There are a lot of things to do in San Juan, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire Puerto Rico vacation within the confines of the capital. There’s so much to explore in Puerto Rico, which is why we’ve curated this quick list of the best day trips from San Juan.
The best day trips from San Juan
1. Visit parks such as El Yunque National Forest
There’s so much nature to explore on the island (see our Puerto Rico nature guide), and some of the best examples are at Puerto Rico’s parks. El Yunque National Forest – one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico in general – is the most famous. And since it’s only about an hour away from San Juan, it makes for an excellent day trip from San Juan.
A Fora Advisor can help you decide which parts of the park are most worthy of your time while also planning your ideal route, as well.
2. Learn about space at the Arecibo Observatory
If you’re looking for things to do in Puerto Rico with kids, a day trip to the Arecibo Observatory is a great choice. Until it was decommissioned in 2020, the observatory’s massive radio telescope was science-famous for exploring the deepest reaches of space – and movie-famous for being the site of one of Sean Bean’s many onscreen deaths (i.e. GoldenEye).
3. Paddle through a bioluminescent bay like La Laguna Grande
Technically this would be a night trip from San Juan rather than a day trip from San Juan, but Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays offer a truly unique experience. The bays glow at night because of microscopic algae blooms that shimmer when disturbed by waves.
If you want to do something you can’t do almost anywhere else in the world, visit the bioluminescent bay in La Laguna Grande (or Vieques if you don’t mind the three-hour travel time). And remember, a Fora Advisor can help you with the travel details.
4. Relax at Luquillo Beach
Luquillo is one of the best areas to stay in Puerto Rico if you’re looking for a laid-back trip. But it also makes for a good day trip from San Juan. The beach town isn’t as developed as nearby Ponce or San Juan so the beaches are quieter, which also makes it one of the more romantic places in Puerto Rico to visit.
Here you can bask in the sun, snorkel along the coast or, if you’re really lucky, spy a leatherback turtle laying eggs along the beach.
You can also check out our mini Caribbean vacation guide for more tips on visiting Puerto Rico.
5. Explore Ponce’s Historic Zone
Ponce’s historical center isn’t as expansive as Old San Juan, but it still warrants a day trip if you want to immerse yourself in local culture (especially if you’ve enjoyed exploring San Juan). In addition to the city’s historical significance, Ponce also features a thriving culinary scene.
6. Hop on the Cayey Pork Highway
If you’re a meat lover, the best time to visit Puerto Rico is in December, right around Christmas time. Puerto Rico’s Cayey Pork Highway – which features a mile-long stretch of highway where pigs roast on skewers from dozens of vendors – offers a rich opportunity to explore Puerto Rico’s gastronomic scene.
If the Cayey highway is a bit out of your way for a day trip from San Juan, there are two other major Pork Highways you can indulge in instead (a Fora Advisor can help you decide which option best fits your agenda!).
7. Check out Carolina’s boardwalk & beaches
If you don’t want to travel too far from San Juan, Carolina is only about 20 minutes away. The beachfront boardwalk offers a great way to sample local Puerto Rican cuisine while the water parks and watersport rentals rank among the more adventurous things to do in Puerto Rico.
Some of the nearby ranches, like Campo Rico Hacienda, offer ATV rentals and horseback riding too.
Want to learn about more day trips from San Juan? Talk with a Fora Advisor
Still looking for that perfect day trip from San Juan? Connect with a Fora Advisor to discuss all your options. And remember, they can hook you with VIP upgrades and hotel perks (all at no extra cost!).