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How to Plan Your Vacation in Puerto Rico

So you’ve read the rest of my Puerto Rico series, and now your vacation instincts are chomping at the bit like never before to book a one-way to SJU. I completely understand. Writing this series has been such a pleasure that it’s got me ready to move to Puerto Rico! I think my first short-term lease will be in Esperanza, Vieques…

Now that this series is coming to an end, I will miss it so much. I have loved getting to share in-depth my travel experience in Puerto Rico in a way I haven’t yet done in posts about other destinations.

In many ways, Puerto Rico represents the start of something beautiful in my life, my travels, and right here on my blog. With this last Puerto Rico post (for now), I’m giving you all the tips to plan your vacation on the island. From must-see places, summarized, to how to get around and how much you should expect to spend, it’s all down below. Read on, friends!

Where to go on the island

I recommend spending a minimum of 5 days in San Juan, and giving Vieques and Culebra 3 days each. If you’re debating about whether or not to do the Bio Bay tour, DO IT. It was the highlight of our trip!

For the rest of the island, I’d say go to those hole-in-the-wall beaches like Gilligan’s Island. Hit the west coast as well as the south and east.

Definitely visit El Yunque as well. If you’re into ziplining like I am, there are lots of providers on the island. Some of them are even near El Yunque. That’s at the top of my list for next time!

For such a geographically small island, Puerto Rico has varying regional cultures and so much to discover in every square mile. While I only got to see San Juan, Vieques, Ceiba, and Dorado for this trip, I plan to go all around the island my next time there.

Best time to go

Even after all my research and my own personal experience on the island, I couldn’t really tell you a bad time of year to visit with regards to weather. My top piece of advice for that would be to see when plane tickets are the cheapest and book them! We went in early May and had gorgeous weather the whole time. Not too hot, not too cold!

One very important piece of info for timing is for the Bioluminescent Bay. To get the most out of your tour, book when there’s a new moon. I explain more about this in my post about how to see the Bio Bay, So, head on over there if you want more details on this specific part of an amazing time in Puerto Rico!

Getting around the island

This is one thing I wish I’d known before we left. I figured that since Uber was so affordable, we didn’t need to rent a car. I was wrong. Looking back, I so wish we had rented a car, and I will 100% be doing so next time. The main roads in Puerto Rico are safe and rental cars are very reasonable.

With all the Ubers we took, we could have saved money by renting a car, even if we didn’t use it every day! By the time you fairly tip all your drivers and call Ubers when there’s a lot of demand, those little charges here and there rack on up. Trust me, get your very own ride! You can explore more and save a few bucks.

Is Puerto Rico safe?

Safety was a big issue for me coming into my travels in Puerto Rico. I was still reeling from some less-than-safe travels from last year in a couple of different countries, and I needed this trip to restore my faith in humanity. Puerto Rico is hands-down the safest place I’ve ever been. And this is coming from a girl with a $600 camera on a tripod for most of the trip!

I can think of few places aside from this precious island that I’ve never worried about being robbed. I certainly can’t say the same about most of my travels through Europe and big cities in the U.S.! Locals are so genuinely friendly and eager to help travelers find their way around their beloved island.

You will leave Puerto Rico with new friends and an unforgettable experience, largely because you won’t have to worry about anything while you’re there.

Budgeting for Puerto Rico

This was the surprising part for me. Before I left, I ignorantly compared Puerto Rico to my past travels in the Caribbean and Latin America, assuming the pricing would be similar. It’s not!

We were charged a whopping $22 for a 10-minute ride in an airport taxi when Uber wouldn’t work at the airport departures. I was stunned.

Even the locals will tell you that Puerto Rico is a pretty expensive place to live and travel. While you can certainly get good deals on things like the ferry to and from Vieques, food costs similarly to my hometown of Nashville. It tastes much fresher, but the prices are relative to the States since the island is technically a U.S. territory.

You will spend more than you expect to! I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing for travelers to spend a little more. It contributes to local Puerto Ricans, but I also heard from locals that it’s a double-edged sword. Whatever opinion you may have on this and what you hear from locals, just go into it expecting prices comparable to U.S. cities for food, lodging, and taxis.

That’s it for this series! Wow, it feels so weird to write that. In the rest of my Puerto Rico posts, I talk about my trip highlights, how to see the Bio Bay, what to see in Old San Juan, where to stay, the coolest hotel ever, where to get amazing food, and how to reach Vieques island.

Click here to access my Puerto Rico packing list for 2 weeks in a carry-on!

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