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Puerto Rico by car for 10 days

Updated: Jun 25

After traveling to the heart of the Balkans , tasting the famous Vietnamese pho, penetrating the mythical Egyptian tombs and discovering the secrets of Mayan culture , we put down our backpacks for a rather unknown destination: PUERTO RICO ! Described as THE country of reggaeton and salsa, that was all it took to seduce me.


✈️ We bought our plane tickets, two weeks before our departure, for an amount of €450 with Air France and went to the beauty island for 10 days in January 2023 . Before leaving, be aware that Puerto Rico is a destination that does not offer a multitude of tourist services, so if you do not book your accommodation, transport and activities a little in advance, you could quickly find yourself... with nothing! But, if we did it in two weeks, any of you can do it too.


When purchasing the tickets, we had two types of reactions from our loved ones: Puerto Rico but where is it? Or even Puerto Rico but for what? It is true that our personal knowledge of this country was also very limited but our motivations were relatively simple. We wanted: sun, seabed and beautiful beaches . Our expectations were far from what we found in this Caribbean gem. And for good reason, with more than 400km of coastline, the island of Puerto Rico has more than three hundred beaches where it is possible to explore exceptional marine fauna, go surfing and/or discover one of the famous bioluminescent bays of the world. But Puerto Rico is not just about its crystal clear waters... A true temple of music, this country saw the birth of the pillars of reggaeton like Bad Bunny, Luis Fonsi, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee or the essential Ricky Martin. You won't be able to drink a piña colada or a coquito without hearing their sweet voices in your ears, fan or not, you will end up loving it!


One of the many assets of Puerto Rico remains its green nature and its unique fauna: iguanas everywhere! Unfortunately, we saw more of these large beasts dead along the roadsides rather than alive along the beaches. Also, you will encounter mosquitoes , very voracious and tiny, be careful, they attack as soon as dusk goes down. sun, so don't forget to take an insecticide in your bag.


One of the particularities of this country also lies in this mix of cultures , colonized by Spain then became American territory in 1900, the island granted American nationality to Puerto Ricans in 1917. However, this country is still not recognized as a full state of the United States, its status is that of an Associated Free State , this specificity does not allow - among other things - the inhabitants of Puerto Rico to vote in national elections . This Commonwealth status incorporated English as the country's second official language, the first being Spanish. So don't be surprised if the shopkeepers address you in Spanish-Glish (mix of English and Spanish) and offer you " quieres un coffee" ?


So, let's take off on a very special journey and welcome everyone to the land of enchantment !



SAN JUAN: SPARKLING, FESTIVE AND COLORADA


🏙️ Old San Juan is not very big but it is very pleasant to walk around there. The colors of the houses give an air of Havana, no doubt, we are in Central America.


☕Enjoy a good cold coffee on Plaza Armas at Punchy's Café while enjoying the view of the Basilica of San Juan Bautista and the popular agitation. Come back in the evening for a caliente atmosphere , especially on weekends and you can attend a real show organized by dance schools or by the Puerto Ricans themselves.



🚏 We tried public transport on the first day, in vain, we still haven't managed to understand how locals can get an indication of timetables. Even they didn't know it! After waiting for about forty minutes, we walked about twenty kilometers from Old San Juan to Santuce! In the end, it is very easy to drive by car and park in the tourist area, but if you prefer to walk, take a detour via El paseo de los presidentes .


🏖️ From the first day, we had a nice overview and a nice surprise of the city center beaches. Condado and Escambron beaches should be added to your itinerary if you want to make a little splash before or after visiting the city center.


🦐 The must-see restaurant in San Juan is without any doubt the famous The Cannon Club . The atmosphere is warm thanks to a live piano concert, the decoration is very atypical and the dishes offered: EXQUISITE . We chose several starters to share (prices varying between $ 15 and $25) and we recommend the garlic shrimp, coconut chicken or even the succulent ceviche. Everything was really delicious, from the cocktail to the dessert. Well, it must also be said that this is the most expensive restaurant of our trip.


🎉 During the weekends, foreigners (in my opinion, 95% Americans) and Puerto Ricans meet at La Factoria to dance all night to Latin tunes. The place is huge and is divided into two floors, the ground floor for ordering food and drinks and the first floor for music. This place is 100% gay-friendly and everyone respects the interests of others, it's a shame to have to specify it but, it's really a comfortable environment to party 🏳️🌈


🏨We stayed 3 nights in San Juan, in two different accommodations: The first night was spent in a youth hostel at 1802 San Juan , it is a good hostel with rooms with 10 beds. The accommodation is far from the city center but we only paid €43 for two/night. For the last two nights, we wanted accommodation in the city center, we went to Denizens by Tripgogo and we paid €121 for two nights for two people. Clearly, this is one of the most unusual hotels I have seen in my life. Go there only for the location and for the confusing meeting with the owner of the place but don't look at the cleanliness or the state of the bathroom.



LIQUILLO: SO WILD AND DESERT


Located about 40 minutes from San Juan, the beautiful Liquillo beach stretches for around twenty kilometers. No doubt, here, as in many other places, you will have peace of mind! Choose a swim in the morning, there is no one there. We stopped at Liquillo on the road from San Juan to Fajardo, very practical, it makes for a very pleasant stopover. To eat, there are small kiosks or restaurants at the entrance to the beach. We would like to tell you that after dark, we are not 100% sure of the security of the place near the kiosks. In fact, we came across a group of young people wearing hoods in a car and the atmosphere seemed to cool down a bit. shortly around 11 p.m. Maybe we got it wrong!



FAJARDO AND CEIBA: DEPARTURE CITIES


CEIBA: Islands in sight my captain

This is the place where ferries depart for the Culebra and Vieques islands . You can buy tickets on this site , they are priced at $4 round trip. Rental cars cannot board the ferry, but you can leave them in the parking lot right next to the boat for a few dollars.


FAJARDO: Quiet village


We spent one night in a hostel and shared our room with three other people. The little house is original and the owner Ali will put you at ease from the first minute.



CULEBRA: IF PARADISE HAD A NAME


On this island of beauty, the only difficulty might be getting around. Indeed, there are very few cars and no public transport, here, the only way to get around is none other than one: golf cart. The rental price on site is exorbitant (around €100/day) so remember to book in advance, especially if you are on the island during the high season. For our part, we opted for hitchhiking and walking!


🥐 To enjoy good smoothies and hearty toast, stop by Culebra Coffee in the morning on Calle Pedro Marquez.



🏖️ Melones Beach : This is a very beautiful beach located about an hour's walk from the port. This beach is ideal for sunsets and exploring the seabed. But be careful, bring water shoes, there are lots of sea urchins and sharp corals.


🐢 Tamarindo Beach : Clearly, our most beautiful memory of Puerto Rico. Located an hour and a half on foot from the city center, it is absolutely worth visiting. A few meters from the seaside, we swam with enormous eagle rays, sharks and dozens of turtles . The seabed is exceptional. However, the beach is nothing extraordinary. Take your snorkelling equipment because renting equipment is rather expensive (around $40 per day).


🌊 Flamenco Beach : A twenty-minute walk from Tamarindo, you will find this beach stretching over dozens of kilometers. A small kiosk is located on the beach to buy food and something to taste good caipirinhas.



VIEQUES: COQUITO AND MOSQUITO


🏨 We stayed at The Vieques Guesthouse , the manager is adorable, the hotel is very well located, well maintained, flawless!


❤️Trade Winds Restaurant is the only restaurant found in Puerto Rico offering...coquito shooters . Normally served during Christmas periods, this sweet blend of rum and coconut cream is a real delight.


🌌 We came to Vieques mainly to observe one of the three bioluminescent bays in the world. Well, apparently there are more than three berries in the world. Second, choose your agency or tour carefully. We left with Traversias Islenas Tours Biobay Company and it was a real disaster, the organization, the departure time etc. But we were still able to observe this quite impressive phenomenon. Be sure to bring long clothes, powerful mosquito repellent (or even mosquito repellent coils) and prepare to paddle for long minutes in the middle of the night.



THE GREEN EL YUNQUE


🌴To visit the park, you will need to go through an agency or log in the day before your visit to the site recreation.gov at exactly eight in the morning. It's very simple but tickets go quickly. The ticket costs only $2 and the visit is definitely worth the detour.



🥾 Bring good shoes, water and try to arrive at the park in the morning to have time to take a complete tour of the ancient ruins.


PONCE: A BLESSED CHANCE


The town of Ponce is as colorful as the capital San Juan. Like everywhere in Puerto Rico, the people are welcoming and helpful when we find our way.


🌮 A true emblem of the city, these tacos are generous (even huge) and delicious. The manager will be delighted to receive your order in French. His goal ? Know how to take orders in all the languages of the world.


🏡 We booked an Airbnb for €75 per night, one of the cheapest nights in Puerto Rico (a real budget accommodation to plan for in your preparations.)



THE SURFER’S STARTER PACK: RINCON


A true paradise for surfers and divers , Rincon is a very touristy spot unlike the rest of the island, so book your accommodation as a priority.


🌄 The sunset at Kaplash is sublime, the place is ideal for a drink at the end of the day but the food leaves something to be desired.


🪸 La Reserva Marina de Tres Palmas lives up to its name, the seabed is very pretty and the fish are everywhere. But, in this area, the sea can be very rough, the corals are very numerous. Bring water shoes and be careful not to step on them so as not to kill these still well-preserved little coaux. The hour of diving costs $100 and departure is from the beach. At this price and for these conditions, we preferred to opt for snorkelling because the divers swim below the snorkelling swimmers.


🐟 De Bocas is a small restaurant located in downtown Rincon, their ceviche is to die for.


💜 Really fell in love with the Ocean State of Mind boutique offering very good quality items.



DORADO


Last stop in Dorado , located very close to San Juan, this little paradise is not so easy to access. The currents are very strong and the waves are giant, it is impossible to swim here, but you can always soak in small natural pools formed by the waves.



As you will have understood, Puerto Rico is an ideal destination for lovers of the ocean and marine animals but expensive for travelers on a budget. Indeed, the prices charged are high, especially in terms of accommodation.


Summary of essential equipment to obtain before leaving for Puerto Rico:


  • Mosquito repellent sprays and spirals

  • Water shoes

  • Mask and snorkel (fins possibly if you have space)

  • Driving license

  • Sunscreen 50+

  • Long, light clothing against mosquitoes


❤️ YOUR OPINION ❤️


Did you like our article? Don't hesitate to put a little red heart at the end of the article, it's always nice. Do you have questions or comments? Don't hesitate to leave us a comment, we will happily respond! Another trip planned? Don’t hesitate to check out our other travel itineraries!

 

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