Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a gem in the Caribbean with a little bit of everything from history and large cities to laid back crystal clear beaches.  And, with no passport requirements for Americans, Puerto Rico travel is a super easy quick escape.  One of the larger islands in the Caribbean, it will probably take several trips to experience the best of what the island has to offer.  So, pick an area or two to explore and save the rest for next time.  Don’t try to fit too much into one trip or no one will enjoy themselves!

On a first trip and just want to know where to go?? Spend a day or two in Old San Juan, a day or two hiking and exploring El Yunque, and another couple of days on either Culebra or Vieques snorkeling and relaxing on the beach.

Go To:

Icacos Island aerial view with text overlay Best Snorkeling in Puerto Rico
bioluminescent water with text overlay bioluminescent bays everything you need to know

San Juan is the hub of the island with the main international airport, and where most people will arrive and depart.  Make sure to plan a day or two to explore Old San Juan and the beaches near the city.  If a more metropolitan beach vibe is your style, the beaches around San Juan are the perfect spot.  

Puerto Rico is home to both some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean and the only tropical rainforest in the US National Park Service.  So, after exploring San Juan, make sure to plan some time away from the city to relax on the beach, climb a mountain, splash in a waterfall, or surf along the coast.


BUCKETLIST PUERTO RICO ACTIVITIES

view of the mountains from the top of El Yunque Hiking Trail

El Yunque

If you love nature, El Yunque is probably the one place that should be on your absolute can’t miss list!  With tons of options for hiking trails, gorgeous waterfalls, and even scenic drives, El Yunque is an incredible place to spend a day or two.  

And, on a personal note, it’s where we got married, so it holds a special place in our hearts.

Flamenco Beach Culebra

Culebra & Vieques

Another absolute must is a visit to the islands of Culebra and Vieques, just off the east coast of Mainland Puerto Rico.  They’re so close to the US and British Virgin Islands that they’re often referred to as the Spanish Virgin Islands.  The beaches are picture perfect white sand with crystal clear calm water.  

Street in Old San Juan

Old San Juan

San Juan is the international hub of the island, so chances are you will probably begin and end your trip there.  Make sure to plan at least a day to wander the streets of Old San Juan, check out El Morro, and visit the Beaches.

concrete steps at waters edge at Steps Beach Tres Palmas Marine Reserve Rincon Puerto Rico

Rincon

Rincon, on the west coast, is famous for it’s surfing, and the towns along the coast offer a more laid back surfer vibe.  Plan a trip to Rincon based on the seasons.  The summer offers calmer shores for snorkeling and exploring the Marine Reserve, while winter brings in the surfing waves.

People kayaking in Bahia Bioluniniscente - Fajardo
Photo Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Bioluminescent Bays

Of the 5 bioluminescent bays in the world, Puerto Rico is home to 3 of them!  If you’ve never heard of a bio bay, they are bays with high concentrations of an organism that glows when disturbed.  So, as you move through the water, it appears to glow all around you.  It’s truly a can’t miss experience!


AREAS TO VISIT PUERTO RICO

San Juan

San Juan will most likely be where your trip to Puerto Rico starts and ends, and it’s worth spending at least a day or two exploring the area.  Old San Juan with it’s gorgeous blue brick roads and historic forts is an absolute must.  

Not looking to venture too far from the city, but want a beach getaway, check out our post about all of the beautiful beaches around San Juan to find the right one for you.   

Things to Do

Where to Stay

Our favorite place to stay in Old San Juan is El Convento.  It has a perfect location right in the center of the historic district, and the property is a truly gorgeous old world Spanish gem.  We Love the terraces and courtyard for relaxing afternoons and evenings with a drink or a book enjoying the view. 

If you’re looking to enjoy the beaches in San Juan, there are several great options.  Make sure to check out our Best San Juan Beach Hotel post to find the perfect spot to stay!


East Coast, Puerto Rico| El Yunque, Fajardo, and the “Spanish Virgin Islands”

The East Coast and offshore islands are our personal favorite spots in Puerto Rico.  With El Yunque for hiking and snorkeling on Vieques and Culebra, we just keep returning to this area. 

Culebra and Vieques are somewhat difficult to get to unless you’re willing to fly, which has its pluses and minuses.  The added bit of work to get to the islands will reward you with far fewer crowds on the beaches, not to mention fantastic snorkeling.

Taking the ferry is MUCH cheaper (around $2 vs $120), but they are notoriously unreliable with very limited capacity for tourists. We’ve both flown and taken the ferry and would hands down suggest flying.  Not only is it much less stressful, but the views from the plane are gorgeous! 

Things to Do


West Coast| Rincon, Surfing and the Camuy Caves

The West Coast is not nearly as popular with tourists, giving it a more laid back beach vibe.  But, when the winds pick up in the winter, surfers from all over head to the area to surf some of the biggest waves in the Caribbean.  

In summer when the waves die down, there are several good snorkeling spots near Rincon as well.  Make sure to check out our post on the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico!

The Western side of Puerto Rico is also home to many beautiful and off the beaten path waterfalls and the Camuy Cave System where you can explore several caves and caverns.  


ALL OF OUR PUERTO RICO GUIDES

  • Best Snorkeling In Puerto Rico: A Guide To The Top Places
    Puerto Rico can easily be described as snorkel heaven. The tropical paradise boasts more than 300 miles of breathtaking coastline, sandy beaches, and clear blue waters. Beneath these waters are some of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean.  The selection of Puerto Rico snorkeling beaches is varied, giving everyone an opportunity to discover the
  • El Yunque Waterfall & Hiking Guide
    Located in the tropical Caribbean, Puerto Rico provides visitors with warm and beautiful weather, perfect for outdoor activities. One of the best places in the country to disconnect and soak up sweep views is El Yunque National Rainforest. It’s also a popular spot for anyone seeking out the impressive El Yunque waterfall hikes. El Yunque
  • Puerto Rico Itinerary
    Puerto Rico is a world-renowned destination – a tropical island that has one of the richest artistic, cultural, and historical heritages through all periods. Tourists from all over the world visit the island year-round to experience the beautiful landscapes, warm people, fascinating attractions, exquisite cuisine, bustling cities and towns, and of course, the constant summer
  • 11 Best Things To Do In Old San Juan
    How could a small city set back from the beaches become one of the most interesting places to visit in Puerto Rico for tourists? Welcome to Old San Juan, also known as “Viejo San Juan”! Established back in 1521 by the Spanish colonists, Old San Juan is the second oldest city in America. It’s located
  • Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Vieques Puerto Rico
    When it comes to visiting the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico, particularly in Vieques, how can one not think of snorkeling? After all, in a short span, this small island off the coast of Puerto Rico’s mainland has grown from a snorkeling hidden gem to one of the top destinations for snorkeling in the Caribbean.
  • Guide To The Best Snorkeling In Culebra, Puerto Rico
    Culebra is the perfect island for travelers who are seeking a chilled-out, lightly developed,  peaceful destination for snorkeling in Puerto Rico. The island is located 20 miles (30 km) east of Puerto Rico and fronts the north of the Atlantic Ocean. The island itself is 10 square miles (26 square km) in area. And although
  • Escambron Beach Puerto Rico| Beach & Snorkel Guide
    Escambron Beach is one of the most easily accessible beaches in San Juan, and the top spot for snorkeling in San Juan.  The area is actually broken up into three beach areas with walking paths and a park connecting them all. In this Post: Map of Escambron Beach Getting to Escambron Beach Escambron Beach Hotels
  • Caribe Hilton Review
    When staying in San Juan, the Caribe Hilton was the perfect choice because of it’s proximity to the city and also the best beaches in San Juan.  Just off Escambron Beach, the only Blue Flag beach in San Juan, and next door to Escambron Marine Park, this area is the perfect home base if you’re
  • Snorkeling in San Juan, Puerto Rico | Where to Snorkel, Tips & FAQs
    While the best Puerto Rican snorkeling beaches for experienced explorers are found in places like Culebra, Vieques, and Fajardo, snorkeling in San Juan is wonderful for beginners and those short on time! Thanks to the capital’s location in the north of Puerto Rico, its Atlantic coastline is dotted with incredible beaches boasting sparkling blue waters
  • Flamenco Beach Puerto Rico
    Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico has consistently ranked as one of the prettiest beaches in the world, and it’s postcard perfect natural beauty makes it worth the extra effort to get there.  As with anywhere, the longer you can take on Culebra, the better.  The island has some of the best snorkeling in Puerto
  • Best Beaches San Juan Puerto Rico
    San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, is an enticing tourist destination that sees travelers in droves year after year. Known for its historical buildings, warm climate, and abundance of tourist attractions, this tropical city has earned its place on many travel bucket lists.  Situated on the Atlantic coast, on the northern part of
  • Best Beach Hotels in San Juan
    Are you looking for the best beach hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico? You’ve come to the right place! If you’re searching for the perfect blend of beautiful beaches, history, culture, colourful architecture and great food without having to leave the USA, then you’re going to love a stay in one of the hotels in
  • Best Beaches in Culebra, Puerto Rico | Snorkeling & Hiking Guide
    Culebra’s beauty draws tourists to it year-round, but especially during summer when its tropical climate and enchanting beaches burst with vibrant underwater life to explore. It’s an aquatic playground for snorkelers and diving enthusiasts interested in getting closer to the colorful marine life. On days when you feel like you want to relax on an
  • Best Beaches in Vieques
    Situated off the east coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques transforms you back to the olden-day Caribbean lifestyle. With untouched wildlife, horses roaming free and charming towns, the illusion of the island’s past isn’t hard to conjure. It’s most known for its bioluminescent bay, where the waters are dazzled with millions of bioluminescent organisms. Other than
  • Bioluminescent Bay Puerto Rico| 3 Brightest Spots to See
    One of the most stunning natural wonders of the Caribbean, when it comes to seeing bioluminescence, Puerto Rico has some of the best spots anywhere in the world for seeing this natural phenomenon.  You may well have seen pictures of the bioluminescent bay, Puerto Rico, which glows at night and looks magical, thanks to rare
  • Best Places to Stay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
    Isla de Vieques is an island and municipality of Puerto Rico. It’s located just eight miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland. Vieques is famous for its amazing beaches and there are a lot of them, ranging from pure white to soft black sand. It’s also known for boat tours of Bioluminescent Bay, where microorganisms