San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico, an island in the western Caribbean.
Interesting places to visit include the historic sites of Old San Juan, such as El Morro, San Cristobal Fort and La Fortaleza or visit the Catedral de San Juan, which dates back to 1540.
The Bacardi Rum Factory is also a popular trip. There are lovely landscaped grounds, an open-air pavilion for Bacardi-influenced drinks, a gift shop and a tour that includes an interesting film on the history and learning about rum distillation.
El Yunque is the only rain forest designated as a U.S. National Forest. Located about an hour south of San Juan, you’ll see waterfalls, ferns and wildflowers along the marked trails.
Gamblers are catered for with casinos located in many of the large hotels.
The nearby areas of Condado and Isla Verde are approximately a 10-minute taxi ride away from the cruise pier, here you will find stretches of beaches alongside high rise hotels.
The disabled cruiser visiting San Juan
Where You’re Docked
There are two port facilities in San Juan — one is a 10-minute ride, close to the airport, called the Pan American terminal, while the main cruise terminal (Piers 1, 3 and 4) is just a short walk from downtown Old San Juan. A 10- to 15-minute walk will get you to most restaurants and attractions (about 25 minutes to El Morro). A free trolley is also available from the port to explore the sights. At the terminal itself, local vendors usually set up stands selling knick-knacks as souvenirs. Otherwise, the immediate port area can be very commercial with a mall, ice cream shops and chain stores like Domino’s and Senor Frog’s. For a more authentic meal, venture into town.
Good to Know
Sidewalks in Old San Juan are narrow and uneven. When more than one ship is in town, they’re almost impassible. Also, beware that crowds do inspire pickpockets; keep an eye on your wallet.
Since Puerto Rico is an American territory, the currency there is the U.S. dollar. ATMs are widely available throughout Old San Juan and in tourist beach resort areas, and credit cards are accepted at most restaurants and attractions.
Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico. In tourist areas, English predominates.
While San Juan is not a duty-free port, at least its stuff isn’t taxed. You’ll certainly find plenty of craft and T-shirt shops (particularly along Fortaleza and San Francisco Streets). One tip: the further east you walk (going away from the cruise pier), the more interesting the shops and restaurants become.
One great street for window shopping is Calle Cristo; highlights include Magia (99 Calle Cristo), an artisan who crafts works of art from recycled objects — old mirrors, wooden shutters, antique windows and even pocket-sized religious icons. Prices start at $15 for one-of-a-kind pieces.
And, while not exactly exotic, we’ve had good luck at factory stores for Ralph Lauren, Coach and Gant on Calle Cristo. El Galapon has gorgeous masks.
The pocket-sized Plaza Arturo Somohano, just a block behind the Sheraton Old San Juan (located at pier central), is a tree-shaded park that’s home to artisans, who sell handmade and designed crafts. They must be approved by the government to open stalls (no “made in China” stuff here). While vendors vary, on my trip, there were beautifully scented soaps from Taino Soapworks (the anise lavender is a favorite), hand-tooled leather belts, pretty (and reasonably priced) beach-glass jewelry, gourds and coconut shells and charming, hand-made, burlap handbags.
Top-notch bottles of Bacardi or Don Q rum are great souvenir ideas. We also love the artisan crafts that are showcased at the Plaza Arturo Somohano in downtown Old San Juan. (While artisans vary, products include hand-tooled leather belts, gorgeous sea-glass jewelry and herbal soaps.)
Local dishes include ‘bacalaitos’ (crunchy cod fritters), ‘surullitos’ (sweet plump cornmeal fingers) and ’empanadillas’ (crescent-shaped turnovers filled with lobster, crab, conch, or beef). Soup is a popular starter and coconut is used in most desserts.
Points of Interest
- San Juan – a seven-
San Juan Accessible Excursions
Whether your cruise ship stops in
San Juan Accessible Guided Tour
This 4 hour accessible