Why My Favorite Part of Visiting San Juan with kids is LEAVING!

Filed under: Ports/Activities

The first time I saw San Juan listed on a cruise itinerary I booked, I had mixed feelings. I love the ports where I can get off the ship and easily make my way to a local beach and we float our cares away. We are not big on the high intensity excursions and lean towards the lazy laid back island times.

So an urban island city was not high on my radar and I did not have high expectations. And I certainly DID NOT expect San Juan to become one of my favorite ports or to completely fall in love with the island and its people.

We have come to love our days in San Juan and I want to tell you how to spend an easy days with kids.


When most ships dock in San Juan as a port stop, they will be at the port in Old San Juan. I mention this because if you plan on sailing out of San Juan for a southern Caribbean sailing (which we have done as well!), you’ll likely leave from the Pan American Pier which is different. For a port day, you’ll arrive right in the heart of Old San Juan and be able to walk right into town. Unlike many ports, San Juan does not have a dedicated, enclosed, port shopping area.

As you leave the dock, you’ll find a CVS directly ahead to the left. This is a fantastic place to stop if you need to restock on any kid or baby needs and we have purchased additional wipes, swim diapers, bottles, and other things here before. It’s an easy stop as you leave the ship, or head back, but know that the line can sometimes be lengthy, so plan your time accordingly.

The FIRST place we usually stop is Starbucks across the street. I know, we’re in an incredible location and we choose Starbucks. Let me tell you why- its a great place to stop with a large clean bathroom you can take a family into and it has free wifi if you want to make a phone call or check something on line. The baristas that work there are always incredible and I get one of my go to COLD drinks for the uphill walk- a Coquito Frappucino. Coquito is a a Puerto Rican liquor (this drink is just Coquito flavored, non-alcoholic) that is full of delicious coconut, rum, and cinnamon for a wonderfully creamy coconut eggnog flavor. Don’t worry, we’ll stop at a local shop on our way back down the hill for an authentic Cortadito, my favorite coffee drink when traveling.


We like to take a walk up to Castillo San Cristobal. The walk is up hill and gets in some light activity, but may be too much if you have family members with difficulty walking, and I would recommend a stroller for the littles. The walk takes about 10-15 minutes. Much of the fortress is wheelchair accessible and you’ll also be able to navigate easily with a stroller.

The address is:

501 Norzagaray Street
Castillo San Cristobal
San Juan, PR 00901

The park is open from 9:30 to 4:30 and entrance is $10 per person for adults. This covers admission at San Cristobal and del Morro.

The fortress is truly majestic and one cannot help but indulge in the history, though even visitors that aren’t history buffs will surely appreciate the iconic views of the city and coastline. The fort is considered the largest built in the Americas and was designed to protect attack from the east.

Other things to try in San Juan:

Food- Take advantage of the gastronomic offerings of San Juan. Here you will find exquisite flavors influenced by the Taino, Spanish, and African cultures. Also be sure to try some Mofongo during your visit! There are many great restaurants that serve this dish!

Drink- You cannot skip a Pina Colada when visiting the island where they were invented! Indulge in the many wonderful rums of Puerto Rico.

Sights: La Plaza Darsenas is where you will find many of the local craftsman welcoming you as you exit port. The people of San Juan are friendly and warm. They are happy to see you. I definitely recommend taking time to say hello and look at their art and craftsmanship.

Now, for my favorite part. LEAVING!

Why do I look forward to leaving San Juan? Because it is one of the most incredible sail aways you’ll experience and you DO NOT want to miss this one. After spending the day among the people of this wonderful island, this incredible territory of my own country that I was vastly undereducated on for far too long, the sail away from San Juan always leaves me longing for my next visit.

Head to a deck on the STARBOARD side of the ship (this is the right side when facing the front of the ship). You can grab a table on the pool deck or in the Windjammer if you’re ready for a snack, or take in the beauty from the solitude of your ocean view balcony.

As you sail out of Old San Juan you’ll see the beauty of the island and its colorful architecture as you head back out to sea but as you are venturing into open waters, you’ll be treated to a breathing view of Castillo San Felipe del Morro. This is the iconic image you see so often of the UNESCO World Heritage site protecting the coast. It’s a truly beautiful moment to reflect on your time spent in Puerto Rico.