Most visitors don’t realize that Puerto Rico is an archipelago with offshore islands and cays. If you’re into fewer 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 southwest coast, you can spend a day at Cayo Aurora (also known as Gilligan’s Island). See below for more information.
Ceiba Ferry – Travel to Vieques & Culebra
About a 1.5-hour drive from San Juan, you can hop on the ferry in Ceiba 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 Ceiba, you can visit two Puerto Rican islands known for capturing the Caribbean of the past.
Tips for Ferry travel from Ceiba to Vieques & Culebra
- Be sure to get to the ferry terminal at least 1.5 hours before your desired time of departure, 2 hours on holiday weekends.
- Buy a round trip ticket.
- 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. No guarantee you’ll get a ferry ticket. We highly recommend you fly from San Juan Airport, Isla Grande Airport, or Ceiba Airport (cheapest flight) and take the ferry back to make traveling easier.
- 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 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.
- Itinerary: Ferry runs every 15 minutes 7 days a week from 6 am – 10 pm. Weekends and holidays, every 30 minutes.
- Fee: $0.50 one way
- Taxi cost from Catano ferry terminal to Bacardi Rum Distillery: $3
Caja de Muerto Cruise / Catamaran
On the southern coast of Puerto Rico, you can book a private catamaran for a splendid day at 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.
Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora Ferry
Head west 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.
- The first trip leaves to Gilligan’s at 9 am and the last pick up at Gilligan’s is at 5 pm. Regularly the ferry makes trips every half hour. Depending on the number of people, they may leave earlier or later.
- The cost is only $7.63 p/p round trip. Coolers $5.58.
- For more information call 787-821-4941.
La Parguera Nature Reserve – Water Taxis
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 tour guides will take you to the islands.