Officially a self-governing commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Rico is a great destination for Americans desperate to experience the sun and sea of the Caribbean! Despite its ties with the US, the island enjoys a rich and distinct culture that draws visitors from all across the world. Whether you’re here for reggaeton, panoramic scenery, or an indulgent culinary scene, there’s a little something for everyone in PR.
The island is prone to hurricanes, with the most devastating occurring in 2017. This has made many travellers concerned about safety when visiting the island. While we believe this isn’t a major concern anymore, we understand that it can be helpful to gain a full picture of Puerto Rico before you arrive. For this, you need to do a little research.
But don’t worry! We’ve done some of that research for you. We’ve combined personal experience with hints and tips from locals and tourism experts to bring you the lowdown on the eight best places to stay in Puerto Rico. We have vibrant city destinations, laid-back beaches, and secluded adventures to tell you about.
So, let’s jump right in!
Map of Where to Stay in Puerto Rico
- San Juan – Overall Best Place to Stay in Puerto Rico
- Rincón – Best Place to Stay in Puerto Rico for Families
- Fajardo – Most Romantic Place to Stay in Puerto Rico for Couples
- Luquillo – Coolest Place to Stay in Puerto Rico
- San Juan – Where to Stay in Puerto Rico on a Budget
- Vieques – One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Puerto Rico
- Arecibo – Where to Stay in Puerto Rico for Adventure
- Dorado – Peaceful Getaway in Puerto Rico
- Top Places To Stay in Puerto Rico
- Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Puerto Rico
The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan is a buzzing city packed with culture, nightlife and historical highlights. If you want to check out the reggaeton scene on the island, this is the place to be. The nightlife also has your typical DJ sets, intimate salsa venues, and high-end cocktail bars – as well as the odd beach party here and there.
Beyond the nightlife, San Juan is known for its historic centre. This is where you will learn about the rich (and at times turbulent) history of the island and check out the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture. San Juan is a real melting pot of Spanish, North American and African cultures, so you’ll certainly never get bored.
Those with Puerto Rico safety concerns might feel wary about San Juan, but if you stick to the main tourist routes, you’ll likely be fine – though we advise caution and common sense, as with any other major city. Old San Juan, Isla Verde, and El Condado are among the best neighbourhoods.
Best Places to Stay in San Juan
If this is your first time in Puerto Rico, it’s worth opting to stay in the city centre – especially in the neighbourhoods mentioned above. These will give you the best connections to elsewhere on the island, so you’ll have plenty of options to explore further afield.
You can find loads of hostels in San Juan, but if your budget allows it, go for something fancier. These are our favourite overall picks for San Juan, but we also have a few budget options later in this guide.
Best Airbnb in San Juan: Tropical Penthouse
Airbnb Plus properties are handpicked for their stylish interiors and dedicated guest service, making them a great choice for those looking to splurge! This apartment is housed within a colonial building, giving you the chance to experience a small slice of local history. We also love the outdoor terrace, which comes with a hammock and gorgeous city views.
Best Hostel in San Juan: Santurcia Hostel
Winner of the best hostel in Puerto Rico at the 2020 Hoscars, Santurcia Hostel & Bar is the perfect spot for socialising with other visitors. It comes with outstanding guest reviews, thanks to the great service and modern social spaces. It is based in Santurce, which is considered the nightlife hotspot of San Juan. Their rooftop bar is the perfect place to kickstart your night on the town.
Best Hotel in San Juan: Hotel El Convento
This four-star hotel offers luxurious interiors at a more than reasonable price, giving you the best of both worlds! It is located in the historic centre of the city, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to admire the colonial architecture and best-known attractions. We love the pool area overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the expansive spa services.
Known as the Town of Beautiful Sunsets, Rincón is a somewhat secluded destination on the Western edge of the island. Families concerned about safety will have no worries about staying in this peaceful neighbourhood. As with many destinations outside San Juan, Rincón has a vast beach with stunning scenery.
Getting to Rincón takes a little more time as it is away from the main tourism areas, but it’s totally worth it for the peace and quiet once you arrive. The local population is a good mix between lifelong locals and American ex-pats, so most people speak English well. It’s also a popular surfing destination for visitors from across the world, and there are a few schools offering beginner sessions.
Best Places to Stay In Rincón
Rincón is best known for its beach, so it goes without saying that the best accommodation options in the area are on the coast. Rincón can get a little expensive, but our top three picks are a good balance between comfortable and affordable.
Best Airbnb in Rincón: Beachfront Retreat
Another beautiful Airbnb Plus apartment, this beachfront retreat offers laid-back vibes and sunny mornings with unbeatable views of the Caribbean. Housed within a gated community, you’ll be kept extra safe. As it can sleep up to four people, this is great for young families. Most water sports facilities are only a short walk away from the front door.
Best Guest House in Rincón: Coconut Palms Inn
There aren’t any hostels in Rincón, but this budget-friendly guest house still offers some great social facilities for backpackers that want to head to the west of the island. There’s a large communal terrace with a barbecue and gorgeous views of the sea. It’s also located right on the beachfront, giving you unbeatable access to the best attractions in Rincón.
Best Hotel in Rincón: Rincón of the Seas Grand Caribbean
Another great beachfront option, this three-star hotel is an excellent choice for families on a budget. It comes with excellent guest reviews, praising the hotel for the above-and-beyond customer service and mesmerising location. There is a bar right next to the pool offering local cocktails and champagne for those that want to splurge a little. We also love the beautiful gardens next door.
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
Just east of Luquillo, Fajardo is known as the city that guards the sun of the Caribbean. It’s located close enough to San Juan to be within easy travelling distance of the main attractions, but far enough to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. For couples, Fajardo offers a beautiful beach and unforgettable sunrises.
Beyond the beach, Fajardo is best known for its proximity to Bioluminescent Bay. A kayak trip through the mangroves of this gorgeous natural attraction is the perfect excursion for a romantic break in Puerto Rico. Your way will be lit by naturally luminescent plankton, and the rocky scenery only adds to the beauty.
Best Places to Stay in Fajardo
Fajardo is a pretty small town, with most of the accommodation for visitors located along the coast. It is pretty close to Luquillo, so you can opt to stay there if you’re looking for something cheaper. Nevertheless, we believe Fajardo is worth the extra expense thanks to the natural beauty and romantic atmosphere.
Best Airbnb in Fajardo: Caribbean Views
This idyllic retreat really is the perfect accommodation for couples heading to Fajardo! The balcony comes with stunning views of the surrounding forest, as well as towards the Caribbean Sea. There are three beaches within walking distance, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. It’s also in a great area for sampling local seafood and enjoying the laid-back nightlife.
Best Hostel in Fajardo: The International Hostel
This super secluded hostel only has 12 beds, making it a calm and easy-going accommodation pick for backpackers. It’s only a 14-minute drive from the ferry terminal and Bioluminescent Bay. The entire property is surrounded by Ceiba Forest, so expect to wake up to the beautiful sounds of local nature. More adventurous visitors can head into the nearby mountains for great hiking trails.
Best Hotel in Fajardo: El Conquistador Resort
Looking to splurge on a romantic getaway? Look no further than the four-star El Conquistador Resort! This luxurious resort has cliffside views of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding El Yunque Rainforest. Rooms are modern and stylish, and the recently renovated communal areas include tennis courts, golf courses, and even a little fishing area.
Only a short drive from San Juan, Luquillo offers many of the same attractions as the city but without the huge crowds! The local beach, Balneario de Luqillo, is considered one of the best on the island, with golden sands and great local services. Luquillo is also where you can grab the ferry to Vieques, and is right next door to Fajardo.
Though officially a separate town, neighbouring Rio Grande is another excellent destination for visitors to Puerto Rico. Both towns are well-connected by public transport, and only a minute apart by car. Rio Grande is the main gateway to El Yunque Tropical Rainforest, a luscious and verdant national park with some truly unique attractions.
Best Places to Stay in Luquillo
Luquillo is surprisingly affordable, but most of the accommodation in the town centre comes in the form of condos and apartments. If you’re looking for a hotel, neighbouring Rio Grande is a better option. Either way, it’s easy to travel between both towns, so this isn’t a huge concern.
Best Airbnb in Luquillo: Beachfront Condo
This stylish condo comes with modern technology – including mood lighting and state-of-the-art kitchen appliances – to maximise your comfort throughout your stay. We love the modern balcony, with a large hammock and gorgeous views of the sea. This is a great pick for couples, but we also reckon surfers will appreciate the great hire shops and waves within walking distance.
Best Hostel in Luquillo: Casa Coral
This hostel has been recently renovated, giving you modern style in the heart of Luquillo. It is located right on the North East Corridor, giving you endless opportunities for gorgeous walks and secluded beach retreats. The ferry to Vieques is only a few minutes away by car. Rooms are spacious, with limited guest numbers to ensure peace and quiet in the evenings.
Best Hotel near Luquillo: Wyndham Grand Rio Mar
This gorgeous four-star resort is located in nearby Rio Grande – perfect for those interested in adventure activities and exploring the rainforest. It is only a few minutes by car to central Luquillo, in a calm and peaceful location. The hotel has its own golf course, as well as a private strip of beach away from the huge tourist crowds. It’s a bit of a splurge, but totally worth it for a laid-back getaway.
Not many visitors realise before they arrive, but Puerto Rico is often far more expensive than backpacking in the United States. It is an island, and import prices have a massive impact on costs. That being said, the capital city has some surprisingly affordable areas – you just need to know where to look. There’s no reason you can’t visit PR on a budget, you just need to do a little more research.
Rio Piedras is home to the largest university in Puerto Rico and is therefore packed with budget-friendly restaurants and stores. Santurce, the cultural capital of the island, is also very affordable – especially if you’re looking for more creative attractions and hip nightlife. Transport into both neighbourhoods from the centre is abundant, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hit the main attractions.
Best Places to Stay in San Juan
We’ve already given you the lowdown on our best overall picks for places to stay in San Juan, so we’ve kept our recommendations in this section budget-friendly. Even if you want a private apartment, there are some great options available in the neighbourhoods mentioned above.
Best Airbnb in San Juan: Cozy Studio
Studio living is a great way to save money on accommodation, and this central apartment means you get to stay within walking distance of the main attractions. Thinking about exploring Bioluminescent Bay? Guests are given a special discount on kayaking excursions as a thank you for staying at this property. This is our top pick for watching your wallet.
Best Hostel in San Juan: Villa Eshta
It might be one of the cheapest hostels in San Juan, but the excellent reviews are a testament to how high-quality Villa Eshta is. Located along Calle Loiza, you will be surrounded by budget-friendly restaurants and bars – as well as a hip and alternative vibe. They run regular events from the outdoor patio, which also serves as a casual restaurant and cheap bar.
Best Hotel in San Juan: CasaTripGoGo
This two-star hotel is ideal for budget travellers that want the added privacy of their own space. As a bed and breakfast, your first meal of the day is covered – helping you stick to your budget even more. Rooms also come with a small kitchenette, making self-catering a breeze. Old San Juan is only a two-minute walk away, as well as a few secluded hiking trails just outside the front door.
Puerto Rico is a very fun place and one could easily get carried away while visiting. It’s important to remember that no country is perfect though.
Read our safety guide for Puerto Rico before planning your trip so you will be extra prepared when you arrive.
Vieques is actually a separate island, but it’s quite easy to get to; you just need to take a ferry from the main island. Vieques is easily the most rural destination in Puerto Rico, and you’re likely to find farm animals roaming freely around the streets. If you want something completely off-the-beaten-path, Vieques is an excellent choice.
Vieques is largely unspoiled by tourism – so not only is it the most unique destination in Puerto Rico, but it’s also one of the most unique in the entire Caribbean. There is a bioluminescent bay here that shines even brighter than its better-known cousin on the main island. Tourism is starting to make its way here though, so make sure to visit soon before that all changes.
Best Places to Stay in Vieques
The main town in Vieques is Isabel Segunda – where the ferry stops, and where most of the population live. Despite this, Esperanza is more popular with tourists. The peaceful location and locally-owned restaurants make the town more attractive for those that want a truly rural experience.
Best Airbnb in Vieques: Casa Corona
Unfortunate name aside, this is easily one of our favourite Airbnb homes in Puerto Rico as a whole! This dreamy cottage has its own pool, which you can access via veranda doors from the master bedroom. It is a short walk away from a private stretch of beach, giving you a personal slice of paradise in the middle of the Caribbean.
Best Hostel in Vieques: The Lazy Hostel
Vieques can be a little pricier than the main island, but backpackers need not worry too much – this hostel is a great way to experience a slice of paradise on a budget. The Lazy Hostel is located in Esperanza, the main tourist town, and directly backs onto the boardwalk. You’re therefore only a hop, skip and a jump away from the best restaurants, bars and water sports shops on the island.
Best Hotel in Vieques: Malecón House
A peaceful waterfall, ergonomic sun loungers, and stylish modern design make the outdoor space of this hotel one of the most idyllic spots on the island. Let your soul be whisked away to the land of relaxation and calm in this gorgeous four-star hotel. It’s a two-minute walk from central Esperanza, but still secluded enough to feel like your own slice of heaven.
Arecibo is in the Northwest of the island, meaning it is a little more secluded from the large tourist areas. It’s perhaps best known for Arecibo Observatory. Why is this great for adventure travellers? The hikes towards and around the observatory are among the best on the island, with plenty of stunning photo stops along the way.
Rio Camuy Cave Park is also located nearby, one of the largest cave systems in the world. The small strip of coastline near Arecibo is largely unspoiled, and worth bringing your own kayak or surfing equipment to if you can. That being said, we do advise checking weather conditions in advance for your own safety.
Best Places To Stay in Arecibo
Though there is a small part of Arecibo on the coast, most of the town is located a little bit inland. This is great for hikers, as it gets you closer to the awesome trails on offer. You can still, of course, opt for coastal accommodation if you need to be by the sea.
Best Airbnb in Arecibo: Tropical Camping
This Airbnb Plus property is a little bit different from everything else we’ve mentioned in this guide. The self-contained studio cabin has a glamping feel to it, with stylish interiors and a cute little porch out the front. Adventurous travellers will love this alternative experience on the outskirts of Arecibo. The rural location also means you get to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Best Guest House near Arecibo: Jardin del Mar
Like Rincón, there aren’t any hostels in Arecibo – but Jardin del Mar is a great alternative for backpackers ready to experience the most adventurous destination in Puerto Rico. It is right next to the hiking trail up to Arecibo Observatory – as well as a road for those looking for an easier ride. It’s housed within a colonial-style building, giving you the chance to soak up Puerto Rican history during your stay.
Best Hotel in Arecibo: The Hill Inn at 681
The Hill Inn is right in the heart of Arecibo, giving you quick access to the main attractions in the town and guided tours to the inland sights. Rooms are somewhat basic, but well equipped for those visiting for a short trip. It is particularly popular with tourists that are slowly making their way around the island as part of a larger trip.
Dorado is right in the middle of Puerto Rico’s North Coast. Nolos Morales Park and Beach is the largest public park in Puerto Rico but is largely a secret kept for locals. The unspoiled beaches, vast forest lands, and gorgeous rocky scenery make this a perfect retreat for those that really want to get away from it all.
Within Dorado, you will also find some great family-friendly attractions and welcoming locals. For this reason, we think this is another great destination for families – especially if you want to stay closer to San Juan. Those looking for something off-the-beaten-path will enjoy the local culture, which has largely been untouched by the tourism industry.
Best Places To Stay in Dorado
Kikita Beach, the location of our first accommodation pick, is the closest beach to the town – and a truly beautiful spot hidden along the North Coast. For those that want to stay in the town itself, there are a few excellent luxury options, so be ready to splurge.
Best Airbnb in Dorado: Kikita Beach
Kikita Beach is just outside Dorado, and the beautiful scenery and easy-going vibes will make you fall immediately in love with the small resort. This cute little Airbnb is right on the waterfront, a short walk from a few local shops and restaurants. Snorkelling equipment is provided, as well as a large hammock to chill out with a book on those lazier days.
Best Hostel in Dorado: The Village Hostel
Owned by locals, this welcoming hostel is a great spot to take in an authentic piece of Puerto Rico. Just because you’re sharing a room with others doesn’t mean you have to miss out on comfort – so they’ve made sure to include orthopaedic mattresses and sturdy furnishings. La Plata River is nearby and is a great walk for getting away from the crowds.
Best Hotel in Dorado: Dorado Beach (Ritz-Carlton)
Our only five-star suggestion, this hotel is an absolute must for those looking to splurge! You’ll be greeted with top of the line interior design, above-and-beyond customer service, and every added extra you could possibly imagine. Ritz-Carlton is renowned across the world for its luxurious hotels, and Dorado Beach is no exception. The on-site spa will have you never wanting to leave.
Top Places To Stay in Puerto Rico
Don’t mind which neighbourhood you end up in? These are our top overall accommodation picks in Puerto Rico.
Best Airbnb in Puerto Rico – Arecibo – Tropical Camping
This is definitely one for more adventurous travellers as it is a bit of a walk down a winding forest path to get to the property. Once you arrive, however, you will be greeted by a luxury cabin studio with cute furnishings and a peaceful atmosphere. This self-contained unit is perfect for couples looking to get away from the usual tourist apartments and suites of the main cities.
Best Hostel in Puerto Rico – San Juan – Santurcia Hostel
Right in the heart of San Juan’s nightlife district, this stylish hostel is a great place to meet other travellers to explore the city with. Their rooftop bar serves cheap beer and cocktails for you to enjoy alongside the panoramic views. Santurce, where the hostel is located, is also a major creative hub in the Puerto Rican capital.
Best Hotel in Puerto Rico – Rincón – Rincón of the Seas Grand Caribbean
The neighbouring Rincón of the Seas Garden is an attraction in its own right, drawing visitors to its vast array of local flora and fauna. The hotel itself backs onto the beach, with stunning views from the pool deck of the Caribbean Sea. Despite only being a three-star property, it comes with fantastic guest reviews – and the prices aren’t too bad either!
Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an eclectic destination with a little something for everyone. San Juan is a tropical city break that pulses with the sounds of reggaeton and the smells of Boricua cuisine. Outside of the city, you will find beautiful beaches, luscious rainforests, and secluded hideaways perfect for getting away from it all.
If we had to pick a favourite, we would go with Luquillo! It offers many of the same cultural attractions as San Juan, but with more manageable crowds. It’s well connected to the capital and Fajardo by public transport, and Vieques by ferry. If this is your first time in Puerto Rico, Luquillo is a great way to pack a lot into a single trip.
That being said, the best town for you really depends on what you want to get out of your stay. Thankfully, Puerto Rico is a relatively small island with good transport networks – so there’s no reason you can’t check out more than one destination. Generally, the Northeast has the best-known destinations, while the South and West are more off the beaten path.
We hope this guide has helped you with your itinerary for Puerto Rico. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
Do you own or run a kick-ass hostel? Want to be featured on this list? Get in touch at [email protected]
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.