4 Perfect Girlfriend Getaways in Puerto Rico
Nothing beats a vacation with your favorite ladies—and Puerto Rico is the perfect place for your girlfriend getaway. You don’t need a passport and direct flights from the U.S. are frequent and relatively inexpensive. No matter how your group likes to travel, the Island of Enchantment offers an itinerary for every style.
1. Spa and wellness
The harried pace of life and work often forces us to push any notion of self care to the bottom of our “to do” list. A few days of pampering and reconnecting with your besties is both restorative and essential. These resorts provide everything you need for the perfect spa vacation.
Condado Vanderbilt, San Juan
This historic hotel was built in 1919 by Frederick William Vanderbilt. The guest list here reads like a “who’s who” of celebrities, royalty and notable political figures. Its 1920s vibe is strong with plush, gilded furnishings and Art Deco touches throughout. Guests enjoy access to San Juan’s varied cultural attractions—that is, if they can be lured from this upscale sanctuary.
Each of the 316 rooms is smartly appointed with period furnishings and marble bathrooms. Amenities include three swimming pools, a beach club and a luxury spa—one of the hotel’s main draws. Zen mode is activated as soon as you step into the spa with its calming neutral tones and natural textures. Choose from a selection of face and body treatments, wraps, beauty services and therapies. For a special treat, book a Hammam Ritual—Condado Vanderbilt is the only location in Puerto Rico that offers it. This experience borrows from the ancient Turkish bath ritual. Both individual and group services are offered.
After your spa time, elevate your girlfriend getaway by lounging in one of the resort’s exclusive cabanas, complete with your very own personal pool and beach butler. Or, soak in views from the Spa Tower’s infinity pool and sundeck.
Address: 1055 Ashford Av.
Rates: From $350 per night
Dorado Beach, A Ritz Carlton Reserve, Dorado
Situated on a stunning 2-mile white powdery beach, this luxurious property is one of the Caribbean’s most exclusive resorts. Dorado Beach is a AAA Five Diamond-rated property (Puerto Rico is home to two of only seven Caribbean resorts to have received the distinction). It was built by the Rockefeller family in the 1950s. Rockefeller later proclaimed that there be “no building taller than the palm trees.” Thankfully, that philosophy has remained. Think leafy-chic contemporary glamor. Standard rooms start at 1,000 square feet (92 sq. m) and boast floor-to-ceiling windows, natural woods and marble accents. Singular amenities include upscale restaurants, the Caribbean’s largest wine cellar, two spectacular pools and an exceptional spa, The Ritz Carlton Reserve SPA Botánico.
Stepping into the five-acre sanctuary is akin to exploring a lost world—it’s hedged by a grand decades-old ficus tree. The massive wooden doors open to reveal a rustic, flora-laden oasis filled with buckets of aromatic herbs and flowers. Treatments feature ingredients like lavender, lemongrass, rosemary and pineapple sourced from the spa’s Purification Gardens. The gardens also feature warm and cool pools, steam pavilions and refreshing waterfall showers. Indulge yourself with a massage in a private cabana or one of the ethereal treehouses.
Address: 100 Dorado Beach Dr., Dorado
Rates: From $1,300 per night
2. Outdoor adventure
If your group craves nature, opportunities to explore it in Puerto Rico are numerous. The island boasts 483km (300 miles) of coastline and is home to 36 nature reserves, 19 state forests and five wildlife refuges. Here are a few ways to spend time outside.
Kayak and paddleboarding
If you’re staying in Puerto Rico’s Metro area of San Juan, you’ll have convenient access to kayaking and paddleboarding options in Condado Lagoon. This calm estuary divides the Condado and Miramar districts, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. Varied outfitters provide guided kayak and paddleboarding tours, as well as basic rentals if you want to go it alone.
There are only five bioluminescent bays in the world and Puerto Rico is home to three. This natural phenomenon is created by phosphorescent microscopic organisms present in the water that glow when disturbed. Nighttime kayak tours in these glistening waters offer a bucket-list experience your group won’t soon forget.
Situated on Puerto Rico’s east coast island of Vieques, Mosquito Bay is the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). Laguna Grande in Fajardo is convenient to San Juan based visitors, as it’s just about 45 minutes east of the capital city. In the southwestern portion of the island, La Parguera Nature Reserve contains the only bioluminescent bay you can swim in.
Lace up your hiking shoes and head to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest on U.S. soil. Trails wind through verdant trees and vegetation that hold a vast array of tropical wildlife, including the endangered Puerto Rican green parrot. Some trails lead to refreshing pools fed by waterfalls.
The Guánica Dry Forest, located in southwest Puerto Rico, is the Caribbean’s best preserved dry, desert-like subtropical forest. The forest’s 12 trails teem with exotic birds and deliver showstopping views.
Explore ancient limestone caves and secure an Instagram-worthy shot of Window Cave in Puerto Rico’s northern region of Arecibo. Guides lead you through, pointing out petroglyphs and cave formations, as well as identifying birds and other wildlife along the way.
Have a crew of thrill seekers? Soar through a rainforest canopy or along a tree-lined coast at ToroVerde Adventure Park, the first ecological adventure park in the Caribbean. It’s located in Orocovis, about 1½ hours southwest of San Juan. Nail-biting experiences include “The Monster,” one of the longest zip lines in the world. Stomach down and strapped in a superhero-style flying position, you’ll fly at speeds up to 150 kmh (93 mph). There are also hiking trails, suspension bridges and rappelling opportunities.
Address: State Rte 155, Orocovis
Hours: Thurs–Sun, 8am–5pm, closed Mon–Wed
3. Foodie focus
Sharing a meal is often how we celebrate and reconnect with our loved ones. A culinary-centric itinerary is a perfect way to do the same during your girlfriend getaway.
A guided food tour provides a well-rounded introduction for first-time visitors, as well as offer new opportunities for those who’ve traveled to the island before. You’ll gain a deep connection to the island, taste authentic food and experience Puerto Rico’s culture through the senses. You don’t just eat the food, either. As the tour moves from one restaurant to the next, local guides share historical and cultural information about the neighborhood and island. Food experiences are interactive, fun and educational. Flavors Food Tours-San Juan and Spoon Food Tours are popular with both visitors and locals.
Flavors Food Tours-San Juan
Spoon Food Tours
The list of “must visit” restaurants in Puerto Rico is too extensive to fully cover in one article. Here are some suggestions to get you started, though.
Located in Old San Juan, Chocobar pays tribute to—you guessed it—chocolate. Many dishes at this restaurant/cafe are spiked with cocoa that create salty-sweet concoctions your salivary glands may never recover from. Menu selections include the Choco-Club sandwich, which layers chocolate Mallorca bread with turkey, smoked ham and varied fixings, and the chalupitas de mofongo, roasted pork with pineapple and chocolate-infused guacamole topped with mole sauce.
Address: 210 Calle San Francisco
San Juan’s El Jibarito draws locals in for its homestyle comida criolla—largely considered the island’s best. Savor Puerto Rico’s culinary heritage with authentic dishes infused with Spanish, African and Indian flavors. Local favorites include the tostones (fried plantains) and the mofongo with red snapper.
Address: Calle del Sol 280
Head to Ponce for a meal at Sabor y Rumba and experience authentic Puerto Rican dishes with a lively ambience. Zesty ceviche, piquant mofongo and tender cerdo relleno (stuffed pork)—it’s all cooked to perfection. Enjoy live music and dancing on weekends—a favorite with locals. Surprisingly, this spot has managed to stay off most tourists’ radar.
Address: #66 C. Reina Isabel, Ponce
Situated in the luxe Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, 1919 is one of Caribbean’s best fine dining restaurants. Executive chef Juan José Cuevas helmed New York’s Michelin-starred Blue Hill. Cuevas makes a point of sourcing local produce where possible. The salmon sous vide is to die for—it changes seasonally. Splurge with the chef’s menu accompanied by sommelier-selected wine pairings.
Address: 1055 Ashford Av.
For more food-related inspiration, check out our article “What to Eat in Puerto Rico for an Ultimate Authentic Experience.”
For coffee lovers
Puerto Rican coffee is world renowned for its deep, rich flavor, thanks to the volcanic soil in which it’s harvested. Over 60 percent of coffee production is dominated by Café Crema, Yaucono and Café Rico. However, there are a few organic and sustainable brands gaining popularity—like Café Lareno and Cafe Di Laris. The island is dotted with verdant coffee plantations and haciendas, and many provide tours for coffee aficionados.
4. Party time
There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate during your girls’ trip in Puerto Rico. From daytime distillery tours to sampling the island’s thriving nightlife, here are a few suggestions.
Known as “The Rum Capital of the World,” Puerto Rico produces 70 percent of the rum sold in the U.S. The island’s rum production dates back to the early 16th century. Today, the rum industry adds over $300 million to Puerto Rico’s economy annually. You don’t have to be a rum connoisseur to appreciate the island’s rum heritage, though you might become one before you leave.
Located in the heart of Old San Juan, La Casita de Rones is the flagship store of Rums of Puerto Rico, a marketing arm of the island’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Here you’ll find authentic Puerto Rican tapas and entrees that pair well with one of their craft rum-based cocktails. Take home a memento of your girlfriend getaway—a well-curated shop offers a variety of clothing, glassware, bar accessories and other rum-inspired souvenirs.
Address: Calle Comercio San Juan
Get a taste of Puerto Rico’s rich rum history during your girls’ trip with a tour or mixology class at one of the distilleries. Crafted by hand in small batches, Ron del Barrilito rum is aged in vintage American white oak sherry barrels—a process that’s remained the same since 1880.
Address: Hacienda Santa Ana, Bayamón
The Bacardí facility in Puerto Rico is the world’s largest premium rum distillery. If you don’t want to take a tour or class, you can purchase a ticket ($20) to the Casa Bacardí Bar. It includes a cocktail and a locally-made empanada. You can spend the afternoon relaxing at the waterfront Pavilion with a fantastic view of El Morro, an iconic fortification and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Address: PR-165, Cataño
Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan is well known for its thriving nightclub scene. La Placita, located in the historic district and neighborhood of Santurce, is a favorite hot spot. The two-tiered market square serves as a produce and food market during the day, then comes alive at night with food and drink stalls, salsa dancing and vibrant bars.
La Factoría opened in 2013, launching San Juan’s bar scene. It remains one of the hottest nightclubs in Puerto Rico (some say the world). The video for the hit song “Despacito” was filmed here, too. The space features different bar concepts—exclusive lounge, buzzing nightclub, low-key wine bar and salsa dance hall.
Address: 148 Calle San Sebastián
Located in the Fairmont San Juan Hotel, Club Brava and Ultra Lounge exudes glitz and glamor. This is the place to be seen, attracting local celebs and savvy travelers. Your Instagram feed will be the envy of all your friends.
Address: El San Juan Hotel, 6063 Isla Verde Av.
Venture outside San Juan to low-key beach towns for a laid-back party vibe. Beer lovers will appreciate Rincón Beer Company. This casual and fun spot has 16 beers on tap, many of them from one of the island’s microbreweries. They feature live music and brunch on the weekends.
Address: 15 Cll Muñoz Rivera
Surfers flock to Isabela’s beachfront KAI Beach Bar for good reason—strong rum punches, panoramic ocean views and the sounds of reggae drifting in with the breeze. Sample well-portioned Puerto Rican-American fusion dishes, local seafood and other tasty items on the menu.
Address: Jobos Beach, Isabela