Discover a few of Puerto Rico’s most underrated seashore cities and wonder spots with this simple 5-day itinerary.
In case you like highway journeys however hate driving, allow us to inform you about Puerto Rico: an island the place you possibly can stroll down a tropical beach, drive up into the mountains, trip again by the jungle, and find yourself in a desert—all in lower than an hour.
Many travel-hungry Individuals who flock to this US territory are content material to simply hit Old San Juan and that cocktail bar they noticed in a Luis Fonsi video. Only a few delve into the exceptional pure magnificence and wealthy tradition the remainder of the 100-mile-wide island provides.
Puerto Rico is a perfect highway journey vacation spot, the place no drive is longer than two or three hours. You possibly can embrace the island ethos of taking your candy time at each seashore bar and roadside fogón you want. That stated, hold your wits about you: Signage may be poor, and highway situations are hit and miss. There’ll be some backtracking, and loads of backroads driving, however this journey isn’t about getting from one level to a different—it’s about discovering a spot extra deeply than most with out having to spend hours behind the wheel.
Day 1: Arecibo and Islote
Dip in a turquoise swimming gap and sundown drinks over the water
About an hour west of the San Juan Airport on Route 2, you’ll attain Arecibo, dwelling to one of many most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico and a really perfect place to chill out after an extended flight. Float in turquoise water beneath towering limestone rocks at La Poza del Obispo Seashore, stroll the golden shore, and take a look at a number of the murals lining the seashore. You’ll additionally discover the Faro de Arecibo, a historic lighthouse from 1898 with day by day excursions and incredible views.
Prepared for a chilly one? Amble alongside coastal Route 681 in direction of the city of Islote. Numerous bars are set proper out over the ocean, supreme spots to observe the sundown with a beer. For dinner, get the mofongo at Carbon y Lena. The normal mashed plantain dish and a cocktail received’t set you again far more than $20.
There isn’t a glut of nice resorts in Arecibo, however if you happen to’re OK with backtracking half-hour, the Hyatt Place Manati is correct on Route 2 and makes a handy stopping place.
Day 2: Mayagüez and Cabo Rojo
Seashore hop alongside Puerto Rico’s west coast
Seize some pastelitos or empanadas at My Sweet Bakery in Arecibo, then leap again on Route 2 and wind across the island’s northwest nook. Non-obligatory: After about 1.5 hours, you possibly can pull off on the boho seashore city of Rincón if you would like to affix each American surfer with an unemployment test to burn. Do some scuba diving and meals truck hopping, perhaps even spot humpback whales between January and March. However if you wish to keep on with the sleeper hits, proceed on south.
Down Puerto Rico’s west coast, the primary sizable metropolis you’ll encounter is Mayagüez, a well-liked seashore getaway for locals. Make a lunch cease on the seashore at family-run Che Che Colé for contemporary spins on conventional Puerto Rican fare and a spectacular wine choice.
After lunch, it’s time to hit a number of the stellar seashores within the southwestern area of Cabo Rojo. Phrase to the sensible: on the weekend, Puerto Rican households flock to those spots, so if you happen to can, plan to go throughout the week.
Your first cease is Playa Buye, a slim strip of sand abutting a colourful trailer park and seashore bar. Seize a drink, then take a brief stroll previous the trailer park to the Punta Guaniquilla Nature Reserve. A ten-minute stroll by the protected wilderness brings you to the ruins of a Nineteenth-century sugar farm, and the trailhead to the mysterious limestone formations at Laguna Guaniquilla. Strolling right down to the nonetheless water and weird rocks is perhaps a 75-minute diversion, and the most effective picture spots on the entire island.
Fifteen-ish minutes from Buye is Combate Seashore, the place good white sand, vibrant timber, and countless seashore bars await. You received’t go mistaken with any of those spots, however for one of the best meal, order up some seafood at Annie’s Place, famend for having the freshest stuff in Cabo Rojo.
Name it an evening on the Combate Beach Resort, the place you’ll have quick access to the sand for a morning run (and even simpler entry to the bars if operating wasn’t a part of your trip plan).
Day 3: Bosque Estatal de Guánica and Ponce
Drive by the desert and into the center of espresso nation
Get an early begin and proceed east from Combate. It’s possible you’ll discover the panorama shifting from lush, tropical jungle to arid desert. That’s as a result of the winds blowing in from the southeast hold this a part of Puerto Rico perpetually dry; in whole, it solely will get about 29 inches of rain per 12 months.
The most effective place to immerse your self within the panorama is at Bosque Estatal de Guanica, or the Dry Forest of Guanica. Hike about an hour every method to a surprising lookout over the city, which provides you an excellent sense of the ecosystem with a pleasant payoff on the finish. Simply ensure to do it within the morning when it’s nonetheless cool, and convey twice as a lot water as you suppose you want.
Cease for lunch in Ponce, the most important metropolis in Puerto Rico outdoors the San Juan metro space. The outdated city right here is filled with the identical colonial structure you’ll discover in San Juan, minus the vacationers. It’s additionally dwelling to the south coast’s greatest brewery at Papa Rupe and recent Puerto Rican seafood at Restaurante Alexandra. You can too cease right here for the evening if you wish to take it further simple and discover city.
Now that you simply’ve seen the seashores and the desert, it’s time to ascend into the jungle. From Ponce, head north about two hours alongside Route 149 to the small mountain city of Ciales, a tropical mountain metropolis ripped from the opening of a espresso business. Puerto Rico’s capital of espresso boasts dozens of small plantations and a Museum of Coffee, the place you’ll style a number of the greatest stuff on the island and get just a little vitality enhance for the windy mountain drive forward.
There is not a lot in the way in which of resorts in Ciales, so your greatest guess for an evening cease is Caguas, about an hour away if you happen to backtrack by San Juan. However this highway journey is about discovery, so channel the spirit of journey and traverse the winding roads that run between Ciales and Caguas. You’ll journey by the center of the Puerto Rican mountains, traversing tiny cities and roadside fogóns filled with revitalizing lechón and pinchos. It provides an further hour to the journey, and also you’ll must honk at each blind flip so oncoming automobiles know you’re there.
Calm down after an extended day with a cocktail and some palms of blackjack on the Four Points Sheraton in Caguas, then hit the hay.
Day 4: Caguas, Luquillo, and Laguna Grande
Discover tropical lagoons, surf, and kayak the bioluminescent bay
Take a morning stroll by outdated city Caguas earlier than loading up and heading east to the Humacao Nature Reserve. This former sugar plantation was flooded in 1979, refilling the once-dredged wetlands and creating magical lagoons good for kayaking. The reserve is your likelihood to expertise the island’s coastal swamps by mountaineering, biking, or paddling by a number of the most peaceable terrain in Puerto Rico. After, cease into Patria Bar and Restaurant simply outdoors the reserve.Although chances are you’ll be reaching your empanada lifetime quota, it’s probably the most handy place to seize a good chunk.
Skirt the coast alongside Route 3 by Fajardo and onto Luquillo, dwelling to certainly one of Puerto Rico’s extra unheralded surf spots at La Pared. You possibly can simply rent a board or take a lesson, and although the waves aren’t fairly what they’re at Rincón, neither are the crowds. The meals stalls within the city sq. are additionally to not be missed; although the alternatives may be overwhelming, we’ll advocate El Terruno, which makes a killer rabbit dish.
Tomorrow you may discover the El Yunque rainforest, and if you happen to’re searching for an in a single day expertise inside the park, test into the Rainforest Inn. The boutique mattress and breakfast isn’t luxe, per se, however it provides a number of the most original lodging on the island.
After test in, test off a bucket listing expertise at Laguna Grande, certainly one of Puerto Rico’s famous bioluminescent bays. Based mostly in Fajardo, Pure Adventure provides nightly kayak journeys by the glowing waters alongside the bay. A tip: Plan your journey round a brand new moon so you’ve gotten minimal gentle interference.
Day 5: El Yunque to San Juan
Mountain climbing El Yunque, consuming from kiosks, and an ideal ending in San Juan
In case you simply have the morning to discover America’s solely tropical rainforest, hit the El Yunque Path, which takes you to the very best level within the park in simply 2.6 miles.
For a dose of tradition earlier than you head again to cosmopolitan San Juan, cease into Loíza the place the beachside stands in Los Piñones have a number of the greatest fried meals you’ll ever strive. If you should do some final minute memento procuring, Loíza’s conventional vejigante masks—with their sharp horns and howling faces—are a treasure that may each delight youngsters and terrify adults.
From right here it’s a brief drive into San Juan, relying on site visitors. The town has no scarcity of locations to remain, however if you’d like someplace close to the airport that’s nonetheless acquired Puerto Rican allure, spend an evening on the Fairmont Old San Juan. The mid-century resort was initially constructed for overnighting airplane crews, however was reimagined by legendary architect Morris Lapidus within the Nineteen Sixties. The result’s a foyer with ornate, wood-carved ceilings, a middle bar with a multi-layer tilted chandelier, and a cabaret with dwell Spanish music each evening.
You’ll additionally discover a sprawling lagoon pool deck and personal seashore entry, the proper place to proceed your feeling of isolation whereas nonetheless staying in San Juan. Within the morning, you’re lower than ten minutes from the San Juan Airport. And, sadly, a visit again to no matter not-as-enchanted place you name dwelling.