Went down to Puerto Rico for a very brief stay of 3 nights from Mon, May 22nd to Thurs, May 25th. My cousin was getting married on Wed, so decided to make a little vacation of it. I packed a lot of things into the 2 full days, so here is my itinerary. I purposely avoided old San Juan since that can be easily done during a cruise stop.
I do so much research on my vacations and trips looking for the best price and reading all the reviews, so I wanted to share my hard work. It tells you which online services to book through, where to stay, what to do, and how much everything costs. As always, it’s geared for the fit, active traveler.
In 2 days, you get to hike El Yunque’s rain forest, do a nighttime kayak excursion in Fajardo, go for a 67 mile bike ride from San Juan to Luquillo, and do an optional fourth activity such as Camuy Caves or Bacardi Distillery.
Approximate cost for entire trip for 2 people traveling from BWI: $2000
Things to do in advance
- Buy airline tickets at Southwest via Southwest website
- Reserve rental car at SixT via Hotwire
- Reserve bikes from Rent-A-Bike (owner is Santos). Call or text him directly. $75/bike, includes drop-off and pick-up service.
- Become a member of RUSA $25/person
- Find the Permanent on the RUSA website. Search > Permanents > Starting Location = PR. Contact RUSA Permanent Ride Organizer to arrange the bike ride. Submit pre-registration paperwork to Ride Organizer.
- Book hotel room at Gran Melia Golf Resort via Priceline Express Deals
- Reserve airport parking at Econopark Express via Econopark Express website. Buy Groupon voucher.
- Book Bioluminescent Lagoon Kayak Adventure via Enchanted Island Eco Tours
Day 1 (travel day)
- Park at Econopark Express in Hanover, MD. Buy 3-day voucher through Groupon $16 + additional fees $11.26 (taxes and 4th day)
- Depart BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON, MD (BWI) on Southwest Airlines. Book tickets through Southwest Airlines. Total cost for 2 roundtrip tickets: $844.40
- Check in for your flights 24 hours before your trip on Southwest.com. First and second checked bags fly free.
- Arrive in SAN JUAN, PR (SJU). Flight is approximately 4 hours.
- Look for shuttle for rental car SixT – Book car through Hotwire $87.90 (includes toll package)
- Stay at Gran Melia Golf Resort for all 3 nights – Book hotel through Priceline. Search Express Deals. Look for hotel with 4 Stars, located in Rio Grande/Fajardo, and offers Free Internet. That is the Gran Melia. Total room cost: $347.65. Additional costs include:
- Parking for 4 days $50.18
- Breakfast package for 2 people for 3 days $97 (includes tips).
- Grab dinner inside Gran Melia. We ate at Pasion. Both got Paellas and Sangrias. Delicious!! Total Cost: $150
- Grab breakfast in hotel at Cafe Soleil. Discreetly pack some food from the buffet for your hike.
- Drive to El Yunque and park at Palo Colorado. Hike El Yunque Trail and then hike La Mina Trail
- El Yunque is open 7 days a week and it closes at 6pm.
- I followed all the hiking directions exactly as stated on the Puerto Rico Day Trips website and it was perfect! Trail Map
- Total distance covered was 8 miles.
- Recommend to bring a bathing suit for La Mina Falls. Great way to cool down after the hike to the peak.
- Get started as early as possible. I recommend 7am, so you have some time to enjoy the falls and grab a quick bite to eat before the kayaking. We got an extremely late start and that added to the time crunch.
- Bioluminescent Lagoon Kayak Adventure @ 5:45pm – 9pm, meet at Enchanted Island Eco Tours in Fajardo.
- Once at the tour location, locate the group across the street from Ocean View and KasaVista Restaurants. Look for black truck and trailer (Enchanted Island Eco Tours sign on the top). Gray canopy tent. Staff in Gray shirts.
- Book excursion through Enchanted Island Eco Tours website. Excursion only runs during the darkest phases of the moon, and only on certain days. Total cost: $152.06.
- We suggest that you wear lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants that you do not mind getting wet in, along with wearing some type of water shoes. The launch area is a natural shoreline that has rock, shell, coral and the unfortunate bottle tops, broken glass that have been left behind by unconcerned visitors. Wearing these items will insure that you avoid cutting your feet on natural or manmade sharp objects.
- Mosquitos, No-See-Ums, Midgies, Sand Flies, Punkies are natures biting insects! So being properly dressed will help prevent theses biting insects. We offer Botanical or All Natural repellents at the tour site! November through May are normally the best months for minimal insects
- This excursion was actually not very active at all. Don’t expect a workout. It’s cool to witness the bio-luminescence, but I honestly wasn’t that impressed. Feel free to skip this excursion entirely and spend time at the resort checking out the pool and beach, and eating a leisurely dinner. We were so rushed that we didn’t get to do these things.
- Grab breakfast in hotel at Cafe Soleil.
- Pick-up rental bikes from Santos. Total Cost for bikes: $150
- Recommend meeting him at Zombie Coffee in San Juan, as that is also the start of the ride.
- Recommend to start the ride as early as possible like 7am, especially if you want to do one of the excursions below. We got an extremely late start and that added to the time crunch. Plus the weather gets extremely hot!!
- Pack your own pedals, shoes, helmet, Garmin mount, speed, cadence, 2 water bottles, bike gloves, sunscreen, sunglasses, and Garmin.
- Do the 105km (67 mile) permanent “Atomic Number 59“. It’s an out-and-back that starts in San Juan, goes east to Luquillo, and back west to San Juan.
- Return bikes to Santos. The entire ride took us 6 hours, so plan your drop-off time with Santos accordingly.
- We had to spend the evening at the wedding, but since you’ll have the late afternoon and evening free, I’d try one of these activities (I have not done any of these before, but if I had the time I definitely would have):
- Bacardi Distillery – Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 4:30pm. Must enter Casa Bacardí before 4:00pm to take the last Historical tour of the day.
- Camuy Caves – Wednesdays – Sundays: 8am – 5pm. Last tour is around 3:30 so get there by 3:00 to be sure you get tickets.
- Run the golf course at Gran Melia.
Day 4 (travel day)
- Grab breakfast in hotel at Cafe Soleil.
- Fill up rental car with gas back in Isla Verde.
- Return car at SixT (located near Ritz Carlton hotel)
- Depart SAN JUAN, PR (SJU) on Southwest Airlines
- Arrive in BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON, MD (BWI).
- Shuttle to Econopark Express
- Submit control cards to RUSA ride organizer.