Backpackers Guide to Puerto Rico

February 22, 2024

As I stepped off the plane into the muggy San Juan air, I felt that familiar rush of excitement that comes with arriving in a brand new place. Of course, it wouldn’t be backpacking without some stress too. In the flurry of navigating a foreign airport, I had yet to arrange my ride to the hostel or map out the route. As other travelers queued up for taxis or fumbled with temporary SIM cards, I took out my phone, opened my eSIMple app, and breathed a sigh of relief – my trusty eSIM had already connected me to Puerto Rico’s networks. 


With my data fired up, my first task was finding my airport transfer. I had used the eSIMple app back home in LA to pre-purchase a 1 GB week-long data plan in Puerto Rico for just $12 USD. The setup only took a minute thanks to the easy-to-scan QR code, and now it was paying dividends. After spending a few hours cramped on the plane with a dying phone battery and zero internet, it felt liberating to be instantly connected and communicating as I pleased in Puerto Rico for an affordable rate.


I tapped open Google Maps and located the meeting point for my shuttle to the hostel, weaving expertly through the crowds towards the exit. As a long-time backpacking aficionado and travel blogger, I’ve learned through trial and error the tools that make life on the road smoother. SIM cards used to be nothing but a frustrating headache for me. Between finding a SIM vendor and negotiating rates in a foreign language to constantly swapping tiny cards in and out as I crossed borders, it was hardly the carefree backpacking experience I pictured. 


But with the magical invention of the eSIM combined with providers like eSIMple that offered prepaid data packages in over 80+ countries, that era of complicated world travel seemed to be over. I could now instantly connect to Puerto Rico with the tap of a button for an affordable rate, keeping my phone number from back home active as an added bonus. No more hunting down shops selling SIMs or dealing with spotty airport WiFi to arrange that vital first ride. 


As the driver zipped out of the airport towards the coastline around San Juan, I rolled down the window and let the island breeze hit my face, not even bothering to look at the buildings and beaches whizzing by. The thrill was expecting the unexpected, never knowing what adventure you’ll find around the corner. Puerto Rico had surprises in store, and my eSIM lifeline was ready…now it was time to see what we would discover.

Finding Affordable Accommodations for This Backpacking Baller on a Budget

My hostel in San Juan’s district of Condado was conveniently located near some public beaches I hoped to check out. I discovered it through the usual booking sites, filtering my options down based on price, reviews, amenities, and location. 


As a budget backpacker, I’ve mastered the art of finding comfortable, safe lodgings without shelling out too much dinero. Hostels are of course a classic choice to keep costs low by sharing common spaces. I also keep my eye out for affordable boutique hotels, homestays, even just renting a private room in an apartment. 


In Puerto Rico, there were lots of wallet-friendly possibilities to lodge my wandering self each night. Since I had gone the Airbnb route, I was meeting the owner of a gorgeous apartment in Condado to check-in. As my driver approached the designated location pinpointed on my maps thanks to my eSIM data, I did a quick refresh of the messaging tab on Airbnb to reread meeting instructions from the owner. 


Data, especially abroad, has become even more precious to me as a backpacker in recent years. Calling rideshares, mapping routes, researching destinations, and housing – it all requires an internet connection. As much as I try to live in the moment when exploring new places, I also have to balance actually capturing content, running my blog, and handling basic travel logistics. 


An eSIM like eSIMple has been a total game-changer that allows me to have that cake and eat it too. I can instantly and affordably access data after landing without even thinking twice. No more huge phone bills from international roaming or trying in vain to track down a temporary SIM card vendor that may or may not rip me off. With a prepaid worldwide data plan from eSIMple that I arranged ahead of time, I could both enjoy Puerto Rico while also getting some online business handled when needed.


The owner greeted me with a warm smile at her charming blue apartment building, leading me up the stairs to her cozy spare room that would be my home during my Puerto Rican backpacking bonanza. I dropped off my trusty backpack that contained my entire life for the next couple of weeks and headed back out the door, ready for adventure numero uno…

My Top Backpacking Destinations in Puerto Rico

Over the next two weeks, I set out to explore the immense natural beauty and vibrant culture that makes Puerto Rico such a coveted backpacking destination. With my trusty eSIMple eSIM keeping me connected, I bounced around the island seeking thrills and compelling content for my travel blog. Here were some of my favorite spots:


El Yunque National Forest

This lush jungle is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. I went on a dreamy hike to La Mina Falls, trekking through the misty foliage and swimming in natural pools along the way. The forests boasts beautiful waterfalls, lookout points, and opportunities to spot exotic wildlife. It was crazy to think such a remote natural paradise was only 30 minutes from the capital and main airport.


Old San Juan 

In the heart of Puerto Rico lies historic Old San Juan, a completely different world from the beaches and resorts. I adored wandering the cobblestone streets and appreciating the Spanish colonial architecture of this iconic neighborhood. I also indulged in tasty local food from roadside vendors near lively Plaza de Armas. When I wanted a break from the crowds, I escaped to San Cristóbal Castle – an immense fortress with insane ocean views and secret tunnels. 


Bioluminescent Bays

This was one of the most magical experiences of my entire backpacking adventure. On the island municipality of Vieques, I did an unforgettable night kayaking tour in Mosquito Bay. This body of water contains millions of microscopic dinoflagellates that emit an eerie glow when agitated. As my kayak paddle gently touched the pitch-black water, it lit up like outer space around me creating the ultimate photo op! 


West Coast Surfing

What’s backpacking Puerto Rico without hitting some gnarly waves?! The surf town of Rincón on the west coast is hailed as the “Hawaii of the Atlantic” thanks to its epic swells. An hour south took me to pristine Playuela Beach in Cabo Rojo lined with charming food shacks serving up cheap and tasty seafood lunches between swims in the turquoise waters.  

Benefits of Using eSIMple eSIM While Backpacking

While exploring Puerto Rico’s beauty, at times I still had to shift gears to handle some business back home or capture content for my travel blog. This is when having reliable, affordable data through my eSIMple eSIM really saved the day – keeping me connected no matter where I roamed on the island. Here’s why I’m such a fan of using an eSIM while backpacking:


1. Instant Connectivity

Rather than fussing with temporary SIM cards when I arrived at the airport, my eSIM plan was ready to use as soon as I landed, instantly connecting me to Puerto Rico’s network. This allowed me to seamlessly arrange transportation, navigate to my hostel, and start mapping out destinations using data right off the bat.


2. Affordable Prepaid Rates 

Paying for an international phone plan can rack up costly fees in a hurry. With eSIMple I could pre-purchase an entire week of data before departing LA for less than $15 bucks. No worrying about surprise charges on my bill thanks to their prepaid rates on eSIM plans for over 80+ destinations worldwide.


3. Reliable Local Coverage

eSIMple eSIM data worked perfectly throughout my entire trip in Puerto Rico thanks to their local network partnerships in the country. Whether hiking remote rainforest trails in El Yunque, hanging with locals in Old San Juan, or chasing surf in Rincón – I stayed conveniently connected anywhere I went on the island with LTE speeds fast enough for messaging, mapping, social posting and handling emails.


4. Dual SIM Capabilities

This was a huge perk! Because my phone has dual SIM capabilities, I could use data through my eSIMple eSIM while simultaneously getting calls and texts on my regular US mobile number. SUPER handy for accessing online accounts that require an SMS code sent to your phone for verification when logging in abroad.  


5. Easy To Set Up in Advance  

There’s nothing worse than dealing with spotty airport WiFi trying unsuccessfully to set up connectivity on the fly after landing in a foreign destination. I love that I could configure my entire eSIMple account and Puerto Rico eSIM plan in advance before even boarding the plane using the QR scanner code on their app. 

Final Tips for Smooth Backpacking in Puerto Rico

As my two weeks of exploring Puerto Rico’s stunning landscapes and vibrant culture came to an end, I wanted to impart some final pieces of hard-won backpacker wisdom to anyone planning a similar adventure on this Caribbean jewel:


Get Off the Grid: Puerto Rico’s remote areas like El Yunque rainforest offer some exceptional digital detox opportunities. While the connectivity from my eSIMple eSIM came in handy now and then, I really embraced leaving tech behind for a few hours or days during hikes or beach camping trips to fully immerse in the moment.  


Double Check eSIM Settings: As tech-savvy as I am, I still almost had a mini heart attack when my data abruptly stopped working during my trip. Luckily, after some frantic troubleshooting I realized I had simply toggled an eSIM setting off by accident. Lesson learned – carefully eyeball ALL settings!


Experience Local Life: Backpacking is about discovering the soul of a place. One of my favorite memories was stumbling upon a vibrant block party celebration in Old San Juan where I tried tasty street food while dancing with the friendly locals well into the night.


Respect the Environment: Puerto Rico’s ecosystems are delicate. While out exploring El Yunque’s trails or kayaking Vieques’ Bio Bay, I made sure to follow posted preservation guidelines and never litter. We all have a duty to leave the planet better than we found it.


Appreciate the Kindness of Strangers: Backpackers quickly learn that above all, an open mind and positive attitude are your best tools for transforming trying situations into treasured tales. More often than not, the generosity of locals I encountered (and a reliable eSIM connection) kept my Puerto Rico adventure rolling smoothly along!


The island breeze caressed my skin as I sat out on the balcony at my Airbnb on a bright Sunday morning, contemplating my final hours in Puerto Rico before returning home. Two weeks had felt like two months thanks to the abundance of vivid experiences contained in such a short span. My trusty eSIM had helped capture spectacular moments while keeping me on track through all the logistical twists and turns of backpacking. 


Now a faint sadness crept in realizing soon I’d be departing this paradise with its shimmering coves and lush vistas that had seeped wonderfully into my soul. But glancing down at my phone, a notification from eSIMple popped up reminding me that our next rendezvous in Romania was just six weeks away. 


A new destination was already calling, and adventure awaited once more…Just as soon as I scheduled an airport transfer via my eSIM lifeline to cap off this unforgettable voyage in Puerto Rico! 

Final thoughts


As the descending aircraft gave me one last dazzling aerial glimpse of Puerto Rico, I smiled thinking about the awesome memories packed into a simple two-week trip armed with just my trusty backpack and convenient eSIMple connectivity. I ticked off some truly bucket list items like hiking through the rainforest to epic waterfalls and witnessing water glow an alien green thanks to bioluminescent microorganisms. 


There were also blissful days spent jumping waves under the golden sun, and sultry nights dancing with friendly locals in the cobblestone streets. Using my eSIM lifeline I effortlessly navigated, communicated, translated, captured, researched and chronicled it all without a hitch or restrictive roaming costs. Best of all, I met amazing people from around the globe in my hostel and had inspiring conversations about life’s endless possibilities in our short time on this whirling planet we call home.


While my trip was tragically short, my future backpacking destinations sprawl infinitely before me thanks to maximizing adventures through savvy travel hacks like eSIMple eSIM. Their service kept me affordably connected and flowing from place to place in Puerto Rico and will provide the same seamless experience in over 80+ destinations as I chase sunsets around the world. Maybe Romania next then Fiji? The options feel limitless.


I hope my firsthand account inspires you to grab life by the horns and just go – no matter how mundane your current reality may feel. Our planet is filled with awe-inspiring vistas, curious cultures, wild terrain begging to be explored, and welcoming souls that will profoundly touch yours. Backpacking feeds my heart and expands my global perspective. With a little bravery and the right tools like an eSIM making worldwide travel incredibly smooth, you too can turn dreams into reality one precious step at a time. Just throw caution to the wind, plot your course, and let the genuine richness of new people/places sweep you away. Your best life story lies out there somewhere still unwritten!

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