Itinerary Planning: San Juan, Puerto Rico

A couple days ago, I shared how I planned the itinerary for my trip to St. Kitts. I had a little more looseness in my planning for St. Kitts, since I’ll be there for a full week and will have to adjust my plans around my friend’s schedule.

But the San Juan segment of my trip is much more easily planned. I’ll only be there for two nights (which includes one full day and two half days), so I really only have time to do one or two things in total.

San Juan Pictures
Old San Juan, courtesy of TripAdvisor

San Juan Segment

1. Brainstorm/Gather inspiration/Get Recommendations.

For this stage of the planning, I decided to use TripAdvisor. I tried to look at the official tourism website (or at least what I assume to be the official site), but while it was helpful for beautiful pictures, it didn’t really give me much detail. TripAdvisor had a little more detail (and links) to activities, with reviews.

Here are the things that I considered adding to my activity list for San Juan:

  • Wander around Old San Juan / see historic forts, etc. (see the pic above)
  • Tour of Bacardi Factory
  • See BioLuminescent Bay
  • Lay on the beach in front of my hotel (see the pic below)

Photos of Hosteria Del Mar, San Juan
View of the beach where I’ll stay at Hosteria Del Mar, courtesy of TripAdvisor

2. Narrow down choices into feasible options.

This part of the planning is a lot easier since I only have a few things on my ‘to-do’ list. I fly in to San Juan just before dinnertime. My hotel has a restaurant, so I’ll probably spend the evening there, relaxing on the beach and eating dinner before making it an early night.

I’ll only have one full day in San Juan, since I leave the next day around noon, so I’ll spend that day around Old San Juan. My mom actually gave me a mission, so I need to locate a specific shop while I’m in town. It’ll be a great excuse to wander around the city exploring the shops and sights! My mom LOVES butterflies, and she collects specimens. She sent me the address of the shop and a picture of the two kinds she would love to have:

When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, my mom made me a butterfly costume for Halloween. She took a length of metal wire and bent it into the shape of butterfly wings. Then, she took a length of stretchy black mesh fabric and stretched it over the frame. We painted bright colors all over the wings and made it look like the black/green/purple butterfly in the picture above. So I will definitely do everything I can to locate that shop and get her that beautiful butterfly!

3. Tentatively schedule and plan itinerary with top priority activities.

Since I’ll only be in Puerto Rico for one full day and two half days, the tentative schedule is pretty simple. Relax and settle into the hotel on the first night, tour San Juan the next day, and then get a little more sun and relaxation on the beach the next morning, before I fly out around lunch time.

4. Create list of alternatives or possible activities.

I’m trying to decide whether I should go on a tour of the bioluminescent bay. It is a lagoon full of microscopic organisms in the water that glow when they are put into motion. So if you swim through them, or move your kayak paddle through them, they light up. It sounds magical! But I’ll be there right around the time of the full moon, so the light might be a little too bright to properly experience it.

The other possibility is to take a tour of the Bacardi Rum factory. The one hitch in this plan is that the factory is across the bay from Old San Juan and would require a ferry ride to get there. I don’t know much about this yet, so I’ll have to do more research if I really want to do this.


But that’s about it! Those are my plans for San Juan – simple, relaxing, and not too jam packed. I’ll mainly be focused on enjoying the last couple of days of my tropical vacation before getting back to the US and working hard again!


Have you been to San Juan? Let me know what you did while you were there!

Categories: Itinerary, Planning, Puerto Rico

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Glad you’re looking for the shop with the butterfly specimens, your mom will be happy if you do! Sounds like it will be a
    wonderful place to visit, can’t wait to hear what you did there.

    • She is very excited for it, but a little bummed that they might be so expensive. Some of the “assortments” of butterflies at that shop are upwards of $300 USD! So I’ll be on the lookout for either a single butterfly at that shop, or even another shop somewhere in town that sells butterflies too. I also have to make sure it’ll fit in my bag on the way home – some of the butterflies can have up to a 12″ wingspan!

      On a side note, every time I see the image/avatar that accompanies your name, I think of my mom! Tiger swallowtails were always one of my favorites when I was a kid, while my mom’s favorite has always been the Monarch. In fact, when I was talking with her yesterday, she mentioned she wants to visit the place where they winter in Mexico some time – looks like I’ve got another trip to plan for a couple years from now 🙂


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