Vegan Puerto Rico Travel Guide

Vegan Puerto Rico Travel Guide


I went to Puerto Rico with my dad to practice my Spanish skills. This was my second time in the Caribbean because I traveled to Cuba in 2017.

Here is my vegan Puerto Rico travel guide. Hopefully, you can learn a thing or two through all of our mistakes and mishaps.

Puerto Rico Packing List

I’m not going to pretend I’m some expert on Puerto Rico. This is my first time going there, and I had some help packing with some other Puerto Rico packing lists and my experiences traveling to the nearby country of Cuba.

Checked Bag (about 36 lbs, max weight is 50 lbs)


  • one cap
  • sunglasses
  • extra supply of face masks
  • 2 casual tops (church/city)
  • 7 shirts (T-shirts)
  • tank top (black)
  • hoodie sweatshirt
  • raincoat
  • rain suit for El Yunque (Frogg Toggs from Bass Pro Shop)
  • swimsuit
  • 4 bras (3 sports and 1 bralette)
  • 7 shorts (gym)
  • jeans (pants)
  • sweatpants
  • 10 pairs of underwear
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • water shoes
  • flip flops
  • tennis shoes (wearing there)
  • lint roller (because cat fur is all over my stuff)

Toiletries (travel size if that’s available to save space and lighten the load)

  • regular shampoo
  • dry shampoo
  • regular conditioner
  • leave-in conditioner
  • bar soap (plus a container or Ziplock)
  • body wash
  • deodorant
  • comb
  • hair gel (put own in travel size container)
  • hair spray
  • toothbrush (with protector or Ziplock)
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • rinse
  • toothpicks (get stuff out of teeth)
  • cotton swabs
  • face medicine (acne)
  • moisturizing lotion
  • lip balm
  • liners
  • tampons
  • pads

Travel (travel size if possible)

  • mosquito repellent
  • body sunscreen (spray and lotion)
  • face sunscreen (lotion and stick)
  • lip sunscreen
  • aloe vera gel (sunburns)
  • tissues
  • wet wipes
  • umbrella
  • travel first aid kit
  • dry bag (recommended for El Yunque)
  • quick-dry towel (beach, El Yunque, etc.)
  • cooler (bought for a trip to Alaska)
  • day travel bag (Nike drawstring bag)
  • backup day travel bag (stowaway)


  • packing cubes
  • a stash of Ziplocks and a permanent marker (collecting rocks and shells and keeping pair of socks in the day bag dry)
  • cloth laundry bags (a regular garbage bag works fine)
  • a paper copy of driver’s license and health insurance

Carry-On (almost empty, room for souvenirs)


  • power strip
  • 2 portable Apple chargers
  • Apple Watch charger
  • 2 USB boxes
  • car charger
  • laptop charger
  • AirPods


  • neck wallet

Personal Item (all luggage – Swiss Gear)

  • liquid bag (only hand gel)
  • Px
  • face masks (airport and in case of any Covid travel restrictions)
  • Spanish-English dictionary
  • Book (Maus by Art Spiegelman)
  • writing utensil (Iowa State pen)
  • notepad/diary
  • deck of cards (in case Dad wants to play Estimate)
  • iPad
  • laptop (just got a new one but brought the old one just in case)
  • gum (pop ears in the plane, 5 Spearmint Rain & Peppermint Cobalt)
  • cooler for lunch
  • food for airport travel (no time to buy lunch during the layover in Charlotte)
  • driver’s license
  • debit card
  • health insurance card
  • cash ($50)
  • plastic water bottle (not reusable)

Nice things to pack but I’m not


  • cheap wedding band/ring (leave the original safe at home)
  • regular water bottle (personal item can’t fit one, and am a bit suspicious about the drinking water)
  • reusable grocery bags
  • snack stash in the checked bag
  • travel insurance
  • portable hotspot


  • nail clippers
  • razor (plus shaving cream)
  • makeup
  • glasses and/or contacts
  • extra hair ties or scrunchies


  • motion sickness medicine
  • blanket, pillow, and/or an extra layer on the plane


  • swimsuit coverups (if not using T-shirts)
  • waterproof phone pouch
  • beach bag
  • beach towels


  • dress
  • casual shorts (khaki’s or colored)
  • capris (colored)
  • skirt


  • extra pair of regular tennis shoes
  • hiking sandals
  • GoPro and accessories (especially for Toro Verde Adventure Park in Orocovis)
  • outdoor rock climbing shoes and attire (Mar Chiquita, Cueva del Indio, etc.)

5 Pre-Puerto Rico Travel Tips

I started a tradition travel diary where I would guess all of the things you should know about a particular place before and after traveling there. For example, in my vegan Alaska travel guide, I emphasized the importance of getting restaurant information from an app called HappyCow. After I got there, I realized most of the restaurant data for Alaska wasn’t current.

Here are my top 5 pre-Puerto Rico travel tips.

1. Remind people that Puerto Rico isn’t Mexico.

Most people that I’ve talked to about my trip believe Puerto Rico is a part of Mexico, which is far from true.

No, we aren’t going to Mexico. Please stop worrying about the drug cartels kidnapping us.

No, we aren’t going on a mission trip. Yes, there were a couple of relatively recent natural disasters that might benefit from us coming there with a mission trip, but that was not why we’re going there.

Nobody has asked me if we’re going to the beach. We will probably visit a beach or two for a few minutes, but it’s not going to be an all-day or a huge part of the trip.

2. There is one Walmart store in Santurce, for anyone who forgets things at home.

One thing that distinguishes the United States from most other countries is if you forget something on a trip, you can go to a supermarket like Walmart to get most of the things you forgot to pack.

When I started exploring all of the grocery stores in San Juan, I got kind of nervous because I didn’t recognize any of the grocery store names on my initial Google search. I did a little research and found one supermarket that I knew from personal shopping experience: Walmart. The only location in San Juan is in Santurce.

Here’s more information about that location from Google as of September 4, 2022:

  • Address: 701 Av. Roberto H. Todd, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico
  • Hours: Open every day (6am-11pm).
  • Phone: +1 (787) 641-5600

3. Only stay overnight in San Juan during your first trip.

If you looked at many Puerto Rico guides or watched any info videos, you would hear a lot about how you shouldn’t stay in San Juan the whole trip because you would be keeping yourself in a bubble. Yes, you should go outside of San Juan during your vacation there.

However, my advice for you is to solely stay overnight in one place because it’s so inconvenient to drag your luggage everywhere you go. I recommend staying overnight solely in San Juan and then taking day trips with tour companies or driving to sites in your rental car. Plus, staying overnight in one location decreases the chance of robbery.

4. Get a rental car.

The main reason to get a rental car is that you can travel to about anywhere you want to go on a day trip. The main exceptions are Vieques and Culebra, two smaller islands outside of mainland Puerto Rico.

The other reason is it can be pretty pricey to pay for day trips with travel companies without a travel package for the entire trip.

5. Practice your Spanish.

Puerto Rico is a bilingual territory that speaks English and Spanish, but there are a decent amount of times when you should know some basic Spanish skills. For example, many of the menus are only in Spanish.

If you don’t feel like practicing or learning Spanish, there are many apps like Google Translate that can do most of the work for you.

Day 1: Arrival (9/4/22)

Day 2: Old San Juan (9/5/22)

Day 3: El Yunque (9/6/22)

Day 4: Caves Part 1 (9/7/22)

Day 5: Caves Part 2 (9/8/22)

Day 6: Manatí (9/9/22)

Day 7: Caribbean Sea (9/10/22)

Day 8: Departure (9/11/22)

5 Post-Puerto Rico Travel Tips

Long story short, my dad and I were idiots for traveling to Puerto Rico in September. We kind of felt bad for the locals for not seeing much business, but there were reasons why we were the only tourists in some famous sites.

Here are my top 5 post-Puerto Rico travel tips.

1. Never pet stray cats.

I’m a cat person. I have four indoor cats at home that are staring at me as I finish my final trip remarks. It breaks my heart not being able to play with a cat when I see one.

The truth is there are thousands of stray cats in San Juan and probably close to a million in Puerto Rico. The majority of them haven’t had their shots and are scrawny.

It is best to leave the cats alone, but I was proud because I convinced my dad to feed them some food scraps before we left for the airport.

2. Never talk to locals, especially the ones walking their dogs.

My dad is notorious for being the stereotypical traveler everyone makes fun of during travel safety videos. He is the guy who wears 4th of July outfits to Europe, the person who almost loses the entire family’s passports to a pickpocketer, and the one who checks out the sketchy, graffitied buses that happen to be controlled by the Guatemalan mafia.

While we were in Puerto Rico, my dad had the audacity to be superior to the old-fashioned Garmin GPS. After we got even more lost, my dad’s solution was to roll down the window and ask some stranger in the middle of nowhere how to get to our tourist destination or back to San Juan.

My dad’s logic was it was okay for an almost sixty-year-old to ask all of these strangers for directions but not me because I was a woman in my twenties. Luckily, all of the locals my dad found were nice and knowledgable, but it could have been far worse if he asked the wrong person with bad intentions.

3. Travel with a tour group, instead of alone.

I was hesitant to do anything with a tour group because it seemed expensive and due to being vegan, but it would be worth the expenses.

First off, the traffic is a hot mess. We almost got into a few car accidents. No, they weren’t people cutting us off with a turn. Instead, a white pickup was inches away from ramming into my shotgun door. I was looking forward to being in the hospital for the remainder of the trip.

Then, GPS maps are extremely outdated. If you want to follow them precisely, prepare to drive through some gates, the wrong way on a one way, and into several houses.

Plus, even if you want to use instructions whatsoever, many of the tourist sites don’t have real addresses. Instead of 123 Park Blvd, you would get something like F9V5+385, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico. That’s the address to Cuerva del Indio (Indian Cave). Good luck putting that into your navigational app.

4. Visit the hidden gems over the main sites.

When you look up Puerto Rico, skip the main tourist sites and travel like a local. The more popular the beach, the dirtier it is. We stopped at a couple of beaches in the middle of nowhere by pulling off the side of the road. They were so gorgeous and had a lot of nice seashells.

Instead of exploring a lot of the nightlife and city tours, my dad and I spent almost the entire trip in nature, and my favorite sites were Cuerva del Indio and Mar Chiquita. I definitely wasn’t dressed in the right attire to be climbing on sharp rocks with my shorts, but I still had a great time.

5. Don’t visit Puerto Rico during rainy season. You might run into a hurricane.

On my first day back, one of my coworkers asked about the tropical storm that was heading to Puerto Rico. I had no idea what she was talking about and neither did my dad. After all, my dad told me everything worth knowing about the news no matter if I wanted to hear it or not.

A week after we got home, Hurricane Fiona landed in Puerto Rico, which caused catastrophic damage. Even though there were few deaths, numerous lost access to electricity and water.

Looking back, we could have been stranded in Puerto Rico for weeks. I was lucky to have a dad who was so outspoken about preparing for harvest season that he cut my trip plans short by a few days.


The full travel vlog will be finished sometime next month.