As you begin planning you trip to Utuado, which is home to Puerto Rico's most important archeological discovery, one of the first things you'll have to research is transportation. Because Utuado is not one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island, it will take a bit of organizing to get here and around, but all of your work will be well worth it in the end.
Because Utuado is a landlocked town on an island, the means it takes to get here directly are slightly limited. Even so, tourists can plan air travel, sail a private yacht, or arrive via cruise ship and make other arrangements to get them into town once they've reached the island.
When you're flying to Utuado, your first stop in will be to the in Isla Verde near San Juan. This airport is the largest on the island and one of the busiest in the Caribbean, making it easy to find flights from around the United States as well as from Canada, Europe, and South America. Once you arrive at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, you have two options available to you. The first is to rent a car and drive to Utuado, which will take about an hour and a half. The second is is to fly domestically to the , then drive the remainder of the way which will take about another half an hour. Many people choose to drive from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, but each tourist will have to determine which option is most convenient for them. Click here to learn more about the process of flying to Utuado.
Although sailing to Puerto Rico is popular year-round, because Utuado is located in the mountains it is not directly accessible by the sea. Instead, tourists who insist on sailing (typically from the east coast of the United States or South Florida) will have to find anchorage along the coast and drive into town. The official ports of entry are in San Juan on the north coast, Mayagüez on the west coast, Ponce on the south coast, and Fajardo on the east coast.
When you arrive, you'll meet with customs who will want to check the ship's stores, go over the boat's official documentation, and immigration paperwork before granting clearance, and you will also have to purchase a 12 month cruising permit. The cost is $25(USD) for United States citizens and $37(USD) for everyone else.
In the capital city of San Juan is where Puerto Rico's cruise port is located (the San Juan Cruise Port) . This again means there is no direct access to Utuado for tourists who will sail to the island aboard a luxury liner. This doesn't negate the possibility of cruisers visiting the town, but they will have to make sure to have a rental car reserved so that they can drive.
Because of the unique terrain that exists in Utuado it is recommended that tourists choose to rent a sports utility vehicle that has good suspension and four wheel drive. Most rental agencies will have plenty on hand, but it is wise to specifically request that this be the type of vehicle you are placed with. Because of this, you should expect to pay a little bit more per day for your rental, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the car you're driving can handle the mountainous roads as well as city streets is worth it for most. Learn more about renting a car and driving in Utuado when you click here.
Taxis are available in a small amount in Utuado, and it is wise to arrive prepared to call the local companies to have a driver pick you up rather than see if you can find one out on the streets.
If you do happen to see one while you're out and about, it will be a white vehicle with the words "Taxi Turistico" painted on the front. The cost will vary by driver. Some drivers will have the meter running and charge $0.10 per one-third mile on top of the base $1(USD) fee, and others will want to negotiate a rate before driving off. If you decide you want to hire a taxi to take you from the air port in San Juan to Utuado, the cost will be a set $115(USD) for up to five passengers.
Don't forget to set aside some money for gratuities. While they are not required, it is a good idea to tip your driver for their help and an extra 10 to 15 percent is a nice offering.
For just $1.50(USD) per person, you can hitch a ride on a local publico. Tourists have been known to describe this service as a mix between buses and taxis. The vehicles used are minibuses and large vans, and they drive through town on a set route picking up passengers whenever they are waved down, and dropping them off where they require. Publicos are public vehicles, so drivers will continue to pick up passengers until the vehicle is full. You'll be able to recognize publicos by the yellow license plates with the letters "P" or "PD" at the start of the tag.
Transportation to Utuado is a little harder to arrange than some of Puerto Rico's other vacation destinations, but it can be done if you take time to learn about your options well before your getaway, allowing you all the extra time you need to find just what you need.
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