Need a short vacation that’s easy on the wallet? Puerto Rico could be in your future.
The tiny island commonwealth territory of the United States, Puerto Rico, is easy to get to, has plenty of affordable accommodations, and there are plenty of relaxing and enjoyable things to do.
Cheap, non-stop flights to Puerto Rico are offered from Chicago, New York, Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami. With Orlando having a large Puerto Rican population, you can take any of the over 25 flights a day from Orlando, MCO, to San Juan, SJU offered by multiple airlines plus flights to other Puerto Rican cities. Average airfare for the last 6 months was at $295 round trip per person for the coach.
Renting a car in Puerto Rico is slightly different. Unless you are using your Gold or Platinum credit card, be prepared to show your insurance documents that specifically cover you in rental cars in Puerto Rico, otherwise, they will force you to take their inflated daily insurance rate. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can call for a hotel shuttle bus; most major chain hotels within 10 miles of the San Juan airport offer free service, but be prepared to tip the driver.
Where to stay? Staying in the old part of the city or in Condado will cost you more, about $150 per night. If you’re feeling flexible and want to see more, consider staying just beyond Condado and you’ll save a lot, nights averaging $75.
Now that you’ve checked into your room, you’re probably wondering what to do. Definitely head towards San Juan’s old city, where El Morro is, the very, very old Spanish Fort dating back to the early 1500’s. Don’t miss the old Catholic Church right in the center of old town; you can visit Juan Ponce de Leon who is buried inside the church. Of course, trendy chain attractions such as Hard Rock Cafe and others are there also. The old city has tons of small restaurants and shops catering to the seeker of Old San Juan and needing a Spanish feel to their vacation. Most restaurants in the area will cost around $10-$15 for an entree.
For party-goers, the clubs and night attractions are in Condado, along with upscale restaurants and shops. Clubs stay open until dawn in some cases. Condado is only a short 4-mile drive from Old Town San Juan. If you’re willing to drive a bit, head on over to Arecibo, and visit the world’s largest radio telescope, it’s in the ground! It’s also where they shot scenes from the James Bond movie Goldeneye though the movie portrayed the telescope as being in Cuba.
Historical buffs are in luck. Mayaguez, the actual first landing in the New World by Christopher Columbus, has excellent historical sites and as with the rest of the island, there are plenty of old statues marking significant people or events.
El Yunque, the only rain forest within U.S. territory, is to the east of San Juan: head out on highway 26 through Carolina. Your trip to the rainforest will take about 1 hour leaving from San Juan. Don’t miss the upper tower, the many birds, and parrots, a stunning view of the Luquillo beach, a half crescent shaped beach with iconic leaning palm trees and coconuts painted in vibrant colors.
Total for your trip, you should have no problem doing a 3 day trip for under $500 including airfare and hotel. Food is extra.