3 Day Puerto Rico Road Trip

This Puerto Rico road trip is just the most fun solo trip I’ve done yet. I’ve been to Puerto Rico twice actually. I absolutely love the island and think it just has some of the best things the Caribbean has to offer. From amazing beaches to interesting history to amazing food, Puerto Rico is one of my favorite if not favorite islands in the Caribbean (I’ve been to 7 different islands!). This last time I went I did two days driving around the island. It had me shocked because there is SO MUCH to do in Puerto Rico beyond San Juan. I was in love with the island and I’m definitely hooked on the island after this.

Plus, it’s probably the cheapest island in the Caribbean to go to right now. Seriously, I was shocked at how little things cost! You’ll see my break down below, but if you’re looking for a beachy vacation that won’t break the bank then this is it. What other Caribbean island can you visit on a $150 round trip flight and average hotel cost of $100 a night?! Pretty fabulous if you ask me!

For this itinerary, I’m combining two trips I have taken. One with a friend, the other on my own. I wanted to combine the best of these trips into one because honestly, if you have three full days, you can see a lot!

3 Day Puerto Rico Costs:

Flight: $150 round trip (not a typo – see how I get these prices here)

Hotel/AirBnB Per Night: $60, $120 (I tend to mix cheap AirBnBs with one nice night)

Total Hotel Costs: $240 ($120 a person)

Car Rental: $12 a day about $50 total ($25 a person)

Tours/Activities: $65

Food: $10 per meal so about $80

Total Costs: $440 a person, $575 solo

Notes: 

  • Puerto Rico is part of the US. US citizens do not need a passport to go.
  • The island does speak Spanish, but most people also speak English. I had no problems going around the whole island and not being a fluent Spanish speaker.
  • The airport is not located far from San Juan and Uber is readily available to and from the airport! Late night, you’ll probably have to take a cab though as few drivers are available.
  • Traffic around San Juan can be really (and I do mean that) bad during rush hour. Try to leave after 10 am or before 7.
  • Old San Juan is a protected part of Puerto Rico and you need special permits to drive. Be careful about getting here and wait to rent a car until after you’ve been to Old San Juan or you could have issues with parking/permits.

Night 1/Day 1: Walk the Streets of Old San Juan

Old San Juan is a seriously adorable part of Puerto Rico. Some people will try and tell you it’s boring, but honestly it’s the best place to start. Old San Juan has the most colorful and pretty streets! It’s the perfect introduction to Puerto Rico.

Arrive the evening before and settle in. You’ll want to take a taxi that is able to drive into Old San Juan on this day (there are driving restrictions because it is a historical area!) so it’s best to take a taxi from the airport. It will most likely cost about $20 – $30 depending on the location of the hotel, traffic, and number of people. Stay in Old San Juan this night at one of the boutique hotels within walking distance of all the restaurants and bars. I’d recommend Hotel Plaza Del Armas for it’s awesome location and pretty courtyard.

Make sure you find a flamingo show happening too in the evening on your first night or second! There are tons of restaurants that offer dinner and a show that make for a special experience. You’ll need to make a reservation in advance so make sure you look up where you want to go. It’s worth a reservation to check out one of these awesome shows.

Wake up the next day and spend your whole day in San Juan and create your own pace! I’ve created my own walking tour below with the things I’d recommend seeing/loved when I was there. It’s very walkable and easy to get around. Make sure you make lots of stops for street vendors serving ice cream and yummy snacks!

Start your walk with a visit to Castillo San Cristóbal. San Cristóbal is the largest and best preserved Spanish military fortification in the Americas. It was built to protect San Juan residents from land attacks from the east side and covers almost 27 acres of land. Walk through an S-shape tunnel, enter a dungeon, take a picture inside a sentry box. There’s an amazing panoramic view on the third floor that is just beautiful. It’s less visited which means it’s even more worth your time.

From here, keep walking until you get to El Morro and Castillo San Felipe Del Morro. This area is a really popular spot in Old San Juan. You’ll find a historic cemetery, large plazas, and lots of kites. El Morro is one of the first military defenses in the Americas, it brings you back in time and has an amazing view of the entrance to the San Juan bay. Cruise ships entering or leaving port are almost at the same height as the 6 level fort and it actually took over 250 years to build! It’s got amazing views, lots of iguanas, and fun history.

There is a set of stairs and a walkway that leads around the outside of the fort along the coast from the inside of the fort. This is a great way to walk around the outside of the fort. The walk takes about 20 minutes and you will see the San Juan gate which is the only original gate into the city that is left. Stop for a picture here and keep walking until you get to Paseo de Princessa. You’ll know your there because you’ll see a large fountains and steps.

The Paseo de Princessa starts with a large fountain and a promenade that is really pretty to walk. From there, you can start to walk the streets of San Juan and take in the colorful scenery! Famous streets include Calle del Sol and Calle San Sebastian. Some notable stops include the cathedral, awesome murals like the San Juan flag, tons of shopping, and the perfect spot for a pina colada. Puerto Rico is the home of the pina colada and two different spots claim to have the original. Make sure you check them out!

This evening, you can go pick up your car in Carolina by the airport or stay another night in San Juan if you have the budget! There are also lots of affordable AirBnBs in and around San Juan. Many are in Carolina and Conando right by the beach which could be a great way to spend the evening!

Night 2/Day 2: San Juan to Aguadilla to Rincon

San Juan to Carolina 15 minutes

On day two, it’s time to get out of the city! There are some incredible and secluded beaches in Puerto Rico that are just amazing. Time to get to some of those perfect spots!

Pick up a rental car from near the airport for just $12 a day (I used Budget Car Rentals through Southwest Air). Then head out west. As I mentioned, the traffic can be pretty bad. Leave after (or before if you want to get up early) rush hour by making a stop in Carolina for some great breakfast! There’s a whole strip of really cute restaurants that are all local. There’s tons of cool street art and a super relaxed feel. Once you’ve grabbed some food head out on an hour long drive to Cueva Ventana.

Carolina to Cueva Ventana 1 hour

Type Cueva Ventana into your GPS

Cueva Ventana is a section of 5 caves that you can only go to on a guided tour. It’s just about an hour from San Juan and really pretty easy to find. I was there over the weekend and walking up to get a ticket was easy. You can walk right up and buy a ticket. There is a large parking lot behind where there is space to park. Bring cash and buy some refreshing juice and stop for gas at the gas station right next door.

For $20 you are taken on a guided hike through the rainforest and two of the 5 caves for some awesome views and history. You’ll see amazing views, bats, shy plants, petroglyphs, and more. The whole experience takes about 2 hours and happens every half hour so it’s not difficult to find a time.

Cueva Ventana to Aguadilla 1 1/2 hours

Type Surfer Beach into your GPS

From here, drive another hour to Aguadilla to check out some awesome beaches. If you’ve got more time, the town of Aguadilla is really cute and I’ve heard it’s worth a stop! I only had time to check out some of the beaches – Surfer Beach and Survival Beach. I’m so glad I made this stop to an amazing local beach spot.

These two beaches are surfer beaches but offer awesome views. The large waves almost knocked my rental car keys into lost oblivion but I was able to rescue them thankfully. They are also a little off the beaten path which I loved. Getting there was easy because you can drive all the way to the beach where there is a large parking lot. Once parked, walk toward the trail and away from the road to get to Survival Beach.

 

When I was there I was almost alone on the beach except for a few surfers. This led to amazing views along the water. I found tons of turtle tracks and was able to walk from Surfer Beach to Survival Beach during low tide. If you visit during high tide then you’ll have to hike through the forest. There is a trail so you’re still able to make it there! The only issue is the mosquitos. Be prepared with bug spray so you don’t get bit!

Aguadilla to Rincon 30 minutes

Type Villa Cofresi (your hotel) into your GPS

After this beach stop, head to Rincon in time for sunset! I chose to stay at Villa Cofresi. This hotel is known for its perfect sunset view and private beach. I couldn’t recommend this hotel enough! You can read my full review here.

Day 3: Rincon and Cabo Rojo and Fijardo

This is the most driving you’ll do in a day on the trip. It’s going to be across the island and total about 6 hours. I chose to do it this way because the east side of the island is still recovering from the hurricane. When I was driving through, there were many spots that were still closed and the main city on the east side () is still rebuilding and so it made sense to visit what I could in one day. Each drive is pretty easy though and there was no traffic. It’s also broken up with some amazing stops.

Morning in Rincon

Type Steps Beach or GastroPark Rincon into your GPS

Rincon is another spot known for its surfing, but while I was there, the water was pretty calm and tons of people were swimming. I chose to relax on the beach and by the pool at my hotel. However, there’s a lot of beaches that are good for snorkeling that you can get to easily. Check out a list here for more info if you’re interested.

From the beach I headed to Gastropark Rincon. This cute area is full of awesome food trucks with choices for drinks and food. I chose to eat at Plantanas which served every dish with plantains. So good! They are open late here too so if you’re staying in Rincon, it’s the perfect spot late night.

Rincon to Cabo Rojo 2 hours

Type Las Salinas Cabo Rojo into your GPS

Cabo Rojo is an incredible area. I was shocked that it wasn’t crowded with tourists. Cabo Rojo is a cape that is located on the southwest side of Puerto Rico. It’s free to visit and has some really cool spots. I started off going to Las Salinas Cabo Rojo (that’s what you want to put into the GPS) and made a stop at the visitors center. Your GPS will tell you it’s closed and you’ll see signs for different stops. Keep driving until you see the visitors center and tower! There you can talk with the park services and get a great view from the tower.

After that, head to the pink salt flats. Yes PINK! They are so pretty and the best days to see the bring pink are on sunny days. I walked around and was able to see lots of birds. I was there basically alone which meant I had so much peace and quiet to myself. I loved it.

From here, keep driving to see the lighthouse and gorgeous coast. You’ll get to a parking lot and see a walkway that looks like a road. Take this road to get to the lighthouse. The lighthouse costs $3 to get inside and I am glad I didn’t skip it because I possibly wouldn’t have discovered the incredible coast that was there. There are tons of trails around the lighthouse. The coast is so pretty and you can walk along the coast down around to the beach and back to the car. The beach is a pretty quiet one and there are manatees that live there, although they tend to stay more inland! I was really wishing I had snorkel gear just in case though. After this, take the road back to your car. The whole thing took me about an hour to hike around plus a quick stop at the beach.

Cabo Rojo to Fijardo 3 hours

Type address given by your into your GPS

The next part of the drive is the longest. Try and start earlier than I did because it was dark for part of my drive but the lights were out along the highway which was a concern!

Fijardo is the location of one of five bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. There are only 3 spots in the whole world where you can experience a biobay. Tours will take you in to see the bay where you’ll get an incredible and unique experience. In the past ten years lots has been done to try and conserve the area because it is so unique.

I chose to go with GlassBottomPR because a glass bottom kayak with glowing creatures under me?! Sign me up! It was only $40 and they have two tour times available – 6:30 and 8 pm. Depending on your flight and how late you can stay up, you could do either. It lasts about two hours and as we kayaked, the bottom looked like the sky as it lit up with the tiny creatures. They can be difficult to see on nights where the moon is bright so try to go when the moon will not be too bright. Our guide was prepared though and had a tarp he put over our group which made it darker. Once he did this, you could see your whole hand light up. When I lifted my hand out it looked like it was sparkling. There’s no other way to describe it except incredible. Do not miss this spot!

Fijardo to San Juan 1 hour

Type San Juan International Airport into your GPS

Once the two hour tour ends, you’ll head back to San Juan. This may mean you get an Airbnb for another night or if you are lucky, have an evening flight like I did! I had a 10:30 pm flight so the 6:30 tour left me with just enough time.

If you know me, you know how I tend to cut it close. Don’t recommend this if you get anxious about making a flight! It may be better to try to stay one more night instead. This extra night would honestly not be a stress though because you’ve spent so little money on this trip! I had work though and needed to be back.

Want to stay longer and check out somewhere else?

  • Coronado has awesome beaches and great hotels that is close to the airport.
  • Bacardi has a giant rum distillery that’s tons of fun just 30 minutes outside San Juan.
  • There are museums and plenty of history in each city I named above. Spend some extra time there!
  • El Yunque National Forest is still recovering with parts closed (it was recommended I don’t go with such short time and wait until it’s been completely reopened) but is still beautiful with waterfalls and tours available.

Three days in Puerto Rico is just enough to see some of the major highlights the island has to offer. It’s such an incredible and beautiful place that I hope you’ll get to visit too!