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Puerto Rico for Memorial Day?

Puerto Rico – 4-2008 45

Memorial Day in the northeast United States is the unofficial opening day of the beach. For me specifically, it was always the first Jersey Shore weekend in Wildwood. I was in high school, and Wildwood was cool then, maybe not as much now.

Wildwood NJ 4/19/2011

***There has been an update to this post added at the bottom.***

As an adult, however, I try to avoid the crowds. I hate sitting in traffic and dealing with over crowded beaches and restaurants. I guess I am officially an old fart.

Puerto Rico

Zoni beach - to the north - Culebra

Aracely and I have been doing some research on where to spend this holiday weekend and Puerto Rico has popped up on our radar. Flights from Fort Lauderdale, FL to San Juan are fairly cheap and time in the air is short. We plan on renting a vehicle to explore the island for 4 days.

Travel Suggestions?

What travel tips can you offer us for this trip to Puerto Rico? We love adventure, so if you can recommend some kayaking, hiking or canyoneering for us, it would be very helpful. Our travel style is budget, but full of adventure. We prefer nature over big resorts and don’t mind staying in a hostel as long as it’s not a party hostel. Beautiful natural beaches, jungle treks, water sports and some good food would be great!

***UPDATE on Travel Plans***

Alright, here is the latest plans on traveling to Puerto Rico.  We are not leaving this Holiday weekend, instead we have booked next weekend June 2 – June 5.  This gives us almost 4 days, probably 3.5 with travel, and 3 nights.  We are really excited to explore and camp on the island of Culebra.  Thanks so much for the tips and ideas that led us to this decision.  From there we should be able to experience Bio Bay in Vieques.  We will also spend a night in San Juan so we can visit the jungle early one morning on a tour.  I know we will be missing some other great spots, but the limited travel time doesn’t allow us to see too much, but that’s just reason to visit again.

Dina says:

We were in Puerto Rico for a very short time, and we enjoyed walking around the old town. But I can guess you are done exploring that! I hope you have a cooler day than our there. It was our first stop after a little family holiday in a Canadian winter, we were melting!

Jason says:

It was extremely humid and rained most of the time. For some odd reason we didn’t really think about the time of year we were going. It’s rainy season in the tropics!

The jungle and beach sounds like a full trip to me!

Jason says:

I am hoping it’s a blast. We leave this Thursday.

Leigh says:

Looks like it will be a great weekend of beaches. Lots of good info in the comments so sounds like kayaking would be great. And I know the birding is awesome.

Jason says:

We have booked the trip, but it won’t be until this weekend. Seemed like a better choice avoiding the crowds. We got lots of good info on the post.

Nick says:

Does it really warm enough to swim?

jade says:

I loved the Rincon area- great beaches and surfing. Gorgeous water and great snorkeling not too far. We took a private snorkel cruise- with a sailboat captain and us and it was actually really cheap! Good luck and have fun

Bibiana says:

Jason, I am puertorican and have lived on the island all my life. In San Juan you are not going to find the adventures you are seeking, for it is just a big chunk of city life. I suggest that you head over to Vieques which is a little island off the east coast or Culebra, another one. (Vieques is a little bit more entertaining and has more options for adventuring). You can also visit the southwest coast called Guanica. There is a charming little beach town called Boqueron that has an active “beach” nightlife and amazing beaches. There is also Isabela, another little town up to the northwest, that has very beautiful beaches. Rincon is also a spot that would interest you because it IS surf town.
Also, if El Yunque is not a very satisfactory hiking place considering it has pretty easy paths (it is extremely beautiful, though) you might prefer “Toro Verde” Nature Adventure Park it is a must-visit for any adventurer. There you can do mountain biking, hiking and even fly above the treetops with the zipline tours.
I will post a link to the site here. It is in spanish though.

I hope this information was useful to you and that you have a wonderful stay on the island.

Jason says:

Thanks so much for all the info Bibiana. We have so many different ideas now.

Don Faust says:

Jason – we also did Bio Bay in Vieques about a year ago. We were on board the Arabella, a 160 ft schooner, so the sailing staff arranged everything for us. However, I’d say it was one of the coolest experiences I ever had – very ethereal. It was so weird watching lit-up droplets of water roll down people’s shoulders as they swam and spashed about. If you don’t mind, I copied a link to a post we did on the Bio Bay, so you can get our take on it.

Jason says:

It sounds like the Bio Bay is a big hit. Since Veiques is right next to Culebra, we will add that to our itinerary.

CRMiller says:

Hi guys, I lived there in ’09 for about a year and feel like I found every adventure possible on the island. ‘d agree with going to the Bio Bay. Definitely one of those once in a lifetime sort of activities. If you can, make it the one on Vieques Island. It is much brighter than the one in Fajardo.

When I had weekend visitors, I’d take them to the northwestern karst region. Spend the morning walking through the Rio Camuy caves or exploring Cueva del Viento, and then pinchos for lunch outside the Arecibo observatory. That afternoon exploring the Taino Petroglyphs at the Cueva del Indio where we could also spend the evening playing on the beaches right down the road.

If you want to get real dirty, Aventuras Tierra Adentro will set you up with a full day canyoning or caving experience. $160ish dollars if I remember correctly.

While Rincon is nice, I always felt it was out of the way if you weren’t going there to surf. There are plenty of secluded beaches along the northern coastline without spending the time in the car to get to Rincon.


Jason says:

Unfortunately, we are only there for 4 days, 3 nights, but it seems like Puerto Rico is great for some cool kayaking or caving adventures. We will have to see which ones we can fit in.

Abby says:

Have fun! I’ll be in Vegas — avoiding the Strip’s crowds like the plague. There’s nothing wrong with getting old!!

claire says:

I have only been to Puerto RIco once, and it was for a bachelorette party, so you can imagine there wasn’t much roughing it or budget. It was fun though, and beautiful! Enjoy!

Marina K. Villatoro says:

I spent 2 weeks touring PR many new year’s ago. I really recommend heading over the other side of the island to Rincon, it’s the best surf spot, and just an adorable little town.

PR is so small you can be there in a few hours!

have fun,

Jason says:

Marina, if we don’t surf is Rincon still the place to be for natural beaches? We prefer to avoid the big resorts and big production tours. We will have a vehicle, so we should be able to drive to most places easily.

Marina K. Villatoro says:

definitely!!! I was there 10 years ago, and there was no big resorts there at all. Unlike San Juan area which is nothing but big resorts.

I don’t think Rincon was really built up, I think the tight knit community of surfers there would never permit it.

I don’t surf and we were swimming and having a blast everyday. It’s really gorgeous there.

Plus you can camp around there as well.

I thought of you guys when reading this post, because you won’t like San Juan area for too much time. It’s just like a huge resort area in the States.

Jason says:

That’s excellent information Marina, thank you very much!

Paige says:

We loved kayaking in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques. There’s also one in Fajardo. El Yunque has some fun hikes, but they are pretty tame, so if you’re looking for more adventure, you might want to find something off the beaten path.

Jason says:

Paige, I just googled the bay and wow, that is pretty awesome. Thanks for the info!

Dorian says:

Vieques and Fajardo are nice… I know the hikes are tame but not when you get dehydrated like I did.. yikes…

great insight


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