In Puerto Rico

1 week Itinerary for PR

WELCOME TO LA ISLA DEL ENCANTO…

El Yunque National Forest
Icacos Island

The mountains, the beaches, the food, the people. 

I mean, what is there not to love about Puerto Rico?

I guess that’s why it’s called “La Isla Del Encanto” (the island of charm).

I feel lucky to have visited PR twice in the last few years and still, I’m constantly trying to plan a trip back. The island truly has a little bit for everyone, whether you’re in to relaxing under a palm tree on a beach or hiking up a mountain in a lush tropical rainforest. 

Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean and therefore it is nice and tropical/warm year-round so any time a year is a great time to go. The first time I visited was in June and the second time was in September and the weather was pretty much the same both times I visited. I definitely would recommend at least a weeklong trip if you wanted to explore the most popular spots in the island, and longer than that if you want to see some of the less “touristy” places. I’ve done 4 days both times I’ve been to PR, and I always leave wanting more. Below I will combine both my trips to make up a weeklong trip that hits all the major sites.

First Timers 1 Week PR Itinerary:

DAY 1 – 

  • Explore “El Viejo San Juan” 
    • Castillo San Felipe del Morro
      • Pro tip: have “piraguas” on the street (helps with the heat)
  • La Fortaleza
  • Paseo de la Princesa
  • Eat dinner at Raices restaurant
    • There is usually a wait, as this place is very popular BUT WORTH IT.
      • Have the “Chuleta Kan-Kan” and some traditional “mofongo”.
  • La Factoria – famous cocktail bar/lounge. 
  • Anita Gelato (thank me later, see below)
  • Bars in Old San Juan: 
    • El Batey
    • The Mezzanine
    • Casa de Montecristo Puerto Rico – Cigar Bar
    • La Vergüenza Viejo San Juan
      • This is across the street from that infamous neighborhood in PR, La Perla. We walked across and took some photos in the very picturesque neighborhood and did not feel unsafe at all. So, although a lot of people will tell you not to wander in because it’s a bad neighborhood, our experience there was very pleasant. 

DAY 2 –

Flamenco Beach in Isla Culebra
  • Take a catamaran/boat tour out to one of the many islands off the coast of PR
    • Culebra (has the famous Flamenco Beach)
      • FAR, the boat ride to Culebra is about 1.5hrs there and another 1.5hrs back from the port in Fajardo. 
      • You stop to snorkel on a reef on the way
      • A habited island, you can also fly in and even stay here overnight
    • Icacos 
      • Closer (about 30min there and 30min back from Fajardo port)
      • Stop to snorkel on the way to the island
      • An uninhabited island so you can only eat/drink on boat. 
    • Vieques (haven’t visited this one personally) 
      • Far, also about 1.5hrs away from the port in Fajardo. 
      • A habited island

Note: The boats leave from a port in “Fajardo” which is on the east corner of the island. There are many tour companies that offer transport directly from your hotel/house in San Juan to Fajardo and back (here’s the company we used: Boat Tours, more on them below). The tours are usually from 8am-3pm so if you rent a car (we did on our 2nd trip to PR) then on the way back to San Juan you can stop in Luquillo to see the famous “chinchorros” of Puerto Rico.

  • Dinner and drinks in the “Chinchorros” (quiosks) on the beach in Luquillo 
    • La Parrilla (local fresh fried fish)
    • A Fuego Bar & Restaurant
    • Mojito Lab
  • Bioluminescent Bay Tour in Laguna Grande
    • Link for tour: Kayak the BioBay
    • This phenomenon is caused by single-cell marine plankton known as dinoflagellates that glow in a blue-green color when disturbed by your movement of the water. The glow percentage varies based on the water temperature, moon cycles (the darker the better), water currents, and other ecological factors. Due to pollution of the water the bioluminescent bright colors are not what they used to be but still a very cool 2-hour experience. 

DAY 3 – 

  • Casa Bacardi Tour 
    • Rum Factory: Founded in Cuba in 1862, moved to PR in 1909 and it is the largest rum distillery in the world. 
    • Do the mixology class, it’s so fun and as a plus you get to drink what you make! 
  • Go out to eat and bar hop around “La Placita” 
    • Asere Cubano Kitchen & Bar
    • La Alcapurria Quemá
    • Bar hop – they’re all great and so fun
    • The first time I went to PR I was with a group of girls, and we were out late night at La Placita and felt safe for what it’s worth. 
Asere Cubano Kitchen & Bar

DAY 4 – 

  • Get a large/yummy breakfast at Chocobar Cortés
  • El Yunque National Forest
  • La Coca Trail – harder but with lots of little creeks/streams to jump in and cool down in
  • Mount Britton Tower Trail – easier, leads you to a tower with a gorgeous viewpoint above the clouds
  • Juan Diego Falls – waterfall you can bathe in
  • Or just walk around and get lost (as long as you have your cell phone with service, haha) in this lush green paradise
  • Food nearby: 
    • La Estación
    • Sal y Pimienta by the Sea

El Yunque info: 

  1. Hiking is not the only challenge you’ll face in El Yunque. Driving up the mountains to the rainforest can be a challenge in and of itself so if you don’t feel comfortable driving a winding road up a mountain then I would suggest you get a tour that brings you here from San Juan directly. Keep in mind, El Yunque is about an hour away from San Juan. Both times I’ve been to PR we have rented a minivan and driven to El Yunque/Fajardo area ourselves but there are many tour options available as well. 
  2. Pack mosquito repellent (we found these on amazon: Mosquito Repellent Bracelet). 
  3. It’s a rainforest so expect to get wet while you’re there. Even if it does not rain, you’ll get wet if you want to enjoy any of the waterfalls or streams (a great way to escape the heat, haha). That being said, wear clothes that work for both a hike/water sports. We wore bathing suits under our workout tights/tops and sneakers with a good grip. 
  4. Take a backpack with lots of water to help with the heat as well as some energy bars. They sell water in El Yunque but usually only in the beginning of a trailhead and some trails go on for over an hour. 
  5. The famous Puerto Rican “coquis” are all over the rainforest (you’ll hear their distinct sound everywhere) and they’re actually the cutest frogs ever. 
Trail Map for El Yunque
(click to expand)

DAY 5 – 

  • Breakfast at Spiga or Don Ruiz in Viejo San Juan
  • Head west towards Arecibo
    • Cueva del Indio 
      • Taino Indians held tribal meetings here and made numerous carvings in the walls of these natural limestone caves. To get to the impressive location there is a bit of a hike. Once you get through the trail, you will get to see multiple rock formations, in one of these formations lies the cave. To get to the cave there is a long wooden ladder at about 25 feet from the surface. Inside the cave you will be able to admire over 80 indigenous petroglyphs from the Taino Indians. these artifacts seem to date all the way back from 1200 to 1500 A.D. See photos below. 
    • Cueva Ventana
      • A “window” overlooking the Rio Grande de Arecibo valley.
    • Food: Chinchorro EL CONGO (authentic and delicious)
“Los Siete Arcos” at Cueva del Indio

Full disclosure: this is the entrance to the inside of the “Cueva del Indio”, if rock climbing, small spaces, and bats are not your thing then skip this and don’t enter the cave. Don’t worry there’s still a lot to see outside the cave and you can even just hang out on the pristine untouched beaches here. 

Inside the cave ^
Comprate unas “Medallas” y relájate en la playa después de ver las cuevas

DAY 6 –

  • Coffee at Finca Cialitos
  • Brunch at Bistro Cafe (A MUST)
  • Hang out at the beach – Isla Verde Beach
    • Locals love to come to this beach, there are many food/drink options lining the boardwalk along the beach
    • There are also many famous chains of hotels lining this beach, but the actual beach area is public
  • Go to Viejo San Juan or La Placita for dinner and drinks

DAY 7 – 

  • If you have the time, I suggest you take a drive out to the west or southwest side of the island, I’ve never been but have heard great things:
    • Rincón
      • La Copa Roja for drinks
    • Cabo Rojo
      • On the way there is a town called Lajas, here you can find La Paraguera (bioluminescent bay) 
    • Ponce
    • Guavate – known for its “pork highway” as per Anthony Bourdain

Stays:

The first time I went to PR I stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb condo right on Isla Verde beach. 

The second time, I stayed in an equally gorgeous Airbnb in the heart of El Viejo San Juan (steps away from the mayor’s mansion). I will link both places below. The other places I’ve heard a lot about if you’re going in a smaller group and want a hotel setting instead are the Hotel San Juan, and the Condado Plaza Hilton. 

1. 2 bedroom/2 bath Ocean View Appt.

2. 8 guest Viejo San Juan Home

COVID-19 Tips:

If you do travel to PR during the COVID-19 pandemic know that the island is very strict with mask mandates/curfews/vaccination status. I just visited on September 2021 and upon arrival was asked to fill out a health declaration form with vaccine card included. We also were asked to show our vaccine cards in any indoor restaurant or bar before entering. The rules and mandates are ever changing as time passes and new variants emerge during the pandemic so be sure to check before you go. Note: even though PR is a territory of the U.S. it has its own rules during the pandemic, and we found them to be much stricter than in the states.

Link to current PR guidelines: Travel Safe PR

SeaVentures Boat Tours: SeaVentures Boat Tours

They deserved a whole section for themselves because that’s how much we enjoyed our time with them. 

The first time I went to PR I fell in love with the pristine beaches of Culebra Island. So, on my most recent trip to PR I wanted to go back with my group of friends and show them how beautiful the island is. I could not find the name of the company I used the first time around so after google searching I ended up on this company. The day before leaving on our scheduled tour to Culebra we got an email from the boat company stating that the winds would be too strong to travel to Culebra so they were offering either a refund or we could do the same activities of snorkeling/lunch/drinks but at Icacos Island instead. We took a leap of faith and agreed to going to this new island of Icacos. I am so happy we did, first of all the island is untouched beauty but second of all the crew was just so amazing. We ended up spending the day with this amazing crew of 3 that made our trip so much more memorable. Shoutout to Yan, Jay, and captain Ramon. Highly recommend them and this tour company! 

There’s so much to see and do in Puerto Rico, I can only cover the surface in this post. Other than the obvious beauty of the landscapes, the hospitality of the people of Puerto Rico is another reason we keep going back for more. Go and explore this beautiful island and discover all its “encanto” for yourself. 

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply