San Juan Puerto Rico  >  Things to Do  >  Day Trips & Excursions Near San Juan

With so much to see and do in San Juan, you may be tempted to stay within the city.  But if you have the time, we encourage you to rent a car or book a tour with a trusted guide, so you can get a taste of what makes Puerto Rico the richest and most diverse destination in the Caribbean.  Following, we provide you with day trips and excursions you can do on your own by renting a car and driving within 1.5 hours from San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as a map of their locations.  All the following places and day trips are family friendly and don’t require a lot of planning.

Perhaps you don’t see yourself driving around as part of an enjoyable vacation, but unlike many destinations, Puerto Rico’s enchantment can best be experienced by getting on the road.  The journey to the following places is only part of the fun (just avoid rush hour business traffic leaving or driving back to San Juan).  You’ll drive through and around the magnificent verdant mountains of the island and through coastal towns tempting you to make a stop.  In just about every town, there’s something wonderful to explore in Puerto Rico.  During your drive around the island, you’ll understand why so many visitors come back again and again.

Various tour companies do offer transportation to and from your hotel, but again, we highly recommend you rent a car for the most flexibility.

Spend a Day Hiking the Enchanted El Yunque National Rainforest

El Yunque National Rainforest - Daytrips from San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of the most memorable places you will experience, that feels like a world away, is easily accessible from the capital city of San Juan.  The hike through the rainforest is a real pleasure with mystical waterfalls throughout the park.  El Yunque is one of the most magical places in the Caribbean.  An experience the entire family will treasure.  You could spend a few full days exploring El Yunque Rainforest, but one day will be sufficient to hike the most popular trails.

  • Driving Time: Approx. 45 minutes southeast from San Juan
  • Time needed to see the most popular points of interest at rainforest: 4-5 hours
  • Days / Hours: Open daily from 7:30am to 6:00pm
  • Cost: Entry to rainforest is free. Visitor center: $3 per person
  • Phone: (787) 888-1880
  • You may also book with a trusted tour operator to drive you and give you a tour of the rainforest.  The park rangers offer tours of the main trails.
  • Location: Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

Many tour guides split the day between El Yunque and Luquillo Beach (Balneario Monserrate).  The beach in Luquillo is one of the most popular public beaches in Puerto Rico with great local food nearby.

More about El Yunque National Rainforest, Puerto Rico.

Caja de Muertos – Spend the Day on a Beautiful, Uninhabited Island

Caja de Muertos Island - Day Trip from San Juan, Puerto Rico

Caja de Muertos Island is certainly worth the drive and ferry ride from La Guancha, Ponce, and it may actually be one of the highlights of your trip to Puerto Rico.  Spend a day relaxing on Pelicano Beach, swim in turquoise and aquamarine gem coloured waters, watch pelicans, and hike the dry forest trail up to the lighthouse ruins with gorgeous views.  Take the trail to Playa Larga, where you can enjoy snorkeling in crystal clear waters.  When the ferry boat return you back to La Guancha, you can enjoy traditional Puerto Rican food and drinks at the boardwalk and watch the sunset.  You may want to drive into the plaza in Ponce to see Parque de Bombas before you head back to San Juan.

We suggest this trip because Adventure not only takes you to Caja de Muertos, but for an additional fee, you also get lunch and plenty of drinks to make your planning and stay on the island more enjoyable.  The drive from San Juan to Ponce down route 52 is at times very scenic.  Although you’ll be on the highway the entire time, once you leave San Juan you’ll be driving through the center of the island where the views of the mountains and the Caribbean Sea in the distance are breathtaking.

  • Driving Time: 1.5 hour southwest from San Juan + approx. 1 hour ferry ride
  • Time on the island: About 5 hours on the island.
  • Cost for Ferry: $25 p/p  Ages 12 and up, ages 3 – 11 $20 p/p, ages 0-3 $6 p/p
  • Location: Depart from La Guancha in Ponce, Puerto Rico
  • More about Isla Caja de Muertos

Visit Two World Wonders in the Scenic Karst Region

Day Trip from San Juan to Camuy River Cave Park & Arecibo Observatory

With a scenic drive into the Karst region in the northern mountains, you can enjoy two world-class attractions, a seaside Indian cave, a breathtaking location for a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean and one of the smallest and most unique beaches on the north coast of Puerto Rico.  This will be one fascinating day.

  • Driving time: 1.5 hours west from San Juan
  • Or book a tour
  • Time on sites: One full morning to see Camuy River Cave Park & Arecibo Observatory & a full afternoon to see Cueva del Indio and Playa Poza del Obispo.   More about this amazing day trip. 

Camuy River Cave Park

A massive cavern with the third largest underground river system in the world.

Arecibo Observatory

…the largest radio telescope in the world.  Don’t be fooled by the pictures.  This radio telescope is massive and worth the drive.  The scenery surrounding the area is very beautiful.  The Arecibo Observatory was part of the blockbuster Hollywood movie Contact. 

Sail Offshore to Cayos Icacos during the day…and at night, tour the Laguna Grande Bio Bay

Icacos Cay - Day Trip from San juan, Puerto Rico

With just over an hour drive from San Juan to Las Croabas and other marinas in Fajardo, you can sail and explore the Icacos or Lobos Cays with deserted beaches and nothing but white sand and perfect clear turquoise waters to snorkel and swim in.

After you return, enjoy an unforgettable evening kayak or electric boat tour of the nearby Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay.  See our interactive moon calendar (bottom of linked page) to best plan your trip around new moon phases when it is darkest at night and the bio bay at its best.

  • Driving Time: 1 hour+ southeast from San Juan, but give yourself an extra 30 – 45 minutes just in case to allow for traffic.
  • Locations: Most sailing charters to Icacos or Lobos Cay leave from the Villa Marina or Puerto Del Rey Marina located in Fajardo.  Laguna Grande Bio Bay tours leave from Las Croabas harbor / marina in Fajardo.  A map and contact information is provided below for access to more information.

Excursions, tour operators, photos and more info on Icacos Cay, Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

Laguna Grande Bio Bay ToursReserva Natural Las Cabezas De San Juan

Bioluminescent Bay Tours

 

Book at tour

To learn more about the Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico, please visit Mosquito Bay – Vieques (new window – Vieques.com)

  • Tour Times: Most kayak tour guides run 2, 2-hour kayaking tours after dark with a pre-trip arrival time 30+ minutes early.  Electric boat tours are typically 1.25 hours with 3 evening starting times.  None of the tour guides we’ve listed operate on Sundays.
  • Cost of tours: Kayaking tours: Approx. $48-$68 p/p + transportation from San Juan.  Electric boat tours: Approx. $48-$52 p/p + transportation from San Juan.  If you want to save money, rent a car in San Juan and drive yourself.
Bioluminescent Bay Tours - Directory

By Electric Boat

  • Bio Island  787-422-7857
  • Baby Bay Cruising Lagoon  787-655-2739

Kayaking Tours

  • Akuadventures Island Tours     (787) 685-9522
  • Amigos Tours & Travels     (787) 758-6533
  • Eco Action Tours     787-791-7509
  • Eco Adventures  787-206-0290 
  • Enchanted Island Eco Tours  787-888-2887 or 787-564-9827
  • GSI Tours     800-720-7447     787-863-6890
  • Island Kayaking Adventures  787-444-0059 
  • Kayaking Puerto Rico  787-435-1665 
  • Las Tortugas Adventures  787-809-0253 or 787-433-4700 
  • Pure Adventure  787-202-6551
  • Rico Sun Tours/ RST     (787) 722-2080
  • San Juan Tours     888-806-2343
  • The Kayak Rental  787-616-9594
  • Tour Coop of Puerto Rico     787-762-7155
  • Trans-Travel Tours & Logistics     (787) 727-4479/ (787) 615-7568
  • Yokahu Kayak Trips  787-604-7375 

Map of Top Places to Visit Near San Juan

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San Juan Day Trip Attraction Locations in Puerto Rico

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El Yunque National Rainforest: 18.296238, -65.797633
Isla Caja de Muertos - Ponce, Puerto Rico: 17.900995, -66.517410
Ferry Boat to Isla Caja de Muertos - Ponce, Puerto Rico: 17.965160, -66.614930
Arecibo Observatory - Arecibo, Puerto Rico: 18.346135, -66.752672
Rio Camuy Cave Park - Camuy, Puerto Rico: 18.346063, -66.822217
Cayo Icacos - Fajardo, PR: 18.388737, -65.587692
Las Croabas harbor / marina - Fajardo, Puerto Rico: 18.364435, -65.625350
Las Cabezas \'Laguna Grande\' Bioluminescent Bay - Fajardo, Puerto Rico: 18.378230, -65.623484
Villa Marina - Fajardo, Puerto Rico: 18.342387, -65.636959
Puerto Del Rey Marina - Fajardo, Puerto Rico: 18.286734, -65.634899
Balneario Monserrate (Luquillo Beach) - Luquillo, Puerto Rico: 18.384927, -65.729892
Cayo Lobos - Fajardo, PR: 18.378990, -65.570226
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