The author posing for a photo in front of a building painted with the flag of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Road Trip (A Local’s Ultimate Itinerary)

Planning a Puerto Rico road trip itinerary is a great way to see some of the island’s best spots. But, unless you’re a local, planning this by yourself can result in missing out on some of the best places.

The best sites of Puerto Rico are scattered all across the tropical island, and the best way to discover them is by adventuring on a road trip around the country.

Lucky for you, I’m Puerto Rico local ready to give you all the inside information on where to go and how to fit the best Puerto Rico sites into a 7-day itinerary!

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The Perfect Puerto Rico Road Trip Itinerary (in One Week)

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Day 1 – El Yunque, Luquillo, and Fajardo

View of the Playa Colorá and the clear blue sky above it
Playa Colorá in Fajardo

📍 Google Maps

Start your day by heading early to El Yunque National Forest. It’s one of the best things to do in Rio Grande, and the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system. Once there, make a stop at La Coca Falls, climb the Yokahu Tower, and take a dip in Juan Diego Falls

After leaving El Yunque Rainforest, head over to Los Kioskos de Luquillo, and enjoy great food for lunch. After you’re done, cross the street to Luquillo Beach, and take a dip on one of Puerto Rico’s top beaches

In the early afternoon, stop at Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo and hike at your own pace towards Playa Escondida – it’s an excellent beach for snorkeling or sunbathing in the sand.

As the sunset hour approaches, make your way to Playa Colorá, and take beautiful pictures on this beach with bright orange sand and contrasting turquoise waters. Finish your evening kayaking in Laguna Grande bioluminescent bay.

Close your day by heading to Las Croabas, where you’ll find dozens of restaurants where you can grab dinner.

Day 2 – Ceiba, Naguabo, and Maunabo

A pine tree in the black sand beach of Maunabo
Black sand beach in Maunabo

📍 Google Maps | 39 Places to Visit in Puerto Rico

Start your day trip at Ceiba, and head to one of the top Puerto Rico waterfalls, Las Tinajas. The place tends to get somewhat crowded, so arrive early in the morning to have it for yourself. 

Before midday, continue driving through the east coast until you reach El Malecón in Naguabo, and choose your place to eat from over a dozen beachfront restaurants. Take a stroll through the famous beachfront promenade and find a place to enjoy a dessert or a refreshing piña colada after lunch.

Get back in your car and make your way to Finca De Rustica, a dreamy flower farm that seems out of a movie. Buy flowers and jewelry, or simply tour the beautiful fields.

Before 5 pm, continue driving to the nearby town of Maunabo and make a stop at Playa Los Bohios, one of the few black sand beaches on the island, and enjoy the landscape with Punta Tuna Lighthouse as a background. Finish your day with dinner at Aqua Viva Restaurant with a view of the Caribbean Sea.

Day 3 – Salinas, Cayey, Patillas, and Aibonito

View from the Plaza in Aibonito
Aibonito’s Plaza

📍 Google Maps | 63 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Begin the morning driving from Maunabo to Salinas, one of Puerto Rico’s best towns. Take a tour in La Paseadora to Cayo Matías, one of Puerto Rico’s cays. Continue driving to the north of Salinas and find La Curva del Árbol, a picturesque place with a breathtaking landscape. 

For lunch, cross over to Cayey, choose one of the many restaurants on The Pork Highway, and taste the amazing Puerto Rican food like roasted pork. Once you’re done eating, head over to Carite Forest and hike towards Charco Azul, where you can bathe in a bright turquoise natural pond. 

Continue navigating through the Puerto Rico mountains until you reach Aibonito. If you happen to be there in late June and early July, you can enjoy one of the top Puerto Rico festivals, Airbonito’s Flower Festival. If not, you can still visit one of Aibonito’s multiple gardens, like Meyer Nurseries, Jardín El Cerro, or Jardín Emanuelli

Grab dinner at Aribonito’s town center and later, drive to Cerro Las Tetas, to spend the night camping with the best views of Puerto Rico.

Day 4 – Ponce, Guánica, Lajas

Turquoise blue water from the Playa Ballena
Playa Ballena (photo: Euri Rivera / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps

After admiring the view from the mountain, pack your things and go south until you arrive at Ponce. Spend the morning exploring this historical town center, pretty similar to San Juan. Make stops at Parque de Bombas, Plaza Las Delicias, and the Ponce Cathedral. For lunch, head over to La Guancha, a beach boardwalk with multiple food kiosks. 

After eating, make your way to the neighboring city of Guánica. Stop at Guánica’s Dry Forest and explore some of the best hiking trails in Puerto Rico. Along the coast of the forest, you’ll also find beautiful beaches like Playa Ballena

Before night, cross over to the city of Lajas, and take a guided tour to La Parguera bioluminescent bay, the only one of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico you can swim at. Grab a late dinner at La Parguera town center.

Day 5 – San Germán and Cabo Rojo

Scenic view of the Los Morillos Lighthouse above the cliff

📍 Google Maps

Continue moving west and stroll through the historical town square of San Germán, and make sure to visit the iconic Porta Coeli Church. Grab lunch in Lupito’s and continue driving to the west coast to Cabo Rojo’s Wildlife Refuge.

Other things to do in Cabo Rojo include a visit to the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean from beautiful limestone cliffs, and Playuela Beach. Head over to Boqueron and enjoy dinner at any of the local food kiosks with a view of one of the best sunsets in Puerto Rico.

Day 6 – San Sebastián, Isabela, Camuy, and Arecibo

Scenic view from the Gozalandia waterfall in Puerto Rico
Gozalandia in San Sebastián

📍 Google Maps

After grabbing breakfast, head over to Gozalandia in San Sebastián. After refreshing yourself, get back in your car and head north to the surfer town of Isabela.

Stop by at Playa Jobos and grab lunch at KAI, or any of the beachfront restaurants. Continue driving east until you reach Camuy, and stop at the Camuy Caves. The most impressive underground cave system in Puerto Rico, these were carved by the third-largest underground river in the world. 

In the afternoon, head over to the city of Arecibo. Enjoy a calm sunset on the sandy beach of La Poza del Obispo with a historic lighthouse over a rock wall as a background. Finish your day with a late dinner at La Güira Cocina Puertorriqueña

Day 7 – Manatí and Old San Juan

Cannonball at El Morro in Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps

Wake up at dawn to make the best of your last Puerto Rico island road trip day. Make your way towards Mar Chiquita in Manatí, an incredibly beautiful beach Puerto Ricans like to keep a secret.

After admiring this beach, and taking a quick swim, get back on the road with Old San Juan as your final destination. Grab a quick lunch at Deaverdura in Calle Sol in the capital city and then walk towards El Morro, one of the top attractions in San Juan.

If you’re into fortresses, within walking distance you’ll also find Castillo San Cristobal. Cross the Cuartel Ballajá building, one of the most impressive structures in Old San Juan, and head down towards the historic Cathedral of San Juan.

Later, visit the San Juan Gate and continue walking along Paseo La Princesa to enjoy the view of the Old San Juan Bay and cruise ships moving across it. Finish your Puerto Rico vacation by having dinner at Princesa Cocina Cultura and head back to the airport in Isla Verde.

How to Get Around in Puerto Rico

View while driving to Rincon, Puerto Rico

The best way to get around during your Puerto Rico road trip is by renting a car with Discover Cars. Public transportation runs only through a few cities in the north of Puerto Rico, and it isn’t the most time-efficient nor practical way to discover Puerto Rico outside San Juan. The routes are also limited and the hours tend to be irregular. 

To be able to fully complete your Puerto Rico itinerary, it’s more practical and time-saving to rent a car. Check my guide on how to rent a car in Puerto Rico to learn how to do it.

FAQs About a Puerto Rico Road Trip

Can you drive Puerto Rico in a day?

In theory, travelers could drive around Puerto Rico in a day, but they wouldn’t be able to make any stops on the way. To explore the island in its totality, it’s best to make a Puerto Rico itinerary of seven days or more.

How long is a road trip around Puerto Rico?

A Puerto Rico road trip can take between one and three weeks depending on how many cities and towns travelers decide to visit. Most travelers take the route around the coast, stopping in 5-6 cities.

Can you drive around the entire island of Puerto Rico?

Visitors can drive around the entire main island of Puerto Rico. But, to get to Vieques and Culebra, visitors have to take an airplane from San Juan Airport or a 30-minute ferry that departs from the city of Ceiba. Visiting other Puerto Rico islands and cays is only possible through boat tours. 

Is it difficult to drive in Puerto Rico?

Driving in Puerto Rico is overall easy for visitors coming from the United States, as it is a similar traffic system. But, driving in Puerto Rico mountains can be difficult for most drivers as roads are narrow and curvy. Visitors that want to drive in the Puerto Rico mountains shouldn’t be beginner drivers.

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Thanks for reading my guide to road tripping Puerto Rico! For more tips, check out all my Puerto Rico travel guides.

Have fun on your Puerto Rico road trip!

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