- How To Discover The Best Of Puerto Rico in 4 Days!
- Day 1: Explore Old San Juan
- Day 2: Experience El Yunque National Forest & Puerto Rico Biobay
- Day 3: Road Trip Around Puerto Rico
- Day 4: San Juan and Carolina
- Puerto Rico Travel Guide Wrap-Up
How To Discover The Best Of Puerto Rico in 4 Days!
Puerto Rico took me by surprise! With lush green mountains, colorful homes, tons of culture, and great food, I was ready to officially move in! Seriously peeps! We had the opportunity to explore Puerto Rico for 4 days, which was perfect to get a real feel of the island, but if you can squeeze in 1 or 2 more days, I would highly recommend it!
So are you ready to explore Puerto Rico?! Below find my detailed itinerary on how to spend 4 days (or more) in Puerto Rico including great places to eat, road trips, and some under-the-radar local gems to get you off the beaten path!
First time in Puerto Rico? Here are 15 things to know before visiting Puerto Rico.
Disclaimer: Please note some links are affiliate links which I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase.
Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria
Before moving forward, I am sure you are wondering about the condition of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. While they are still recovering from the storm, they are more than ready for tourists!
Even to the trained eye, it would be hard to tell the storm even happened, especially in Old San Juan. On top of that, we found the utmost hospitality during our entire trip, and by visiting, you are helping PR to re-grow from the once tragic storm!
Day 1: Explore Old San Juan
No trip to Puerto Rico is complete without visiting Old San Juan, especially with 4 days in your itinerary to spare! I highly recommend just getting lost down the colorful streets! Every corner is picturesque and in general Old San Juan has a ton of history!
Top places to see in Old San Juan
Fortaleza Street: So this is the famous street that had all the umbrellas, however, they were taken down during protests this year. The street is still beautiful nonetheless. Hopefully, they will be put back up!
El Morro Fort: One of the two forts that protected Old San Juan from Pirates and other intruders! A must-see!
Plaza Del Quinto Centenario: A cute plaza that was built in honor of Columbus’ first voyage, with a tall clay monument and a splash area (which comes in handy from the high humidity!) This is close to El Morro Fort!
The Black Puerto Rican Flag Mural: Found on an old abandoned building, the flag was painted black to show Puerto Rico is standing up to the fight and to take action upon the collapse of the educational system, healthcare workforce, and more! Address: Found on Calle De San Jose between Calle De Sol and Calle De Sebastian.
Save a Gato: Love cats? Find a haven at Save a Gato, where they take care of the stray cats of Old San Juan!
Pro Travel Tip: You will want to take a Uber into Old San Juan because parking is almost nonexistent and Old San Juan is extremely walkable!
You may also be interested in The Most Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico
Day 2: Experience El Yunque National Forest & Puerto Rico Biobay
El Yunque National Forest is actually the only tropical rainforest in the United States and it is absolutely beautiful! I would recommend getting there early and first checking out the area near Angelito trail.
While heading towards Angelito trail, there will be a pullover to your right-hand side right before the official pull off, opening to an oasis!
FYI: Make sure to get fuel for your car beforehand! Rookie mistake for us 🤦♀️. Also, note there is no cell service through the park. Map below!
Other top places to see in El Yunque are Yokahu Tower that offers panoramic views of the forest, La Coca Falls, and Juan Diego Creek (swimmable waterfall).
There are tons of hiking trails for beginners and advanced hikers within El Yunque. I would also recommend packing an umbrella, raincoat, or Pancho since it rains every day (thus rainforest) and at points, it was raining like crazy during our visit!
Natural Rock Slide
For an off the beaten path/local Puerto Rican experience, I would recommend checking out a natural rock waterslide which can be found in a very kind gentleman’s backyard.
For a small fee of $5USD, he lets you park in his yard and go through his backyard to what eventually leads to a hidden oasis of tiny waterfalls and a natural pool. We had an amazing time here and could have stayed all day. There were very few tourists among locals and everyone was very kind!
Please note, you are responsible for your own safety, so be cautious of slippery rocks, flash floods, etc. since this is not considered a regular tourist spot. Also, please clean up after yourself since it is still considered a part of locals’ backyards.
With only 5 Bioluminescent bays in the world, 3 of that 5 call Puerto Rico home. With 4 days (or even less) this would still make it to the top of my Puerto Rico list!
The 3 bio bays are Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Laguna Grande in tin Fajardo, and La Parguera in Lajas. We visited Laguna Grande, which is the most popular bay (likely because it is so close to San Juan).
So you might be asking, what exactly is a bio bay? The bio bays have whats called flagellates, tiny micro-organisms that cause the bay to light up light blue!
While it is pretty spectacular to see in person, please note, the bay does not light up anywhere close to what you see in photos. To have a better opportunity to see them, it is best to go when it is closer to a new moon, making the sky darker. The more light pollution, the harder they are to see.
Some other key notes I would mention is that you are kayaking at night and when I say night, I mean pitch blackness through mangroves. It was kind of creepy but also pretty cool!
Oh and be prepared to be completely soaking wet from the kayak paddles dripping down on you!
Lastly, it is near impossible to capture the lights on a camera, unless it is a DSLR, which is why I have no pictures for this one. We did this with Kayaking Puerto Rico and really enjoyed our time!
Day 3: Road Trip Around Puerto Rico
On day 3 of our Puerto Rico itinerary, we decided to take a road trip around the perimeter of Puerto Rico! While this can easily be done with 4 days in Puerto Rico, if you have an extra day or two, I would suggest staying on the west coast (Rincon) a day or two. This was probably one of our favorite days because we got to see so much of the island!
We started our road trip heading south from San Juan with our first stop in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The drive is incredibly scenic with large mountain ranges! If you have time, Ponce has tons of history and nice beaches nearby. Some quick things to see in Ponce are:
Villaronga House: Classical Revival-style mansion in Ponce that was acquired and restored by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and now operates as the Museo de la Arquitectura Ponceña.
Address: 106 Calle Reina Isabel, Ponce, 00730, Puerto Rico
Parque de Bombas: A rad firehouse that is anything but ordinary and is known as one of Puerto Rico’s most notable landmarks!
Address: Plaza las Delicias, Ponce, 00731, Puerto Rico
Ponce Cathedral: A historic Cathedral built-in 1835 located right in the middle of the town square, Plaza Las Delicias.
Address: Ponce, 00733, Puerto Rico
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Cabo Rojo was our first stop on the west side of Puerto Rico. We specifically came here to see the pink salt flats known as Salinas de Cabo Rojo. This side of the island was especially hot and dry, but yet still incredibly humid if that even makes sense lol! Make sure to bring your water.
Salinas de Cabo Rojo
When arriving, just pull off to the side of the road and you can basically just walk right into an open gate entrance. We noticed tons of locals biking around. While there are no signs, PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE WATER, which could negatively affect the environment.
Believe it or not, these salt flatlands are home to a large population of over 40k birds that come to migrate in the winter. Overall, the salt flats are incredibly beautiful to see in person!
Address: PR-301, Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622, Puerto Rico
Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo
Faro Los Morrillos is not too far from the salt flats and is where one of the historic lighthouses of Puerto Rico resides! In this general area, you will see small cliff views looking out to the turquoise water! While we did not walk all the way up to the lighthouse, the grounds, in general, are quite unique with cacti growing!
Address: PR-301 Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622 Puerto Rico
Rincon, Puerto Rico
From Cabo Rojo, head north to Rincon! If I could do it all over again, part of my 4 days would have been spent in Rincon, Puerto Rico, since we just really loved the vibe here. We found great eats, a cute town, and nice beaches!
We came here to check out Steps Beach which is a National Reserve, meaning the sea and coral are protected. Unfortunately, we learned that around every day at 2-4 PM it rains/thunderstorms. It is a beach that locals told us it is not to miss and has amazing snorkeling. My suggestion, GET HERE EARLY!
We also ate on Sandy beach, a little more north, which is a really unique beach full of palm trees and tons of restaurants overlooking the water! This side of the island is also known for surfing!
Steps Beach Address: PR-413 Rincon Puerto Rico 00677, Rincón 00602, Puerto Rico
Sandy Beach Address: Carretera 413 Ramal Km 4.4, Rincon, Rincón 00677, Puerto Rico – This entrance is by Tamboo.
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
After many recommendations, we headed to Aguadilla’s Crash Boat beach which is a local hot spot! Upon arrival, the music was bumping, sweet smells of food filled the air, and even though it was slightly raining, everyone was partying!
Food stands line the beach and boats, jet skis, and giant floats anchored in with boats battling each other of who can play music louder!
If you want to get an authentic Puerto Rican experience, I would head here! Full Disclosure, we did come on a Saturday, which possibly equaled a bigger party =)
Address: PR-458, Aguadilla Pueblo, Aguadilla 00603, Puerto Rico
Playa Peña Blanca (Wishing Wells)
A local recommended us to check out Wishing Wells beach, which is a small little cove found driving through a local neighborhood. Iguanas crawled on the small cliff overlooking crystal clear water. This is definitely a little gem beach in Puerto Rico!
It is about a 2 hr drive back to San Juan, so if you do not feel comfortable driving at night, you might want to take that into consideration. This was our last stop on our road trip. We left this location around 6:30 pm.
These coordinates should bring you there, but if you google map it, it should work since that is how we got there. 18°28’19.9″N 67°10’06.7″W
Day 4: San Juan and Carolina
On our last day, we wanted to keep it more local to our Airbnb and explore more of Old San Juan and do a Bacardi tour. We checked out Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a citadel built between the 16th and 18th centuries.
This fort was used to help protect the borders from incoming ships and Pirates. There is tons of history within the two forts, so if you have time, it is definitely worth checking out!
Casa de Bacardi
We scheduled a historical tour on Bacardi’s website and it was so fun (btw am not even a big drinker!)This is actually the largest rum distillery in the world right in Puerto Rico!
We learned tons about making rum, which was way more interesting than I would have thought, and Baradi is still a family-owned business! WIN! The tour was about 45 minutes so it’s not overwhelming at all and it was a great way to spend our 4th day in Puerto Rico before hitting the beach!
Address: PR-165, Cataño, 00949, Puerto Rico
Carolina, Isla Verde
Who doesn’t want to enjoy more beautiful Puerto Rican beaches? Head to the beach in Isla Verde, Carolina! They are known to have beautiful beaches which I can attest to, and it is very close to Old San Juan!
I have been told by many locals that La Placita is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico to get that cultural vibe of how Puerto Ricans like to live on the weekends! It is best to go on a Friday or Saturday night and basically La Placita is a market during the day and closes down into a huge party at night.
There is tons of music, food, and clubs all outside. You will see tons of locals coming here to enjoy their weekend and let off some steam. The party really gets started at around 11:30 pm so get your sala shoes ready!
Check out what’s in my Camera bag!
Best food Places to Try in Puerto Rico
What would a Puerto Rico guide be without listing some great food options! Below are some of our favorite places to eat in Puerto Rico!
Tamboo: This was our best meal while in Puerto Rico! This was a recommendation from a Local and they did not steer us wrong! Tamboo is part of a hotel overlooking the beach in Rincon. I had the vegetable tower and fish tacos. It was DELISH!
Señor Paleta: A great place to go and beat the heat in Old San Juan for the most delicious fruit popsicles! Not to mention, they are pretty instragramable =)
Waffle-era Tea Room alias La Waflera: This was such a gem find right in Old San Juan! I happen to love waffles and this is waffle heaven! I got a poached egg on top of my waffle with cheese, and they had plenty of delicious dessert sounding waffles too!
Caficultura: Another great breakfast or brunch spot in Old San Juan! I had banana rum pancakes that were amazing! Also, the surrounding streets are super cute and totally photo-worthy!
Hijole – Cocina Mexicana (Isla Verde) We stayed in Carolina, just outside San Juan, and really enjoyed HiJole for dinners! The quesadillas were so good!
Getting to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a tiny island located in the Caribbean Sea nestled between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands. The best way to get to Puerto Rico is by plane, and I would highly recommend checking Skyscanner to find the best deal! Skyscanner is always my go-to.
Puerto Rico is also the perfect trip for anyone looking for authentic Caribbean vibes from the USA. In general, most major US airports fly direct to San Juan and you won’t even need a passport, since PR is a US Territory!
Additionally, make sure to check Puerto Rico travel/health guidelines here since travel requirements have been changing rapidly.
FYI: UPDATE: I recently been made aware that Uber is now allowed to pick up at the airport. If you are unable to get an Uber, there are still taxi’s.
How to Explore Puerto Rico
The best way to get around Puerto Rico is by renting a Car. While uber is readily available, to really discover Puerto Rico this is the best way! I would recommend getting insurance from the rental company since their roads are rough and have tons of potholes (we lost a hubcap lol).
Pro Puerto Rico Travel Tip: Once arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), you will need to get your rental car. Instead of using an airport rental location, we rented our car with the Enterprise location outside of the airport in Carolina.
By using the rental car location outside the airport, we actually saved $100’s. We just took a cab to the rental car location and wala!
Where to Stay in Puerto Rico
We chose to stay in an Airbnb located in Carolina (right next to San Juan and the airport) The area is very walkable and has nice beaches!
Carolina (Care-o-lean-a) is located outside of San Juan. The area has major hotels, lots of food, shopping, and considered to have better beaches than San Juan. Here is my guide on the Best Airbnbs in Puerto Rico, here!
Other great areas to stay in Puerto Rico is San Juan, Old San Juan, Rincon, and Ponce.
If you prefer the comforts of a hotel, below are very highly recommended hotels around the San Juan area.
Caribe Hilton (High-end)
Caribe Hilton just recently reopened after renovating from Hurricane Maria. Their property includes a private beachfront on 17 acres of tropical gardens. Its unique location is perfect for beach lovers! Check prices here!
Hotel El Convento (Mid-High)
Known as one of the most Instagramable hotels, Hotel El Convento is located right in Old San Juan. Here you are within walking distance to everything in the Old City and 15 minutes from the airport. Check prices here!
The Condado Plaza Hilton (Moderate)
The Condado overlooks both the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean with 4 onsite swimming pools. Considered a high-end 4 Star hotel. Check prices here!
The Dreamcatcher ( Low Moderate)
The Dreamcature is San Juan’s only vegetarian hotel. This is the perfect place for someone looking for a unique boutique hotel stay that puts a lot of thought and care into the environment and their guests! Check prices here!
Puerto Rico Travel Guide Wrap-Up
That wraps up some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico in 4 days! With more time, you can move at a slower pace or see some of the islands such as Culebra or Vieques Island. Be sure to also check out the Most Instagrammable Places in Puerto Rico here!
For additional tours and activities for Puerto Rico, check Get Your Guide, which offers a range of different experiences!
Puerto Rico Outfit Inspo