20 Best-Kept Secrets of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Follow our insider tips to the hidden hotels, lively local watering holes, and one-of-a-kind experiences most of the city's visitors never discover.

The city's easiest day trip
A 20-minute drive east of Old San Juan lies Piñones, the best little getaway you've never heard of. There's a palm-lined boardwalk that links several sandy beaches, a handful of tidal pools where beachgoers can sit on flat rocks near the breaking waves, and a slew of huts selling pinchos (skewers of grilled meat and fish). The area is best explored on a bike: You can rent tandems and beach cruisers by the hour at the COPI building near the Boca de Cangrejos bridge., bike rentals $5 per hour.

A market that gets new life after dark
During the day, Plaza del Mercado in Santurce, about half a mile south of Condado, brims with plantains, avocados, mangoes, and folks cooling off with coco frío (coconut water). But after 6 p.m., when the market shuts down, the bars that line the plaza throw open their metal grates to a young, dressed-up crowd that turns the square into an informal block party, liveliest on Thursdays and Fridays. Calles Dos Hermanos and Capitol, 787/723-8022.

San Juan's design hero
Ask residents if they have a favorite homegrown designer; they'll likely answer, "Nono." By that they mean, "Yes." They're talking about Nono Maldonado, the Condado-based former Esquire magazine fashion editor whose pale-hued line defines island chic: linen resort wear and couture, with lofty prices to match. Avenida Ashford 1112, 787/721-0456, blouses from $150.

A slamming native dance
Salsa fans, meet your next obsession: bomba, created at the end of the 18th century by West African slaves on Puerto Rico's sugar plantations. In DanzActiva's Saturday classes, aspiring dancers can attempt to master the demanding steps, a kind of rhythmic call-and-response with a live band. Calles Norzagaray and Morovis,, dance lesson $15.


Get Inspired with more from

Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Budget Travel Real Deals

See more deals »


Our newsletter delivers vacation inspiration straight to your inbox.

Check Prices