How Long Does It Take To Drive Around Puerto Rico (2023)

It takes three hours to drive from the east to the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Within eight hours, you can drive the entire coast of the island and return to your starting point.

I’ve lived on the island for 14 years, and road trips are one of my favorite weekend activities.

In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about driving around Puerto Rico:

How long would it take to drive around all of Puerto Rico?
Is it easy to drive around Puerto Rico?
Is it safe to drive around Puerto Rico?
How long does it take to tour the whole island of Puerto Rico?
Can I travel around the island without a car?
Puerto Rico road trip itinerary

How long would it take to drive around all of Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is approximately 100 miles long by 35 miles wide.

An entire roundtrip road trip from San Juan, through Arecibo (north), Mayaguez (west), Ponce (south), and Fajardo (east) back to San Juan (north) can take 6.5 to 8 hours to complete by following the main coastal highways.

Driving the coastal highways as outlined in red in this image, you can circle the island and return to your starting point in under eight hours.

Coast to coast driving takes around 3 hours.

It takes three hours to drive from the west to the east coast of the island following the route outlined above in red from Aguadilla to Fajardo.

If you’re driving from San Juan, located in the north, you can get to Cabo Rojo, which is located in the south west part of the island, in under 3 hours. 

Depending on the traffic and road conditions, it could take longer.

Below is a video of driving around Puerto Rico on a bus tour:

Learn more in our article Renting A Car In Puerto Rico – All You Need To Know.

 

Is it easy to drive around Puerto Rico?

Overall, driving in Puerto Rico is easy to do.

The main streets are in good condition, and the sign systems are the same as in most countries worldwide.

image of San Juan's directional signs
The highways and signs systems are very similar to the mainland United States in cities around the island.

If you’re used to driving in the states, then going to Puerto Rico should be no problem.

Explore other methods of transportation in our article How To Get Around Puerto Rico.

 

Is it safe to drive around Puerto Rico?

Driving around Puerto Rico is usually safe, but you should be cautious.

Puerto Ricans tend to drive recklessly; they change lanes without using turn signals, they cut you off on the highway, and sometimes they run the red light in broad daylight.

Visitors should keep their eyes on the road and drive with precaution.

As we say in Puerto Rico, you should always “drive defensively.”

Here is a video showing the popular driving route between San Juan and El Yunque:

Learn more in our article Is Puerto Rico Safe For Tourists?

 

How long does it take to tour the whole island of Puerto Rico?

You would need a minimum of 7 days to tour the whole island.

image of the vibrant street of San Juan
The colorful streets of Old San Juan have a lot to offer visitors, but you will need at least one week to see the popular attractions outside of the city areas.

You’ll need about 7 to 11 days to cover the main attractions Puerto Rico offers. 

It’s best to stay longer, like two weeks, to explore more coasts, the cays, the central areas of the island, and more.

Below is a video of a Puerto Rico road trip:

For my suggestions, jump to my Puerto Rico road trip itinerary.

 

Can I travel around the island without a car?

Traveling the island without a car is highly challenging.

Since Puerto Ricans depend on cars to drive everywhere around the island, there are few chances for you to get around on foot.

Only a few cities in the north of Puerto Rico have public transit, making it neither the most convenient nor time-efficient method to see the island outside of San Juan. 

image of a trolley bus in Puerto Rico
There are trolley busses in the major cities of Puerto Rico, but traveling without a car outside the metro areas can be a challenge.

For example, you can take a bus from San Juan to Ponce, but it will take longer.

Not to mention, once you get to your destination, you’ll need wheels to get around town.

Additionally, there are few routes, and the hours sometimes need to be more consistent.

Below is a video showing a 4-day tour in San Juan without a car:

Traveling around the island without a car is not recommended. 

 

Puerto Rico road trip itinerary

I’ve made a road trip itinerary for you that takes you through some of the most popular places in Puerto Rico. 

This itinerary is planned for seven days. You can exchange some places, skip some towns, and add or remove stops.

 

Day 1 — San Juan 

San Juan is the most visited place in Puerto Rico, where you’re staying during your trip here.

Head on over to the colorful and pretty streets of Old San Juan.

image of the vibrant street of San Juan
Walking through the vibrant streets Old San Juan is one of the many things you can do in the capital city.

You’ll find two old forts from the early 1500s. These two spectacular sites in Puerto Rico are close to one another. Castillo San Felipe del Morro, often known as El Morro, and Castillo de San Cristóbal are included in your entry price.

Also, check out the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. Located in the heart of Old San Juan, it’s one of the oldest churches on American territory.

Below is a video of the best things to do in San Juan as a first-time traveler:

You can also check out our article about the 40 Best Things To Do In San Juan.

 

Day 2 — Fajardo & Laguna Grande Bio Bay

Fajardo is home to one of the brightest bioluminescent bays in the world!

To get the most of your trip to Fajardo, you can spend the day hiking and exploring El Yunque Rain Forest.

image of a jungle trail in El Yunque
El Yunque has plenty of trails for hikers of all skill levels.

There are swimming holes, hiking trails, and beautiful scenery you’ll enjoy when you get there. 

After El Yunque, you can drive to the Luquillo Kiosks for one of the best local cuisines you’ve ever had.

image of 2 girls kayaking at Laguna Grande Bio Bay
Explore Laguna Grande at night, a popular bio bay located in Fajardo.

Once nighttime rolls around, you can check out the best Laguna Grande bio bay tours.

Conclude your day by dining out at one of Fajardo’s most delicious restaurants for dinner.

Below is a video of the best things to do in Fajardo:

You can also check out our article about the 20 Best Things To Do In Fajardo.

 

Day 3 — Ponce

Today you’ll be heading south! This is a trip you’ll want to get up early for.

image of Cayey highway
Driving from San Juan to Ponce gives you the best views of the island’s mountainous interior.

You’ll admire spectacular mountain views as you drive south through the Cayey Highway.

Ponce is one of the most historic town centers; it’s considered the San Juan of the south. 

The historical firehouse fire station Parque de Bombas and the Ponce Cathedral will be found. 

You’ll also want to visit the boardwalk “La Guancha” for food at one of their multiple food kiosks. 

Below is a video exploring the historical city of Ponce:

You can also check out our article about the 25 Best Things To Do In Ponce.

 

Day 4 — Cabo Rojo

Check out the west coast and visit Cabo Rojo!

image of Cabo Rojo lighthouse
The Cabo Rojo lighthouse is a popular place to watch the sunset over the ocean.

The Cabo Rojos Wildlife Refuge is a popular attraction when visiting Cabo Rojo.

image of the Pink Salt Lake
The pink salt lake in Cabo Rojo is a great destination for photographers.

You can also check out the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse with views of the Atlantic Ocean and its beaches.

Before ending the day and heading back to your room, take a quick 20-minute drive to Lajas and check out La Parguera bioluminescent bay.

Below is a video of a Cabo Rojo travel guide:

Learn more in our article about the 23 Best Things To Do In Cabo Rojo and read up on the 6 Best Bio Bay Tour In La Parguera.

 

Day 5 — Rincón & Aguadilla

Head on down to the surfer towns of Rincón and Aguadilla.

image of Crash Boat Beach
Crash Boat Beach is one of the island’s most popular beaches.

Both places are known for their beautiful beaches, like Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla.

Places like Aguadilla’s City Hall museum, Plaza Rafael Hernandez, and Columbus Park are great to visit during the day.

For dinner, you can drive down to Rincón and enjoy dinner at one of Rincón’s finest restaurants and enjoy the sunset.

image of a sunset in Rincón
Visit The Beach House for dinner and soak in the famous sunsets in Rincón.

It’s known as “the town of beautiful sunsets” for a reason.

Check out Rincón & Aguadilla in the following video:

Check out our articles with more things to do in Rincón and Aguadilla.

 

Day 6 — Arecibo 

Arecibo is a great place to explore some of Puerto Rico’s top caverns and beaches.

image of Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Many people roadtrip to the lighthouse before visiting other attractions in the area.

Enjoy a peaceful sunset on La Poza del Obispo’s sandy beach, with a historic lighthouse atop a rock wall in the backdrop.

image of La Poza del Obispo
La Poza del Obispo is a beautiful beach with a lot to explore on foot.

The Indian Cave (La Cueva Del Indio) is a beautiful spot that only costs a few dollars.

The cave is an intriguing view back in time since it includes petroglyphs that have defied natural and human forces for ages. 

image of the Indian Cave
La Cueva del Indio is a beautiful spot located on the ocean in Arecibo.

Cueva del Indio is said to hold the most petroglyphs on the whole island.

Below is a video of the ultimate tour guide to Cueva del Indio:

 

Day 7 — Culebra

Your last day should be enjoyed in Culebra!

Culebra is a neighboring island on the east coast of Puerto Rico. You’ll need to get on a ferry to get to Culebra.

image of a wrecked military tank
Flamenco Beach is famous as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Culebra has the award-winning Flamenco Beach that tourists from all over the world fall in love with. You can also enjoy a nice dinner at one of their restaurants and finish the day by seeing the sunset at the beach.

You’ll need to park your car at their parking spot, as only Culebra residents can transport their vehicle from the main island to Culebra. 

Plan on staying overnight in Culebra so that you have the chance to enjoy the island without feeling rushed.

Below is a video of Culebra, Puerto Rico:

Check out our article Where To Stay In Culebra for more information.

 

 

FAQ section

How many miles is Puerto Rico across?

Puerto Rico is approximately 100 miles long and 35 miles wide.

How long does it take to cross Puerto Rico?

It only takes a few hours to cross Puerto Rico. You can expect a maximum of 4 hours of driving.

 

Final thoughts

Puerto Rico is easy to drive around. 

It takes three hours to drive from the east to the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Within eight hours, you can drive the entire coast of the island and return to your starting point.

Since Puerto Rico is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, you can expect to drive around the entire island in one day.

If you’re staying for more than three days and want to explore the island, I highly recommend renting a car to get around Puerto Rico.

I’ve included a 7-day road trip itinerary for you to use as a guide. You can also check out our How to Spend a Week in Puerto Rico article for more ways to enjoy and explore the island.

You may also enjoy our article Where To Stay In Puerto Rico – 13 Best Places & Areas.

Article by

Miguel Concepcion

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have experienced every inch of this stunning island. Growing up in Puerto Rico has helped me truly learn about the rich culture and extensive history this island has to offer. I share my local knowledge in all of the articles that I write.

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