Puerto Rico is the “Island of Enchantment” and for a good reason, not long ago I took a Puerto Rico road trip around the entire island with my mom. For many itching to leave the USA, it is a great escape with a diverse culture, and one of a kind natural wonders across the entire island of Puerto Rico. So, grab your sunscreen, beach towels, hiking shoes, and be prepared because this two-week itinerary of Puerto Rico will include a variety of outdoor activities, amazing beaches, and cultural experiences.
Of course, you can pick and choose what to do based on your time frame in Puerto Rico, but this is a comprehensive itinerary that will make sure you hit the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico.
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At first, many people may ask: How many days should I stay in Puerto Rico?
It depends while there are many amazing weekend trips you can take that mainly will cover a few days in Old San Juan with some beach days. I think a minimum of a week is needed to really get a feel for the island and explore some of the adrenaline, adventure, and outdoor aspects of the island as well as the culture.
If you only have three days or four days I would explore, Old San Juan, stay in Dorado Beach, and head to El Yunque national forest for a half day trip.
Getting to Puerto Rico
Well, the perfect thing about visiting Puerto Rico as an American is you do not need a passport. Puerto Rico is a US territory so all you need is your ID, and they even use the same currency so you won’t have to deal with exchange rates. Many airlines fly to Puerto Rico including Frontier, Southwest, Jetblue, and many more major airlines. Flying from the USA to San Juan International Airport is quite easy.
Another popular way to visit Puerto Rico is by Cruise Ship as well.
How long does it take to drive around the entire island of Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is small but mighty, the island is 90 miles long and 30 miles wide. While you could drive back and forth across the island in a day or around the whole island in about 8 hours. I would suggest savoring the experience, from the food to the sights. However, if you are like me and love to allow for time to make amazing stops on the side of the road thanks to awesome suggestions from the Roadtrippers app then you will want to stay longer.
Is it safe to drive around Puerto Rico?
When we were driving around the island I found it extremely safe, while some drivers were aggressive, and the roads in the mountains could be quite windy, over all I believe the experience is safe.
The car rental process was a bit of a pain, the car rental company wanted a copy of our entire policy which we were able to get to them last minute to show we had full coverage up to a certain amount. But otherwise driving was safe enough minus potholes in the road and some crazy driving maneuvers. The scenic drives made renting the car well worth it and you can decide for yourself if you want to drive around the island after reading this 2 week epic Puerto Rico Road trip. Puerto Rico has so much to offer you maybe surprised and extend your trip!
This Puerto Rico Road Trip Itinerary Covers:
- San Juan
- Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway
- ToroVerde Adventure Park in Orocovis, Puerto Rico
- Cabo Rojo
- Vieques or Culebra
- El Yunque
14 Day Itinerary for the Ultimate Puerto Rico Road Trip
While I spent two weeks roaming all around Puerto Rico, I would say you could see many of the main sights in a week as well. However, this is a comprehensive guide to Puerto Rico to make sure you hit up some of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, rainforests, and islands that make this place so special. Below is my 14 day guide and itinerary to the Ultimate Puerto Rico Road Trip.
San Juan (DAY 1-3)
Everyone who comes to Puerto Rico will spend at least some time exploring the historic and vibrant city of San Juan. Old San Juan is definitely a spot you can soak in the culture of Puerto Rico. There were many local spots on top of the touristy places to see in Old San Juan. San Juan doesn’t just have 1 fortress it has 2! Check out Castillo San Felipe del Morro and walk around the waterfront to Castillo de San Cristobal. Both of these are a part of the U.S. National Park System, so if you have a pass you can visit for free! Otherwise, it is $10 USD and gives you access to both fortresses.
Night out on town, you must stop at La Factoria, where Daddy Yankee filmed his famous Despacito music video. La Verguenza Viejo San Juan is perfect as well during the day or night to grab a bite and enjoy the views of the water and the colorful La Perla neighborhood below. If you want a light snack as you explore the streets of Old San Juan visit Deshistoria Birra and Empanadas. For a sit-down meal that is laid back and full of locals be sure to check out Deaverdura, when I went here there was a little local concert and it was a vibe.
Where to stay?
I stayed in the Condado Neighborhood as well as Old San Juan on two different occasions. If you want to be close to the beach Condado is your best bet. However, if you want to be in the center of all of the tourist destinations stay in Old San Juan.
Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway (Day 3)
After you are done exploring the unique history and culture of San Juan head outside of the city to start seeing what life outside of San Juan is like. The first stop of your road trip will be Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway. Route 184 is not your normal highway, this is one of the most well-known roads to eat on in Puerto Rico. This road is lined with dozens of roadside restaurants called lechoneras that are casual and often filled with people celebrating good food.
Lechoneras specialize in Lechon aka Pork. When I passed by some on the road people had huge speakers blasting music from their cars while they enjoyed food and drinks. Definitely was a scene for locals to hang out on the weekend with live music, dancing, and a pork lovers paradise. Whole pigs are often roasted for 8 hours, so I guess it’s’ worth the wait and there is plenty of entertainment to go around.
How to get there? It is actually only 45 minutes from Old San Juan, so if you don’t want to spend the night away from San Juan you can go there and to Toro Verde Adventure Park (below). Then stay in San Juan for another night or head on to Isabela.
Toro Verde Adventure Park, in Orocovis, Puerto Rico (Day 3)
Are you afraid of heights? Well, then Toro Verde Adventure Park maybe a test for you. However, I wanted to conquer my first zip line when I came to Puerto Rico. For the longest time, Puerto Rico was home to the longest and biggest zipline in the world, however, it is not the 2nd longest (the first is in Dubai). However, this one is still quite long at almost 2.5 km/1.55 Miles long and reaches speeds as fast as 95 mph (152.8 km/hr). I like to go big sometimes when I try something new. This was no different. My logic conquer El Monstruo and be able to ride on any zipline in the world without fear!
They also have a few smaller zip lines, but I highly suggest doing the main Monster zipline. It was one of the most adventurous experiences I had in Puerto Rico.
Arecibo- Cuevas del Indio or the more well-known Cueva Ventana
About an hour from Toro Verde in Arecibo is a natural geological beauty with historic significance- Cuevas del Indio. Not only can you get some amazing views of the arches and caves, but you can partially climb into one to see petroglyphs from the Taino Indians (one of the original Puerto Rican tribes). This cave and area is a gem and has been featured in films such as Treasure Island and Pirates of the Caribbean. The only entry fee was $5 USD and basically was us paying to park in someone’s lot while we checked out the caves and cliff area.
Maybe you have seen it on Instagram, but Cueva Ventana is a cave that looks onto a vast landscape above the Arecibo Valley. It is basically a window looking out over Puerto Rico, perfect for pictures, but a little out of the way.
However, if you visit Cueva Del Indio not far off is a beautiful beach for sunset and a dip in the water right next to the Arecibo Lighthouse and Park.
Isabela (Day 3 + 4)
As you continue to head west on the island of Puerto Rico, you will find that you will find yourself in a beach lovers paradise. Isabela is located in Northwest Puerto Rico and is known for its beautiful swimming and snorkeling beaches. Jobos beach is one of Puerto Rico’s most famous surf beaches. Another popular activity here is a tropical beach horse ride.
However, if you are in the mood to chase waterfalls 30 minutes from Isabela is Gozalandia Falls aka San Sebastian Waterfall. This is literally a paradise on earth located in the rainforest of Puerto Rico.
Aguadilla (Day 5 + 6 )
Aguadilla is perfect for the outdoor adventure lover and those that like to golf at Punta Borinquen Golf Club. Not only do they have epic surf beaches like Survival Beach that take a 30-minute hike to get to and are super remote, but they also have easily accessible beaches like Crash Boat Beach that offers great watersports, snorkeling, and is great for photo opportunities. I personally loved jumping off the dock that jutted into the sea. Out of the two beaches, Survival beach is the most picturesque and remote, but you need to plan for the tides to make sure you can get there and back without getting stranded! Hence the name survival beach I guess.
As you leave Aguadilla you will see some cool things on the side of the road as you drive, from an abandoned plane that was actually across from my Airbnb, and Cerro Cabrera Aguadilla that was actually an entire neighborhood that like La Perla has been made into an artistic masterpiece and is full of color.
Rincón (Day 7+ 8)
Known for its’ rocky coastline the west coast of Puerto Rico is full of Americans that escaped the mainland and headed to Rincon. Basically, Rincón reminds me of a California surf town. I was quite surprised to see a myriad of signs warning about Tsunamis, but after the earthquakes occurred just after I left I could see that could be a real threat. However, it is a peaceful escape from the normal tourism route.
Drive along the “legendary” Route 413, and feel the bohemian surfer vibes here. Also, another reason to come here other than the winter surf season, if, for the greatest humpback whale migration, you have ever seen. Rincón offers an active and adventure lifestyle for those visiting from around the world and some never leave. Want to go horseback riding or maybe diving? Then this is the spot for you!
Points of interest are the Punta Higuero Lighthouse and sea cliffs, The Beach House for sunset and dinner, and the 8 miles of coastline.
Where to stay in Rincón?
I had a lovely stay at Serenity Rincon my room overlooked the water and there was a nice outdoor common area that had a little hot tub to relax some more after a relaxing day at the beach.
Cabo Rojo (Day 9)
As you drive south along the west coast of Puerto Rico you will enter a nature preserve at the Southwest corner of Puerto Rico called Cabo Rojo. Before heading to Cabo Rojo Lighthouse and seeing the beautiful crescent-shaped beach and cliffs there, get some fresh conch stuffed mofongo at Bamboleio in Joyuda, Cabo Rojo.
There is an interesting effect you can see here at the prawn fisheries where the water will take on a pinkish hue (you may have seen Instagram pictures of it). However, be warned this is only during specific times. However, any time of year you come to Cabo Rojo the lighthouse and cliffs are a beautiful scene to be taken in. Also, there are some lovely walks/hikes in the Cabo Rojo Peninsula.
Finca De Girasoles En Guenica PR (Day 9)
One thing that amazes me is the variety of ecosystems and climates in Puerto Rico. When you leave Cabo Rojo Lighthouse you will drive through a dryer more arid climate heading east towards Ponce. On the way, you will also notice many farms and one, in particular, has one of the most beautiful fields of sunflowers I have ever seen! About one hour from the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse is the Finca De Girasoles in Guenica, Puerto Rico is definitely a must-stop for some beautiful photos.
Ponce (Day 9 + 10 )
Ponce is the second-largest city in Puerto Rico. The city is steeped in history and beautiful architecture, especially around the city’s main square Plaza Las Delicias. It is known as “Ciudad Señorial” aka the Majestic city because of the many neoclassical buildings across the city. The city was founded in 1692.
High on the hill overlooking Ponce the Castillo Serrallés sits, formerly the home of the Serrallés family, owners of the Don Q Rum distillery. Today you can take a beautiful guided tour of the home and learn how the family expanded their rum business. The tall cruceta next to the home was built by the Spanish during their rule in the 19th century and was used to warn the city below of pirate attacks.
For lunch head to La Guancha, a sweet seaside boardwalk with food kiosks, and is a place locals as well as tourists kick back and relax. Just outside of Ponce you also can visit coffee plantations/farms with a tour and is a great addition to any road trip. Top tip if you have time and love getting outdoors in nature is rent a private catamaran and head to Caja de Muertos’ Pelicano Beach ( a blue flag beach). SUP, kayaking, and snorkeling are favorite activities on this island.
Where to stay in Ponce?
Hilton Ponce Golf and Casino is my choice of hotel in Ponce, Puerto Rico because it has everything you could need after you visit the city.
Fajardo (Day 10 + 11)
While many people only stop in Fajardo to take the ferry to Vieques or Culebra, there are plenty of beaches, there are plenty of activities, and blue flag beaches around Fajardo. Many come to Fajardo for the inspiring views at the El Conquistador’s Golf Course, but the main attraction for me was the bioluminescent bay tours. This is the perfect option to see the Biobay if you are not going to take the ferry to one of the two islands off the coast. Also, if you are unable to paddle yourself, there is an option here to visit the Fajardo BioBay by electric boat.
Where to stay in Fajardo?
El Conquistador (reopening December 15, 2020, due to pandemic and renovations) is a mega golf resort located on a cliff. Due to damage from Hurricanes and the pandemic they are undergoing renovations and closed until December 15, 2020, except for the golf course. However, I was lucky enough to stay there and the luxurious pools overlook some of the best views in all of Puerto Rico.
There are multiple pools, a golf course, even a private island, and every room has a view. Hopefully, this resort will be restored to its’ original splendor.
Vieques or Culebra (Day 11, 12, 13)
From Fajardo, you have to choices of islands and there is no going wrong, both Vieques and Culebra are not without their own merits. They are both popular destinations. If you missed the bio bay tours in Fajardo you also can visit Mosquito Bay on Vieques, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. While Culebra is nice for a day trip, I would say there is more to do on Vieques and one or two nights would be good to explore the island. Vieques is 7 miles east of Puerto Rico. Vieques is also home to the largest natural wildlife in the Caribbean.
My favorite thing to do was to rent a golf cart for 24 hrs to explore the wildlife refuge and different beaches on the island. But watch out for the wild horses on the island that outnumber humans.
Where to stay on Vieques?
Fancy Fancy El Blok Waterfront Hotel
Bed and Breakfast- Finca Victoria Farm style bed and breakfast in the Hills.
Budget The Lazy Hostel Vieques
How to get to Vieques and Culebra?
Ferries run a couple of times per day between Fajardo and Vieques. The ferry costs around $2 USD each way and takes an hour and a half. Things run on island time, so remember things may leave later than expected. Also, they charge you for extra bags. Visitors can get bumped on a later boat if it is busy, since Vieques Residents get priority.
There is a lot to park your car in Fajardo that charges per 24 hours. The costs are reasonable as well.
Luquillo Beach, Luquillo Kiosks for Lunch ( Day 13 + 14)
A pleasant surprise was Luquillo Beach and the Luquillo food kiosks. At first, I was looking to see if I stay in San Juan again to venture off to see El Yunque National Forest. However, in the end, we found Casa Coral in Luquillo as the perfect place to stay to explore not only El Yunque, but also to explore another special corner of Puerto Rico.
Luquillo Kiosks offers over 60 food kiosks that range from hole in the wall food spots to more fine dining kiosks. Whether you want Puerto Rican food, Chinese, seafood, or you want Peruvian food there is definitely something for everyone. It is right before you turn off to go to El Yunque National Forest and is right off the ocean. My favorite Luquillo Kiosk is La Parilla, the “fine dining” food kiosk (kiosk #2).
Casa Coral was a hostel that offered shared and private rooms. I got a private room with my own bathroom and shower. It also had a TV with Roku and was perfect for relaxing in the air conditioning after a long and hot day. The indoor-outdoor kitchen and private beach area were beautiful during sunrise.
El Yunque National Forest (Day 14)
El Yunque is close to San Juan and very close to Luquillo only a 40-minute drive from both. The cost to enter El Yunque is $2 USD to reserve a time and you can book your ticket through Recreation.gov. A Puerto Rico road trip would not be complete without a stop to the national rainforest.
One of the highlights of my Puerto Rico road trip was hiking the trails, swimming in waterfalls, and experiencing rain in the El Yunque Rain Forest. Fun fact: El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the National forest system at 29000 acres it is one of the smallest in size, but one of the most diverse.
Want to get the best views of El Yunque head to one or two observation towers, Mount Britton Tower and Yokahú Tower both allow people to climb to the top. To get to the Mount Britton one it is about an hour and a half hike there and back to where you can leave your car. Basically, the entire park is a loop so you can drive your car around and get out where you want to hike or check out the waterfalls.
How to Rent A Car in Puerto Rico?
If you want to rent a car for you Puerto Rico road trip, a valid drivers license is needed. Car rentals go for about $20 USD per day depending on where you rent some sights say you can get it for as low as $14 USD.
What are your thoughts? Would you add anything to this Puerto Rico Road Trip Itinerary?
Check out why this is the best destination for solo travelers, and why I would head to San Juan or all of Puerto Rico solo any time of the year.