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The Perfect Road Trip in Puerto Rico: Everything to Know

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Want to start planning your road trip in Puerto Rico? Well you're in the right place!

When it comes to getting around in a new place there are a lot of things to take in to account. Is there reliable public transportation? What's the cheapest way? What's the easiest way?

In Puerto Rico's case, we highly recommend driving, as it allows you the freedom to discover so many great places. Here's everything you need to know about  your road trip in Puerto Rico.

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The Perfect Road Trip in Puerto Rico: Where to Rent Your Car From

When looking online, there are so many options to choose from. Most likely, you'll be flying in the capital of San Juan, and luckily there are many options. If you are cruising, there are plenty of options right in the center of Old San Juan.

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Renting a Car Inside the San Juan Airport

The easiest option is renting straight from the airport. This allows you to maximize your time, and also takes care of your transportation to and from the city. This however is not the cheapest option, as there are many taxes added for the rental companies being located at the airport, that are not disclosed until you actually arrive.

Companies inside the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National Car Rental.

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Renting a Car Outside the Airport in Puerto Rico

Many of the car rental companies that you will find online will claim themselves to be at the airport, but you will find that they are actually located on a strip outside of the airport. Although these car rental places will have low rates, this is actually the worst option.

Why? For one, the places are actually not cheaper than any of the others, because they have a number of extra fees that they do not include on the price that is online. The price you see online will actually be about double by the time you get out of the place. We will go into detail about the different taxes in a little bit.

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The second reason that this is not a great option, is because you will have to wait for the shuttle, which can have some long wait times. Heading back to the airport on your return will also be much more stressful, as you will need to factor in a lot of extra time that you will also be missing out on.

Rental Car Companies in San Juan

The companies that are included in this are the budget car rental companies that are franchises, such as Dollar, Thrifty, Payless, Cabrera Car & Truck Rental, Leaseway Car & Truck Rental, E-Z Rent-a-Car, and Allied Car & Truck Rental, as well as SIXT, and Europcar.

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How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in Puerto Rico?

We have rented cars in Puerto Rico a number of times, and prices have ranged quite a bit. The reason behind this is that some rental companies have hidden fees.

I have pad as low as $20/day for a rental car in Puerto Rico, while other times I ended up paying $50-70/day. That's why I am here to clarify where to rent from, and how to get the best deals for your road trip in Puerto Rico.

Why is it So Expensive to Rent a Car in Puerto Rico? San Juan Rental Car Fees to be Aware of

Renting a car in Puerto Rico usually ends up being much more expensive than what car rental companies show online. But why is it so expensive to rent a car in Puerto Rico? This is because there are fees added that the third part sites don't account for. (Don't worry- you can in fact get great rates for rental cars in Puerto Rico! You'll need to find ways to avoid the following fees).

These are the fees that were charged to us from Payless Car Rental Company:

  • City Tax 1%
  • State Tax 10.5%
  • TRPP $1.95/day
  • ERA $3.95/day
  • Transportation recreational fee 8.75%
  • Vehicle energy fee $3.89/day
  • Vehicle tire/battery fee $1.39/day

We forgot which fee was exactly for which tax, but there is a tax for the company being a franchise, a tax for being part of the airport, and a tax for being part of the airport but outside the airport, so you can see how the fees add up and are much more for the airport area.

Rental Car Fees In San Juan

Renting from inside the city is definitely the most seamless experience. The places are much quicker checking in and out, and the prices are very transparent, with no extra hidden fees. The only extra fee will be your transportation into the city. If you are cruising, this is definitely the best option. 

Our favorite place to rent from is located right outside where the ship docks, which is located right inside of the Sheraton Hotel. Just make sure that you book in advance, as they tend to sell out faster than other places.

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People wonder why is it so expensive to rent a car in Puerto Rico, but it's only super expensive when you book from the airport! Stick to local rentals and you'll be able to have a much more affordable road trip in Puerto Rico.

Here you can rent your car in Puerto Rico. Just make sure to look for places within the city! However, If you don't mind paying extra for the convenience, you can also look at the car rentals from SJU.

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Type of Car to Rent For Your Road Trip in Puerto Rico

When it comes to choosing a type of car, because Puerto Rico is part of the US, the most common type of car is automatic. If you are planning on traveling close to the city, a small car will suffice. 

However, if you plan on traveling to waterfalls, small beaches, and more off the beaten path places, we definitely suggest a 4x4, as some of the roads can be full of potholes. There were a lot of places that we don't think we would have quite made it to without a larger SUV.

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Some of the hidden gems of Puerto Rico require a 4x4.

Car Insurance in Puerto Rico

When it comes to insurance, if you are part of the US than you are in luck. You won't need to purchase extra insurance, as you will just need to make sure that you are covered in case of an accident. They never asked us to show the insurance, but of course it is good to have your proof ready just in case.

If you are not from the US, or you do not have car insurance already, you can pay a flat rate per day in order to be covered. As Fede is not American, We decided to pay an extra $13/ day for him to drive, which is pretty standard.

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Driving on Your Road Trip in Puerto Rico

When it comes to a road trip in Puerto Rico, there are a few things to take into consideration while driving around the island. Many islands in the Caribbean are very relaxed when it comes to driving regulations, but as the Puerto Rico is part of the US, it can be very easy to get a ticket.

road trip in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is stricter for driving than the other Caribbean islands.

Traffic Lights in Puerto Rico

In a lot of areas of the island we actually noticed that there were places that didn't have stop signs, nor traffic lights. This was a little alarming to us, but just make sure that you stop and check for traffic on all ends. There are some places where they simply just yield to the car who approached first, and let each other go in order.

There were also many traffic lights on the west side of the island that were standing, but not functioning at all. In this case, slow down, make sure that the light is not blinking or working at all, and yield to any cars that may have approached the area before you.

Tolls in Puerto Rico

When it comes to tolls, the only way that you can pay them is by having the tag. This means that if you plan on renting a car you pretty much need to get the Auto Expreso Pass, or you will get a $50 fine every time you pass through a toll. 

The pass costs $4.95/day, and is definitely something that they will try to push on you. However, we found that it wasn't really necessary, as it is very easy to avoid toll roads without adding time onto your trip.

Gas Prices in Puerto Rico

When renting a car you will be given the option to prepay your gas. We don't suggest this, as the rate is obviously higher than what you would get gas for, and then you would need to make sure to return the car empty to feel like it was worth it, Not to mention that that would be an anxious drive back returning the car!

The gas is priced in liters, and is around 50 cents /liter, or $2/gallon. Being that gas is pretty cheap, going on a road trip in Puerto Rico is definitely an even smarter option!

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Road Trip in Puerto Rico: Parking

Now parking is a BIG one. We say this because it is very easy to get a ticket when it comes to parking. The reason being, that there are so many cars that will park in places they shouldn't.

We thought that we were able to park in spots many times, to find out that we were in fact not allowed to, and that police come around giving tickets.

Parking On the Streets in Puerto Rico

When parking in the cities, there are always cars parked and lined up on either side of the road. The trick is, to make sure that you are avoiding any yellow lines. If there is a yellow line, you cannot park there, even if you see all of the other cars lined up next to the yellow lines.

It is also important to note, that there are plenty of streets (especially in San Juan) that it may seem that you can park there, but there will be a small sign on the wall nearby saying that parking is not allowed. When in doubt, look around and make sure that the area is clear of any signs.

That being said, we got a ticket by following all the rules. When we tried to fight it they made up some BS excuse about only locals being able to park in the city. So because of this, we highly suggest finding a parking garage when in San Juan.

parking for road trip in puerto rico

There are a lot of rules when it comes to parking in Puerto Rico.

Parking On the Side of the Road

There are many places such as waterfalls, nature trails, and parks that do not have official parking. In this case, you can just park on the side of the road. Just be aware, that your car must have all four tires off of the pavement, and you should be safe. We saw a few cars get tickets for just barely touching the road.

parking puerto rico

Doing a Road Trip in Puerto Rico: Other Things to Keep Know

Now you are almost ready for your road trip in Puerto Rico! Here are our final words for you.

Is Driving in Puerto Rico Difficult?

Overall, driving in Puerto Rico is pretty similar to driving in many areas throughout the US. The only difference is that the pace is definitely a lot more relaxed, so you will find that people drive very slow, and will even stop in the middle of the street for people to cross at their leisure. As a native Jersey Girl, this drove me insane! For those that are into a more relaxed pace though, this probably won't bother you at all.

As far as roads go, most of them are well paved, unless you are going to more natural places like the hidden waterfalls in Puerto Rico, or off-the-beaten-path destinations. We suggest getting a 4x4 to play it safe.

Another thing to note is that Google Maps was not our best friend in Puerto Rico, especially for going to some of the lesser known destinations. Talk to locals and ask for directions, as they often times know much better than Google does.

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Is it a Good Idea to Rent a Car in Puerto Rico?

We absolutely loved renting a car in Puerto Rico! Being that there is so much to see and do, doing a road trip in Puerto Rico allows you to really experience all that the island has to offer. As an American, it is also super easy being already covered by your insurance company in case something happens.

With all of these recommendations and tips, we know that you'll have an amazing road trip in Puerto Rico.

Want to rent a car? Make sure to do it in advance for the best rates and availability!

Puerto Rico is a very easy island to get around, and has so many great places to offer. Driving allows you to discover so many beautiful hidden gems, as well as some fantastic views. While on a road trip in Puerto Rico, we suggest going in a big circle east, south, west then north and heading back to San Juan, or vice versa. 

The island only takes a few hours from east to west, and just one hour from north to South. Give yourself extra time when driving around, and don't be afraid to get lost, because you never know when you will stumble on some beautiful nature, colorful artwork, or stunning views. And one more thing- take the coastal route! It is so scenic.

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