Touring The Island Of Puerto Rico By Car
Hiring a car is a great way to explore the diverse and beautiful island of Puerto Rico. My advice is to rent a car in San Juan (Puerto Rico’s capital city and where the international airport is located).
Driving in San Juan can be a bit of a challenge, but once you get out into the countryside and there is less traffic, driving is a breeze.
Driving in Puerto Rico – Rules of the Road
Puerto Rico’s driving rules are practically the same as those of the United States. Puerto Ricans drive on the right side of the road. The road signs used in Puerto Rico are the same shapes and colours as U.S. road signs. Most road signs are marked in Spanish and English. Seatbelts are required by law and must be worn by all people in the car.
Child seats are mandatory as well. Road conditions on major highways are typically quite good. However, you can expect to find some potholes on smaller roads or and uneven/dirt roads in the middle of the island and in smaller cities and towns.
The road numbers used to mark highways are useful for figuring out what kind of road you are on. Single-digit road names (like Route 1) are the older highways. These roads are also characterized by traffic lights and intersections every few blocks. Speed limits on these roads tend to be slower than those on newer highways.
Double-digit road names (like Route 18) are either newer major highways or toll roads. Triple-digit road names (like Road 186) are smaller country roads.
Four-digit road names (like Road 9966) are usually single-lane roads that lead to residential areas or very small towns (it’s easy to get lost on these, since some of them do not even show up on maps). My advice is to stick to the older or newer highways and don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you get lost (most Puerto Ricans speak English very well).
El Yunque Rainforest and Luquillo
One of Puerto Rico’s most popular tourist spots is the El Yunque Rainforest, located approximately 40 kilometers southeast of San Juan (it takes about an hour to get there by car). There are many hiking paths and breathtaking natural attractions to see in this area. Be sure to stop by the visitor’s lodge when you first arrive to get a feel for what El Yunque has to offer.
Three miles past El Yunque you will find Luquillo, one of Puerto Rico’s most famous surf spots. There is a pristine beach here as well as food stands where you can grab some authentic Puerto Rican food at excellent prices.
Directions to El Yunque and Luquillo from San Juan: From San Juan take Road 26 towards Carolina until you reach Road 3. Take Road 3 towards Fajardo for about 20 minutes until you get to Rio Grande. Take Road 191 to El Yunque.
Enjoy your Puerto Rican adventure!