For your next tropical vacation, consider visiting Puerto Rico. Flights from the East Coast are just a few hours long and are relatively inexpensive–you can find deals for under $300 roundtrip. Because Puerto Rico uses the American dollar, you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees. And according to Forbes magazine, tourism is a way to quickly inject money into the economy, as the island wasn’t receiving the federal assistance it needed from the damages of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
My group of friends and I flew into San Juan Luis Muñoz Airport on a Monday afternoon. Ubers aren’t available from the airport, however, you can taxi to your destination for a flat rate to avoid petty crime. The five of us hopped into a van with all of our belongings for $20.
We stayed in Isla Verde, which was recommended to us by multiple people who are from Puerto Rico. I highly recommend staying in this area because it’s centrally located: it’s 10 minutes from the airport and Old San Juan is just 15 minutes away. Ubers were also very cheap.
Our Airbnb was an oceanfront property in walking distance to a ton of shops and restaurants. We felt very safe the entire time with 24-hour security in the lobby. We ran into four other groups of Carolina students who had Airbnb’s in the same building. All the amenities were fantastic for an affordable price, and I would stay here again if I go back to Puerto Rico.
The weather was perfect the entire week–sunny and 85. There were also multiple food carts on the beach, where I grabbed a quick bite to eat for under a couple of bucks. There were also multiple beach bars and cafes where you could sit in the shade and eat if you wanted to. We could have occupied our time in Puerto Rico completely by just laying out on the beach all day.
Our favorite activity in Puerto Rico was the catamaran boat tour. We booked ours with Salty Dog Catamaran, which had great reviews on TripAdvisor. For just about $70 a person, you’ll get to go on an amazing 6-hour boat tour with unlimited drinks, lunch, snorkeling, and a visit to an island. All of the boat tours leave out of Fajardo, which is about an hour east from Isla Verde.
Another must-do is to check out Old San Juan, and we especially loved visiting before sunset. Old San Juan is picturesque laid out with cobblestone and colorful rows of homes. The famous pink umbrellas are located next to the governor’s mansion on Calle Fortaleza. You can walk around all of Old San Juan in a short amount of time. At night, the streets are well-lit with crowds of people moving from bar to bar.
Puerto Rico is a wonderful place and I am so glad I got the chance to visit for spring break!
Here is a list of my recommendations for must-do activities and restaurants.
- Raíces (Old San Juan): an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant! Try the mofongos, which is a signature Puerto Rican dish featuring plantains.
- Señor Paleta (Old San Juan): refreshing popsicle shop with a variety of flavors. A great treat after dinner!
- Panaderia Alturas (Fajardo): an amazing bakery featuring sweets, coffees, and deli meals. In close proximity to the ports for all of the catamaran tours.
- Salty Dog Catamaran: half-day long boat tour.
- Calle Fortaleza: street featuring the pink umbrellas.
- La Placita (San Juan): historical landmark known for its many bars and exciting nightlife.
- Calle San Sebastian (Old San Juan): a street located in downtown with fantastic bars.