Updated: Aug 18, 2022
In this Puerto Rico travel guide for food lovers, you’ll discover travel tips on what to do, how to get around, and most importantly, some incredibly delicious food you don’t want to miss in Puerto Rico.
From traditional Puerto Rican food to farm-to-table fine dining, Puerto Rico is unexpectedly filled with hidden gems for food lovers.
This is a comprehensive, Free Travel Guide for Food Lovers, so it's a bit extensive but you can read the shorter version, TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN PUERTO RICO IN 2022.
And one more thing, many of the restaurants and attractions listed in this guide are plotted on my map of Puerto Rico.
Let’s get started with this Puerto Rico food and travel guide!
TABLE OF CONTENT
Arriving and Leaving
If you fly into Puerto Rico, you will likely land at the main international airport, which is officially known as Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport or also known as San Juan Airport (SJU).
There are direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Hartford, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Newark, New York (JFK), Boston, Chicago (ORD), Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Raleigh-Durham, Pittsburgh, Austin, Buffalo, and St. Louis. to San Juan is usually between three to four hours.
The San Juan airport is located about 13 kilometers or a 15-minutes ride from Old San Juan.
Getting From the Airport to the City
It all depends on what location you are staying in and how much baggage you have which should determine how you get from the airport to your destination. Here are your main options:
Private Taxi Taxis are my favorite and most convenient option to leave the airport. You will find them outside with a sign or just asking if you need a Taxi. Contrary to popular belief, private taxis in Puerto Rico are not the most expensive. While you wait for your luggage at baggage claim, look up and note how much Uber would cost to get to your destination, then approach a taxi driver and ask them how much they would charge to get to your destination. If it is lower than Uber pricing, then the taxi driver will walk you upstairs where the taxi's car is usually parked. If they ask you how much Uber costs, tell them $10 dollars lower than what it really is. I always have a pleasant experience with private taxis at SJU airport. Also, ask for their number in case you need a ride to the airport. Uber to get to Cupey from SJU is about $50-$55 but the taxi always charges me $35-$45.
Rental Car If you are looking to travel the Island in your own vehicle or venture beyond the immediate area of San Juan, there are many car rental companies conveniently located at SJU airport. Please note that Puerto Rico’s streets have many potholes. Locals do tend to drive far more recklessly than most of their compatriots on the U.S. mainland: speeding, jumping lanes, pulling out without warning, and thrashing along the shoulder are all normal practices.
Ridesharing If driving is not for you and you are planning to stay in closer proximity to San Juan, ridesharing is your best option. However, please note that ridesharing is only common in the districts near San Juan. There is a designated rideshare area located about a 5-minutes walk from the departure area of the airport. It is cheaper to Uber to SJU airport than to catch a ride from there.
Puerto Rico Visa
United States citizens and permanent residents don't need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the Real ID Act will be in effect as of May 2023, so verify if your state is compliant with these laws because otherwise, you may need a passport to travel. Travelers from other countries visiting Puerto Rico have the same visa and passport requirements that would apply if visiting the mainland United States.
Puerto Rico is a popular Caribbean tourist destination and there is a full range of accommodation you can choose from – all the way from budget-friendly hostels and apartment rentals to five-star boutique hotels.
In this section of our Puerto Rico travel guide for food lovers, I have arranged it by popular types of accommodation and areas of town (because the location is one of the most crucial factors in choosing a place to stay). And with each type, I have shared a few hotels and places you should consider.
Airbnbs An excellent alternative for those who appreciate having more privacy and personal space, as well as conveniences like a fully equipped kitchen. There are many Airbnb in Santurce (not near a beach) and Ocean Park (5-mins walk to the beach). The best and usually the most expensive area for Airbnb is in Old San Juan. Typically, they are loft-style apartments that are packed with natural light. You can walk out your door and just start exploring one of the most beautiful neighborhoods. Rentals PR came highly recommended and Hoang Airbnb is great for large groups.
Hostels A popular form of accommodation that can save you a lot of money, allowing you to travel longer or spend your hard-earned money on other parts of your trip. It’s also easy to meet people in the hostel’s common areas or at meal times when you’re all in and around the kitchen. Villa Eshta is highly recommended with super friendly staff and is located in a prime location of Ocean Park. Villa Esta is a 5 minutes walk to the beach, restaurants, bars, and stores. Nearby: coffee: Kasalta, Walgreens, laundry mat, beer bar: El Tap, breakfast: Pinky's, Mexican food: Acapulco, Korean food: Ujeong, and many more. “Eshta” is a slang Egyptian word meaning “cool” or “sweet”. Their private rooms for two people start at $85 per person or share a dorm for $45 per night. Reserve your room on their website. You can get to Villa Eshta from the airport by taking the T5 bus going in the direction of Old San Juan. It’s important to confirm the direction the bus is heading with the bus driver. It’s 75 cents and you must have the exact change on you. Get off the bus in front of the Walgreens on Calle Loiza. Once you get off the bus. You’ll easily see the Mcdonald's, which is at the intersection of Calle Loiza and Calle Santa Cecilia. Calle Santa Cecilia the street the hostel is on. Once on Santa Cecilia, head north and you will see the hostel on your right-hand side.
You can get there by taxi and taxis have a fixed rate of $21 for travel to Villa Eshta, or you have the option of taking an Uber, and their prices vary. Take a look at their decor and ambiance on Instagram and Facebook.
Boutique Hotels These upscale hotels are alluring due to their unique personality and décor, personalized service, prime location, and local flair. Boutique hotels are trending as travelers are seeking the authentic experience of living where they are visiting. From interesting art pieces to board games to baked goods, each place has a little something up its sleeve to make your experience memorable. O:LV Hotel has a rooftop pool and restaurant located in the luxurious Condado area. Rooms starts at $262 per night. Instagram
Puerto Rican Food
When you think about Puerto Rico, the “Caribbean Vibes” is something that might come to mind. What I think really shapes Puerto Rican cuisine, as well as restaurants you’ll find in San Juan, is the unique blend of Spanish, African, Taino, and American influences. Indigenous seasonings and ingredients such as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee can be found in their local style called “cocina criolla”.
Arawaks and Tainos, the original inhabitants of the island, thrived on a diet of corn, tropical fruit, and seafood. When Ponce de León arrived with Columbus in 1493, the Spanish added beef, pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil to the island's foodstuffs. Soon after, the Spanish began planting sugarcane and importing slaves from Africa, who brought with them okra and taro (known in Puerto Rico as yautia)
Plantains are an important crop in many agricultural sectors of the island. However, demand is so high that many plantains are also imported, usually from the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
Restaurants in San Juan
San Juan has a great variety of food options that include everything from local Puerto Rican family-run restaurants to farm-to-table fine dining. This travel guide for food lovers was curated through the research and development phase where we visited many eateries. This list of restaurants and bars tested high on quality of food, quality of ingredients, sanitization practices, friendly staffing, originality, and consistency of excellence in overall customer relations. Like many restaurants and bars in Puerto Rico, Isla Culebra, and Isla Vieques, prices are higher than in states, and their menus change almost on a daily basis due to availability and weather. However, even in dining, we all need a little luck to discover the next best thing, and here is a good start!
Puerto Rican Cuisine | Ocean Park $
La Casita Blanca "little white house" proves that good food is best eaten at a grandmother's house. It’s a very picturesque place that transports you to past times when families and neighbors would gather to share food. They have been operating for more than three decades maintaining the same quality and service as from the beginning. As soon as you sit down, you’re welcomed with a basket of bacalao (codfish fritters) and little bowls of plantain soup, on the house. The menu consists of around 20-odd items that change daily, but you can expect dishes like bacalao guisado (codfish stew), carne frita (fried pork), and bistec encebollado (steak and onions). The portions are huge, and fried plantains, rice, and beans comes with your meal, so come hungry. Prices range from $7.95 to $14.50.
Address: 351 C. Tapia, San Juan, 00912
Phone: (787) 726-5501
Business Hours: Tuesday CLOSED Mon, Wed, Thurs 11:30AM-4PM Friday-Saturday 11:30AM-9PM Sunday 11:30AM-4PM
Upscale Restaurant | Ponce De Leon $$$
Vianda serves a farm-to-table, seasonally-rotating menu focusing on the best Puerto Rico has to offer: its agriculture and its warm hospitality. It is a bit more international than Puerto Rican in terms of its menu. The “raíces locales” appetizer, with beet and other root vegetables (the restaurant’s name refers to them), horseradish cream, and a dusting of fresh dill cannot be missed for its matching of earthiness and brightness. The wine list dips into surprising choices that don’t always abound locally, like a rosé Zweigelt with a dry punch that pairs beautifully with the vegetable and seafood-focused menu. Small plates are $11-26 and large plates $25-$46. Their tasting menu is $65 per persdon.
Phone: (939) 475-1578
Business Hours: Monday & Tuesday CLOSED Wednesday & Thursday 5PM-9PM Friday & Saturday 5PM-9:30PM Sunday 5PM-9PM
Thai Cuisine | La Placita $$
Best Thai and Asian restaurant in San Juan, hands down. Chef Kelly Pirro has created a menu with a focus on Southeast Asia. This is also one of the most vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free-friendly restaurants in San Juan, making it a safe bet when one has a varied party to entertain. My favorite dishes from here are Papaya Salad, Shrimp Pad Thai, Chicken Wings, Chicken Satay, and Green Curry. Try out their Fancy Lychee Sh*t or Holy Basil cocktails. The items offered here seem to have a Korean twist with gochugaru chili and flavoring. My go-to item is their papaya salad can be made spicy with a 5 out of 5 spiciness level which was pretty spicy but delicious. However, it is not always available so call them when they open at 4PM to inquire about the papaya salad. The fried chicken wings tasted exactly like Vietnam Garlic Fish Sauce chicken wings (cánh gà chiên nước mắm) but sometimes they get over-fried or a little burnt so you were warned. There's always a long queue but it's worth the wait. Arrive at opening time for the best experience. Entrees are $16-$20 and cocktails are $11-$12.
Address: 303 C. Canals, San Juan, 00907
Phone: (787) 998-6338 MENU
Business Hours: Tuesday CLOSED Saturday - Monday 4PM-10PM Wednesday - Thursday 4PM-10PM Sunday 12PM-10PM
International American & Bar | Condado $$$
With awe-inspiring views of the shimmering lagoon and the Condado skyline, ARYA Rooftop has a high design concept that features a dynamic space. By day, a relaxing atmosphere is created to enjoy breakfast or lunch with a view —ordering such as a Corn Flake Crusted French Toast, their signature ARYA Ribeye Burger, Pork Longaniza Sliders with truffle cheddar, or Yellowtail Tacos. At sunset, a lively crowd gathers to experience the magic hour, wine down, or order the refreshing Moonlight cocktail with a hint of lavender. Reservations are needed but I was unable to locate their OpenTable account so I recommend calling to make a reservation. Appetizers are $15-$22, entrees are $22-$36, and cocktails are $17-$18.
Address: 55 Cll Barranquitas, San Juan 00907
Phone: (787) 705-9409 MENU
Business Hours: Daily 7AM-9PM
Asian Fusion Cuisine | Miramar $$
Once a food truck, Nam Pla is ostensibly a pan-Asian restaurant. They serve the biggest, most exquisite salad in the metropolitan area, along with handmade samosa and dumplings, huge portions of pad Thai, lentil curry, fried rice, and more. Their menu changes at least weekly — if not daily — based on what is available. Chef Ricardo Anglada delivers delicious Southeast Asian-inspired dishes, utilizing fresh local produce and inspiration from working in Macau and Hong Kong. Appetizers are $8-$16 and entrees $16-$32.
Phone: (787) 728-2833
Business Hours: Tuesday CLOSED Wednesday - Thursday 5:30PM-10PM Friday 5:30PM-11PM Saturday 12PM-11PM Sunday 12PM-6PM
Fine Dining | Old San Juan $$$
It is absolutely one of the best restaurants in San Juan featuring meal courses of 4, 5, and 6 plates. This fine-dining restaurant offers a tasting menu, with vegan and gluten-free options made with local produce and fresh ingredients. Peter Schintler is an award-winning chef who has worked around the globe under numerous Masterchefs and legendary restaurants including Le Cirque in New York City and The Shangri-la Hotel’s restaurant, Blu in Singapore. Try their refreshing cocktails, Kiwi Libre, and the chef’s signature soup, White Bean with Truffle Oil and Pancetta “dust.” Their Queen Red Snapper was served in a clear steam-poached bag filled with a broth of red peppers, chorizo, and garbanzo beans. Four-course meals are $129 per person.
Address: 317 C. de la Fortaleza, 00901
Phone: (787) 724-3969 MENU
Business Hours: Monday & Sunday CLOSED Tuesday - Saturday 5PM-10PM
Japanese Cuisine | Ponce De Leon $$
This underground restaurant features traditional Japanese dishes such as ramen and gyoza. Their menu also includes Taiwanese Gua Bao and Pad Thai. The neon dimly lit ambiance paired with J-Pop and K-Pop music constantly playing in the background take you from Puerto Rico into a Tokyo Drift fantasy. Ask for their Japanese Old Fashioned with smoked Cherrywood by resident bartender, mixologist Adam. Reservations is required since seating is limited. Appetizers are $8-$13, sushi are $12-$13, ramen are $20-$21, and cocktails are $8-$16.
Address: 1616 Ave. Ponce de Leon, 00909
Phone: (787) 523-4656
Business Hours: Tuesday CLOSED Wednesday - Monday 6PM-12AM
Puerto Rican Bakery & Eatery | Ocean Park $
Kasalta’s opened over 40 years ago and in 2011, President Obama visited Puerto Rico and stopped by Kasalta for lunch. Now they have a plaque where Obama sat down to eat. Conveniently located in Ocean Park, it is a traditional Spanish bakery that serves a variety of sandwiches, desserts, pastries, and traditional meals. If you visit San Juan, you must try Kalsta’s beef empanadillas! Kasalta also offers a large variety of wines. On any given night, you will find the tables full of wine enthusiasts tasting Kasalta's selections, over tapas. This is a great place to start your day with their super-strong coffee and tasty pastries. Their Cubano sandwich is popular, as is their tender Octopus salad.
Address: 1966 McLeary Ave, 00911
Phone: (787) 727-7340 MENU
Business Hours: Daily 7AM-10PM
Bakery & Restaurant $$
Condado | San Francisco | Santurce
This coffee spot is beloved by locals and in a convenient location for tourists to grab a true Puerto Rican coffee with milk. It is a coffee shop and bakery that have breakfast and brunch items, but its star is its sandwiches made with the sobao. The sobao bread is sweet and soft with terrific flavor. Super friendly, attentive staff and clean dining room, make Sobao a hot spot. They have a few locations scattered throughout San Juan.
San Francisco, PR (787)758-1005
Business Hours: Daily 7AM-8PM
Bars in San Juan
If you like to celebrate in true Boricua fashion, visit La Placita de Santurce and dance the night away. La Placita transforms into a hot outdoor club by night, complete with booming live music, great restaurants, and late-night bars. For bar-hoppers, these are the locations to be in La Placita, Calle Loiza, Old San Juan, and La Perla (we recommend you go with a local friend). Here are some hip bars that serve the best cocktails in San Juan!
Cocktail Bar & Barber Shop | Calle Loiza $$
An operational barber shop during the day, then serving unbeatable cocktails by night. The bar area itself featured various vintage barber chairs from different time periods and craft cocktails with hair-related names. Perfect for Instagram photos and a mysterious lover night out. This lighthearted local joint can be best described as mustache-themed. They serve a variety of creative and classic cocktails served by professional mixologists that take pride in their craft. Unable to choose? Ask your server for a recommendation and they will ask you the right questions to get that perfect drink. Unexpectedly, they also serve delicious bar food. Try their fried fish tacos with cilantro lime slaw. The fish was fried perfectly, fluffy and crunchy. Add the refreshing slaw on top to make it even more amazing. You get 2 large tacos for $8. Ask for “The French”. We have no idea what’s in it but it’s a winner. Other suggestions: Tiki Man, Blackbeard, Barbero Viejo. The drink menu is on a large chalkboard where it can be changed frequently.
Locations: 1507 C. Loíza, 00911
Phone: (787) 473-8161
Business Hours: Daily 9PM-2AM
Cocktail Bar | La Placita $$
A vintage, Movie-Theater-themed bar hidden in plain sight of La Placita. Only open during the weekend, so stop by before you leave the island. Yes, there will be the red velvet rope when the bouncer let you in. You have the option to sit inside with the A/C and communal area for comfort. Or chill outside with an open top for great ventilation and closed-off for privacy. The outside area has many ceiling fans to cool things off during the summer months and a chess board already set up for you to battle friends. Accompany your cocktail with some Puerto Rican tapas. I recommend the Mother Flower cocktail with Elderflower and the Spicy Crab Salad for your group to share or have their Stuffed Avocado with churrasco for dinner.
Locations: 254 C. dos Hermanos, 00907
Phone: (939) 336-5520 MENU
Business Hours: Sunday – Wednesday Closed Thursday – Saturday 5PM-2AM
Speakeasy | Old San Juan $$
La Factoria in Puerto Rico is so famous that it doesn't need a sign outside. It used to be Hijos de Borinquen, which is the best mixology bar in San Juan. La Factoría is one of the 50 best bars in the world so try one of their tropical cocktails that are infused with salsa. This is where Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi recorded some parts of the video, Despacito. It is five clubs and bars in one location. You can jump from the bar area, playing rock music, to a salsa dance floor. There’s a wooden door at the back of La Factoria that leads to a secret wine bar called Vino, which is small and serves a rotating selection of wines written up on a chalkboard.
Locations: 148 C. de San Sebastián, 00901
Phone: (939) 336-5520 Menu
Business Hours: Daily 11AM-11:30PM
Cocktail Bar | La Placita $$
Begin your night adventure with a pina colada at the Jungle Bird. A spunky Tiki Cocktail Bar and restaurant at the entrance of La Placita, where is less crowded. Jungle Bird is the sister bar to La Factoria. Inside and outside seating are available which was fun and tropical. Relax and enjoy a cold drink with a backdrop of bamboo furniture, big green plants, mood lighting, and pretty cocktails. All their pina colada mixes are made in-house with fresh coconut, pineapple, and sugarcane. Try something adventurous like their raw snapper with mango and starfruit. The staff is attentive and fast. Friendly staffs always make me want to return. The Saturn and Bastard Going Bananas cocktail is highly recommended. Perfect place to grab a plate of their roasted pig with pigeon pea and rice and plantains. The skin was so crispy. Cocktails are $9-$13.
Locations: 254 C. Canals, 00907
Phone: (939) 336-5520 MENU
Business Hours: Sunday – Monday Closed Tuesday & Wednesday 5PM-1AM Friday & Saturday 5PM-2AM
Restaurants on Culebra Island
Due to its small size, there are not many restaurants on Isla Culebra, and many businesses close on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, holidays, bad weather, or they are going on vacation. Despite the limited options, we were able to find some amazing food that helps understand the locals' flavor palettes. The best criolla food for adventurous foodies are on Isla Culebra and something delicious but simple for the more reserved, low-key foodie.
Puerto Rican & International Cuisine $$
Probably the best chicken alfredo linguine pasta I have ever had. The service was slow but the pasta was delicious. Fresh pasta with a flavorful, creamy sauce. However, I suggest staying away from the seafood, it might be too dry and overpriced. A lot of businesses on Culebra sometimes closed without notice and sometimes they don’t pick up the phone, so you might not be able to get a table even if you go within the business hours. We visited this restaurant twice during our 4-day stay, which tells you a lot about how good their chicken alfredo linguine was.
Locations: 33 Cll Pedro Marquez, Culebra, 00775
Phone: (787) 342-9838
Business Hours: Daily 1PM-9PM
Puerto Rican Criolla $$
The best criolla food in Puerto Rico is the unexpected, Treasure Bay Restaurant, with their criolla style, fresh fried snapper. You can really taste how flavorful criolla dishes are with their crab meat soup with rice. It reminds me of Cajun gumbo but with more crab meat. They make a tasty BBQ rib with guava sauce if you feel homesick. The restaurant is under construction so they are only accepting to-go orders but it makes the food less expensive than dining in. The queue gets pretty long so call in your order before you pick up. Treasure Bay Restaurant is 2 blocks from La Cocina Del Navegante, so you can stop by afterward and take a picture of their menus.
Locations: Apartado 766, Culebra, 00775
Phone: (787) 342-9838
Business Hours: Saturday CLOSED Sunday – Friday 3PM-9PM
Blac Flamingo Coffee
Coffee Shop $$
The best breakfast spot on Culebra Island for avocado toasts and a coconut cappuccino (called the tropical cappuccino). The coffee comes from the mountains on the main island. Drinks range from the basic cappuccino to truly artisanal pour-overs. Iced matcha lattes and iced shakeratos are especially refreshing after a day at the beach. Their homemade ice lemonade is refreshing, or you can try their strawberry version. Fresh pastries like muffins do well for a light breakfast. It gets very busy, so come early when their door opens because a lot of the breakfast items will run out early and the queue is usually long.
Locations: #10 Cll Jesus M Ortiz, Culebra, 00775
Phone: (787) 342-9838
Business Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday CLOSED Sunday – Friday 7:30AM-1:30PM
Restaurant In Vieques Island
Isla Vieques had many more restaurants to choose from but there was only one restaurant I would return to. I did not have the chance to visit the Blok Hotel restaurant, so I did not include them in my recommendations. There were many Italian, pizza, and traditional Puerto Rican restaurants on Vieques but service was slow, most items are not available, and lack of quality ingredients. On the bright side, check out this amazing find! I wish we found this restaurant on our first day so we would not waste so much money tasting overpriced food, understandably so.
Puerto Rican & International $$$
The view of Esperanza’s waterfront is magnificent in the morning. Dinners focus on seafood, with dishes such as fresh Caribbean lobster in spiced rum butter sauce or the catch of the day (usually Red Snapper) in a pineapple salsa. The lobster bisque was rich and flavorful, probably one of the best lobster bisque I have ever had ($8 cup). Their Churrasco with chimichurri was grilled to perfection with great seasoning ($28). This was unexpected because skirt steak is usually the worst cut of meat. High-five the chef for making the skirt steak into a tender, moist dish. Ask for the hot sauce. It was fresh chili paste in oil that was pretty flavorful and spicy. The waiter told us the hot sauce was made by a very old Puerto Rican woman. We did not have a reservation but we were lucky to get seated right away. The tables did fill up while we were eating. There was multiple staff that took care of us so service was great, compared to what we were getting from other restaurants on the island. Their bartender makes really good and detailed cocktails. All around, great experience.
Locations: 107 Calle Flamboyan, Vieques, 00765
Phone: (787) 710-7440
Business Hours: Sunday: 9AM-2PM Monday to Thursday 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Things To Do In Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a popular vacation destination for its water excursions, such as bio bay kayaking and snorkeling to see their beautiful, protected coral reefs. These excursion recommendations will take you to 3 islands and I will tell you how to do it and who to talk to. For island adventures on Isla Culebra and Isla Vieques, I highly recommend renting a Jeep. Reserve one well in advance via phone because online booking is limited. Do not rent a Jeep from Avis on Vieques. They close at 1PM, so you will not be able to drop off the Jeep after 1PM. I made a last-minute reservation online because it was after business hours and last minute. Due to the 1PM drop-off limitation, we ended up sitting at the airport for 5 hours. A Jeep was necessary for us to use up and down our Airbnb that was on the hilltop in Culebra. There is two main Jeep renting company that is conveniently located right in front of the small airport in Culebra. We flew to Culebra with Flamenco Air ($360) from a small airport in San Juan and took a charter flight ($385) for 4 of us from Culebra to Vieques. I took a catamaran tour to Flamenco Beach before, the 45 minutes boat ride was exhausting and made me sick so I would only recommend flying to Culebra and Vieques, instead of the ferry. Please note that face masks, social distancing, capacity, and COVID-19 restrictions were still active on Culebra and Vieques, as of May 2022. When you go into grocery stores and businesses, you are still required to wear a face mask since there are many elders on the islands and some don't have access to the vaccination. Please be mindful and respectful.
Isla Vieques $$
There are five bioluminescent bays around the world and three are in Puerto Rico, but the Mosquito Bio Bay in Puerto Rico shines with the most intensity. The bioluminescent bay in Vieques was officially declared the brightest in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008. When agitated, these microscopic organisms (swirling fire) react and emit a blue-green light for about a decimal of a second. The bio bay is best experienced during a “New Moon” phase, so we’ve included an interactive moon phase calendar for June 2022. One of the best ways to experience the Bio Bay in Vieques is in a glass-bottom kayak. Jak Water Sports and Fun Brothers ($60 per person) provide glass bottom kayaks bio bay tours. You can book a tour on their website and they usually have a lot of openings. If there were only one thing you must do in Puerto Rico, I highly recommend doing a bio bay glass-bottom kayak tour in Vieques before it no longer exists. The bioluminescent glow as you stride through the water. It glows and sparkles bright when you go faster. I felt like Sebastian, the crab from the Little Mermaid, was going to pop out of nowhere and start singing "Kiss the Girl" to me.
Isla Vieques $$
Isla Vieques is known as the land of wild horses and is home to about 2,000 Paso Fino Horses. Visitors will find the horses strolling on the beach, grazing in fields, and by the roadsides. I was taking a nap outside on a hammock and a random horse came up to our Airbnb, grazing on the grass. It was wild seeing a horse just chilling when I woke up. My siblings fed that horse some canned peach and lime. I highly wouldn't recommend feeding these wild horses but I see a lot of visitors doing so. Before we caught our flight back to San Juan, we threw some leftover bread at them. Locals ride horses around the island and visitors along for the ride, on a horseback riding adventure. It was wild to see a local ride a horse with just a mat and some rode without any saddle. Horseback riding is a great way to see a lot of Vieques Island, free from the crowds on secluded beaches. Esperanza Riding Company offers a two-hour scenic beach and trail ride through the hills, open meadows, woods, river bottoms, and two beaches that you cannot access by car. Their horses have the willingness to please and gentle nature, so perfect for first-time riders, vacation riders, experienced equestrians, and children alike. It was my first time on a horse and his name was Bud. Bud has a weird twitch with his head. At first, I was scared and did feel not secure with Bud. Afraid he might throw me off or I fell down. After getting on Bud, with the help of the tour guide and 10 minutes of a learning curve, I realized that I had more control over Bud than I originally felt. Bud was incredible getting us up and down river bottoms and hills. My friend said sometimes taking a ride on a horse on the beach on Vieques might be life-changing and I understand why now. You have more control over things than you think and some of the self-doubts are all in your head. We book the horse-riding tour with Esperanza Riding Company ($80 per person)because they were the only company that had a horse big enough for my 190 lbs brother. I really wanted to do the tour with Colon Horse Riding ($70 for 1 hour) because their trail goes into the beach. However, they did not have a horse big enough for my brother. Note that the direction from Google Maps and Apple Maps on the web will NOT get you to the meetup point for Esperanza Riding Company. Use the link that came with your confirmation email to get to the meetup point. GPS location on Culebra and Vieques is unreliable. It was such a fun bonding experience and we got a great picture of us siblings.
Isla Vieques $
The beaches in Vieques have amazing tones of blue and emerald jeweled tones, but the colors of Playa Navio are deeper, like a painting of bold colors. Playa Navio’s uniqueness is in the gentle bubbly playful waves in its hidden caves. Navio’s sounds of the ocean are mesmerizing, the beach is wide and long making it wonderful to sit down and read your favorite book. For those that want a little more excitement, walk towards the cliffs to find hidden caves. Bring a blanket, sit on the soft sand and allow the sweet caresses of the Caribbean breeze to take all your cares away. Navio Beach can be accessed through the entrance of Sun Bay. Follow the road to the left once you enter Sun Bay, you’ll see signs for the beaches of Media Luna and Navio. During the rainy season, the road to Navio may be inaccessible. I recommend getting a Jeep to get to this beach but I saw many golf carts coming through but the vegetarian was so dense, that it seem like it would hurt.
Isla Culebra $$
The island of Culebrita can be seen from Zoni Beach on Culebra Island. This tiny cay is uninhabited, visited only by a few people every day, and holds many wonderful “secrets” waiting to be explored. Get a glimpse of Culebrita through this Video. You can only get there by boat, but it is totally worth the effort to experience this unspoiled island. The island is a wildlife refuge, so you’ll see birds and some other animals. Culebrita boasts beautiful white sand beaches, clear water with great underwater visibility for snorkeling, a wild turtle population that frequents the area some amazing “baths” (rock formations that slow the large northern waves and form a Jacuzzi-like experience), and ruins of an old lighthouse. The cost-efficient route to get to Culebrita from Culebra is on Gammy’s Water Tours for $65 per person. They are a husband and wife duo water taxi service that take you and your party on a round trip ride to Culebrita from 11AM to 5PM. They drop you off at the south beach of Culebrita with beach chairs and umbrellas, a SUP board, snorkeling gears, and instructions on how to explore the island. Call +1-787-423-2469 to book the water taxi. Check out Gammy's Water Tours Instagram. Or you can book a private catamaran trip (Sea Culebra +1-201-207-3843) to Culebrita, and islands hop on a 35’ catamaran. Call Sea Culebra to book with them. I found them on TripAdvisor but help local businesses by calling them directly! [Sea Culebra: Instagram, Google] It is a 4-hours trip that includes a warm lunch, beach requirements, snorkeling gears, snacks, water, and towels. The private catamaran tour is $260 per person. The south beach was a great area for snorkeling but there were many corals to just bath in. We also saw a human-friendly shark that my brother tried to pet. Hike 20 minutes north of Culebrita to get to Tortuga Beach where the turtles lay their eggs. Tortuga Beach had clearer water to bath in, more isolated, and a bit rougher waves but it was beautiful. Remember to bring your shoes to hike to Tortuga Beach. We only brought slippers and it was painful to hike in them. My brother hiked it barefoot and it was horrible to watch him. We all got sunburnt so bad on Culebrita, PLEASE use a lot of sunscreens and re-apply every hour! The sun hit so hard on Culebrita and snorkeling burned our backs.
Isla Culebra $$
Playa Melones in Culebra is the best place to snorkel with beautiful and intact coral. A short drive from the ferry terminal, Playa Melones is not the best beach for bathing due to its rocky bottom, but you will be amazed by all the types of ocean flora with long coral reefs that allow you a couple of hours of snorkeling. The water is very clear and the waves are gentle. Since the coral is tall and the tide could be low, it is highly recommended to book a snorkeling tour with Culebra Snorkeling with Locals. Entering and exiting can be a bit tricky because there're lots of rocks and reefs with sea urchins on them on the shore, so remember to wear water shoes. The extraordinary tour guide, Lemuel, will make your snorkeling experience easy and fun. Three of us don't have much experience snorkeling besides Culebrita when we tried to find that shark to pet. Lemuel provided snorkeling gears and a life vest since some parts are too deep to stand on. The life vest made it harder to get away from the coral reefs and sea urchins but Lemuel gave us the confidence to explore. He would go dive and show us cool fishes and plants under the water. I had the hardest time finding last-minute excursions and accidentally stumbled onto his business card on a wall of a random bar. I was persistent about going on another excursion in the water, obsessed. Hours and hours of online research made it seem like there aren't any other tours available but I was lucky. Call Lemuel at +1-939-358-4236 to book a tour. He does snorkeling tours for $69/person or kayaking and snorkeling for $99/person. Instagram | Facebook
Condado & La Placita $$
The best way to experience a new culture is through your stomach. Adding a food tour in San Juan should be your first excursion on your travel itinerary. A tour guide by a local will provide insights into the best places to eat and personalized recommendations for you to enjoy the best of what this beautiful island has to offer. You will get up-to-date information and a complete overview of San Juan’s food scene and culture. Food tours are perfect for solo travelers, couples, families, groups, and corporate gatherings. You can engage in conversations with like-minded, open-minded people and locals on a food tour. San Juan Dumplings Food Tour ($120) will take you off the beaten path that is not featured in tourist guides. You will be taken on a 3-hours walking tour from Condado to La Placita, tasting 10 different dumplings. The Social Drinking & Appetizer Tour ($180) takes you through the nightlife of Condado to La Placita on a fun and unique experience that includes 4 alcoholic drinks and 7 tastings. Food tours will allow travelers and foodies an immersive experience where they gain knowledge, relieve stress, and overall confidence to discover more of Puerto Rico on their own. Book a food tour on Airbnb Experience or on their website. Food tours are available daily. Instagram | Facebook
San Juan $
If you are looking for the best nightlight scene while visiting Puerto Rico, then La Placita de Santurce is one of the liveliest areas for a long night of dancing and debauchery. It is known as the prime party destination for locals and tourists. As of March 2022, most vaccination and mask requirements were lifted on the island. La Placita is quiet and calm during the daytime but in the evening, this area changes into a nightlife focal point. It’s like a massive block party with bars opening their doors and salsa music cranked to the max. The best time to go is between 10PM to 5AM as many bars don’t open until 9PM. You can find cheap drinks for around $5-$8 each, for house liquor. If you compare La Placita to Old San Juan or Condado, these neighborhoods are in far better conditions and more walkable for tourists. La Placita is the best place for barhopping with multiple small bars just steps away from one another. Casual wear is recommended to get you comfortably through a long night of barhopping.
Calle Loiza & Ocean Park $
One of the best ways to discover San Juan and learn about its rich history is on a bike tour. Join a small group and experience the scenic view as you cruise on a bicycle. Stop at local landmarks and enjoy a commentary from your tour guide. Experience an adventure on a bike to avoid crowds, easy photo stops at picturesque locations and a personalized experience. Cultura Bicicleta Coop offers an Urban Art Tour ($55 per person) and an Art & Music Tour (the first Saturday of the Month) which is a 2.5 hours tour that takes you on a scenic route of La Placita and Ocean Park. They stop at a museum and the Mural District. Bicycle enthusiast, Kathleen, will guide you on a memorable adventure and the bike rental is included. You can rent a bicycle or book a tour via their website or you can text her. Instagram | Facebook
Sipping a cup of a strong Puerto Rican coffee with milk at a cafe in Old San Juan, I just couldn’t stop thinking to myself what a beautiful island it is. Everything from the historical attractions to the laid-back lifestyle and delicious food is what makes it such a fantastic place. For food lovers, you’ll have no shortage of delicious food to eat in Puerto Rico. From Puerto Rican criolla food to farm-to-table fine dining that will blow your mind, and a host of restaurants that serve delicious cuisine from all over the world, the food scene in Puerto Rico is exciting. I hope this Puerto Rico travel guide for food lovers will give you some great tips for your visit to San Juan, Vieques, and Culebra!
I just wanted to personally thank you for reading my Puerto Rico Travel Guide for Food Lovers and supporting my independent travel food guides. If you’re planning to visit Puerto Rico, I hope you have an amazing trip and that you especially enjoy the food. Thank you again!
Meet The Author
“Travel with confidence.”
Greetings my fellow Culinary Travelers! Thank you for allowing us to be part of planning your upcoming vacation to Puerto Rico. This list is filled with small businesses that really need your support to continue growing and thriving as part of this massive ecosystem. I’m excited that you are here because, for me, it’s gratifying to connect with like-minded people with good food. It is inspiring to break bread and share stories among strangers from all parts of the world, to make one moment happen. If you do end up visiting this establishment, say hello for me. Show them this page because you can’t forget this face and sassy attitude. We want to prepare you to travel with confidence because there are many adventures that await you in Puerto Rico. Salud!
I am working on a SELF-GUIDED DUMPLINGS FOOD TOUR and it will be distributed as a digital product in a PDF for $10. This self-guided tour will take you on the exact route I curated for my San Juan Dumplings Food Tour including: where to go, what dishes you should try, and how much it will cost. This self-guided food tour is budget-friendly, for solo or group travelers, allows privacy and you can take it at your own pace. If you are interested in this self-guided food tour in San Juan, Puerto Rico, please click the button below and I'll send you more information about it.