If you want to see more of the island but you don’t want to rent a car or manage the inconveniences of public transportation, perhaps an organized tour is for you.
Rico Suntours, Calle Pesante 15, San Juan (tel. 787/722-2080), and Travel Services, Inc., Calle Loiza 1199 (tel. 787/982-1200), are two of the largest tour operators and destination management companies in Puerto Rico, managing a range of tours for groups and individuals, and able to custom-make tours as well. They both have several volunteer-tourism offerings, whether you want to serve homeless dogs or stray people living on the streets, or pitch in with a community project in the adjacent coastal community of Loiza. Castillo Sightseeing Tours & Travel Services, 2413 Calle Laurel, Punta La Marias, Santurce (tel. 787/791-6195), maintains counters at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan, the Verdanza Hotel, and ESJ Towers. With a fleet of air-conditioned buses, the company’s tours include pickups and drop-offs at hotels as an added convenience.
Sunshine Tours (tel. 787/647-4545) and Amador Island Tours (tel. 787/397-1881) have similar offerings. One of the most popular half-day tours departs most days of the week between 8:30 and 9am, lasts 4 to 5 hours, and costs about $59 per person, $77 if you take one of the more extensive hiking tours. Leaving from San Juan, it tours along the northeastern part of the island to El Yunque. Another favorite is a city tour of San Juan that departs daily around 1pm. The 4-hour trip costs around $59 per person and includes a stop at the Bacardi Rum Factory. Other trips include the Arecibo Observatory and the Camuy Caves, as well as snorkeling and offshore beach excursions on plush catamarans.
Few cities of the Caribbean lend themselves so gracefully to walking tours. You can embark on these on your own, stopping and shopping en route. The best, of course, is a walking tour of Old San Juan. There are several suggested routes from which to choose, or you could go and get lost and cover the entire mile-square historic sector. There are also guided tours available. One of the most informative is by Legends of Puerto Rico (tel. 787/605-9060; www.legendsofpr.com), which hosts personalized tours, specializing in entertaining cultural and nature adventure tours. Sunshine Tours (tel. 787/698-9667; www.puerto-rico-sunshinetours.com) also has experienced, knowledgeable guides. San Juan Oculto, or Hidden San Juan (tel. 787/748-7248; www.fusamp.org; $20 suggested donation), is a monthly walking tour through Old San Juan to visit important, and largely unknown, architectural and historic buildings and other works. The project is undertaken in coordination with the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Architecture.
For a fantastic overview of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, we highly recommend the walking/noshing tour, Flavors of San Juan, an Old San Juan walking food tour (tel. 787/964-2447; www.flavorsofsanjuan.com; $70; no children under 18; daily 2-hour tours at 5pm). Itineraries vary, but samples may include tostones, mofongo, tapas at a Spanish restaurant (where the owner serenaded us a cappella), rum or beer samples, and possibly a mojito and French fries at a French bistro. There are also 3-hour cooking classes ($99) and a rum and bites tour ($40).
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.