Who says you have to break the bank to enjoy a getaway to a tropical and sunny island? Just by traveling to Puerto Rico you’re already a step ahead of the game: you don’t need to worry about currency exchanges or roaming charges! Plus, there’s tons of things to do in and around San Juan that are 100% free. Take our advice and read on to check out our tips on how to save money while enjoying a Caribbean vacation of a lifetime!
Skip the Taxis
Rent a car. In the end, it’s more expensive to rely on taxis and other services to drive you around vs. just renting your own car. Many companies offer coupons, industry discounts, and sometimes you can even get a bundled package with your hotel and airfare. If you are a US citizen, your driver’s license is valid on the island! Skip purchasing the GPS at the rental company and download a mapping app on your phone like Google Maps or Waze. Be sure to shop around the gas stations for best prices, as the gas stations near the touristy areas tend to be more expensive.
Avoid Booking Tours at your Hotel or Concierge
They always charge hidden commission fees. If you want to use the “vetted” tours the desks offer, just get the hotel tour list & do some Google research online. Most of the time it’s not hard to find the company and book directly through them, without the added fee the hotel would charge you.
Eat Outside the Resorts/Hotels
You’ve heard the saying: location, location, location. Well that’s true about food too! You’ll be paying for the convenience of having (sometimes sub par) food right at your doorstep. Just go outside & around the corner for (usually) yummier & more affordable options. A perfect example is the pricey La Concha breakfast versus the affordable & superior Ben & Jerry’s breakfast just around the corner with the ocean view to boot!
Skip Hotels All Together
Nowadays tons of locals are posting their charming beachfront properties directly through a trusted booking system like VRBO or Airbnb, and at half the price sometimes! By booking through these sites you’ll get a more local experience and save big bucks, especially those pesky hidden hotel or resort fees that crop up at checkout that you hadn’t accounted for prior.
Eat like a Local
Venture outside of the big, touristy areas like Condado or Old San Juan and eat like a local! You get to explore the different towns and won’t have overly high prices because you won’t be in a super touristy area. Also, if you’re staying in a vacation home like we mentioned above, you can cook your own food in the kitchen. Head out to a local grocery store (or Old San Juan’s weekly farmer’s market), pick up some food, look up some recipes online and you can be your own local chef! Be sure you pick up some local fruits and veggies like papaya, mango, pineapple, and avocados which can be found at half the price than grocery stores in the states!
Day Trip to Culebra
One of the best hidden gems of Puerto Rico is the tiny island known as Culebra, located just west of the main island. A quick ferry ride from Fajardo (only an hour away from San Juan) will get you there and leave you ready to enjoy your day at one the most beautiful beaches in the world. The ferry is only a few dollars (but be sure to get there super early in the morning and ready to wait in line) and nothing on the island is too expensive. Once there, split a cab with other tourists from the ferry to Flamenco Beach, consistently rated one of the top beaches in the world. For extra savings pack a lunch with drinks and snacks and enjoy your day in one of the most beautiful places in the world for a just a few bucks. This is one of the cheapest and coolest things to do in Puerto Rico!
Hiking in El Yunque
The beach isn’t your thing? There’s a ton of other things to do! One of the best is to head on over to El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. There’s no entrance fee and an endless amount of things to do while there like hiking trails, waterfalls, views, and wildlife. There’s even some rumors about some alien activity in the forests…
Coffee at Local Cafes
Looking for some good coffee to keep you energized during your travels? Forget about Starbucks and save some money and time from long lines by getting your cup of joe at a local cafe. Puerto Rican coffee is delicious and cheap, so spend your time trying all the different cafes around the cities like Hacienda San Pedro, Cuatro Sombras, Caficultura, and Café Don Ruiz.
Explore Old San Juan
Old San Juan is one of the most historic areas in all of Puerto Rico. While it may be easy to spend a lot of money in this area, it’s also a breeze to explore the city without burning a hole in your wallet. Put your walking shoes on and explore all the free historical spots, like the Capilla Del Cristo, Parque Las Palomas, or walk around the huge fort walls. Instead of ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s, opt for piraguas (flavored shaved ice treats) located on almost every street. Instead of eating near El Morro or the cruise port, opt for a spot to eat that isn’t caught right by popular tourist area, like El Jibarito or Cafe Manolin. Or better yet, bring your own picnic and fly a kite on El Morro’s massive lawn.
So don’t fret – you don’t have to break your piggy bank in order to find things to do in Puerto Rico. Just use our tips and tricks and you’ll be enjoying your vacation on the island of enchantment while keeping your wallet nice and fat!