Driving in Puerto Rico: 4 Helpful Tips to Know

I am a participant in the Amazon Affiliates Program, so basically I earn a small commission if you use any of the affiliate links on this post - at no extra cost to you! Dope right?

If there’s one thing about me, imma rent a car when I travel. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southern California and road trips are my favorite travel style, but I just love the freedom that comes with renting a car and being able to pick up and go when you choose. Sure, there are some downsides, but typically driving is my favorite mode of transportation. So, when I decided to attend the 2023 WITS Travel Creator Summit held in San Juan, I knew that I would be driving in Puerto Rico for at least part of that trip.

I was in Puerto Rico for a total of ten days, though five of those days were taken up by the conference (and a day before and after for extra activities). However, my partner also decided to join me and while I was attending the conference, he had a lil solo boy time on the island so we renting a car for the entire ten days.

This is going to (in theory) be a super short post with a few tips about driving in Puerto Rico based on my experiences and observations. But at the same time, I’m not Puerto Rican. I didn’t grow up on the island. I’ve only visited for ten days. So just keep in mind I’m no expert on driving in Puerto Rico, but if you’ve never been then hopefully this post will cover all the bases and alleviate any worries you might have about renting a car and driving in Puerto Rico.

Let’s get started with the basics!

FAQ: Driving in Puerto Rico

  • Do you need an international driver’s license to drive in Puerto Rico? Travelers with a US driver’s license will not need an international driver’s license. Technically, international travelers (no US driver’s license) will need an international driver’s license.
  • What side of the road does Puerto Rico drive on? The right side, same as in the USA.

Best Rental Cars in Puerto Rico

In my opinion, I always think it’s worth it to stick with one rental company to gain loyalty status and in turn get better service and upgrades. For me, I am a loyal Hertz member because my full time job (no, I’m not a full time blogger lol) offers discounts on Hertz. See, there’s some perks to keeping a steady income haha. Hertz is available in Puerto Rico and the check-in/check-out process was very smooth and seamless. We’re also Gold Hertz members (heyyoo loyalty status), so that gives us a better pick of cars with premium service.

However, Hertz is a pricier option if you don’t have a convenient company code like I do. In that case, pick a rental company that fits your price range. I’ve used budget rental companies like AVIS and they get the job done, but just be aware that the customer service usually isn’t great.

Whoever you rent from, I always recommend taking thorough pictures of the car before leaving the rental site so you don’t get charged for pre-existing damages, both when you’re driving in Puerto Rico and anywhere you rent a car! I also recommend double checking if your hotel offers free parking which can make or break your bank depending on your budget! Dreamcatcher by DW offers free parking at their properties so that would be one less thing to worry about when driving in Puerto Rico.

Book Dreamcatcher by DW on Expedia

Book Dreamcatcher by DW on Booking

Tip 1: Have Renter’s Insurance

On that note, I think it’s important to have insurance with your rental car, buuuut getting insurance through the rental agency can be extremely expensive. Especially because they always try to upsell the most expensive package. Another pro-traveler’s tip that makes renting cars abroad affordable for me is having the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Not only does it come with dope benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges in airports and annual travel credit, but it also comes with included rental car insurance!

car rental insurance

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the ONLY travel credit card offering car rental insurance with primary coverage – meaning claiming insurance (if/when needed) will not be reported back to your home car insurance. In contrast, my Alaska Airlines credit card also offers car rental insurance, but only as secondary coverage which means you will have to file a claim with your home insurer and that card will only pick up the fees and charges that your home car insurance policy doesn’t. Aka you’ll be paying a deductible and your premiums may go up.

I promise I’m not getting paid and this isn’t a sponsored post, but if you have the ability and can afford the steep annual fee ($550 USD) for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, it makes renting cars much easier, cheaper, and convenient. Let me know via email (awktravels at gmail) if you would like a referral!

Tip 2: Toll Roads

Another thing you should know about driving in Puerto Rico is that there are some toll roads. Honestly, the toll prices are pretty reasonable, between $0.35 to $5 depending on the road. It also depends on your car axel, so an RV would cost more than a sedan. Not all the tolls take cash, so it is best to use the electronic toll pass which you can rent from your rental company. From Hertz, the toll pass costs $5 USD a day and covered all tolls.

Taking a toll road through with no electronic pass (if there is no cash lane) will COST you, and the rental company will bill you with a nice little convenience charge on top of your toll charge. The following routes contain toll roads:

  • PR-66 (to El Yunque/Río Grande)
  • PR-5 
  • PR-17 
  • PR-20 
  • PR-22 
  • PR-52 
  • PR-53

There are of course non-toll roads, and you can filter your journey in Google Maps to avoid toll roads, but it will add a considerable amount of time when driving in Puerto Rico.

Tip 3: Avoid Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan)

Yes, yes, I know you rented a car and want to maximize your driving in Puerto Rico instead of taking ubers since you’re, yanno, PAYING for the rental car…but driving in Old San Juan SUCKS. There’s car traffic, there’s pedestrian traffic, there’s roadwork and detours and one way streets and unexplained closures…and don’t get me started on the parking situation.

old san juan

But I get it, sometimes you just gotta go into the fray, especially if your hotel is far away. We were in the same boat. In that case, I recommend parking at the bottom/base of Old San Juan (you’ll get what I mean when you’re there) as there are a very affordable parking garages (put Multipiso Dona Fela into your Google Maps) in that area.

If you do manage to snag a HIGHLY coveted parking spot on the street (it’s free parking!), then make sure to put all your valuables (and even non-valuables) out of sight or even in the trunk so you don’t have to worry about a broken window. But honestly, that’s just parking advice in general, not just while driving in Puerto Rico. Not all street parking in San Juan is free though, so be sure to check for signs! There will be a kiosk to pay, but I’ve never parked within the metered hours on the street.

Tip 4: The Roads Might Not be Lined

Another note about driving in Puerto Rico – don’t expect the roads to always be lined. Just like many Caribbean countries, Puerto Rico is on the front lines for tropical storms, hurricanes, and general erosion-causing weather. The roads have SEEN SOME THINGS okay? Because of this, the lines in the roads may be faded or just…not be there at all.

Don’t panic broski it’s chill it’s chill.

Just follow the traffic flow and you’ll be fiiiiine. Keep an eye out for potholes as well, especially as you leave the San Juan area. But exploring the rest of the island is where the real fun begins! If you need help finding Bad Bunny Beach in Puerto Rico, I wrote up a blog post on our San Juan day trip to the other side of the island!

Conclusion: Driving in Puerto Rico

girl sitting next to wood planks painted as the puerto rican flag

Wow look at that, I actually managed to make a short and sweet post for once! Though, it probably helps that I’ve only had one experience driving in Puerto Rico so I don’t have too many things to say.

YET.

But I do hope it’s helped you prepare for your upcoming trip to Puerto Rico and calm some potential nerves you may have about driving in Puerto Rico. Do you have any other tips you would add? Let me know in the comments below!

Pin these Driving in Puerto Rico Tips!

everything to know about parking and driving in Puerto Rico

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *