One visit to San Juan is all it takes to fall in love with Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean that is also a U.S. territory. If you are taking a cruise to Eastern Caribbean, that is a good chance that your ship will have San Juan as one of the scheduled port stops. One of the great things about San Juan is that you can also start your cruise here. Several cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Viking Cruises use San Juan as the embarkation port for cruises to the Southern Caribbean.
Puerto Rico is known for its white sand beaches, tropical rainforest, snorkeling, diving, and a landscape of lush, green mountains and waterfalls. If you are visiting San Juan on a cruise, here are seven options to consider as you enjoy this island paradise.
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. rainforest system. It is one of the most biologically diverse national forests that hosts hundreds of plant and animal species which can only be found in El Yunque. The picturesque waterfalls throughout the forest make the perfect backdrop for photos.
Mosquito Bay (bioluminescent bay)
One of the wonders of Puerto Rico, this bioluminescent bay magically transforms into a glowing bay at night. In 2008, Mosquito Bay entered the Guinness Book of World Records for brightest bio bay in the world. Since you will need to visit this bay when it is dark, it is a great option for those who are doing a pre or post cruise stay in San Juan.
Visit a Puerto Rican Coffee Shop
Since coffee is locally grown on the island, there are a number of fantastic coffee shops in Old San Juan. However, my favorite is Finca Cialitos located on Calle San Francisco in Old San Juan. It may not look like much on the outside, but the coffee is out of this world. The owner grows and roasts the 100% Arabica coffee that has a unique flavor due to Puerto Rico’s microclimates. The coffee is incredible and you can buy 8 oz. bags of ground or whole bean coffee to bring home. Finca Cialitos is a must stop for all coffee lovers.
Walk the Streets of Old San Juan
Whether you take a walking tour with a guide or exploring on your own, the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan have a charm unlike any other Caribbean port. You can explore hundreds of years of history all within walking distance of the main cruise pier.
Visit the two forts, Castillo de San Cristobal and El Morro, and will walk into 500 years of history. The view overlooking the water is not to be missed and the $6 admission fee will let you in both forts.
Puerto Rico is surrounded by the continental shelf that provides excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities when visiting the island. The best spots are located away from the busy city of San Juan.
Visit the Beach
Some port days on Caribbean cruises, you just want to enjoy a day at the beach. The most popular and lively beach in San Juan is located over at Isla Verde, a short cab ride from the pier. It is also the longest and widest beach in San Juan. For a quieter and more relaxed beach, you can visit Pinones Beach, also a short cab ride from the pier.
Old San Juan Food Tour
Eat your way through the Old San Juan as you visit as many as six different tasting locations. Experience real Puerto Rican food that includes everything from Puerto Rican coffee, sweet bread, mofongo, rice and beans, and local chocolate.