Wednesday, April 16, 2014

7 Layover Ideas for San Juan


San Juan is a major hub for airlines serving the Caribbean; so if you find that you have a few hours to spend between flights, here are a few ideas to pass the time.

Coqui note: Your airline ticket may state you have X hours between flights, but you will need to factor in such things as:
Time to get off the plane and out of the airport
Time to get a taxi or check-in for a car rental
Time to go through security when you return to the airport
Leeway time for traffic in the San Juan area – depending on the day / time of day San Juan can be very congested

With the above in mind, the following suggestions are based on actual time outside the airport.

2 Hours to Explore San Juan

Allow Your Taste Buds to Sample Some Great Local Puerto Rico Food
Where: Pinones
How: Taxi
Drive Time: About 15-20mins
When: Best times to go are on a weekend
Map It

Jump in a taxi and ask the driver to take you to the food kiosks that line Rd 187. Ask the driver to wait why you buy some great tasting food. They may not look like much, but here you will be able to buy typical Puerto Rico food such as; Empanadillas, Alcapurrias, Mofongo and much more. You may even be lucky and find one of the kiosks serving lechon (roast pig).

Coqui note: If you have a little more time you could also walk the Pinones boardwalk or rent a bike from one of the roadside bike vendors

Hit the Surf and Beach
Where: Closest beaches are Isla Verde and Balneario Carolina
How: Taxi
Drive Time: 15-20mins
When: Any time during the day
Map It
The beaches in Isla Verde and Balneario Carolina will give you the opportunity to swim in the ocean and grab an hour of sunbathing time. At Isla Verde you should be able to find the usual water sports; banana boats, jet skis etc.

If the beach is not your thing, you could always just head to the Isla Verde hotel scene and chill.

3 Hours to Explore San Juan

(all of the above plus)

Visit One of the Grand Hotels
Where: Isla Verde / Condado District
How: Taxi
Drive Time: 15-25mins
The Isla Verde / Condado district are home to some of the major hotels here in San Juan. Hotels such as; the El San Juan, La Concha, Condado Plaza, Marriott Stella Resort would all be good choices. If your layover is in the evening, with 3 hours to kill, you could head to one of the hotels and dance to the Latin rhythms in the hotel lobby (check with the hotel beforehand, to ensure there will be live music).

If music and dance is not your thing; try your hand in one of the San Juan casinos.

4 Hours to Explore San Juan

(all of the above plus)

Quick Tour of Old San Juan
Where: Old San Juan
How: Taxi
Drive Time: 25 mins or more depending on traffic
With around 3 hours (taking in account taxi time) to explore Old San Juan, your best option is to take a taxi to either San Cristobel Fort or El Morro Fort. Once there, take a quick tour of the fort and then head down through the streets of Old San Juan. Unfortunately, you will be pressed for time and will not be able to enjoy everything that Old San Juan has to offer, but it will give you a taste of what Old San Juan has to offer.

If you are running short of time, jump in a taxi and ask the driver to take you quickly through the streets of Old San Juan, so that you can at least get a feel for this walled city.

5 Hours to Explore San Juan

(all of the above plus)

Beach Lovers Head to Luquillo Beach

Where: Luquillo Beach
How: Rental Car
Drive Time: 45 – 60mins depending on traffic (Hyw 3)
Map It
Luquillo beach or Balneario Luquillo as it is known locally is one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico. The curved bay is popular with locals and visitors and can become crowded on weekends and holidays

If you have time, sample the great local food at the roadside kiosks close to Luquillo Beach

6 Hours to Explore San Juan

(all of the above plus)

Hike the El Yunque Rainforest
Where: El Yunque
How: Rental Car
Drive Time: 45 – 60mins depending on traffic
El Yunque rainforest offers several trails of varying difficulty. You can either hike one of the marked trails or take a tour with one of the rainforest rangers (tours can be arranged from the visitor center close to the entrance of the rainforest).

If you have swim wear, you can also take a swim at one of the waterfalls. Most trails are well paved, though can become slippery after rain, so wear sensible shoes and bring along some water and snacks.

Walking Tour of Old San Juan
Where: Old San Juan
How: Taxi
Drive Time: 25 mins or more depending on traffic
With around 6 hours to explore the walled city of Old San Juan, you will be able to explore the forts, the cathedral, the plazas, museums and even restaurants. You could either start you tour down near San Juan Bay (Old San Juan walking tour part 1) or if you don’t want to walk too much, then get dropped off near El Morro fort (Old San Juan walking tour part 2)

More than 6 hours to Explore San Juan

(all of the above) but with more time to enjoy…

Do you have any favorite San Juan layover ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Note: the above are just a few suggestions to kill time if you have a layover in San Juan. It is your responsibility to ensure that you make it back in time for your connecting flight.

Photo Resources:
San Juan Airport by davitydave
Isla Verde Beach by guitarfool5931
Old San Juan by dead_zoo
Luquillo Beach by guitarfool5931
El Yunque Rainforest by guitarfool5931
Old San Juan by oquendo

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Comments

  1. Great post, Brian! I’ve now got lots of ideas for when I visit San Juan one day.

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  1. [...] so what’s there to do besides hang out at the airport? If you have a minimum of a few hours you can see and do a lot: tour the famous castle El Morro; wander the blue-stoned streets of Old San Juan; luxuriate at a [...]

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