I was determined to find amazing day trips in Puerto Rico from San Juan that would fit our style, and I was not disappointed. Puerto Rico has something to offer every type of traveler! I recommend renting a car for a few days so you can explore freely and easily do these Puerto Rico excursions. We rented our car through Hertz near the city center.
It was a cheap rental, but make sure you ask them about the tolls because they can be tricky. Be aware that the roads have many potholes, making it a little challenging to drive at night. If you prefer guided tours with pick-up and drop-off service, I’ll link those options below as well.
Puerto Rico Day Trips From San Juan
Experience the beauty of Puerto Rico outside of Old San Juan with these 5 unique day trips. If you’d like more tips on what to do while in San Juan, click here.
1. Puerto Rico Coffee Tour on the Highest Mountain
Pomarrosa Coffee Farm is located on the highest mountain in Puerto Rico, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It’s only about 2.5 hours away from Old San Juan. The drive up the hill is an adventure in itself!
It’s a family-owned farm, and they do the entire coffee growing process from scratch. The coffee tour costs $20 per person. You can also buy coffee at the end of the tour for $15 per bag. Since it’s a family-owned farm, I couldn’t find a guided tour for this. However, it’s worth looking into if you’re renting a car.
It’s a hard place to find, so I highly recommend you follow their exact directions. Their directions are clear and easy to follow. Another group of people got lost and never made the tour, so we had the farm all to ourselves!
The owner taught us some coffee history, showed us the entire process, and of course, we got to try some delicious espressos and cappuccinos.
They also grow many of their fruits and veggies, so we were offered homemade banana bread along with the coffee. So good!
Another cool thing about this place is that it’s also a bed and breakfast! If you want a peaceful escape from it all, the lodge is the place to go.
Below is our little Hertz rental. It costs us $100 for two full days. Parking garages in Old San Juan are so cheap compared to Chicago prices. Map out “Estacionamiento Dona Fela” and park there overnight. It’s safe, and we didn’t pay more than $12 for an overnight stay.
2. Cueva Ventana Tour in Arecibo Puerto Rico
Cueva Ventana is the most extraordinary cave I’ve ever seen! It sits atop a cliff in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, about an hour away from Old San Juan. You walk through a dark cave filled with sleeping bats, spiders, and cockroaches with a small group of people. The tour is only $19 per person.
I wish my camera hadn’t fallen off a balcony the night before so I could have better captured these fantastic places!
If you prefer a guided tour with pick-up and drop-off service, here are links to some pretty great options: Click here for the Cueva Ventana tour. If you want to knock out multiple cave tours, check out this half-day adventure to 2 separate caves.
Before walking into the cave, they warn you not to shine your flashlight up because you can piss off the bats. They also tell you to walk along the wall because the center is filled with all the lovely bugs. Jorge wasn’t so scared and even picked up this little guy, lol. I was nervous, but I kept going.
They have a special red light that they use to see the abundance of bats sleeping. This light doesn’t disturb the bats, but it helps you know just how many there are. It was pretty cool to see! Then, if you can get past all the yucky bugs, you come across this view.
This jaw-dropping shut the front door, how is this place real, view!
It was worth every bug.
3. La Cueva del Indio Cave Tour
La Cueva del Indio is a cave that is also located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. With this cave, you’re free to roam, there is no tour, and there is no charge. It’s right next to a pretty beach. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Cueva Ventana.
However, when you park your car, they charge you $5 for parking. If you’d like a guided tour, this one takes you to this cave, plus a waterfall, plus the beach: click here for the latest prices. Since it’s near Cueva Ventana, this tour takes you to both caves: click here to book.
Below is the flimsy wooden ladder you have to take down to get into the cave.
Here is Jorge wondering if I’m going to go down the ladder. I’m not.
The cave is massive. Look at how tiny the people are!
I’m glad I didn’t go down because I got to capture Jorge from above, even if it was on my crappy camera phone. It still gives you a good idea of how crazy this cave looks!
Right outside of the cave, you’ll see nothing but beautiful blues. I almost had a heart attack when Jorge got that close to the edge.
4. Bioluminescent Bay Tour
Oh, man, this tour is something else, and a Puerto Rico excursion that must be had! I learned from my extensive research that there are five bio bays in the world, and 3 of them are in Puerto Rico. The water turns blue and sparkles like a diamond when you touch it. This light is created by microorganisms that thrive in the right environment.
The best time to do a bio bay tour is during the new moon, when the sky is at its darkest. The darker the sky, the brighter the water. You can track it here. I set our reservation for days after a full moon, so I knew the sky would be bright. I was hesitant to book the tour because it’s pricey ($52 pp), but we wanted to see this in person.
The best place to do a bio bay tour is on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico because it’s considered the “brightest.” I had every intention to go to Vieques, but we’d have to stay overnight (since we weren’t doing a guided tour), and the whole thing was getting very expensive.
We went with the Fajardo option, an hour’s drive from Old San Juan. This guided tour does offer everything from transportation to the kayaks in Vieques (which is pretty far away). The duration is 8 hours; click here for the latest prices.
To Kayak or Boat?
Another thing you have to decide is if you want to kayak or do an electric boat. Keep in mind; you are kayaking in complete darkness with many other people who don’t know how to kayak. You’re also doing this through mangroves, which you see below.
We were initially going to kayak until I read all the horror stories and realized I did not want to pay for that. But who knows, maybe you’re quite the adventurer and want to kayak? Check out this Fajardo tour that offers small group kayak tours. Click here to book.
Instead, we went with Bio Island electric boats, and I am glad we did. They were excellent guides, and the tour was memorable. We drove through the mangroves slowly as they showed us the humongous iguanas sleeping on the branches and all the different fish in the water. We also had to stop the boat because the kayakers were crashing and struggling to get through. The guide mentioned that someone falls from the kayaks almost every night.
After the mangroves, they drive you out to the center of the lagoon. As I had anticipated, the sky was bright, so I wasn’t expecting much. But they came with a plan!
The boat had a black tarp to cover our upper body as we stuck our hands inside the water. This tarp helped to cover the moon and brighten our experience.
The color of the water wasn’t as intense as the photos show it to be, but it sure was magical. It is like running your fingers through a bunch of diamonds.
The glow only lasts a second every time you run your hand through it, so it’s tough to capture without a great camera and the proper settings. Either way, experience this in person. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would’ve been on a darker night.
5. El Yunque National Forest
We didn’t make it to this Puerto Rico rainforest. We were on our way to the forest when I realized they were closing soon and we’d be rushed, so we decided against it. However, I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, so try to add it to your itinerary! We know we’ll be visiting the next time we’re in Puerto Rico. For a guided tour, click here for booking and pricing.
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