If you enjoy a good beach day, another great day trip from San Juan is to Luquillo Beach in Fajardo. There are not many public beaches in the actual San Juan area (at least not that we have seen-please comment below if you know of any good ones! 🙂 ), so if you are not staying at a resort with its own beach, you may find yourself heading out of town to find your perfect beach day. Less than an hour away from San Juan and only 15 minutes from El Yunque Rainforest, in the town of Fajardo, lies Playa Luquillo. It’s a big stretch of beach that is lined with palm trees and offers good swimming conditions.
You may notice in the picture that, in addition to the many palm trees there are also just a couple of people! But if you don’t mind some company on your beach day, the other beach-goers should not be an issue.
We came here on our honeymoon after a morning of hiking through El Yunque and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! The water was perfect and there is plenty of good, flat, sandy area to lay out your towels or blankets and soak up the sun. Lovely! Luquillo also has food and drink vendors, so you don’t have to come with giant coolers of sustenance to get you through the day! (But coolers are more than welcome, as you can see in the top right corner of the picture below where it looks like someone is moving in! 😉 )
To wrap it up, Luquillo is a pretty great beach and a nice destination for a road trip from San Juan! The space and convenience make it nice for spending a good chunk of your day, and its proximity to El Yunque makes it a natural choice for cooling off after some hiking on a hot PR day. Hope to see you there someday!
If you are at all interested in rum or the process of making it, you will love the Bacardi Distillery. And if you are not a fan of rum, but love history and culture, you may still really enjoy this day trip! Located in Cataño, the distillery is just a short trip away (about 20 minutes by car or a little longer by ferry). When we went, we did not have a rental, so we opted for the ferry. This requires a walk to the ferry terminal, waiting for the ferry, a short trip across the bay, getting a taxi to Casa Bacardi, and then all over again when you’re done. Sounds like a hassle, right? But for whatever reason–maybe my love of being on a boat–I think this is the way to go! But certainly, if you are on a time crunch or do not love ferries, taking a car is a quick and easy option!
The Casa Bacardi experience starts with a glimpse into the history of the Bacardi family and their company. The family bought a distillery in Cuba in the mid 1800s and by the 1930s they had expanded to both Puerto Rico and Mexico. They had to overcome adversity in their own home country of Cuba, but managed to persevere. Pretty impressive. The tour then takes you through the process of distilling and even a short demo for mixing Bacardi cocktails. At the end there is a gift shop and a nice patio where you can enjoy a sample if you are interested. This really is an enjoyable tour whether you are just there for the rum, the history, or both!
My Wish List:
There are some great day trips that we have yet to try on our trips to San Juan. Since we are usually only there for a few days, we typically spend that time relaxing and enjoying Old San Juan. But there are a few places/things I would like to get to one of these days…
Just under an hour and a half from San Juan, Arecibo is a great place to see more of Puerto Rico’s amazing history and natural beauty. There is an observatory, some caverns, and a lighthouse. But the main thing on my wishlist is to see the caves that are covered with Taino Indian glyphs. I believe this is at the Parque de las Cavernas del Río Camuy. One of these days…
Another experience I would love to have is kayaking at night in the Bioluminescent Bay. As your oar passes through the water, the water seems to glow. Awesome! We have somehow been to PR six times and never heard of this until our last trip in 2015. How does that happen??!! But now that we have heard the rave reviews, it is definitely on the list! Maybe even on my upcoming summer trip? We’ll see!! Here is the website for a company that takes people out in Fajardo.
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- Do your research before heading off to a new location. I say this because I wish we had known about the caves and Bioluminescent Bay before our first trip to Puerto Rico when we had more time to explore. Our trips these days are shorter and therefore harder to squeeze in these day trips.
- If you are headed to El Yunque for a day trip, try to plan time for Luquillo Beach while you are there. They are so close, it would almost be a shame to do one without the other.
- If headed to Luquillo Beach, bring cash for parking and any food or drinks that may be calling to you!
- If you interested in the Rainforest, Luquillo, and kayaking in the Bio Bay, consider spending a night or two in the Fajardo area, since all three of these destinations are within 40 minutes of each other.
Our favorite hotel in San Juan