I would advise anyone who's old enough (rental agencies in San Juan, like everywhere else, ban or surcharge drivers younger than 25) to rent a car in Puerto Rico. The island is small enough that you can get almost anywhere in a few hours, and the road quality and signs are bound to give you déjà vu if you're American. They are in Spanish, of course, but you can probably guess what the red octagonal signs mean even if you don't know pare.
Shop around for your San Juan rental and expect to pay about the same as you would for a reservation in a small U.S. city. None of the agencies at the airport seemed to be particularly close, so take your pick.
While most road signs are large, clear, and familiar-looking, many tourist destinations are entirely unmarked. (We heard some speculation that this involves collusion with taxis and tour companies.) If possible, find a good road map indicating tourist destinations before your trip. The one provided to us by Hertz was not of much use; a map given to us by American Airlines was, counter-intuitively, far superior.
Driving on the island was similar to driving in Florida or any other state, with some exceptions:
- Police cars drive around with their lights flashing at all times, inexplicably.
- Speed limit signs are in miles per hour, while distance markers are in kilometers. Yes, they know this is nuts.
- You're likely to see some driving shenanigans that will surprise you, unless you're from New Jersey. Don't panic—most of it's harmless.
- Gas is cheap, like in the U.S. It's a small island. Go crazy!