Nathan’s Puerto Rico Guidebook

Nathan
Nathan’s Puerto Rico Guidebook

Sightseeing

This section features some of our favorite stops around the island.
El Yunque National Park is the only rain forest in the US National Park system. My Rio Grande rental home is located very close to the entrance to the park. You do need a reservation to drive all the way through the park. Be sure to plan ahead as space is limited. Go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/elyunque for more details. It can be sold out for several weeks in advance. There are several places to stop along the drive. Many great photo ops, hikes, and rivers you can stop and take a dip. El Yunque is about 45 minutes from San Juan.
395 locals recommend
El Yunque
395 locals recommend
El Yunque National Park is the only rain forest in the US National Park system. My Rio Grande rental home is located very close to the entrance to the park. You do need a reservation to drive all the way through the park. Be sure to plan ahead as space is limited. Go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/elyunque for more details. It can be sold out for several weeks in advance. There are several places to stop along the drive. Many great photo ops, hikes, and rivers you can stop and take a dip. El Yunque is about 45 minutes from San Juan.
If you enjoy snorkeling and sailing, I highly recommend booking a day trip to Icacos Island, a small uninhabited island off the coast of Fajardo. A fun fact about the tour, the location of the reef where you can snorkel is the location where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. There are several companies that offer sailing trips to Icacos, but I have had the best experience with Travelers. Book directly with them at https://www.snorkelandbeachtour.com/ The marina is about 30 minutes from the Rio Grande house, and just over an hour from San Juan.
241 locals recommend
Cayo Icacos
241 locals recommend
If you enjoy snorkeling and sailing, I highly recommend booking a day trip to Icacos Island, a small uninhabited island off the coast of Fajardo. A fun fact about the tour, the location of the reef where you can snorkel is the location where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. There are several companies that offer sailing trips to Icacos, but I have had the best experience with Travelers. Book directly with them at https://www.snorkelandbeachtour.com/ The marina is about 30 minutes from the Rio Grande house, and just over an hour from San Juan.
Plan at least a day to explore Old San Juan and El Morro. Be sure to wear comfy walking shoes as you will be on your feet all day. The fort is massive and there are so many areas to see, both inside and out. El Morro & Old San Juan is about 45 minutes from the Rio Grande house.
492 locals recommend
El Morro
Calle Beneficencia
492 locals recommend
Plan at least a day to explore Old San Juan and El Morro. Be sure to wear comfy walking shoes as you will be on your feet all day. The fort is massive and there are so many areas to see, both inside and out. El Morro & Old San Juan is about 45 minutes from the Rio Grande house.
I would recommend planning an overnight stay on Vieques to get the most out of the island. There are many different beaches to see as well as other historic spots. To get the most out of the island, I would suggest renting a car or a golf cart to get around. The Ferry to Vieques leaves from Ceiba, which is about 40 minutes from the Rio Grande rental house, and about 1 hour 10 minutes from San Juan. It is very inexpensive to take the ferry, but plan ahead and book your tickets early to make sure you get a spot. https://www.puertoricoferry.com/en/routes-schedules/ceiba-vieques/
293 locals recommend
Vieques
293 locals recommend
I would recommend planning an overnight stay on Vieques to get the most out of the island. There are many different beaches to see as well as other historic spots. To get the most out of the island, I would suggest renting a car or a golf cart to get around. The Ferry to Vieques leaves from Ceiba, which is about 40 minutes from the Rio Grande rental house, and about 1 hour 10 minutes from San Juan. It is very inexpensive to take the ferry, but plan ahead and book your tickets early to make sure you get a spot. https://www.puertoricoferry.com/en/routes-schedules/ceiba-vieques/
This is a beautiful location offering stunning views and instagram moments. Do wear comfortable shoes or even hiking shoes/boots. Some of the limestone you will be walking on has very sharp edges, and be very careful of some of the holes that drop down into the caves below. It is not a good idea to be looking at your phone while walking here! This attraction is just outside of Arecibo, which is about 2 hours from the Rio Grande rental home and just over 1 hour outside of San Juan. Bring cash for the entry fee (I believe its $10 per person).
204 locals recommend
Cueva del Indio
204 locals recommend
This is a beautiful location offering stunning views and instagram moments. Do wear comfortable shoes or even hiking shoes/boots. Some of the limestone you will be walking on has very sharp edges, and be very careful of some of the holes that drop down into the caves below. It is not a good idea to be looking at your phone while walking here! This attraction is just outside of Arecibo, which is about 2 hours from the Rio Grande rental home and just over 1 hour outside of San Juan. Bring cash for the entry fee (I believe its $10 per person).
This is a quick stop if your driving through the northwest part of the island (about 3 hours from the Rio Grande rental home, and 2 hours from of San Juan). It is the remnants of an old train tunnel dating back to when Puerto Rico had a train the traveled around the entire coast of the island.
130 locals recommend
Guajataca Tunnel
Avenida Noel Estrada
130 locals recommend
This is a quick stop if your driving through the northwest part of the island (about 3 hours from the Rio Grande rental home, and 2 hours from of San Juan). It is the remnants of an old train tunnel dating back to when Puerto Rico had a train the traveled around the entire coast of the island.
You could spend a day at this location. There are secluded beaches at the bottom of the trail, and the hike up to the lighthouse is long, but enjoyable. There is a paved road you can walk along or a path through nature. The views are wonderful at the top near the lighthouse, but if you have a fear of heights, stay away from the edge! This is most southwestern point of the island, and is around 3 hours from the Rio Grande rental house, and about 3 hours from San Juan.
108 locals recommend
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse
108 locals recommend
You could spend a day at this location. There are secluded beaches at the bottom of the trail, and the hike up to the lighthouse is long, but enjoyable. There is a paved road you can walk along or a path through nature. The views are wonderful at the top near the lighthouse, but if you have a fear of heights, stay away from the edge! This is most southwestern point of the island, and is around 3 hours from the Rio Grande rental house, and about 3 hours from San Juan.
This is a fun day trip if you want to walk around, shop local artisans, and enjoy good food and drink. There is a boardwalk along the ocean that can be filled with people on the weekends. Traffic getting into town can be slow on busy days, but there many parking lots near the Malecon. Parking is usually around $5 cash. The Malecon is about 50 minutes from the Rio Grande house, and an hour and 15 minutes from San Juan.
58 locals recommend
Malecon de Naguabo
58 locals recommend
This is a fun day trip if you want to walk around, shop local artisans, and enjoy good food and drink. There is a boardwalk along the ocean that can be filled with people on the weekends. Traffic getting into town can be slow on busy days, but there many parking lots near the Malecon. Parking is usually around $5 cash. The Malecon is about 50 minutes from the Rio Grande house, and an hour and 15 minutes from San Juan.

Neighborhoods

Beautiful beaches near San Juan, but mainly known for the food and drink! Stop for mojitos or piña coladas and enjoy alcapurrias, bacalaitos and pastelillos. This area is very busy on the weekends so plan accordingly. Piñones is located to the east of San Juan, and its a 20-40 minute drive from the Rio Grande house.
287 locals recommend
Campamento Piñones
287 locals recommend
Beautiful beaches near San Juan, but mainly known for the food and drink! Stop for mojitos or piña coladas and enjoy alcapurrias, bacalaitos and pastelillos. This area is very busy on the weekends so plan accordingly. Piñones is located to the east of San Juan, and its a 20-40 minute drive from the Rio Grande house.

City/town information

There are several nice tourist attractions in Ponce. I would recommend visiting Castillo Serrallés, Cruceta El Vigía, and the Japanese gardens. They are all perched above the city offering amazing views. You can purchase passes that include parking and entry to all three attractions. Also make a stop to Plaza Muñoz Rivera, the heart of Ponce. You will find Parque de Bombas and many great restaurants like Rincon Argentina (amazing steak and seafood) and King's Cream (best ice cream in Puerto Rico!) Ponce is a 2-3 hour drive from the Rio Grande house (depending on which route you choose) and its about 90 minutes from San Juan.
87 locals recommend
Ponce
87 locals recommend
There are several nice tourist attractions in Ponce. I would recommend visiting Castillo Serrallés, Cruceta El Vigía, and the Japanese gardens. They are all perched above the city offering amazing views. You can purchase passes that include parking and entry to all three attractions. Also make a stop to Plaza Muñoz Rivera, the heart of Ponce. You will find Parque de Bombas and many great restaurants like Rincon Argentina (amazing steak and seafood) and King's Cream (best ice cream in Puerto Rico!) Ponce is a 2-3 hour drive from the Rio Grande house (depending on which route you choose) and its about 90 minutes from San Juan.
Luquillo is known for its beaches and the kiosks. It is also only a 10 minute drive from the Rio Grande rental house. The kiosks are a long strip of restaurants, bars and shops where you can find just about anything to eat. Its usually very busy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but that is also when most of the kiosks are open for business. Our favorite is Terruño which offers great drinks, and delicious seafood and traditional Puerto Rican food. Another favorite Luquillo restaurant is Brass Cactus. It is located in the town of Luquillo and they are known for their steaks and margaritas. Luquillo is about 45 minutes from San Juan.
159 locals recommend
Luquillo
159 locals recommend
Luquillo is known for its beaches and the kiosks. It is also only a 10 minute drive from the Rio Grande rental house. The kiosks are a long strip of restaurants, bars and shops where you can find just about anything to eat. Its usually very busy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but that is also when most of the kiosks are open for business. Our favorite is Terruño which offers great drinks, and delicious seafood and traditional Puerto Rican food. Another favorite Luquillo restaurant is Brass Cactus. It is located in the town of Luquillo and they are known for their steaks and margaritas. Luquillo is about 45 minutes from San Juan.
Boqueron is a quaint looking town, but has a boisterous nightlife. It's a great spot for anyone looking to have a good time, but it also caters to the LGBTQ community, with a large Pride celebration in mid June every year. There is a gorgeous beach and plenty of good restaurants and bars. It is about 3 hours from the Rio Grande rental house and 3 hours from San Juan, so you might want to consider spending a day or two here to see all of the local attractions.
226 locals recommend
Boquerón
226 locals recommend
Boqueron is a quaint looking town, but has a boisterous nightlife. It's a great spot for anyone looking to have a good time, but it also caters to the LGBTQ community, with a large Pride celebration in mid June every year. There is a gorgeous beach and plenty of good restaurants and bars. It is about 3 hours from the Rio Grande rental house and 3 hours from San Juan, so you might want to consider spending a day or two here to see all of the local attractions.

Beaches

Playa Tamarindo is a lovely and secluded beach in the southwest of the island, about a 3 hour drive from the rental house. Wear comfortable shoes as it is a short hike from the parking area to the beach itself. Brings plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen as you will want to spend all day here relaxing to sounds of the ocean.
12 locals recommend
Playa Tamarindo
PR-333
12 locals recommend
Playa Tamarindo is a lovely and secluded beach in the southwest of the island, about a 3 hour drive from the rental house. Wear comfortable shoes as it is a short hike from the parking area to the beach itself. Brings plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen as you will want to spend all day here relaxing to sounds of the ocean.
Luquillo Beach is the nearest beach to the vacation rental home. It is right next to the Kiosks in Luquillo so you have plenty of options for lunch or cocktails just a short walk away. It can get very busy on the weekends and holidays as it is a popular destination for local beach goers as well as tourists.
221 locals recommend
Liquillo Beach
221 locals recommend
Luquillo Beach is the nearest beach to the vacation rental home. It is right next to the Kiosks in Luquillo so you have plenty of options for lunch or cocktails just a short walk away. It can get very busy on the weekends and holidays as it is a popular destination for local beach goers as well as tourists.
Playa Escondida is located in Fajardo, near the popular public beach, Seven Seas. To get to the beach, you will hike through nature for a bit, but end up in a beach front paradise. This beach is about 30 minutes from the rental house.
104 locals recommend
Escondida Beach
104 locals recommend
Playa Escondida is located in Fajardo, near the popular public beach, Seven Seas. To get to the beach, you will hike through nature for a bit, but end up in a beach front paradise. This beach is about 30 minutes from the rental house.
Condado Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Juan. It's in the heart of San Juan, near Old San Juan. There are lots of restaurants and bars nearby. It can feel like one big party on the weekends and holidays. This is great place to be around people and have amazing Atlantic Ocean views.
137 locals recommend
Condado Beach
137 locals recommend
Condado Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Juan. It's in the heart of San Juan, near Old San Juan. There are lots of restaurants and bars nearby. It can feel like one big party on the weekends and holidays. This is great place to be around people and have amazing Atlantic Ocean views.

Food Scene San Juan

Find our favorite eateries from around the San Juan metro area.
Excellent Peruvian fine dining. Try all of the appetizers, a ceviche, flavorful main courses, and round it all off with their Sangria. It is located in San Juan, so its a great place to stop for lunch or dinner while sight seeing in San Juan. Only a 30-40 minutes drive from the rental house.
Mistura
310 Avenida F.D. Roosevelt
Excellent Peruvian fine dining. Try all of the appetizers, a ceviche, flavorful main courses, and round it all off with their Sangria. It is located in San Juan, so its a great place to stop for lunch or dinner while sight seeing in San Juan. Only a 30-40 minutes drive from the rental house.
We love Piñones for the drinks and food, but El Iman is our go to stop. Amazing mojitos, and delicious food. All of the popular Puerto Rican fried foods like empanadillas, bacaolaitos, alcapurrias and more. Their main courses are also affordable and flavorful. It's a great spot for seafood. They often have live music too! Piñones is about a 30 minute drive from the house, but on the weekends the area can be packed with lots of traffic.
EL IMAN BAR & Restauran
We love Piñones for the drinks and food, but El Iman is our go to stop. Amazing mojitos, and delicious food. All of the popular Puerto Rican fried foods like empanadillas, bacaolaitos, alcapurrias and more. Their main courses are also affordable and flavorful. It's a great spot for seafood. They often have live music too! Piñones is about a 30 minute drive from the house, but on the weekends the area can be packed with lots of traffic.
I have had a lot of sushi in Puerto Rico, and nothing compares to East Asian Bistro. Excellent quality, flavors, and choices. In addition to sushi, they have a delicious assortment of Chinese cuisine. The service is always wonderful and the food never disappoints. Just one warning, if a menu item says spicy, they mean it! Do not leave Puerto Rico without dining here!
9 locals recommend
East Asian Bistro
2 Cll D
9 locals recommend
I have had a lot of sushi in Puerto Rico, and nothing compares to East Asian Bistro. Excellent quality, flavors, and choices. In addition to sushi, they have a delicious assortment of Chinese cuisine. The service is always wonderful and the food never disappoints. Just one warning, if a menu item says spicy, they mean it! Do not leave Puerto Rico without dining here!
This is a great stop for breakfast or lunch if you're out and about in San Juan. It is centrally located near Condado, Old San Juan, and just off highway 26. They have all the traditional french breakfast options along with yummy house specialties. Pictured above is Huevos Volcan, which is basically Eggs Benedict over mashed potatoes instead of bread. It is delicious! But do try their fresh baked breads as well, and leave room for dessert (or take something to go!!)
38 locals recommend
La Boulangerie
174 C. Taft
38 locals recommend
This is a great stop for breakfast or lunch if you're out and about in San Juan. It is centrally located near Condado, Old San Juan, and just off highway 26. They have all the traditional french breakfast options along with yummy house specialties. Pictured above is Huevos Volcan, which is basically Eggs Benedict over mashed potatoes instead of bread. It is delicious! But do try their fresh baked breads as well, and leave room for dessert (or take something to go!!)
We love the style of this restaurant, but most importantly, it’s the best true Mexican food around. And so far my favorite table side salsa of any Mexican restaurant. Great flavor but not too spicy. It’s a great location on Calle Loiza in Santurce, San Juan.
Que Chido PR
Calle Loíza
We love the style of this restaurant, but most importantly, it’s the best true Mexican food around. And so far my favorite table side salsa of any Mexican restaurant. Great flavor but not too spicy. It’s a great location on Calle Loiza in Santurce, San Juan.
Seriously the best chilaquiles I have ever had. The portion is huge, 2 or 3 people could share it and not finish. They have delicious margaritas and sell them by the bottle. Pick one up on your way to the beach. Located in the heart of Santurce on Calle Loiza.
86 locals recommend
Panuchos
1762 C. Loíza
86 locals recommend
Seriously the best chilaquiles I have ever had. The portion is huge, 2 or 3 people could share it and not finish. They have delicious margaritas and sell them by the bottle. Pick one up on your way to the beach. Located in the heart of Santurce on Calle Loiza.
Great spot on Calle Loiza. There is a paid parking lot but it’s worth it to not have to find parking. The French Toast Burger was amazing. Perfect mix of salty and sweet. Make sure you stop by!
67 locals recommend
Tostado*
1715 Avenida de la Constitución
67 locals recommend
Great spot on Calle Loiza. There is a paid parking lot but it’s worth it to not have to find parking. The French Toast Burger was amazing. Perfect mix of salty and sweet. Make sure you stop by!
Amazing BBQ place on Calle Loiza. They use high quality meats and ingredients. Perfect for dinner or check out their lunch specials.
18 locals recommend
Barbacoa Puerto Rico
2422 Calle Loíza
18 locals recommend
Amazing BBQ place on Calle Loiza. They use high quality meats and ingredients. Perfect for dinner or check out their lunch specials.
Amazing homemade fries, burgers and sandwiches and breakfast items too. Great location on Calle Loiza
134 locals recommend
Tresbé
1765 C. Loíza
134 locals recommend
Amazing homemade fries, burgers and sandwiches and breakfast items too. Great location on Calle Loiza
Amazing lunch specials, excellent quality food. Check out the happy hour specials as well! Great location in Santurce.
Red Buddha Pizza Bar
#361 Calle del Parque
Amazing lunch specials, excellent quality food. Check out the happy hour specials as well! Great location in Santurce.
Awesome breakfast and lunch spot. One of the best burgers in town, but also healthy options too. Call ahead to verify hours.
99 locals recommend
Abracadabra
1661 Av. Juan Ponce de León
99 locals recommend
Awesome breakfast and lunch spot. One of the best burgers in town, but also healthy options too. Call ahead to verify hours.

Food Scene East

This section features our favorite restaurants on the eastern side of the island, many of these locations are close to our Rio Grande rental house.
Terruño is located at the Kiosks in Luquillo. It is our preferred stop when we visit. The quality of the food and service is outstanding. Pictured is the Coconut Rice with Fish, and behind is a Puerto Rican staple, Whole Red Snapper. They often have live music and nice ocean views from the back of the dining room. Its only a 10 minute drive from the rental house!
120 locals recommend
Terruño
120 locals recommend
Terruño is located at the Kiosks in Luquillo. It is our preferred stop when we visit. The quality of the food and service is outstanding. Pictured is the Coconut Rice with Fish, and behind is a Puerto Rican staple, Whole Red Snapper. They often have live music and nice ocean views from the back of the dining room. Its only a 10 minute drive from the rental house!
Desperado is very close to the rental house, only 5 minutes or so. It is a steak house with an old school western vibe. Excellent quality steaks and a friendly staff. It is my go to stop when I want a good steak.
11 locals recommend
Desperado Restaurant
Interstate PR3
11 locals recommend
Desperado is very close to the rental house, only 5 minutes or so. It is a steak house with an old school western vibe. Excellent quality steaks and a friendly staff. It is my go to stop when I want a good steak.
Dos Panzas is our go to Mexican restaurant, and its only 5 minutes from the rental house. The food is always great and is best described as Mexican with a Puerto Rican twist. I suggest the Duck Tacos for something different but very flavorful. But we really go for the service and the Margaritas! The ones pictures are not for the weak of heart, but they have many other fabulous flavors like Watermelon, and my personal favorite, Cucumber Grapefruit.
85 locals recommend
Dos Panza Taqueria y Cantina
Calle D
85 locals recommend
Dos Panzas is our go to Mexican restaurant, and its only 5 minutes from the rental house. The food is always great and is best described as Mexican with a Puerto Rican twist. I suggest the Duck Tacos for something different but very flavorful. But we really go for the service and the Margaritas! The ones pictures are not for the weak of heart, but they have many other fabulous flavors like Watermelon, and my personal favorite, Cucumber Grapefruit.
Latin Burger is one of our favorite go to's. Great appetizers, Big juicy burgers, and delicious entrees. Their mojitos are large and refreshing, and I suggest a frappe for desert. The oreo frappe is yummy!
23 locals recommend
LATIN BURGER GRILL
Puerto Rico 955
23 locals recommend
Latin Burger is one of our favorite go to's. Great appetizers, Big juicy burgers, and delicious entrees. Their mojitos are large and refreshing, and I suggest a frappe for desert. The oreo frappe is yummy!
This is a small rooftop cafe with amazing views, located in Fajardo. It's about 30 minutes from the rental house. One of the best brunches we've had. Excellent food, and personal service. It can get very busy so you may want to call ahead.
100 locals recommend
Las Vistas Café
#83 C. 2
100 locals recommend
This is a small rooftop cafe with amazing views, located in Fajardo. It's about 30 minutes from the rental house. One of the best brunches we've had. Excellent food, and personal service. It can get very busy so you may want to call ahead.
Excellent seafood and Puerto Rican food with an amazing view! Great prices and it’s a short drive from the rainforest rental.
26 locals recommend
Terraza Montemar
26 locals recommend
Excellent seafood and Puerto Rican food with an amazing view! Great prices and it’s a short drive from the rainforest rental.
This cafe is located very close to Casa Revive Rio Grande. Excellent breakfast and lunch stop, very friendly staff and nice atmosphere. Highly recommend!
47 locals recommend
Lluvia Delis Bar & Artefecto
52 Principal Street
47 locals recommend
This cafe is located very close to Casa Revive Rio Grande. Excellent breakfast and lunch stop, very friendly staff and nice atmosphere. Highly recommend!
Delicious burgers, empanadas, fish tacos and a full bar with ice cold beer, mojitos and more. Mi Vida is very close to the Rio Grande house, only a 5 minute drive. It’s located 40 minutes from San Juan.
36 locals recommend
Mi vida cafe
Calle Principal
36 locals recommend
Delicious burgers, empanadas, fish tacos and a full bar with ice cold beer, mojitos and more. Mi Vida is very close to the Rio Grande house, only a 5 minute drive. It’s located 40 minutes from San Juan.

Traveler advice

Getting around

Ride Share

Uber is available in the San Juan Metro area. But do not expect to find Ubers outside of the city.
Getting around

Driving

Driving in Puerto Rico is similar to driving in the states. The road signs look the same, but there are in Spanish. Be aware that many roads are not identified. Many road signs are missing. Google Maps will get you around the metro area and most cities but it is not always accurate in the countryside. Waze is sometimes more accurate. The easiest way to send an address or location is by sending a pin.
What to pack

Weather

The temperatures here do not vary much from winter to summer. Most days the temperature is from 80-90 degrees, but it can feel hotter due to the higher humidity. Also, the sun can be very intense. Always remember to apply your sunscreen before a day out and about. Nighttime temperatures are usually between 70-75 degrees. It can rain often, but most days the rain storms are short lived. Its helpful to have an umbrella handy just in case. Many activities around the island require a lot of walking. Make sure you have comfortable walking or hiking shoes.
Customs and culture

Holidays

Puerto Ricans live for holidays, and they celebrate many more holidays than the states. Holidays can impact business hours. Its always safest to call a business before you arrive. For major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day and Three Kings Day, you can expect more businesses, restaurants, and even grocery stores to be closed for the day.
Don't miss

Chinchorro / Chinchorreo

A uniquely Puerto Rican place is a Chinchorro, typically a roadside bar serving local fried foods. You will find Chinchorros throughout the island. A favorite pastime is spending a Saturday or Sunday afternoon driving to a series of Chinchorros sampling their beverages and foods. Chinchorreo refers to the activity of going to a Chinchorro. There are now several companies and guides offering bus tours to local Chinchorros. I have to admit, this is one of my favorite activities here!
Customs and culture

Buen Provecho

If you are sitting at a restaurant, do not be surprised if a passing patron says to you, 'Buen Provecho!' It is the Spanish way of saying Bon Appetite or Enjoy your meal. Puerto Ricans often offer this greeting to both strangers in passing, and the family and friends that are dining with them. Don't be afraid to respond with, Thank You, Gracias, Igual, or even Buen Provecho in return.