Like other countries in the region, driving in Puerto Rico can be both exciting and frustrating. Whenever driving outside of the United States I am sure to be extra cautious driving at least until I get a “feel” for driving style of the locals.
This time in Puerto Rico we decided to rent a car instead of arranging for transportation even though inside of the resort it isn’t necessary. We chose to rent a car because we had planned to spend a day visiting El Yunque, and that another morning we were planning to drive to the port in Fajardo to take the ferry to Flamenco Beach in Culebra. We booked an inexpensive compact vehicle online and planned to pick it up at the airport.
What to know before renting
Few tips can help you save time and frustration in this process.
- If your car rental agency does not have a physical location at the airport, it is a good idea to call them when you land so they can be sure to send a van to pick you up.
- All you need to drive in Puerto Rico is a valid U.S. driver’s license that they will request to see at pickup along with the reservation credit card.
- Many credit cards offer rental car insurance or your American car insurer may offer some level of rental car coverage. Become familiar with this before arriving to pick up the rental, it could save you tremendously.
- The pre-paid toll packages are usually expensive (where they get you), if you can avoid using toll roads and don’t mind an extra few minutes driving this can save you money.
Driving in Puerto Rico
It can be very easy and full of beautiful views as long as you are ready to be patient. As with other countries in the region, driving in these places can be tricky and becoming a good communicator can alleviate headache and lost time. We suggest the following tips to driving in Puerto Rico.
- Most U.S. cell phones work in Puerto Rico, use an app like Google maps to determine routes and guide you when there is traffic and detours.
- Study the route you are planning to take before you leave. Sometimes there is construction or other hazards that can cause drivers to detour, knowing the names of places and the general direction can benefit you.
- Remain vigilant on the road. Puerto Rican roads and highways can be full of pot-holes, especially on stretches outside of the towns.
- Be patient. Like in other places around the world there exist inconsiderate drivers, and in that regard Puerto Rico is no different.
I had driven in Puerto Rico a couple of times before and I have a great deal of practice driving in South Florida. There wasn’t anything that really “surprised” us this time driving in Puerto Rico. We had a good idea of the area and used Google Maps the rest of the way. We decided to pass on the tolls and avoid the highway; in total it added about fifteen minutes to and from the airport. We used the car to get to and from SJU, try new restaurants, buy groceries, visit different hiking trails in El Yunque, and to take the ferry from the port in Fajardo to Culebra.
In conclusion the rental car worked out fantastic for the type of activities we had planned for our trip staying at Ocean Villa condos in the Wyndham. The unit included a parking space that was conveniently located in the building and the distances on the island were close. Driving in Puerto Rico was relatively easy this time, but we strongly urge you to consider traffic when making plans. Traffic jams in San Juan can set commuters back over an hour.
In total including gas and the rental we spent around $150 for four days.