As budget-conscious ladies who’re concerned with keeping numbers low in our expense tracking Spreadsheet for Workationing, our first cost-based decision was whether to take an Uber or Lyft, cab ride or taxi from one side of the island to the other. Here’s what we learned in our recent trip to Puerto Rico (we flew into the San Juan airport on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, but our Airbnb was located on the western coast of the island in Aguada).
We weren’t prepared to run this quick math, because we hadn’t really considered it. Once we deboarded the plane at the San Juan airport, that became our first order of business.
How much does an Uber or Lyft cost? Does Uber exist in Puerto Rico?
Honestly, we’d figured that we would just Uber something when we got to Puerto Rico (and if not that, check out the Lyft situation). We discovered immediately upon landing that the service for Lyft is non-existent, and Uber is apparently only available some of the time and in a very limited capacity. So limited, in fact, that Uber only seems to operate in the San Juan area…or so one of our cab drivers told us later in the trip.
So when we walked out of the airport, we had two options left to get from one side of Puerto Rico to the other: a cab or a rental car.
How much does a taxi cost to get from one side of Puerto Rico to the other?
With Uber and Lyft nixed as transportation options, our next order of business was to price out how much it’d cost via a cab. The cabs in the area don’t seem to run on meters very often – in fact, we took cab rides several times while we were on the island, and never once was there a metered fare.
Pro tip: always ask in advance how much your cab ride will cost. You don’t want to end up in a situation where a cab driver takes you to your destination, and then tries to charge you a fee that you think is unfair or unreasonable.
When we asked around at the airport, we were told that the fare from the San Juan airport to Aguada would be $150, not including tip. With tip, it’d be around $170-$180.
How much does a rental car cost, including drop-off in another location?
Here’s where we ran into some bad luck. When we got to the rental car counter right outside of the airport, it was packed. Apparently we arrived just in time for Three Kings Day, which is a big public holiday in Puerto Rico. Everyone and their mother seemed to be in town for it, and rental cars were in short supply (read: more expensive than normal – on less busy rental days and/or with pre-booking via Expedia or Priceline, we probably could’ve saved another $50).
I hopped on Expedia to see if I could score a deal, but the site wasn’t updated with the latest information – although it said that each of the places we went to had cars available, the long lines and customer service reps at the counter told us otherwise.
Three long lines and rental kiosks later, we hit paydirt with Alamo. We knew that because we were renting a car one-way, we’d need to pay extra to drop off the vehicle in the neighboring town of Aguadilla, which is the closest car rental location to Aguada.
The total cost of the car rental, including an alternate drop off location, was $133 for two full days. This allowed us to do things like check out beaches in other towns and buy a lot of heavy items at the grocery store without having to physically carry our haul back to our Airbnb.
An important note about the roads in Puerto Rico: they’re less than ideal, and you should factor this into your decision whether or not to get extra insurance on the vehicle. Many roads in Puerto Rico are very, very narrow and only some of them have lines where you’d expect them to be.
There are a lot of potholes everywhere but on the major highways, and we watched/heard people bottom out their cars just about every single day we were there. Plus, when it rains those potholes fill up with water and you can’t really see them.
As if that weren’t enough, I’m not so sure about the drivers in Puerto Rico either. It seems to be totally normal for them to pull off to the side of the road and stop for no apparent reason (this has been my experience both times I’ve visited the island).
Several times, we saw police cars with their lights flashing…but nobody ahead of them was pulling over. Maybe it only counts when the sirens are on, too? This was a question that we never got answered, and remains a mystery.
Going 5-10 miles below the speed limit on the highway also seemed to be the norm, and it was common for the right lane to be moving faster than the left lane. This was confusing, annoying and at times scary.
For these reasons, we sprung for the rental insurance – this brought up our total a bit. But it was worth the peace of mind, because I bottomed that car out a solid 4 times in 2 days and after one particularly loud road scrape I was pretty sure we’d lost a muffler or something.
Spoiler Alert: We Still Had to Get a Taxi
Our rental car plan worked out well, but when we dropped off the car at the Aguadilla airport we ran into the issue of how we were going to get back to our Airbnb in Aguada. The lady at the car rental counter (the one location represented Enterprise, Alamo and Hertz car rental companies), called us a cab.
Again, we asked how much it would be to get to where we were going BEFORE we got into the taxi. The answer $35, or $40 with tip. This brought our total to $173, which was still less than taking a cab. Plus, we got to roll around in a rental car for a couple of days.
Once we were in Aguada, we got the cell phone numbers of two cabbie brothers who lived in the town. Any time we needed a ride, we just texted them directly. When you call Aguadilla Taxi, depending on where you are they’ll just give you the cell phone number of the driver in your area – and they text you the number, which is convenient.
Summary of the Total Cost and Savings
We ended up saving $7 over a cab ride by renting a car, but the convenience factor of having a vehicle for two days made it worth a lot more. Had we taken cab rides to Rincón and Crash Boat Beach (both of which are must-sees on the western side of the island) instead of driving, we would’ve tacked at least another $70 onto our total for the two round-trip taxi rides.
It costs ~$170, including tip, to take a cab from the San Juan airport to Aguadilla (-$20) or Aguada, Puerto Rico.
It costs ~$133 to rent a car from the San Juan airport and drop it off in Aguadilla, but then you’ll need to rent a cab to get to your hotel or Airbnb.
Uber and Lyft cost $0, because they’re not an option yet.
Theres an updated Uber status of it suse in Puerto Rico here: http://visitprnow.com/uber-puerto-rico/
Thanks for the heads up!
My husband and I are wanting to take a trip, but are curious to know the best way to get around. We have considered using a taxi, but want to know a little more about doing it. I like how you pointed out that one thing we need to do is to ask in advance how much it will cost. That way we can plan on the payment, and no we won’t be treated unfairly.
Glad you found the post helpful! DEFINITELY always ask your taxi driver how much it’s going to cost before you get in the car – especially in foreign-ish places. Also, if you don’t have cash on you make sure to confirm in advance that they can take a credit card.
I’ve traveled to and from Luquillo PR for the past 12 years and by far the best value is to rent a car ahead of time online. One trip last year I was able to get a car for 130 usd for 14 days. Yes the drivers are scary at times passing on right and left, some driving 20 miles under speed limit while others pass them 10 to 20 over the speed limit. Police almost always have thier lights on while driving, it means they are working. If they want to pull you over the siren goes off. I treated my daughter and son inlaw to thier honeymoon here and paid for the rental car they had a great 5 days.
Thanks for the cab vs. taxi info, William! Glad to hear your daughter had a great time on her honeymoon – Puerto Rico’s definitely a good place for it!
What company or website did you use?
Our family just got back from a 7-day cruise out of San Juan, PR. We arrived at Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) and requested a car from Uber. The response was that we could not be picked up from that location. Our only other option was to take a taxi from the airport to the seaport. This was a flat fee which seemed to be reasonable considering there were three of us. Another couple who was also going to the cruise ship offered to split the cost with us, but I turned down their offer, since this would mean less money in the pocket of the taxi driver. I figured that tension is high enough in PR between the Uber drivers and taxi drivers, so I didn’t want to add to their trouble.
Do you mind me asking what the flat fee was? We are going there on the cruise next Jan. I read somewhere it was about $23 , is that correct?
Cooming from a local view point. 23$ seems reasonable since it only a 15 min. ride!
Uber is very alive in PR!, but here is thing , the information you got about Uber esa from a local taxi driver Who considers uber an intruder, and will talk trash to keep prospect uber riders away. The reason? Uber is much cheaper and sabe from the airport to all pinta in the islas. Uber drivers, have been chase, assaulted, intimidated and their cars vandalized by the taxi drivers at the airport in isla verde,because of Uber’s much cheaper darles. Is a constat battle that has made the local media many times. In facu that 170.00 trip in Uber World have been Line 130.00 give or take. Another thing to consider is insurance, uber is fully insured, while the taxis some of them are not, even though the state insurance (ACAA) KICKS in in there is an accidente. And in relación to your comment,about the road in the island are less than ideal, only the Lord know wich baldosas, that taxi troll you fist they. We have an excelent interstate turnpike. Check uber out.
Omg, why would you even land at the San Juan airport when you could land at the Aguadilla airport in the first place?
The flights were $200 cheaper per person to fly into San Juan, which made it worth the rental car and short road trip.
I seen a post after Hurricane Maria but no mention of the hurricane but not to worry because there is no worry came here now and the island is beautiful
We were also curious about the bio bays after Hurricane Maria, so we called around to all the tour companies to see what the just updated the post with this information!
Uber is the way to go. It’s a lot cheaper.
Does the uber app work in PR the same way?
We’re taking a Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan and wish to know the answer to that, as well, Dora!
I will try to use the uber app when I visit in July 2019. If it works I will post it.
What would an uber fare cost vs. A taxi fare from the SJU airport to the Pan American Pier?
You’d have to ask the driver, but I’d recommend that you negotiate that price in advance. Most cabs don’t have fare tickers.
I have visited San Juan last month, and I rent a car. I calculated that it’s not very big save, but as for me it’s much more comfortable to have my own car because I don’t need to order and wait every time taxi. I saved nearly 100$ for 10 days, but it were great holidays! Recommend to visit this beautiful country, it is a little paradise!
Good place for summer holidays, very friendly people, good food, sunny weather.
Only reason I see landing at San Juan airport is cheap flights, and from the savings one can easily manage the car rental. Nice post.
If you are traveling with children, don’t forget to book a child safety seat for your kid. Even though a child seat rental may cost a considerable amount of money , the fines for not having one may cost more than the cost of a child seat rental. Also note that a regular plane ticket usually allows you to carry a child seat free of charge (contact your airline for more accurate information). In addition, you can always buy your own child seat in the nearest supermarket after the arrival.
If you want to save some money, select the same pick-up and drop-off time. Car rental companies take money for a full day of rental, so if you take a car for 25 hours, you will pay for 48 hours (two full days) of rental, and 74 hours will stand for 96 hours (four full days) of rentals
Thanks for the tip!
How is uber at Ponce airport around 1 am. My husband is traveling and needs to take an uber.
I’m not sure about that one – but a taxi should be available if Uber isn’t an option.
The Uber app is available in Puerto Rico never used it in the States but I know that it’s cash or credit card so you want to check that out. Stronger Uber does not go to the San Juan Airport. City bus service runs regularly from the airport all the way to Old San Juan during daylight hours. It’s $0.75 and you have to have change. I read somewhere The Bays that light up you might Google it because they has been affected by the hurricane. You could take a bus from the San Juan Airport to Isla Verde and then grab a uber there. The island is definitely open for business and enjoy yourself you are in Paradise
Great info here – thanks for commenting!
Very useful! Thank you.
Just took a cruise out of San Juan the first week of December. Uber isn’t allowed to run FROM the airport, but can run TO the airport. We took an Uber from the cruise port in Old San Juan to the airport for $8. The driver was awesome and was there 5 minutes after I checked in!
Great info, thanks for sharing! Good to know you can take an Uber to the airport, at least.
I’ve done both the taxi and the rental in PR.
Rental is always comfortable to me, but…
The benefit of the taxi is also your first exposure to the country through a local’s eyes. They will often provide you with irreplaceable knowledge about things you want to do/know.
Also, you didn’t seem to account for gas in your account my friend.
Hi! is the local bus a good way to get from Airport to Isle Verde Piso in Carolina? Thanks!
Uber is available mostly all PR. the price to Aguada start $154.65 could be less or more it’s depend how fast the uber driver drive or the surge price.
This is a pretty good argument for renting a car. It’ll pay for itself with the one-way trip alone!
Comparing the road conditions in Puerto to Texas:
Texas drivers are strange drivers too. They are either too slow on the highway left lane or too fast on the highway right lane. Everyday I encounter people who speed up to cut you off, only to then slow down in front of you to force you to sometimes stop.
Potholes are usually repaired within a few days but there is so much construction repairs going on (10 years on the same road) that many lanes are converted into one lane (including the highways) creating massive traffic jams daily.
As far as the total you spent on transportation ($173) that is close to what I paid for a two day car rental from Dallas to Austin.
I will be traveling to PR next week so lets see if there are any improvements. According to my sister, Uber is available everywhere now. So I may try using them.
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