You should devote an entire trip to Puerto Rico (here’s why)! If you are wondering what you would do while you are there, I’ve put together this quick and dirty two week Puerto Rico itinerary (this is part one). This is perfect for high energy travelers that enjoy the outdoors as well as history and culture. It has a little of everything (but lots of nature). If you aren’t so high energy, you can use this as a list of ideas of things that you might be interested in seeing. There is so much! Even getting this down to 14 days was hard.
Day 0: Arrive in San Juan
Get in at the main airport, pick your car, and take some time to rest. Eat some delicious food in Old San Juan and sleep!
A quick note on driving in Puerto Rico: You will need to be very defensive. Take your time and expect the unexpected. Remember that your safety is your responsibility.
Day 1: Loiza and the Corredor Ecologico del Noreste
Take the 187 out of town to the east. This will follow the coast, and just outside of town there are some very beautiful (and popular, on the weekend) beaches that you can stop at. This area also has a lot of kiosks that serve wonderful street food.
Follow the 187 over the river and enter into the town of Loiza. Look for the Parque Historico Cueva Maria de la Cruz. In this little park, you can pay to take a tour of a cave and learn about music and dance in Puerto Rico. The central part of Loiza is also a great place during the weekend for shopping.
If you aren’t one for beaches and small towns, keep on working your way east to the Corredor Ecologico del Noreste. There is hiking and wild beaches here that have been protected by the communities of this area.
Stay the night in the Luquillo area.
Day 2: North El Yunque
Today is the day for the famous north El Yunque. Strap on your hiking boots, and start early to avoid the crowds. Many of the trails are being repaired post-Maria but you can find updated information here.
If you have the energy, you might consider staying in Fajardo for the night, and doing the bio bay in the evening.
Day 3: The Old 191 and Humacao
Take the 53 down past Naguabo, get off on the 31 to Rio Blanco, and take the 191 up into the southern part of El Yunque. Local guides in the area can take you on some amazing trips in the rainforest here, or you can drive down to where the road is closed and hike/bike up from there to the landslide that closed the highway.
If you have time afterwards, visit the Reserva Natural de Humacao. If you drive into the reserve a little bit you can see some of the damage that the hurricane did to natural coastal areas. It is very sobering, but there is also a lot of new growth that should remind us all that nature recovers. There are also some neat historic things in the reserve from the sugar plantation days, as well as some coastal bunkers.
Monkey island is also in this general area, if you are interested in doing a tour.
Stay in Humacao.
Day 4: Lechones and Charco Azul
Continue on the 53/3 to Palmas and then head north to the 184. This will take you up to Bosque Carite, where you should take some time to hike and swim at Charco Azul. If there is no one at the parking lot for this area, make sure that you take all of your valuables with you.
When you are done with a morning at the swimming hole, continue on the 184 through the forest. Along the way, as you get back into civilization, you will notice many restaurants along the side of the road serving lechones. If you eat pork, please stop at one of these. They are famously delicious and should not be missed.
Take the 52 down to Salinas and stay the night in the historic town.
Day 5: Salinas and Jobos Bay National Estuary
Head over to the small town of Aguirre to enjoy the old central part of this historic area, and to access the Jobos Bay Visitor Center, which you will see along the main 705 road. You may want to try to schedule a tour ahead of time in this area as there is amazing kayaking in the National Estuary, as well as wildlife viewing opportunities. You can also hike and go horseback riding in the area.
Drive to Ponce and stay the night there.
Day 6: Ponce
Enjoy a day in this historic city. There is beautiful architecture, museums, and plenty of food to enjoy in Ponce.
Stay in Ponce for second night.
Day 7: Casa Pueblo and the Central Mountains (Toro Negro)
Get an early start and take the 10 north from Ponce to the mountain town of Adjuntas. Here you can see some absolutely beautiful mining architecture and most importantly, visit the AMAZING Casa Pueblo. Be sure to support their organization by getting a souvenir and/or some coffee here.
Then you have a lot of different options (which all require some mountain driving).
There is a lot of agricultural tourism in the area, and if you are a coffee fan this is a great place to learn more.
You can also some cultural sites in Jayuya including museums about the Taino people and the revolutionary history of the area.
Toro Negro forest is here as well and there are some spectacular hikes here.
PART TWO COMING SOON!
In the mean time, please check out this amazing blog for more information on everything Puerto Rico.