A bachelorette party in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Palm trees swaying against a backdrop of sunny blue skies. Powerful waves crashing against a sandy shore. Crispy empanadas selling out of a questionable recycled bag from a weathered lady on the beach. Drinking coconuts whacked by a machete. Watercolor sunsets. Lively salsa music resounding off pastel facades.
All of this, but with my best friends in the entire world.
There’s a contrasting energy in Puerto Rico — an energy that both sizzles and softens. An energy that convinces you to dance until the sunrise. An energy that implores you to close your eyes and breathe the ocean air. An energy that makes Puerto Rico one of the best places for a destination bachelorette party.
Why host a destination bachelorette party in San Juan, Puerto Rico?
The New York Times recently listed Puerto Rico as the #1 destination in their 52 Places to Go in 2019, touting its rebounding tourism infrastructure and new attractions.
Tourism pumps dollars into the local economy, an important facet to the territory’s GDP. Puerto Rico needs this after the tourism slump following the devastating hurricane. And speaking of hurricane…
Post-hurricane recovery is still underway, with many lingering aftereffects. From what I read, recovery has been asymmetrical, with some areas of the island rebounding quicker than others. From personal experience, my limited time in the primarily tourist hubs of the island appeared recuperated (think Old San Juan, El Yunque).
If you’re a US citizen, you don’t need your passport to visit. For some bachelorette party goers, a passport requirement could be a barrier to travel. While I do advocate for people to have a passport, I also understand that some may elect not to acquire one for personal or economic reasons. Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it’s very easy to visit.
The pina colada was created here, so you know it’s a solid bachelorette party destination.
In my opinion, the best destination bachelorette parties balance nightlife and nature, leisure and adventure, culture and familiarity.
Puerto Rico checks all these boxes.
Oh, and there are CATS wandering the streets. [insert heart-eye emoji here] I’ve read that it’s believed that many of these feline friends are descended from Christopher Columbus when he first introduced cats to Puerto Rico to manage the rat population.
Top Things to Do in Puerto Rico for a Bachelorette Party
Get Outdoorsy at El Yunque.
Trade in your high heels for hiking boots. A U.S. National Park, El Yunque is the only subtropic rainforest in the U.S. and the last remnants of the lush rainforest that once covered the island before the Spanish arrived.
The road in El Yunque winds and narrows, with steep inclines as you journey up the mountain. Recruit your most competent and confident driver to control the wheel.
Don’t miss these stops in El Yunque: Coca Falls, Yokahu Tower, La Mina Falls. You can swim beneath La Mina Falls; remember to bring your bathing suit and beach towel.
That jungle filter tho. You don’t know lush until you visit a rainforest. The sunlight sparkled and beamed through that thick green canopy.
Glow Up at Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays.
Minimal places on Earth are home to the otherworldly phenomenon of bioluminescence. Puerto Rico is one of those places with bays that have all the requirements to become the perfect home for dinoflagellate plankton to flourish: shallow water, etc. etc. A defensive mechanism, these dinoflagellate plankton emit light when agitated. Mosquito Bay (Bahía Bioluminiscente ) boasts the title of best & brightest luminescence in the world. Located on Vieques, a smaller island to the east of the main island, traveling to Mosquito Bay may be unfeasible due to time and budget constraints. Only an hour from Old San Juan, Laguna Grande in Fajardo is an alternative worth the experience. Our bachelorette party booked with Pure Adventure tour group.
One of the COOLEST natural wonders I’ve ever experienced. We strapped on life jackets and waded in the water to board tandem kayaks. Our tour was scheduled for dusk, which meant we saw two light shows that evening: the sunset in the sky and the glowing plankton in the bay. There was just enough light to see iguanas resting above us on branches as we snaked through the mangrove trees to Laguna Grande.
The darker the sky, the brighter the bioluminescence. While the sunset blackened, our guide shared her knowledge about the science and biology responsible for this phenomenon. Then, she instructed us to summon the main event. Wave your hands in the bay. Splash water into your kayak. Oh My God. Bioluminescence. Like I was a sorceress emanating a milky glow from my hands. Like the splashes on the kayak flickered into glittering fireworks. Absolutely dazzling and brilliant.
Some advice for the bioluminescent bay: You WILL get wet. I was soaked from the waist down. Leave your valuables in the car. If you don’t trust the rest of the world, there’s a little shop that sells small wet bags for your phone, money, credit cards. Then you can keep your valuables around your neck. That’s what I did. ITS REALLY DARK, especially when maneuvering through the mangroves back to shore. Be prepared to experience some real life Birdbox on a kayak.
I can’t think of a better way to cure a hangover than sweating it out on the beach with a coconut water and crispy empanada. Puerto Rico claims some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. If your bachelorette party is staying in the Old San Juan area, lay out your beach towel at Condado Beach, the most popular resort beach in the area. Bake in the sun, jump in the waves, and simply unwind. Sun, sand, and saltwater… the holy trinity of relaxation.
Girl’s Gotta Eat with Spoon Food Tours
If you know me well enough, you know there was a food tour on this bachelorette party. After a food tour in Miami and food tour in New Orleans, a food tour of Old San Juan was destined on the itinerary. Food tours are the most efficient way to taste the culture and cuisine of a destination. We booked with Spoon Food Tours, a team of gastronomists on a mission to bring authentic Puerto Rican flavor to visitors. Spoon Food Tours tailored our private tour match the spirit of our bachelorette party. We experienced the “Hershey’s” of Puerto Rico at Cortes’ ChocoBar, ate the best mofongo in Old San Juan, and learned how to make daiquiris at the island’s premier cocktail bar.
Puerto Rico Nightlife
What happens in Puerto Rico, stays in Puerto Rico. The rhythmic bounce of salsa and sultry sound of bachata will have you feeling some kind of way. Your booty will sway and feet will synchronize to the music. There’s a reason why Shakira said, “my hips don’t lie.” Your hips will find their truth at a bar in Puerto Rico.
The nights our bachelorette party went out to La Placita were my favorites. Thursday night was ALIVE. La Placita is a vibrant, local hub with blocks of bars surrounding a market. After hours, the spirit and soul of San Juan awakens. Music blares from the buildings. Dancers salsa in the streets. Some of us may or may not have been dancing until 5 in the morning…
It’s easy to stay awake in Puerto Rico.
Calle San Sebastian is known as the “Bourbon Street” of Old San Juan. Lined with bars, people walk the street to find the best music and best dancing. The famous La Factoria is always recommended as a place for craft cocktails and salsa dancing. It’s considered one of the top bars in the WORLD (#36, in fact). The owners revolutionized Puerto Rico’s cocktail scene with La Factoria. Fun fact, the end of the Despacito music video was filmed here. For a more relaxed vibe without the loud music and dancing, throw back some brews at La Taberna Lupulo. Similar to La Factoria, La Taberna Lupulo revolutionized Puerto Rico’s beer scene bringing over 200 craft beers from around the world to the island.
More Things to do in Puerto Rico:
I scoured the internet researching things to do in Puerto Rico, best bars in Old San Juan, restaurants not to miss, best beaches, etc. I put them all in a Google map with the source information included. Check it out!
I loved this informative post about unusual sights in Puerto Rico — something I wish I would have read prior to our girls trip!
Logistics to Consider for your Puerto Rico Bachelorette Party
Where We Stayed in Puerto Rico
With 13 guests, AirBNB provided the most spacious and cost-effective housing to accommodate our large group. Our AirBNB at Lagoon Park Apartments fit 10 guests, with 3 rooms, 6 beds, 1 day bed, and 1 trundle. We also booked her connecting studio for even more space (Condado Studio by Lagoon Park #4).
We stayed in the Condado neighborhood, immediately east from Old San Juan. Here’s what I loved about staying in Condado:
- More affordable accommodation than Old San Juan.
- Walking distance to Condado Beach.
- Close proximity to La Placita.
- Quick uber ride to Old San Juan.
- Accessible to convenience stores.
How Much Does a Bachelorette Party to Puerto Rico Cost?
I spent $560 on a four-day trip to Puerto Rico, not including flights. Lucky me, I cashed in my points to cover my airfare. Here’s the breakdown of my “on-the-ground” Puerto Rico budget:
- AirBNB: $154 (total for 3 nights, after split 13 ways)
- Transportation: $72.50
- Uber: $53 (I purchased 4 rides during this trip. Other girls covered different Uber rides)
- Rental car + gas: $12.50
- Airport taxi + tip: $7 (after split from $40)
- Activities (bio bay tour + food tour): $139
- Food & Drinks: $195
- $35 for alcohol, $30 for mixers & snacks from the grocery store for AirBNB sustenance
- $130 for all my food & drinks at restaurants & bars
Puerto Rico Transportation Tips
How do you get around Puerto Rico? Especially with such a large group of ladies? We used three different forms of transportation during this trip: taxi, Uber, and rental car.
Uber does not pick up from the airport. There’s a long queue of airport taxis outside of baggage claim. Rates are set based on destination zone and amount of luggage. To see the fare for your zone, visit the airport website. The cost is reasonable, especially when split among a group. If you did happen to be a solo traveler and didn’t want to pay this cost, I suppose you could always take the taxi to the cheapest zone then hail an Uber from there.
Yes, Uber is available, accessible, and abundant in Puerto Rico. Our trip primarily used Uber for short distance travel from our AirBNB to Old San Juan. The average cost to Old San Juan from Condado averaged $13 per trip (not including tip). Although Uber can’t pick up from the airport, it can drop you off.
For longer distances, our group hired a rental car. Well, technically two rental vans (13 ladies, remember?). The rentals were only used for a day, bringing us to El Yunque and Fajardo. This was a very affordable option for our long distance drives and allowed us the flexibility to explore El Yunque and Fajardo on our own timeline. Why didn’t we use a rental car for the entire trip? Parking would have been a pain in Old San Juan. And this was a bachelorette party… everyone wanted to enjoy a cocktail!