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Ultimate Guide to a Puerto Rico Family Vacation

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Considering a Puerto Rico family vacation? Here’s everything you need to know!

girl on swing on beach in puerto rico

Puerto Rico has so much to offer families who want to visit the Caribbean. It’s affordable, easy to get to, has lots of kid-friendly things to do, and uses American money. 

I’ve been wanting to take my daughter to Puerto Rico for years and finally did so in early 2020.

We had an absolute blast and I’m so excited to share my guide to a Puerto Rico family vacation!

Is Puerto Rico good for families?

girl under puerto rican flag

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about taking my daughter to Puerto Rico by myself. 

Though it’s a US Territory, the primary language is Spanish. I know very little, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to communicate when I needed to. 

But I’m happy to report we did fine with our limited Spanish and almost everyone we met spoke English.

I was also concerned about the damage Puerto Rico sustained from Hurricane Maria, but most places were rebuilt and open on our March 2020 trip. 

Do I need a Passport to travel to Puerto Rico? 

No, you don’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico with your family since it is a US Territory. 

That makes it much easier to get into and out of compared to other Caribbean islands. 

You’ll save on airport taxes, too!

How To Get To Puerto Rico

puerto rico islands from the air

Puerto Rico is located between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Is it easy to get to and is just a 2.5 hour flight from Florida. 

The main airport in Puerto Rico is Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, which is located just east of downtown San Juan, the capital city. 

Here are some of the 44 cities that offer non-stop service to San Juan (SJU):

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami
  • Nashville
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Raleigh-Durham (my home airport)
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington DC

We flew to Puerto Rico from Orlando on Southwest and flew home to RDU nonstop on Frontier. 

What is the best area to stay in Puerto Rico for a family vacation?

maps of puerto rico

For families I’d suggest staying in the northeast part of the island. 

Venturing to the south or west from San Juan will be a logistical challenge, and keeping it simple when traveling with kids is super important. 

We stayed in a condo 30 minutes east of the San Juan airport in a little town called Mediania Alta. 

I chose it because it was fairly close to all of the attractions in the northeast part of the island, such as great beaches, El Yunque rainforest, and the bioluminescent bay. 

Many families chose to stay close to San Juan in the popular resort area know as Condado

If you stay in a hotel or rental, I suggest limiting your search to the northeast part of the island to make your vacation as stress-free as possible. 

Where we stayed: Beach Nirvana 

beach in puerto rico

The private beach at our condo

I chose to rent a condo through VRBO.com for our Puerto Rico vacation. 

I wanted to be able to cook some meals during our trip and have extra space to spread out.

girl in pools

I chose Beach Nirvana, a two-bedroom/two-bath condo in a gated complex with multiple pools and a private beach.

Our condo only cost $78 per night during February, an amazing month to visit Puerto Rico.

Though it wasn’t luxurious, it was safe, comfortable, clean, and lots of fun. You can’t beat that for the price!

bedroom with one queen bed

Here is my bedroom in the condo. The other bedroom was similar.

Each bedroom had it’s own bathroom as well. 

condo kitchen

The kitchen was perfect for making our breakfasts and a few dinners during our stay.

We hit up the local Walmart for groceries. 

girl on chair on patio

The living room was modern and comfortable. We loved having breakfast on one of the two balconies. 

I would definitely recommend Beach Nirvana and any other unit in the Villas del Mar complex. 

On our next trip (which I am planning now) I’d like to stay closer to the east coast. We loved the attractions there and it would be nice to be a bit closer to them. 

How To Get Around in Puerto Rico

rental car reservation

If you want to venture out of San Juan (which you definitely do!) you’ll want a rental car for your trip. 

At the time we visited, Uber and Lyft were not operating in Puerto Rico. 

I rented a car through Hotwire for our trip at a super affordable rate – $120 for five days!

The only drawback was that we had to take a shuttle from the airport to the rental car office. We ended up waiting  over 45 minutes for the shuttle which was NOT a fun way to start our trip. 

When I return, I will pay the extra money to rent a car that’s at the airport to have less friction on our trip. 

But I’d definitely rent through Hotwire again – you can’t beat the savings. 

Driving was easy and gas was surprisingly reasonable for an island (though be aware it is priced in dollars per liter). 

Things to do on a Puerto Rico Family Vacation

girl walking on flamenco beach in culebra

Flamenco Beach, Culebra, PR

 

I can’t emphasize enough how much fun we had exploring the island on our five day trip. 

There are so many kid-friendly activities in Puerto Rico you will be spoiled for choice!

I’ll give you a quick overview here but definitely check out my detailed post on what to do in Puerto Rico with kids.

Here are the highlights:

El Yunque National Forest

girl hiking in el yunque in puerto rico with kids

El Yunque National Forest is about an hour from San Juan.

It’s the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system and is not to be missed!


waterfall in el yunque puerto rico

My favorite part of our visit was the short hike to Juan Diego Falls (pictured above). 

There are LOTS of kid-friendly hikes in El Yunque as well as waterfalls, wildlife, and a nice visitor’s center. 

Don’t pass up a visit to the rain forest on your trip! 

Day Trip To Culebra & Flamenco Beach

entrance to flamenco beach

My absolute favorite part of our trip was the day we ventured to Culebra, a small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. 

The main attraction was Flamenco Beach which often makes it on lists of the best beaches in the world!

It’s a challenge to get to, however, which is part of what keeps it so nice.

Check out my post on how to get to Flamenco Beach via ferry or plane here. 

woman in water in culebra puerto rico

If crystal clear water is your thing, then be sure to plan a visit to Flamenco Beach on Culebra. 

It’s a super kid-friendly place – in fact we saw mostly families the day we were there. 

Get all of the details in my post on the best things to do in Puerto Rico with kids

Bio Bay Kayak Tour

kayaking to bio bay puerto rico

One evening we ventured over to Fajardo to take a kayak tour of the Laguna Grande “Bio Bay”. 

It is filled with bioluminescent plankton, which give off a bluish-white glow at night!

bio bay tour on viator

I booked our kayak tour with Pure Adventures through Viator and was really happy with it.

I paid less than $100 for both of us and the adventure and unique experience made it worth it for me. 

I highly recommend booking a Bio Bay kayak tour on your trip to Puerto Rico. 

El Morro

el morro fort in puerto rico from the ocean

One of the most popular tourist destinations in San Juan is the huge fort know as “El Morro” or Castillo San Felipe del Morro

We visited on the last day of our trip and it ended up being a highlight for us!

visiting el morro in puerto rico with kids

Your kids will love exploring the fort and learning about the history of Puerto Rico. 

I highly recommend setting a few hours aside to explore El Morro.

Old San Juan

colorful buildings in old san juan

I also recommend walking the streets of beautiful, historic Old San Juan. 

girl under puerto rican flag

Definitely make a stop by Calle de la Fortaleza – it’s the street that was previously covered by colorful umbrellas that now features a huge Puerto Rican flag. 

There are loads of places to eat and shop so be sure to schedule some time for those popular activities!

Luquillo Kiosks

puerto rican food

Friends of ours who used to spend the winter in Puerto Rico recommended the Luquillo Kiosks as a place to grab some local food. 

There were lots of places to eat dinner but we chose Kiosk #20 – Terruno. 

We enjoyed some authentic Puerto Rico food that was SO delicious. Even my seven-year-old daughter loved everything.

view of ocean from luquillo kiosks

Most of the restaurants have open air dining that looks out on the ocean. You can find something for everyone at the kiosks. 

If you are feeling adventurous head out to Luquillo for a quintessential Puerto Rican experience!

Get more details on all of these activities in my post on the best things to do with kids in Puerto Rico

Can I go to Puerto Rico on a budget?

mom and daughter eating ice cream

Unlike most destinations in the Caribbean, you can absolutely visit Puerto Rico on a budget!

I think Puerto Rico’s affordability is part of why I loved it so much. Your dollars go much farther there compared to most other destinations. 

Here are the costs for our five-day trip: 

  • Condo rental: $468.81
  • Rental car: $132.45
  • Airfare: $249.50 (just for the return flight – we flew there on Southwest points)
  • Activities: $151.70

Without food, our total cost for everything for a five-day trip was $1,000.

I saved on food costs by buying groceries and only eating out at affordable restaurants. 

That’s a super affordable family vacation to the Caribbean!

Is Puerto Rico safe for a family vacation?

We felt 100% safe at every point during our trip. 

Honestly your biggest safety concern in Puerto Rico is a natural disaster such as hurricanes. 

We stayed in a condominium complex with a security guard at the gate plus a code to access the building. 

As long as you use common sense you will be completely safe in Puerto Rico. 

I hope this ultimate guide to a Puerto Rico family vacation will help you plan your trip!

Any questions? Just leave a comment below or send me a message on The Frugal South’s Facebook page

Check out these related posts: 

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Things To Do In Puerto Rico With Kids
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