An Inexpensive Way to Go Island Hopping
Most visitors don’t realize that Puerto Rico is an archipelago with offshore islands and cays. If you’re into less crowds and a wish to experience the more natural side of Puerto Rico, the ferries in Puerto Rico make it possible without breaking your wallet.
Head over to the Fajardo port, you can take a day trip to the gorgeous offshore islands of Vieques and Culebra. Just be sure to plan ahead and get to the terminal early in order to avoid delays in your travels.
The ferry terminal in Old Juan takes you to Catano, most popular for tourists who wish to have a tour of the Bacardi Distillery / Casa Bacardi. If you drive to the south region of the island you can do a day trip to Caja de Muertos off the town of Ponce by a private ferry. On the south west coast you can spend a day at Cayo Aurora (also known as Gilligan’s Island). See below for more information.
Fajardo Ferry – Travel to Vieques & Culebra
About a 45 minute drive from San Juan, you can hop on the ferry to the sleepy islands of Vieques & Culebra. The most convenient way to enjoy the offshore islands of Puerto Rico is to stay at a resort / hotel on the east coast. From the port in Fajardo, you can visit two Puerto Rican islands that best represent the Caribbean of the past.
Tips for Ferry travel from Fajardo to Vieques & Culebra
- Be sure to get to the ferry terminal at least 1.5 hour before your desired time of departure, 2 hours on holiday weekends.
- Buy your return ticket in the morning.
- If you want to travel to Vieques or Culebra on a weekend or around a holiday, be prepared for large crowds and long wait times. Not guaranteed you’ll get a ferry ticket. We highly recommend you fly to Vieques from Ceiba and take the ferry back in order to make the most of your time.
- You’re not allowed to take a car rental on the ferry, if you have one, you must park it at the ferry parking lot.
Catano Ferry (Lancha de Catano) / Old San Juan
Tourists staying in the San Juan area who don’t want to face traffic or don’t have a car rental may book with a tour company or take the Catano ferry at the Old San Juan Pier #2 to tour the Bacardi Rum Distillery. Even if you are not interested in going to Catano, take a ferry ride late afternoon, it’s an inexpensive sunset cruise and you can get some nice photos.
- Ride length: About 5 minutes.
- Iinerary: Ferry runs every 15 minutes 7 days a week from 6am – 10pm. Weekends and holidays, every 30 minutes.
- Fee: $0.50 one way
- Taxi cost from Catano ferry terminal to Bacardi Rum Distillery: $3
- More about Old San Juan / Catano Ferry
Caja de Muerto, Ponce Ferry
On the southern coast of Puerto Rico, right off of La Guancha in Ponce, a private ferry will take you for the day to Caja de Muerto island, a nature reserve where you can enjoy a beautiful beach, snorkel, hiking trails with amazing views and relaxation under the sun. For more information on the ferry and online reservations visit IslandVenture.com
Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora, Guanica Ferry
Head west to to the town of Guanica, where you can enjoy beaches, a nature reserve and many nearby attractions. One of the west coast treasures is Cayo Aurora “Gilligan’s Island“, a cluster of mangrove islands with clear waters perfect for families with children. At Gilligan’s you can spend the day swimming, snorkeling and picnicking. To get to Gilligan’s Island, there is a small private passenger ferry that operates 7 days a week.
- First trip leaves to Gilligan’s at 9am and the last pick up at Gilligan’s is at 5pm. Regularly the ferry makes trips every half hour. Depending on the amount of people, they may leave earlier or later.
- Cost is only $7.63 p/p round trip. Coolers $5.58.
- For more information call 787-821-4941.
La Parguera Nature Reserve
There are no ferries going to the little island / cays of La Parguera Nature Reserve, but there are plenty of small tour operator companies offering trips to Mata La Gata, Caracoles, tours of the mangroves and bio bay. When you get to La Parguera, as soon as you park, you will most likely see tour guides offering their services. If there aren’t, there are signs or you can ask someone at a restaurant for info. Round trip is about $5 round trip per person, a great inexpensive day trip, one of our favorites. Friendly tours guides will take you to the islands.