Juan, two, three four five…everybody in the car so come on let’s ride :: music playing:: A little bit of 90’s punny music to get you in the Puerto Rican spirit. Mambo #5 remember?
Going on a cruise usually mean getting to travel to some exotic locations for a short period of time. A great way to explore surrounding countries or islands to know which places you’d visit again on your own! Plus, who doesn’t love all you can eat?
Before I secured a passport, this was the next best thing to traveling outside the continental US. When I saw Puerto Rico on my 7 days Eastern Caribbean cruise, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Rain forests, rum, and rich culture, who wouldn’t want to explore this place?
This is how you can make the most of your San Juan cruise stop!
4 hours or less
Every cruise varies in timetables for each destination, so if you only have a few hours in San Juan, here is how to make the most of it.
Tour Casa Bacardi
Time flies when you’re having rum 🙂 Is this even a question? You go places to try out their specialties and one of them just so happens to be rum in San Juan! Only a short 20 minutes from most cruise ports, you can find yourself drooling over the variety at Casa Bacardi. There are a few tours, but I recommend the mixology one! Very knowledgeable staff that knows how to get the party started! One of the best mojitos on the island!! If you are unlucky enough to have little
devils children with you, the only option is the history tour. BORING. Leave those hoodlums at home so you can enjoy some of San Juan’s finest rum!
Walk the vibrant streets of Old San Juan
Colorful and creative are the two words that come to mind when exploring Old San Juan. When I said rich in culture, I meant it! You could get lost in the streets for hours, snapping photos, meandering in and out local shops and bars, but don’t let time get away from you. With only 4 hours or less, you gotta power walk it through the city to make the most of your stopover!
Visit Old San Juan Cemetery
A little morbid? Maybe…but this is a cemetery like no other. I’d love for my decaying body to be buried near the ocean, listening to waves for all eternity. It’s a very interesting attraction that draws you in for a number of unexplained reasons. Not only is it one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world; you’ll be standing close to some of Puerto Rico’s most notable individuals. Here, they gracefully fill the spots on top of the hill. A must if visiting San Juan for only a few hours!
Eat some authentic Puerto Rican food
Almost every little restaurant within a 10-mile radius will have some show-stopping food. It might not be presented on a damn gold patter, but this shit is authentic AF. I won’t give specifics on restaurants, just choose one to your liking. What I will guide you on is some top dishes to shovel into your stomach.
Tostones: smashed and fried chunks of plantain.
Mofongo: A heavy-duty stew made of either beef, pork, chicken or seafood mixed together with mashed plantains. I’ve heard of it being the unofficial meal of PR, but true Ricans can answer that!
Lounge on the beach
Similar to how you would on any other short stopover. Sometimes you just wanna sip your Mai Thai’s on a beautiful beach while soaking up some vitamin D. Use this time to enjoy the pristine beaches like Ocean Park or Isla Verde just to name a few!
TIP: Bring some cheap snorkel gear from home and use it to snorkel around any destination you stop at, including San Juan!
8 hours or less
This gives you a lot more wiggle room for what you can accomplish on your stopover in San Juan!
THE HIGHLIGHT of my trip was visiting El Yunque. I had done lot’s of research beforehand and knew we would have right at 8 hours to spend in San Juan. Although outside of the city, it’s only a short 45-minute drive, and the scenery keeps you busy the entire way. Right when you get off at the port, you are bombarded with tour guides and taxi drivers etc. I ended up summoning a man with a van to take me, my boyfriend and only 5 other strangers to the rain forest! I refuse to travel in large groups because there is always some lady named Carol who slows down the group and asks too many questions.
Everything here is negotiable, so find a semi-reliable looking person, negotiate a little and you’ve got yourself a deal! I think this is the best way to tour, (unless you do completely private but ain’t nobody got money for that). The guy knew the roads, the back ways to avoid traffic, all the hikes and cool secrets spots, plus let us stop for some road beers!
The only way to describe this luscious place is to see it for yourself! With natural swimming pools, observation points and miles of rugged trails, you could spend an entire day exploring this one area!
I say this for 8 hours or less because it transforms at night! You don’t have to go inside, even though there is a museum but who gives a shit about that? Not me. On the outside at night, however, it boasts blinking red and green lights which only escalates the size of these barracks! Our tour man took us here at sunset to see the cemetery and this (right in the same area) before we headed back to the ship.
All day/ overnight
An overnight stay allows you to try out quite a few of these activities. Make sure you choose wisely!
Bioluminescent Bay kayaking tour
So this has been a bucket list item for me, and sadly I didn’t have enough time to do it! Since it’s only a tour you can take at night, don’t waste your time trying to book unless you stay overnight! You can spend your evening kayaking through the mangrove forest while discovering bioluminescence. I hear it’s unlike any other experience because of the glowing water. Don’t know how to kayak? Wow, what a dumbass. Kidding, sort of. No problem though, with just 2 repeating strokes of a paddle, you can be on your way through a spectacular journey!
Dance at Señor Frog’s
Totally biased in this opinion because I use to work at the one in Orlando, Florida. Meaning, this place is legit, especially outside the US where the drinking age is lower and cocktails are stronger. Exactly why I only suggest you doing this if you can stay overnight. I remember going to Señor Frog’s in Mexico, getting so drunk that my cruise ship drinking card got cut off, I almost wasn’t allowed back on, and I tried to steal an expensive painting. Yeah, it’s all downhill once you step foot through those doors. BUT on the flip side, any doubt about dancing in front of strangers will be that of the past. Dance the night away and enjoy your vacation!
Fly to Culebra
A lesser known of Puerto Rico is its sister island of Culebra. A short 30-minute flight will take to you to the secluded white sand beach of Playa Flamenco. This option is definitely more of a romantic or quiet getaway from the bustling streets of San Juan. Here you will find amazing chefs, and the cutest little local bars to spend the evening.
Whether it is a few hours or 24 hours, San Juan is the perfect place to spend the day. A cruise can be daunting and with so many locations to visit, the stress of deciding what’s best for your vacation can kill the vibe altogether. Thankfully, I was here to show you an overview of all the fun-filled activities to try out in San Juan. Make the most of your stopover with this list and let me know if I forgot any!!
xo Bonvoyage Babes