Seaborne moved its home base to San Juan, Puerto Rico from St. Croix in 2014 as it began an expansion of services throughout the Caribbean, serving 16 airports and expanding its aircraft fleet to 21, including 16 34-seat Saab 340Bs, including the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts & Nevis, Tortola, Martinique, Virgin Gorda, St. Maarten and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s filling the void left by the exit of American Eagle from the Caribbean market. Cape Air (tel. 800/CAPE-AIR [227-3247]; www.flycapeair.com) flies from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to Culebra, Mayagüez, and Vieques several times a day. They also offer many flights daily to St. Thomas, St. Croix, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Nevis and Anguilla. Vieques Air Link (tel. 888/901-9247 or 787/741-8331; www.viequesairlink.com) and Air Flamenco (tel. 787/724-1818, 724-1105, or 721-0332; www.airflamenco.net) offer several daily flights between San Juan, Ceiba and the island towns of Viequs and Culebra. They also provide service to nearby U.S. Virgin Islands.
By Rental Car
There is good news and bad news about driving in Puerto Rico. First, the good news: Puerto Rico offers some of the most scenic drives in all the Caribbean.
Of course, if you want to stay only in San Juan, having a car is not necessary. You can get around San Juan on foot or by bus, taxi, and in some cases, hotel minivan.
Now the bad news: Renting a car and driving in Puerto Rico, depending on the routes you take, can lead to a number of frustrating experiences, as our readers relate to us year after year. These readers point out that local drivers are often reckless, as evidenced by the number of fenders with bashed-in sides. The older coastal highways provide the most scenic routes but are often congested. Some of the roads, especially in the mountainous interior, are just too narrow for automobiles. If you do rent a car, proceed with caution along these poorly paved and maintained roads, which most often follow circuitous routes. Cliffslides or landslides are not uncommon.
Some local agencies may tempt you with special reduced prices. But if you're planning to tour the island by car, you won't find any local branches that will help you if you experience trouble. And some of the agencies widely advertising low-cost deals won't take credit cards and want cash in advance. Also, watch out for hidden extra costs, which sometimes proliferate among the smaller and not very well-known firms, and difficulties connected with resolving insurance claims.
If you do rent a vehicle, it's best to stick with the old reliables: Avis, Budget, or Hertz. Each of these companies offers minivan transport to its office and car depot. Be alert to the minimum-age requirements for car rentals in Puerto Rico. Both Avis and Hertz require that renters be 25 or older; at Budget, renters must be 21 or older, but those between the ages of 21 and 24 pay a $10 to $25 daily surcharge to the agreed-upon rental fee.
Added security comes from an antitheft double-locking mechanism that has been installed in most of the rental cars available in Puerto Rico. Car theft is common in Puerto Rico, so extra precautions are always needed.
Distances are often posted in kilometers rather than miles (1km = 0.62 mile), but speed limits are displayed in miles per hour.
International visitors should note that insurance and taxes are almost never included in quoted rental car rates in the U.S. Be sure to ask your rental agency about additional fees for these. They can add a significant cost to your car rental. Note: In Puerto Rico, gasoline is sold by the liter, not by the gallon. The cost of gasoline is often somewhat cheaper than in the United States. Current prices are hovering around 75¢ a liter (3.78 of which make up a gallon).
By Public Transportation
Cars and minibuses known as públicos provide low-cost transportation around the island. Their license plates have the letters "P" or "PD" following the numbers. They serve all the main towns of Puerto Rico; passengers are let off and picked up along the way, both at designated stops and when someone flags them down. Rates are set by the Public Service Commission. Públicos usually operate during daylight hours, departing from the main plaza (central square) of a town.
Information about público routes between San Juan and Mayagüez is available at Lineas Sultana, Calle Esteban González 898, Urbanización Santa Rita, Río Piedras (tel. 787/765-9377). Information about público routes between San Juan and Ponce is available from Choferes Unidos de Ponce, Terminal de Carros Públicos, Calle Vive in Ponce (tel. 787/764-0540). There are several operators listed under Lineas de Carros in the local Yellow Pages.
Fares vary according to whether the público will make a detour to pick up or drop off a passenger at a specific locale. (If you want to deviate from the predetermined routes, you'll pay more than if you wait for a público beside the main highway.) Fares from San Juan to Mayagüez range from $20 to $40; from San Juan to Ponce, from $20 to $40. Be warned that although prices of públicos are low, the routes are slow, with frequent stops, often erratic routing, and lots of inconvenience.
Getting around San Juan is getting easier all the time. You have two local bus lines, a publíco system that covers the entire metro area, the Tren Urbano, a light urban rail system connecting Santurce with the Hato Rey financial district, the university and medical center districts, and important suburban locations in Bayamón and Guaynabo. Tren Urbano riders can transfer free to city buses and vice versa.
So if you are staying in San Juan, having a car is not necessary. You can get around San Juan on foot or by bus, taxi, and in some cases, hotel minivan. The Tren Urban, a light rail system connecting Santurce to the financial, university and medical districts, and important suburban destinations in Bayamón and Guaynabo, is a great ride. Prices were slashed in half to put it at par with public buses, and riders can transfer into the bus system free of charge. The integration is aimed at increasing ridership throughout the system.
The train and accompanying buses cover virtually all of San Juan. They keep special expanded schedules during big events, such as a festival in Old San Juan, and also for when big acts play at the Puerto Rico Coliseum, or the Tourism Company throws a New Year's Eve party at the Convention Center. For more information, call tel. 866/900-1284, or log onto www.ati.gobierno.pr.
Taxis are also reasonably priced and work late into the evening in the city's major districts. So they are your go-to option for a night of clubbing or to get home after a late night.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.