How to Spend a Perfect Weekend on Puerto Rico’s South Coast

How to Get There

If you choose to fly into San Juan (like we did), you’ll have about 1.5–2 hours of driving ahead of you. You can rent a car through popular rental services like Hertz and Enterprise. Or, in lieu of driving yourself around the island, book a transportation service that will drive you to the southern part of the island in a more luxurious fashion. Two good options: Gomez Bus Line and VIP Luxury Transportation Services.

Where to Stay

Starting in the city, Ponce Plaza Hotel & Casino puts you in the center of the historic Ponce, where dining, nightlife and cultural sites — like the Parque de Bombas firehouse museum — are within walking distance. The 69-room hotel is housed in a building that dates back to 1882, and you’ll find Colonial-style architecture and decor throughout. Though the historic casino hotel also hosts more modern details, including a restorative pool in the courtyard and an award-winning restaurant (more on that later).

Where to Stay

Combate Beach Resort, located on the coastline of Puerto Rico’s serene Cabo Rojo region inside a national wildlife reserve, is a boutique hotel that’ll be your best bet for nearby, exclusive beach access. Paddleboards and kayaks are available to rent, or you can lounge by the hotel’s outdoor pools — just be on the lookout for wildlife, like the Yellow-shouldered Blackbird.

What to Do

Spend an afternoon exploring Ponce, the island’s second-largest metropolitan area. Here, you’ll find the historic Parque de Bombas – a firehouse turned museum — Ponce’s town square, Plaza Las Delicias, plus an array of coffee shops, more museums, bars and restaurants. After you’re finished enjoying the sights, head next door to Castillo Serrallés, where you can tour the 1930s Spanish Revival-style estate built by the owners of the Don Q rum distillery (and try some of the delicious spirit, obviously).

What to Do

When you’re in the mood for something a bit more active, it’s time to rent a Caribbean Chilliboat in La Parguera. Easily the most fun we had on this trip, we peddled through keys, canals and mangroves of the Caribbean Nature Reserve on a banana-shaped water bike, enjoying the clear, shallow blue waters, wildlife and sea breeze.

Where to Eat and Drink

From speakeasy-inspired cocktail bars to beachside restaurants, there’s no lack of eats and booze down south. Conveniently located inside the Ponce Plaza Hotel & Casino, Lola Eclectic Cuisine is a trendy spot to dine and drink, serving up eccentric dishes like tuna tartare taquitos and a coffee-rubbed flap steak.

Until you’ve visited the southern region of the island, you haven’t crossed Puerto Rico off your travel list. (Sorry, not sorry!) After clubbing it up in San Juan, you’ll want to mosey down to the south coast, where one-of-a-kind cultural attractions, natural wonders and secluded beaches are in abundance.

Our goal here is simple:  to help you live a more adventurous,  eventful and engaging life.