What To Do in San Juan Puerto Rico

Pam

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Have you ever wanted to go to the island of Puerto Rico?  Do you wonder what you will do once you get to  San Juan, Puerto Rico?  Today I am sharing all the fun things to do in Puerto Rico along with how you can go and stay for free with credit card points!  Recently, my sister and I went and we had a great time and also some unexpected excitement! 

We were all set to go on our girl’s trip to Puerto Rico when American Airlines sent us notices the day before our departure that Puerto Rico was expecting a tropical storm, Karen.  Yikes!! Do we go?  Do we stay and go later? It was a pretty frantic time with lots of calls to each other on what was safe to do.

I spent a lot of time going over possibilities but the morning we were to go it was downgraded to a tropical depression so we decided to go.  However, it was upgraded to a tropical storm by the time we landed in San Juan.  Yep, we were a little nervous about what to expect at that point!

We got settled into our hotel the first night and got to experience a 6.3 earthquake.  Now I’m from California so I was used to earthquakes but it was still an adventure! I definitely was not expecting an earthquake in Puerto Rico!!  We were prepared to experience a tropical storm but not an earthquake!

The next day we stayed around the hotel waiting for the storm to hit and… it never really did.  We had some rain but that was about all.  We were so glad we had not canceled our trip.

 

Flights

We flew American Airlines over.  My sister, Julie, flew from Phoenix and I flew from Denver.  You can get round-trip tickets from either place for 25,000 AAdvantage Miles.  Those miles are available by signing up for the Citi Advantage Platinum Select Card.  You will get 50,000 miles after meeting the minimum spend of $2,500 in three months.  Even better, the annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year.  Two people can travel for FREE to Puerto Rico just with this one card!!

 

Citi Aadvantage Platinum Premiere Credit Card




Another option to get there is to apply for Barclay’s AAdvantage Aviator Red Elite Master Card. With this card, you will receive 60,000 AAdvantage miles after a single purchase. No minimum spend, just a single purchase. Barclay cards are historically a little harder to get approved for but I have had a few of them. And no minimum spend! It’s a great card to get you to Puerto Rico – fast!!

 

Barclay Aadvantage Aviator Red Card
You can get two tickets to San Juan after your first purchase!

Hotel

There are a lot of hotels where you can stay with points in Puerto Rico.  Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and IHG all have hotels that you can use points at.

We stayed at the AC Marriott San Juan Condado. I had a Marriott week certificate I hadn’t used that I had bought with points so we used that.  You could stay for five nights (one night is free when you book five with award points) for between 80,000-120,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points depending on if you go. It was really in a great location! We enjoyed the proximity to the beach and restaurants.

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Card currently has a high bonus of 125,000 points (until 11/03) after a minimum spend of $5,000 in 3 months.  This will give you 5 free nights in San Juan if you go during off-peak or standard pricing dates!

 

Marriott Credit Card

The bonus on this card will get you free nights in Puerto Rico!



If you want to apply for a personal card the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card by Chase is also a good option.

 

Chase Marriott Credit Card


What to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Well, we have shown you how you can get to Puerto Rico for free with credit card points and how to stay for free, now what are you going to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico besides lying by the pool or enjoying the beach? Although that is what an island vacation is all about and we did our fair share of that too!

We used taxis and Uber to get around. I was even able to use my $15 Uber credit from my American Express Platinum Card while there. Drivers are slightly crazy there so I wouldn’t want to rent a car. Here are a few popular activities:

 

Visit Old Town San Juan

You have to spend a day visiting Old Town San Juan!  It is full of blue cobblestone streets and colorful houses and a definite Caribbean vibe!  We loved wandering around the streets.  A great way to see the area is with a tour guide.  GetYourGuide has excellent San Juan tours exploring Old Town, tasting the food of Puerto Rico, and even exploring the Rain Forests. We explored on our own but wished we had gotten a guided tour.  Old San Juan is certainly one of the things you have to do on your island visit.

 

Woman sitting in front of fountain

Old Town San Juan, Puerto Rico



Colorful Houses in San Juan Puerto Rico

You will see many colorful buildings in San Juan Puerto Rico on your free trip with points!



Cat on street in San Juan Puerto Rico

Wandering the streets of San Juan is a colorful experience



Visit the Rainforests in Puerto Rico

One of the things you have to do from San Juan is to visit the rainforest.  The El Yunque Rainforest is one of Puerto Rico’s treasures and a popular tourist spot. You can rent a car and drive yourself or take a guided tour there.  Personally, I like to leave the driving and logistics to others and go on guided tours.  We went on a trip with GetYourGuide to the rainforest and it was a great experience.  It was fun to get out of the city and see some other parts of the island.

The excursion picked us up in a van with 10 other people and took us to the rainforest.  Hiking was pretty muddy but that kind of added to the fun.   Nothing better than tramping through a rainforest in the mud!!

We finally got to a river and used a rope swing to land in a swimming hole, jumped off some lower cliffs, and went down a natural slide – it was all a lot of fun!! And it felt good to get some of the mud off our shoes.

 

Puerto Rico rainforest

If you are wondering what to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico then be sure and visit the El Yunque rainforest 



El Junque Rainforest

Swimming hole and swing in El Junque Rainforest



Take a Catamaran/Snorkel Trip to Culebra Island

We did another excursion with GetYourGuide to one of the top ten beaches in the world, Flamenco Beach.  It was just gorgeous!  One of the most beautiful beaches with the softest white sand I’ve ever felt.  The water was all shades of blue and turquoise – pictures can’t begin to do justice to it!

We also saw many types of beautiful fish when we snorkeled in the warmest water I have ever swum in.  The lunch was so good-make your own sandwiches, salads, fruits, and cookies…  I seriously would not pass up this trip – it was definitely a highlight for us while visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico.

 

Flamenco Beach Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico



Bioluminescent Lagoon Kayak Tour 

Another thing to do when in San Juan is the Bioluminescent Lagoon Kayak Tour.  This is one of the most popular tours in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is home to three of the five bioluminescent lagoons in the world. Bioluminescent microorganisms live in the water, called dinoflagellates. They can only glow for an instant (less than one second) every 24 hours or so. There are millions of them in the bay, which allows for the water to glow when it’s disturbed.

If you do this tour on the right night, it can be gorgeous.  But don’t think it will look like the doctored photos online.  We didn’t have time to do this tour but would have liked to. Next time? I love a good reason to return to a beautiful island!

 

Bottom Line

Puerto Rico is a fabulous place to visit, especially on points.  It has a laid-back vibe, you don’t need a passport to visit it and the music and food are phenomenal. What are you waiting for?  Using the signup bonuses on just two cards you can make this trip happen!  There is so much to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico and you will enjoy it all!

 

 

A Pinterest graphic on how to visit Puerto Rico for free!

 

Puerto Rico Beach

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