Ponce vs. San Juan
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jan 27, 2009 8:53 PM Last Post By: birthnurse
Aug 8, 2008 10:57 AM
Aug 9, 2008 8:05 AM
1Have you been to PR before?
How long are you staying?
If it's your first time then my vote would be for San Juan - stay somewhere in the Isla Verde / Condado area. This gives you wasy access to Old San Juan (well worth a day to wander around) Old San Juan Walking Tour. You will also have access to places like El Yunque Rainforest, Luquillo beach, as well as the Bio Bay Tours that you can take from fajardo.
Other things worth considering: Segway tour of OSJ, Horse Drawn Carriage tours of OSJ, Horse riding in El Yunque.
If you have done the above, then consider staying in Ponce or the west coast of the island - Rincon or cabo Roja. Note: You can fly to Ponce or west coast from the USA - will save on drive time.
Hope that helps
Aug 10, 2008 4:42 PM
2Have to agree - if you've never been to PR before, then you should definitely plan to stay around the San Juan metro-area. Especially since you don't consider yourselves "big beach people", try and stay in Old San Juan. It's great for relaxation and exploring during all hours of the day and night during down-time. Otherwise, it's worth at least one full-day.
Public transportation or inexpensive taxis make for quick access if you're not staying there. Leave the rental car parked, but at the same time it's worth having (and leaving parked) if/when staying in Old San Juan. There are numerous parking garages, and a little luck and patience can always find safe, streetside parking - if you're an expert at parallel parking.
Charlie Rental Cars (not found in general search engines) will usually get you the cheapest rates, and they've always been hassle-free. Week-long, off-season deals can often be found for under $US100 on compact models, but having access to your own transporation is worth any expense.
The northeast corner of the island has some of the most scenic and popular attractions, and all less than an hour's drive from the San Juan metro-area. I also always recommend taking the scenic detour along Highway 187, which begins at the end of Isla Verde Ave., as an interstate alternative for reaching the rainforest, Fajardo and points in this region. And even if you don't plan on sunning yourself at Luquillo Beach, stop at the row of food kiosks off to the side for some of the best local eats on the island.
If you've never been to Ponce, it's only a two-hour drive by freeway from San Juan and is worth checking-out to see if you might consider an extended stay. There's really no comparison between the two cities or regions that remained fairly isolated until only the last few decades. Ponce has a different kind of feel as a historical center loaded with museums and cultural venues. The Dry Forests of Guanica, an hour west, and Punta Jaguey at Cabo Rojo point are worth visiting if you're outdoor-types.
Usually try and make it to PR at least a couple of times each year and am still discovering new places amidst old favorites. Pros and cons largely depend upon individual preference. Here's photos to both places you're considering to maybe give you some better ideas. Feel free to be more specific in asking questions.
Aug 11, 2008 4:33 PM
3Thanks for the info!
No, I haven't been to Puerto Rico and we areonly staying for a 4 day/night weekend. We will have a rental car.
Aug 15, 2008 5:58 AM
4I hope you don't mind me hijacking this thread, but we are going to PR for 2 weeks in mid September. I'm intersted in doing Old San Juan, Aricebo and the caves and Ponce and maybe Rincon. We're a party of 4 and are hoping to rent a car and book accomodation as we travel around as I know it's the low season so availability shouldn't be a problem? My question is does everything shut down for Sep or will most things be open still? Is there a local paper or listing that publishes closing dates?
Aug 15, 2008 4:36 PM
5Everything should be business as usual, unless a hurricane actually targets the island. Most museums and attractions are closed on Mondays as a general rule. When you arrive at SJU, there is a branch of the Puerto Rico tourism bureau on the lower level near luggage claim. I suggest picking up a current free copy of ¡Qué Pasa!, which will have a thorough listing of information and contact info for hotels, restaurants, attractions around the island. Even then, don't rely on closing times/dates. If you've got an available number, always call ahead because things have a tendency to operate on Island Time.
For a little pre-planning, call the caves and see if they've actually reopened: (787) 898-3100; should be included with most cellphone plans as free if calling from the U.S. They're bilingual, and make sure to be specific in what you ask until you're satisfied with the answer about if the main caves have actually reopened. Otherwise, they'll just tell you the park is open. It might alter your plans, or else there's still plenty to see/do in the Arecibo area.
In response to another of your post questions about lodging near El Yunque and the Caribbean National Forest, look back through the PR category or use the searchmode. This has been asked/answered several times recently.
Aug 19, 2008 4:14 PM
6I just came back from my 1st trip to Puerto Rico in June, only 6 days. I stayed in San Juan, Ponce, and Mayaguez. I would have stayed more in San Juan and personally I would have skipped Mayaguez. To see Ponce, get up early and do a day trip, it's an easy drive. It's a nice town, very classic colonial feel, but if you only have 4 days it's better spent the first trip in San Juan.
BTW, in San Juan we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Condado. Not a fancy place, but great beds and comfortable amenities. Compared to how overpriced a lot of other places are in San Juan, a good deal. Very conveniently located too.
Sep 21, 2008 8:26 AM
Jan 11, 2009 11:14 AM
8Lady going alone to PR in Feb.and want to be in as secluded and natural a situation as possible.Low budget.Thinking of flying to Aguadilla or Ponce.I could bring camping equipment or stay indoors if I can find something very inexpensive. Any recommendations for campgrounds/hostels?Many thanks...
Jan 11, 2009 1:43 PM
9Have tried the camping thing around Puerto Rico and was not impressed! Not only were options limited, conditions were rather desolate, most places are only open on the weekends, and while no one else around provides the seclusion it also makes one a target for theft or worse. Actually, it was more trouble than it was worth and ended up spending half the nights in a hotel or sleeping in the car.
And I'm not sure what you consider "low budget", but you're looking at probably US$45 as your cheapest options, and they're far and few between. Search the PR category for Rincón accommodations. Someone recently posted about a small hotel there that was fairly cheap. If you're flying into Aguadilla (Spirit cheaply go there now?) also consider renting an inexpensive car to give you freedom to explore if so inclined. The west coast is fairly spread out, and combined taxi fares for getting around would probably cover cost of the car.
Jan 13, 2009 9:04 AM
Puerto Rico is not an inexpensive destination. You'll have to look hard to find low-cost accommodations, in the range that will be attractive compared to camping. I was surprised how expensive even lower-end chain hotels cost.
Regarding camping, I agree that theft or violence on you is a real concern in a remoted area. Crime is not low and unemployment is in the 12-13% range, which is pretty directly correlated to crime. Then add rain, mosquitos, wind, etc. I wouldn't do it.
But if you really want to, I'd stick to a US National Park.
Jan 27, 2009 8:53 PM
11Would like to go to Aguadilla area for March and April. Places I found on Craig's list did not pan out so am looking for suggestions for a place. Can pay up to $500 month, there are two of us, would love to be walking distance to the beach. Would appreciate ANY suggestions on where to stay, where to eat, what to do.....please keep "lo-budget" in mind. Also, any thoughts at all on the Aguadilla area would be appreciated.
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