A guide on how to get around in Puerto Rico and tipsby | February 16, 2023
Imagine this. You wake up on a gorgeous morning to the sound of tropical birds chirping in the palm trees in front of your comfortable bungalow. The sun is filtering through your bedroom window and you can hear the sound of the waves slowly lapping at the shore meters from you.
You look through the window and a beautiful bird with emerald green feathers, a bright red throat and a yellow underbelly just landed on your window sill. Makes you want to pack your bag? Great! Meet all Puerto Rico entry requirements and go!
Puerto Rico’s natural beauty, rich culture, delicious Puerto Rican food and warm locals will take your breath away. And to make sure this is the trip of a lifetime, we’ve shared below a few tips on how to get around in Puerto Rico and how to travel to Puerto Rico.
How to travel to Puerto Rico
The primary gateway for international travelers is the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan. It's well-connected to major cities in the United States and other international destinations.
You can also get to Puerto Rico by cruise ship or, if you're traveling from nearby islands, you can take a ferry to Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has over 19 public-use and military airports. However, only three are public-use international airports. The island’s main international airport is located in San Juan. The two other smaller airports are based in Ponce and Aguadilla.
Catching a cab from the airport is by far the quickest and most convenient of getting around in Puerto Rico. The airport is relatively close to the Old San Juan making the trip easy. However, catching a cab can also be expensive. Note that there aren’t any buses running from the airport to Old San Juan on Sundays, so catching a cab or renting a car will be your only two options if you land on a Sunday.
You can either catch a cab directly from the taxi kiosk or pre-book one using one of the many taxi companies in Puerto Rico.
The bus is another way to get from the airport to the city. Called AMA buses (Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses), these public buses are only recommended for people travelling light. Large baggage isn’t accepted onboard.
Also, while a single-fare bus ticket from the airport is cheap, the trip to Old San Juan will take between 50 minutes and 2 hours, depending on how full the bus is. In taxi is 15 minutes on average. You’ll find more information about the San Juan Airport Bus system on the official page.
Rent a car
The third option for travellers landing in Puerto Rico is to rent a car. There are a few different options available in all three international airports. Here are the specific websites for each to help you plan your trip:
Note that unless you’re a US citizen, you’ll need an international driving license to drive in Puerto Rico.
Getting around Puerto Rico
Because Puerto Rico is a small island, getting around Puerto Rico is relatively easy. How to get around in Puerto Rico? Here are three of the best transport options:
Renting a car
As discussed above, you can easily rent a car in Puerto Rico. All you need is an international driving permit along with your country’s driving license.
Renting a car isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s by far the most convenient for travellers looking to explore this idyllic island. Unless you already have insurance, you’ll have to purchase liability coverage and collision damage insurance.
To find the best prices, use websites such as Discover Cars.
While it might not be common in some countries, using a taxi is common to travel in Puerto Rico. Certain routes have a fixed rate. For others, you’ll be charged using a meter.
Travelling by taxi will make your trip much easier and allow you to truly enjoy the scenery as it unfolds in front of you.
Besides, taxis are flexible and can take you anywhere. However, it can get expensive for longer itineraries. Note that Uber is available in San Juan.
AMA buses operate across a network of over 24 routes within the San Juan metro region and surrounding areas. You’ll be able to catch AMA buses at any designated bus station. Note that, once onboard, you can’t pay by card, so you’ll either need coins or purchase a bus card. Also, AMA buses don’t run at night or on Sundays.
Alternatively, públicos (public vans) are another affordable way of getting around Puerto Rico. These mini buses are available all over the island and cover both intercity routes and small urban routes. You’ll also need cash to travel onboard.
The only bad thing with travelling across the island using públicos is that you might have to change buses multiple times as they often operate as local buses.
Tips on how to get around in Puerto Rico
Here are some Puerto Rico travel tips on how to get around Puerto Rico:
- Pack light and wear comfortable clothing. Puerto Rico has a tropical climate, so lightweight, breathable clothing is a must. Besides, it can be difficult to travel around the island with large luggage, so minimize the number of things you’re bringing with you.
- If you can, try to learn a few basic Spanish sentences. Although English is widely spoken, locals always appreciate it when visitors make an effort to speak the local language.
- Pack bug spray to protect yourself from mosquitoes and wear sunscreen at all times, as the sun can be harsh on the island.
- Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. Therefore, the island must meet drinking federal and state standard drinking standards, meaning tap water is safe to drink.
- As in any country or region, keep your valuables and personal items secure. You can use a money belt to carry cash.
- Always carry an umbrella with you. While the Puerto Rico weather is warm all year round, rain is frequent in this tropical destination.
Don’t forget to apply for your visa
Depending on your country of origin, you’ll need to apply for an ESTA or tourist visa to enter Puerto Rico. Here’s an article on How to get a visa for Puerto Rico with the steps you need to take to apply for a visa to Puerto Rico. Alternatively, right now you can apply for your Puerto Rico visa.