Puerto Rico is one of those easy destinations to get to from the United States. If you’re in need of a weekend getaway (like what we did over Memorial Day), consider this island. Here is everything you need to know about Puerto Rico!
For those new around here or not following along on Instagram, Matt and I went to Puerto Rico for our dating anniversary. Here’s the story about how we met but we didn’t actually start dating until 6 months later. I love that this anniversary usually lands on a long weekend so we happily use it as an excuse to travel!
Getting to Puerto Rico.
We usually use Kayak or Google flights to search for flights (I’ve been getting that question a lot lately). We look for the cheapest airline except for Spirit or Frontier (after multiple bad experiences I won’t fly those airlines under any circumstances). They appear cheaper but they nickel and dime you along the way so you usually end up paying more for less space and delayed flights. Trust me!
We took a flight directly to Puerto Rico from Chicago O’Hare on United! I’m sure there are a lot more options if you’re in Florida or Atlanta than we had. It was surprisingly cheap for a 4-5 hour flight!
You do NOT need a passport to fly to Puerto Rico since it’s a US territory. Your Driver’s License will work just fine and there is no customs check on the way back!
Getting around Puerto Rico.
Once we got to Puerto Rico, we cabbed to our hotel. There is a cab line at the airport and they charge you based on where you’re going, how many people, and how many bags. It’s a formula which was comforting because whenever we travel internationally, there’s always the fear of being overcharged. No need to worry about that here. It’s very professional and fast. Our cab ride was under $20.
Outside of the airport, you always have the option to take a cab. There are flat fees depending on where you’re going. However, Uber also works and is often the best price. My advice is to check Uber first and then compare to taxi prices! Your cell phone should work with your normal service plan too which makes everything a lot easier.
If you’re staying in San Juan, you should be able to walk everywhere. Cars take way longer! It’s a very small mini island so unless you’re going outside for a meal or adventure, you shouldn’t need to cab or Uber!
Where to stay in Puerto Rico.
We stayed at the AC Hotel by Marriott which was a little outside of San Juan. It was affordable and had a pool which was something we knew we wanted. It is linked to their sister property, San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino, which is located on the beach. The sister property is a 7 minute walk from the AC Hotel and you are allowed to use the facilities at both hotels. We did one day at the pool and another day at the beach. The AC Hotel was a little quieter which we liked and much more affordable since it wasn’t a “resort”. Neither property is in San Juan so it’s a little bit of a hike but it worked out just fine and we knew we could trust the quality of the hotel.
When looking for hotels, here are 5 tips on how to pick a good hotel!
What to do in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is still recovering from hurricane season but it has surprisingly come really far. It’s about 70%-80% back to normal depending on who you ask. Here are some things to do.
Walk Old San Juan.
We did this twice because I couldn’t get enough of the old buildings. There are 2 different forts: San Cristobál and Castillo de San Felipe Del Morro. Del Morro seems to be everyone’s favorite because it’s much larger but we liked San Critobál a little better. You can walk between both on a sidewalk path and it’s along the water!
There are many old homes, statues, and things to see in San Juan. I think it’s best to just stumble upon the colorful walls and alleys. You could probably cover everything in one full day if you spend a lot of time at the forts. If you just observe the forts from the outside, you can see everything in half a day. If you want it to be a little less crowded, go in the morning!
We went on a jungle tour arranged by our hotel. We didn’t book in advance of getting to Puerto Rico but worked with the concierge once we were there. For the half day tour, it cost $65 per person. We saw a waterfall, learned about the history of the jungle, and went to a local fresh water pool/river to swim. Our guide was very knowledgeable but I don’t know that we could have done a full day of it. A half day was perfect for us! There are a lot of bats in the jungle and it rains a lot. That means, mosquitos are less frequent but you should still bring your bug repellent and an umbrella. It rains every day in the rainforest! This rainforest is about 40 minutes away from San Juan!
This is something we didn’t get a chance to do but heard amazing things. They just didn’t run on Sunday night and that was the only day we had left! Basically, it’s kayaking through the coast at night on a bioluminescence bay tour. We would definitely do this if we go back. Just don’t make a dinner reservation for that night because you leave at 4:30pm and don’t get back until much later!
Drive the island.
If you have a full day to wander, rent a car and drive around the island. Stop where you want to! I really wanted to see the salt flats but we didn’t have time. Next time we would do this. Since your phones work, so does Google Maps!
Beach or pool.
Spend a day at the beach or by the pool! This is my favorite way to enjoy the beautiful weather! Puerto Rico has tropical storms but they move through fast and they are warm so don’t worry if you see the forecast full of rain before you go. You will still most likely get some sun during your stay!
Where to eat in Puerto Rico.
We had a couple of amazing meals in Puerto Rico. Here were our favorites!
There are multiple locations in Puerto Rico but there happened to be one across the street from our hotel. We got an açaí bowl there all three mornings. They were so good we didn’t want to go anywhere else! Seriously, this small shop is a must try! We ate them outside on the patio of our hotel every day because it was so warm!
We also walked here from our hotel and it’s right on the beach. We were seated on the patio facing the ocean which was perfect since this was our anniversary dinner. It’s owned by an American but they have incorporated local dishes like mofongo (smashed plaintains made a variety of ways). I got the vegan mofongo! We also split a bottle of wine.
This was one spot everyone recommended. While neither of us were blown away by the food, it was pretty good. They had an extensive vegan friendly menu which was good but still nothing like what you can get in the states. However, I was grateful for options!
You can pick how many courses you want and the price depends on that. You get to pick each course so it’s kind of like a prefixe menu but also kind of not since there is a 3 course minimum.
Aside from the açaí bowls, this was my favorite meal. This restaurant is at the Condado Resort which was another place we were considering staying. However, they only had a pool and no beach and it was way more expensive so we didn’t stay there.
The restaurant was amazing though! They also do a prefixe menu where you can pick the number of courses and the dishes you want. They also let you order a la carte but don’t really advertise it. All of our dishes were really good and we left feeling so full! They even sent us home with some banana bread which was delicious! I highly recommend going!
You can also grab a cocktail at the patio bar before dinner. If you have a chance, do this!
Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? Is it on your list?