Solo travel in Puerto Rico

San Juan (photo @ Jaga )

Solo Travel in Puerto Rico

Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Party GatG, Cuisine GatG, Beach GatG, Island GatG, Old Town GatG, Adventure GatG

Puerto Rico is an amazing island to explore as a solo. The people are warm and friendly and proud to be from Puerto Rico. With a continually tropical climate, the island is just as warm as its inhabitants.

The most spoken language is Spanish but say a few phrases in Spanish to a waiter and they usually reply to you in English. If you do speak Spanish, some of the words may not be what you’re used to as in ‘Guagua’ for bus or “menudo” for coins and “china” for orange.

Because Puerto Rico is on the cruise itineraries, you’ll see plenty of tourists here and if you’re solo you’ll probably meet a few Americans too. The Salsa Club in Old San Juan is a great place to meet people on the island.

Puerto Rico is safe for solo travellers but as with anywhere just be careful at night. There have been instances of people being robbed so don’t take valuables out if you don’t need to to prevent yourself from being a target. Don’t wander into La Perla at night either. This colourful district by the coast may look inviting but it’s a no go area at night. If you are hiking solo don’t wander of the main paths especially in the rainforest area of El Yunque to prevent yourself from getting lost.

Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria and Irma and although most of the infrastructure has been restored you may find that electricity will temporarily cut out for a short period. The prices seem to have increased too but Puerto Rico remains a solo female friendly destination and is welcoming visitors back to its island.

Below is our guide to how to travel solo in Puerto Rico as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around. Find out how to get from the airports and what to do in each place. All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.

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solo travel in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Attractions

Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean. The smallest of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico is actually a group of  islands and has more than 140 islands and islets within its archipelago. The main island, Puerto Rico is 100 miles long and 35 miles wide.

With forts, rainforest and 200 miles of white sand beaches, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean paradise. Although it is part of the USA it has a Spanish, Caribbean flair and feels different to the U.S. 

* Click here to discover all activities and things to do in Puerto Rico

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

San Juan

San Juan is the capital. The old town is a colourful array of pastel-coloured buildings, cobbled streets and restaurants serving a fusion of cuisine. If you are looking for somewhere to spend the majority of your time on the island then Old San Juan is a great place to base your trip. New San Juan has the Condado Lagoon and high-end boutiques. Whereas Old San Juan has a charm with plazas and Spanish colonial architecture with restored balconies that have retained their original characteristics. Even the banks are pretty here.

Having one of the largest harbours in the Caribbean means that the capital is also a mecca for cruise ships who operate cruises from Puerto Rico. There’s a reason that this is one of the most popular destinations. Historic, colourful and cultural, Old San Juan is one of historic importance. Visit UNESCO Heritage Sites and forts that span five centuries of history, or the second oldest cathedral within the Americas.

solo travel in Puerto Rico

For the shopping GatG there’s Las Americas, a shopping mall with all the U.S. brands you need but the top floor is where it’s at with art work by Puerto Rican artists. You’ll also find a Local Farmer’s Market from Thursday to Sunday where you can pick up some local produce to take home. 

Arty & Museum GatGs will love the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the Puerto Rico Museum of Art, a Neoclassical museum with local artwork. But you don’t even need to go inside a museum to appreciate some of the island’s best artists. Street Art is everywhere and you can take a graffiti tour in the vibrant area of Santurce to see this colourful area and fins out about the artists behind the spray cans.

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan (photo @ Jaga Rytych)

Old San Juan Things To Do

Old San Juan is easy to explore on foot but if you’re feeling tiresome there’s a free train tour around the old part. Just look for the numbered bus stops to join the train. It’s not a proper tour but it will help you to get around and is a good idea on day one for recognising the surroundings.

Connected to the main island by bridges, Old San Juan was once a walled city. There is so much history here and the San Juan National Historic Site is the perfect place to explore the forts and the country’s history. Castillo San Felipe Del Morro was one of the first military defences in the Americas and you can learn more on one of the free tours held at 10.30 or 14.30 in Spanish and English.

Visit Fort San Cristobal which is one of the best preserved forts in the Americas, built to protect the inhabitants. Take a tunnel tour and visit the outer battlements but make sure you turn up in advance to buy your ticket for these additions.

solo travel in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan (photo @ Jaga Rytych)

Just walking around Old San Juan is a history lesson. Start from Banco Popular and walk along the promenade until Fort El Morro past locals selling homemade crafts, stopping for refreshments along the way. If you need somewhere to stretch your legs this is the perfect place to do it and you’ll often see people jogging along it too. See the city’s churches along Calle Sol and see if you can spot the island’s smallest house.

If history isn’t your thing then you may prefer to take a sailing trip at sunset from the harbour instead. The catamaran gives you a different view of the island’s fortifications and is a good way to meet others.

You can even take a ferry from here to the Bacardi Rum Factory which is definitely worth a visit. See the rum process from fermentation to the bottle and enjoy a rum cocktail in the tropical breeze before coming back to San Juan. 

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

Don’t leave Old San Juan without a visit to La Fortaleza Palace, an unusual blue and white  palace that is the official residence of the island’s governor.

The locals seem to have music flowing through their DNA and the island has produced some of the world’s biggest music stars such as Ricky Martin and Luis Fonsi. Luis Fonez even filmed his video for ‘Despacito’ in La Perla, a coastal shanty town that sits outside of the city walls.

Once Puerto Rico’s most dangerous area, this colourful barrio also produced the group Calle 13 who sing about their Puerto Rican barrio. La Perla was badly hit by Hurricane Irma and Maria and is still rebuilding its historic barrio.

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

If you’re a beach GatG then you have more than 200 miles white sand beaches to choose from. Isla Verde is the most accessible beach if you are staying in San Juan. This urban beach is 15 minutes from the capital (near the airport). Buses do run here from San Juan. For water sports GatG you can surf, jet ski, parasail or paddle board here. There are also options to scuba dive or hike along the forest and coastal trail.

Ponce

After San Juan, Ponce is Puerto Rico’s second largest city, on the opposite side of the island to San Juan, situated on the south coast. It’s a city for Arty and Museum GatGs with artwork from the island and Europe displayed at the Museo de Arte.

This region has some beautiful architecture such as the Centro Cultural de Ponce Sola de Pereira, and the Museum of Puerto Rican Music – a former neoclassical residence which now showcases historic musical instruments.The Museo Castillo Serralles is also housed in a grand mansion. From Ponce you can visit coffee plantations, some of which are now museums to sample the island's coffee. 

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

The West

Not that many visitors make it to the west coast so if you want to escape the cruise ship tourists on the island then La Parguera Nature Reserve is one of the best destinations in this region. If you’re a water GatG you can dive or snorkel in the reserve or even try your hand at sea fishing. This fishing village is an eco destination that not many travellers visit.

Gilligan’s Island is a gem on the west coast where you can escape and explore the mangroves (visit during the week days for less people).

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

Nature 

Nature GatGs should venture to the island’s very own rainforest. El Yunque is one of the best places to see in Puerto Rico with its waterfalls and nature trails and is easy to explore by yourself. Just follow the others walking along the route and stopping to have their packed lunch on a rock.

As well as El Yunque, Bosque Estatal de Guánica is a Biosphere Reserve and one of the best preserved in the Caribbean. Here you can experience a subtropical and dry forest where you can hike to your heart’s content.

Head north to Cueva Ventana in Arecibo, a natural limestone formation with breathtaking views. The cave opens up to a natural window of stunning views making it one of the most-loved spots on the island. History GatGs can admire engravings in the stone and petroglyphs that date back to pre-Columbian times. Take a guided tour to learn more about the area whilst you hike.

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

Adventure in Puerto Rico

For the adventurous GatG you can fly along the island’s zip wire at Toro Verde, the longest zip line in the world.

Aventuras Tierra Adentro – One for the adventurous GatG, this Puerto Rican company offers all kinds of adrenalin adventure such as canyoning, rock climbing, zip lining or caving adventures in the famous Rio Camuy cave system.

If you love star gazing, drive yourself to the giant telescope at Arecibo, or visit Mona Island for spectacular stargazing.

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach

The Islands

Culebra

There is so much to explore in Puerto Rico than just Puerto Rico itself. Being an archipelago of islands means that there are other islands to explore. Culebra, and Vieques are the main islands and are easily reachable from Ceiba, the gateway to the islands.

Culebra may be the smallest but it has one of the best beaches in the world. Flamenco Beach is just stunning and you can spend hours here sampling food from the local sellers and enjoying the amazing scenery. This island is also a mecca for scuba diving due to its fantastic visibility and coral reefs. Rosario is a good spot for snorkelling or Zoni beach for a kite surfing lesson. If you look closely enough you can see turtles in the water at Tamarindo but it is rocky, or head to Melones beach for the perfect Caribbean sunset.

Culebra also has a smaller island called Culebrita. This uninhabited islet is perfect for hiking GatGs. Reachable by boat you can hike the nature reserve and walk to one of the oldest lighthouses in the Caribbean. Culebrita is a wildlife refuge so keep your eyes peeled for birds and wild turtles if you visit.

Another uninhabited island is Cayo Luis Pena which is also one of the nicest cays. As part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge it has coral reefs to swim or snorkel. You can kayak to here or take a water taxi.

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

Vieques

Vieques is the biggest island and offers a different vibe to Culebra. The island is mainly a wildlife refuge and you’ll see wild horses just roaming around. If you’ve ever wanted to kayak on a bioluminescent bay then take a side trip to this island to see this natural wonder at Puerto Mosquito. There are tours from San Juan if you don’t have time to stay on Vieques.

If you do stay here, hire a jeep to explore beach caves, the 19th century Spanish fort and the island’s museums (they are small though). Visit Esperanza beach then walk to Cayo de Tierra which is connected to Esperanza by sand. Hike Monte Pirata, kayak through mangroves or go sailing at sunset to experience this island’s vibe.

If Vieques is too big of an island for you then you may prefer to escape to an even smaller island. Cayo Afuera is surrounded by coral reefs and kayaking around it is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Puerto Rico does have two other islands nearby; Mona Island (named ‘The Galapagos of the Caribbean’) and Caja de Muertos, known for its turtles, nature reserve, and Pelican Beach. This island is one of the most enchanting of Puerto Rico’s natural attractions. Take the ferry from Ponce to reach here.

Solo travel in Puerto Rico

What To Do in The Evenings in San Juan

Just walk around Old San Juan to watch live dancing taking place on Friday nights in Plaza Colon, and other squares in the old town. Just listen out for the clapping and cheering and head to the source to find it. Carolina is where you’ll find the clubs. It’s a perfectly safe if you want to head to a bar or two alone here.

Old San Juan has a famous salsa club and you don’t need a partner to go. Just turn up, order a drink and hang at the edge of the bar waiting for someone to ask you to dance. The club is small and intimate with an amazing live band.

If you like the cinema, the Fine Arts Cinema is a stylish place to wile away an evening or you could head to Dingy Dock to enjoy some fresh fish and watch people pulling up in their boats.

To meet others head to the Poetry Cafe in Poets Passage every Tuesday night from 7pm for the open mike night. It’s free and you can listen to others performing and even perform yourself.

Other places to visit in Puerto Rico are: Cayo Icacos from Fajardo with its turquoise waters.

Tours in Puerto Rico

Tours in Puerto Rico

Aventuras Tierra Adentro – One for the adventurous GatG, this Puerto Rican company offers all kinds of adrenalin adventure such as canyoning, rock climbing, zip lining or caving adventures in the famous Rio Camuy cave system. 

Even if you don’t like rum, a trip to the Barcadi Rum Factory is worth a visit. The distillery to the world’s favourite premium spirit brand was opened on the island in 1936 and covers 127 acres of land. The $12 tour includes a short movie and a cocktail at the end or you can book a mixology tour instead. Check details and prices

El Yunque Rainforest – This half-day tour takes you from San Juan to El Yunque. You’ll experience the walking trails of this ecosystem, see the waterfall and get a panoramic view of the rainforest from the Yukaho Tower. Check prices, dates and availability 

Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and tours in worldwide destinations including Puerto Rico. Choose from a full-day catamaran tour around Culebra, a nature walk in El Yunque National Rainforest or a kayak eco adventure on Bioluminescent Lagoon. There are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. * Check all tours and prices here

Where to stay in Puerto Rico

Where To Stay in Puerto Rico

No matter what your budget, the island has a variety of accommodation to choose from. You’ll find everything from colourful hostels to all inclusive resorts in Puerto Rico.

Stay in a swanky resort such as Palmas del Mar where you can choose half-board options or opt for a cute guest house along the coastline. If you are planning to experience rural life there are country inns in some of the island’s most beautiful natural and historic spots.

There is also Airbnb which connects you to staying with locals whether you choose to just book a room or a whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.

Homestay is an alternative to Airbnb. They offer stays in accommodation such as a stay in a B&B in a country home to an oceanfront suite. You can video call your host family before you go to find the perfect host. Check homestays and prices here

All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. 

Aguadiila – WSSM Surf House

If you’re a surfing GatG this Surf House is perfect for surfing the waves on the island. There are hammocks for chilling out and a patio and pool table for challenging others to a game. The hosts are really friendly and the accommodation is clean, comfortable and colourful. If you’re not into surfing you can just take advantage of the beach or snorkel or dive instead. Breakfast is included. Choose from a standard queen room, double with shared or private bathroom or your own studio.

  • Prices from £65 per night for a standard queen room
  • To book, check prices or availability for WSSM Surf House

San Juan – Nomada Urban Beach Hostel

This hostel is one of the best places to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico if you are on a budget. It has everything you need from welcoming staff to a kitchen where you can cook your own dishes and a supermarket just outside. It’s really sociable and easy to meet others in the garden and terrace. There’s also a bbq too.

It’s easy to get from the airport on the local bus and the front desk is open 24 hours so if you are arriving late there will be someone to check you in. The hostel is really secure with plenty of cameras. Choose from a bed in a 10-bed mixed dorm, a female-only dorm, or you can camp on the roof in a tent or just a hammock. Very unique!

  • Prices from £16 per night for a rooftop hammock (plus taxes)
  • To book, check prices or availability for Nomada Urban Beach Hostel

San Juan – Mango Mansion

If you prefer to stay by the beach Mango Mansion is perfectly situated on Condado Beach. It’s near the nightlife if you want to sample the island’s bars (the area is very safe). The beds are really comfortable with memory foam mattresses so you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep and there is air conditioning for the warm nights.

The staff are great and you can socialise if you want to or just keep yourself to yourself. A good breakfast is also included. Choose from a deluxe 4 or 6 bed dorm room or a superior 4 bed mixed dorm with an ensuite.

  • Prices from £23 per night for a bed in a deluxe 6 bed mixed dorm
  • To book, check prices or availability for Mango Mansion

Culebra – Culebra International Hostel

Culebra International Hostel is just a short walk to the beach and a 10 minute walk into town. Arriving by ferry it’s very easy to find on foot. It is a quiet hostel and the perfect place to chill on a tropical island. They offer dinner every day at an additional cost if you prefer to eat there or you can stroll along to one of the three restaurants nearby. They are a great hostel to stay in and gave me a warm welcome to their island. Choose from a delixe 4 bed private or 6 bed mixed dorm room (all ensuite).

Vieques – Vieques Hostel Good Vibe House

If you are planning to visit the Bioluminescent Bay this B&B is a great place to stay. The owner is really welcoming and goes out of his way to ensure that you have a good stay. There is a social area and upper deck where you can lay in a hammock or socialise with the other guests. You can book your Bio Bay tour through them or snorkel with turtles. They have a reggae bar and offer salsa lessons so you need not spend your evenings solo.

  • Prices from £46 per night for a queen room with shared bathroom
  • To book, check prices or availability for Good Vibe Hostel

Getting Around Puerto Rico

Getting Around Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico isn’t the easiest island to get around. Although there are local buses in San Juan, outside of the capital public transport barely exists. Hiring a car or taking a tour are the only options to really get around the island. Click here for the buses

Even though websites show prices of car hire from $20 a day, you need to pay extra for insurance so allow for $50 a day instead. You don’t need to hire a car from the airport if you are choosing to spend a few days in the capital at the beginning of your trip.

San Juan is a walkable city and car hire companies such as Enterprise Car have a drop off point in Plaza Colon so you don’t need to go back to the airport for your car. There is also a train in San Juan, see here for more details 

Take the free trolley service to the most popular sites. Just stand at one of the trolley stops which are numbered for the free ride. It runs until 7pm Monday to Sunday and starts at 7am Monday to Friday and 9am on the weekends.

Rental cars aren’t generally allowed to be taken off the island so if you are planning to visit Vieques or Culebra you may need to rent another car on the islands or hire a golf cart instead. There are shared shuttles on Culebra from the island to the ferry terminal and Flamenco Beach (or you can hike a bike to explore the island). Vieques has publicos (taxis) but they don’t go everywhere so you may have to walk or hire a scooter or car to reach certain places.

Ceiba is the new gateway to the islands (it used to be Fajardo). Ferries leave from here and take 45 minutes to Culebra, and 30 minutes to Vieques on the passenger ferries. The ferries don’t necessarily come back the same day so plan to stay overnight. Buy your tickets at the ticket windows. Check here for the ferry times. You can fly to Culebra with Air Flamenco from Ceiba or San Juan.

Puerto Rico Itinerary

Puerto Rico is an ideal destination for a long weekend if you are flying from the USA. Spending 4 days in Puerto Rico gives you enough time to explore New and Old San Juan and have some beach time too. To see more of the island you need at least 5 days. Here are some sample itineraries for 5 days to 10 days on the island.

5 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary

Base yourself in San Juan spending time in Old San Juan visiting the old forts and either Isla Verde, or Condado Beach. Hire a car and drive around the island visiting; the Bacardi Rum Factory and El Yunque.

A week in Puerto Rico

San Juan (3 nights), Ponce (2 nights), Rincon (2 nights).

10-12 day Itinerary for Puerto Rico

San Juan (5 nights), Culebra (3 nights), Vieques (2-3 nights).

San Juan (3 nights), Ponce (2 nights), Rincon (1 nights), Culebra (2 nights), Vieques (2 nights).

Best Time to Visit Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has a tropical climate making it a good destination to visit for the majority of the year. 

The summer months can be a bit rainy with the north coast receiving more rain than the rest of the island. It doesn’t usually rain for long so don’t let this put you off travelling here during this time. Low season is between June to November due to the hurricane season. High season is from December to April so you may prefer to travel here from April to June or September and October which is the best time to go to Puerto Rico. 

If you love festivals visit Vieques in mid-July for the Patronales, a salsa and calypso music festival held on the island. Check that the festival is on when you want to go. The chart below shows the annual weather for San Juan from January to December. 

San Juan weather

Puerto Rico Travel Insurance

Puerto Rico is a gorgeous archipelago to explore but because it is part of the USA, travel insurance is always recommended to cover you for medical assistance and accidents.

I recommend True Traveller for UK and European residents, and World Nomads for U.S. and worldwide citizens. Both companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road, and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional adventure cover.

Puerto Rico Airports

Puerto Rico has two airports, the main one being in San Juan. Flights from New York also go to Aguadilla on the west side of the island.

San Juan – Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) is a 15 minute drive to San Juan. A taxi costs approximately £30, the same cost as a shuttle which leaves even 15 minutes. Find out more about the shuttle here.

Aguadilla – From Rafael Hernandez International (BQN) you need to take a taxi for £15 which takes 12 minutes.

Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.

Travelling Onwards (check visas before you travel)

Puerto Rico is part of the USA so if you are visiting from outside of the US and have your ESTA you can travel onto the rest of the U.S afterwards (if you are within the allocated number of days). As Puerto Rico is an island there are no land borders.

Where can I go from here?

US Virgin Islands – 35 minutes

United States – 2 hrs 45 mins (Fort Lauderdale)

Dominican Republic – 2.5 hours 

Frequently Asked Questions About Puerto Rico

FAQs 

  • Can I drink the water? Yes but since Hurricane Maria you may feel more comfortable driving tap water.
  • Is tipping expected? Yes. It is part of the US with the same tipping culture. If it’s not included in your bill then a 10-15% tip is expected.
  • Fixed price or barter? Fixed price
  • Any ATMs? Yes in San Juan, Ponce, Vieques and other areas on the island
  • Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side
  • Good for vegetarians? Puerto Rican food does include meat but you can find a few vegetarian and even vegan-free cuisine.
  • Any seven wonders of the world? No but the bioluminescent bay in Vieques should be.

Map of Puerto Rico

Planning a Trip to Puerto Rico

If you are planning a trip to Puerto Rico here are some useful links to help you plan your trip including airlines which fly there, vaccinations required and UNESCO sites to see.

Capital –  San Juan

Population – 3.3 million

Language spoken – English, Spanish

Local Currency – U.S. Dollar 

Do I need a visa? 

Vaccinations Required

Did you know? Cuban traditions have been blended within Puerto Rican’s culture after many Cubans arrived on the island in the 1960s.

 

Lingo – People speak English and Spanish

 

Useful Info

Airlines to Puerto Rico

The Best Time to Go

Which Plug Do I Need? 

UNESCO Sites in Puerto Rico 

Events and Festivals in Puerto Rico 

Local Cost Guide

Local Customs & Etiquette