Planning Your Time
Most of the south coast is conveniently connected by multilane divided highways—Highway 2 west of Ponce, and toll roads Highway 52 and Highway 53 east of Ponce. Highway 52 also connects San Juan to the south coast near Salinas. Traffic along the south coast is generally pretty light, so all in all, getting around the area is fairly easy.
The farthest point from San Juan is Guánica, which is 94 miles away and takes about two hours to drive. Although doable as a day trip, you’ll want to get an early start so you can spend as much time as possible at Bosque Estatal de Guánica, a beautiful and unique wilderness preserve with great hiking trails, beaches, and snorkeling spots. Better yet, stay in one of several unique accommodations in the area and spend the weekend to get the most out of your visit.
The same can be said of Ponce, which is 79 miles away from San Juan and takes about 1.5 hours to drive. You can get there and back in a day, but you’d be hard-pressed to see it all. Better to stay a weekend or longer, so you’re sure to have time to visit the Indian grounds at Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes; the city’s impressive Museo de Arte de Ponce; the castle-like former home of the Don Q founder, the Castillo Serrallés; the former coffee plantation Hacienda Buena Vista; and the new waterfront development, Paseo Tablado La Guancha.
Salinas, on the other hand, is close enough to drive down from San Juan just for dinner at one of its many stellar seafood restaurants.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition