Ponce is the primary shipping port in Puerto Rico, yet manages to remain clean and picturesque, reminiscent of a coastal town in the Mediterranean. After a $440 million restoration project in 1994 revitalized the city, tourism began to grow and people from around the world come to relax in this center of culture on the island. An important fact to know about Ponce is that it is the second largest city in Puerto Rico, and determining how you'll get around is important to do before you arrive.
Next to San Juan, most consider Ponce to be the largest hub of transportation on the island. What this means for tourists is that more opportunities are open to them: like the fact that they can fly and sail directly to Ponce without having to first visit another part of the island. Cruising remains the only option for getting there that absolutely requires a stop in San Juan to begin with.
Travel within Ponce is quite comprehensive, with everything from renting a car to public transportation in the form of private taxis, publicos, and even free bus services available to tourists.
Ponce is home to one of only a handful of international airports in , which means if you plan accordingly, you can skip a stop at the (SJU) in San Juan where most people who visit Puerto Rico will originate their travels. The airport is the and is located just six miles east of Ponce's business center. At this time, only offers direct flights to Ponce between New York City and Orlando. For this reason, it may still be beneficial for some passengers to fly to San Juan, then take a domestic flight or drive to Ponce. Learn more by clicking here.
Recommended not only as an easy port to sail into, but one that is staffed by organized officials, Ponce is popular amongst pleasure sailors who travel to Puerto Rico from international waters. Here you'll find clearing customs and immigrations to be smooth, and the facilities to be excellent. Further details about each can be learned by clicking here.
Although perhaps one of the few places in Puerto Rico that could support a cruise port, Ponce does not have one of its own. The one and only cruise port on the island is located to the north in , and it is a prolific one, indeed. San Juan is one of the top cruise destinations in the Caribbean, and nearly every major cruise line has several stops here a week during the height of cruise season. Many cruise lines even begin and end their journey through the Caribbean in Puerto Rico. Tourists who will be cruising to the island can drive (it takes less than 90 minutes) or fly to Ponce and spend their day ashore exploring local attractions without much hassle at all.
Driving conditions in Ponce are good, and most tourists agree that if you're used to driving in the United States you'll have no issue getting around here. The rental process is an easy one as well, and visitors need only a driver's license, a credit cars, and to be over the age of 21. The cost of a rental ranges from $40 to $70(USD) a day, plus taxes, fees, and insurance, which can add up to another $20(USD) a day. If you're between the ages of 21 and 24, you'll also be responsible for a daily charge of between $10 and $25(USD), so the total cost can add up. Call around for deal. Click here for a listing of local rental car agencies.
Taxis are easy to find in Ponce, especially around Plaza Las Delicias where they seem to congregate when they are lacking passengers. You can also call ahead and have a driver pick you up when you're in need, and some will even be happy to take you on a tour of the area – for an extra charge of course. Here, you'll find that every taxi has a meter inside, but driver's prefer to settle on a rate that both parties feel comfortable with rather than turn the meter on. The choice is yours. Find out more about hiring a local taxi by clicking here.
... regular bus service...
Ponce is unique on Puerto Rico not only because it is one of the only cities with regular bus service, but that as of the beginning of 2013 that bus service was free to use. There are currently five routes serviced by modern, air conditioned buses and plans to expand routes not only in town by to outlying areas. Tourists can make use of these buses for sightseeing, shopping, and going to restaurants without issue and save a great deal of money doing so.
Publicos are mini buses and large vans that travel throughout Ponce on set routes similar to a bus, picking up passengers as needed, and dropping them off when they request so long as that exit point is on their route. Publicos can be as intimate as a taxi ride, with the caveat that they are not private and drivers will continue to pick up passengers until every seat it full. The main publico terminal in Ponce is located at the intersection at Calle Union and Calle Vives, and rides cost about $1.50(USD).
A huge part of planning your trip to Ponce is getting your transportation in order. The more you know about each option, the easier time you'll have setting up arrangements that best suit your travel needs.
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