cell phone service: If you have a US SIM card, it will work here.

Electrical outlet: standard North American plug.

Best time to travel : The peak travel period is from December to April and the low season is from May to November. June 1 to November 30 is also hurricane season. It’s safe to say that the low season is the best time to go in terms of crowds and prices.

Number confusion: Puerto Ricans use both miles and kilometers: distances are in kilometers, but speed limits are in miles. To further confuse, gas is sold in liters, not gallons.

AIRBNB OPTIONS IN PUERTO RICO

If you prefer to stay at Airbnb in Puerto Rico , there are many fantastic and very affordable options.

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