Cruising is a great way to explore several different destinations without having to pack up and get on a plane every couple of days. Many Caribbean cruises include a stop in Puerto Rico. This U.S. territory has an amazing array of attractions to draw you in. Unfortunately, most cruise ships only stop for a day. So, if you don’t find any of your ship’s shore excursions appealing, then how do you choose what to see and do while you are in port? Start by learning about some of the most popular, unique and rewarding attractions you can experience during your stop.
1. Hike in El Yunque National Forest
The only tropical forest in the United States National Forest System is located about 45 minutes outside of San Juan in the town of Luquillo. Your short stop in port will give you ample time to catch a ride over to marvel at the amazing natural scenery. Don’t worry about having the energy to handle the terrain. Thrive side effects include increased energy and stamina, and this is the perfect place to take advantage of those. Be sure to stop in a local cafe for a quick bite of authentic cuisine before heading back to the ship.
2. Visit a Rum Distillery
Known as the rum capital of the world, Puerto Rico is home to some of the world’s best-known rum distilleries. The Bacardi plant, the largest rum distillery in the world, is located a short distance from the island’s cruise ports. During your tour of the plant, you will see special exhibits explaining the fermentation, distilling and bottling processes as well as a small museum exhibits Bacardi’s history. Finish the trip off with a free rum cocktail. If you prefer to see smaller operations, Ron del Barrilito offers several tori that highlight the history and artisan craftsmanship involved in making the island’s oldest rum.
3. Walk Around Old San Juan
If you are interested in historic architecture, then Old San Juan is the place to be. Private homes, forts, museums and plazas abound in this historic district. Stroll through its 16th-century cobblestone streets to explore hundreds of restored buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
4. Tour the Capitol
Just outside the walls of Old San Juan, you can visit the Capitol of Puerto Rico. This stunning building is constructed from 21 different types of marble that were imported from around the world. Its location directly across from the ocean affords spectacular views and tours are available and completely free.
5. Relax on the Beach
Maybe the most appealing thing for you to do in Puerto Rico is absolutely nothing at all. Condado, Ocean Park, Escambron and Isla Verde beaches are all located within 10 minutes of the San Juan pier, so you won’t waste a lot of time getting to a pristine sandy spot. Rent a lounger or stretch out on a towel and relax for a few hours under the tropical sun. Just be sure to use plenty of sunscreen so you don’t spend the rest of your cruise nursing a painful sunburn.
6. Stroll and Shop
Old San Juan offers a vibrant shopping district for young and old. Although the shops in Puerto Rico are not duty-free, they do offer an opportunity to find some great deals. You will find markets and traditional stores offering everything from coconut masks to custom jewelry and traditional art to modern beachwear.
7. Marvel at La Casa Estrecha
Are you looking for something out of the ordinary? Then you will be truly amazed by this miniature home located on Calle Tetuán. At only five feet wide, it is widely regarded as the smallest house on the island. Once an alleyway, the tiny building is now home to an art gallery that features the work of local artists. Its sunny yellow exterior is an excellent backdrop for some amazing views of San Juan Bay. It is open daily for those who want to marvel at its diminutive dimensions.
There are plenty of things to see and do during a stop in Puerto Rico. Whether you prefer to visit natural wonders, sample local cuisine and spirits or wander through Old San Juan’s cobbled streets looking for treasure, you are bound to find an activity you will enjoy.