Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise. The island has a lot of things to offer, and it’s a great place to go on vacation. You can enjoy warm weather, beautiful beaches, and delicious food. There are many different activities that you can do in Puerto Rico.
In San Juan, there are many historic sites that you can visit. You can see Fort San Felipe del Morro, which was built by the Spanish in 1539 and is one of the oldest forts in North America. Be sure to take some time to explore Old San Juan and check out its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.
You should also visit El Yunque National Forest which is home to waterfalls and hiking trails. The forest is also home to many endangered species like Coqui frogs, Puerto Rican parrots, wild boars, and more!
If you’re looking for something more relaxing then head over to Luquillo Beach where you’ll find white sand beaches and calm blue waters perfect for swimming or snorkeling!
Places to vacation in puerto rico
El Yunque National Forest
Experience some of Puerto Rico’s lush inland beauty at El Yunque National Forest. Spread along the Luquillo Mountains, including Pico El Yunque, El Yunque National Forest is home to the only tropical rainforest in the National US Forest System.
Walking trails wind through the forest, allowing hikers a closer look at some of the 240 species of trees and hundreds of species of plants (50 species of orchids alone), as well as an abundance of smaller wildlife. El Yunque’s peak reaches 3,500 feet above sea level, and the forest covers 43 square miles, including three-quarters of the island’s remaining virgin forest.
El Yunque National Forest is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular natural attractions and is often visited on a tour from San Juan. The main highlights in El Yunque National Forest include La Coca Falls, Yokahú Tower, Baño Grande, Baño de Oro, and La Mina Falls.
Located beside the highway, La Coca Falls features an 85-foot cascade onto boulder formations and is the first major attraction visitors will come to in El Yunque.
The El Portal Tropical Forest Center is a visitors’ center for those seeking information on the area. Nearby is Yokahú Tower, a 1930’s tower that is open to the public to climb, offering good views out over the rainforest.
The climate here is considerably cooler than along the coast and at lower elevations, and it is noticeably wetter.
El Yunque National Forest was severely damaged by the back-to-back hurricanes in 2017. Repair and recovery has been almost completed, with the main visitor center set to open in 2022. Check with local operators to find the latest updates.
Culebra Island (Isla Culebra)
Although Culebra is often mentioned in the same breath as Vieques, this smaller island with beautiful beaches and lush hills has its own unique character. The pace here is unhurried, and the atmosphere relaxed. Eco tourism is big on the island, and many of the tourist establishments are run by expats.
About 17 miles east of Puerto Rico and 12 miles west of the Caribbean island of Saint Thomas, Culebra is only seven miles long and three miles wide, with 23 offshore islands of its own. The area’s coral reefs are considered some of the best in the entire Caribbean.
The horseshoe-shaped Playa Flamenco is the most popular beach on the island and as close to perfect as possible. The water is clear with no surf, making it a good place for swimming or diving, and the blazingly white sand is lined with palms.
Isla de Culebra National Wildlife Refuge is a well-preserved slice of nature that includes the entire coastline of Culebra and more than 20 offshore cays. More than a third of Culebra is designated as the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, which includes Cayo Luis Peña, a small island just west of Culebra. Here, coves and rugged terrain make for some interesting but challenging hiking opportunities.
Vieques and Bioluminescent Bay
Vieques, eight miles from mainland Puerto Rico, has become a popular beach resort with small, upper-end hotels, restaurants, shops, and galleries. With the departure of the United States Army from the island in 2003, Vieques turned its focus to tourism.
Beautiful beaches are now supported with a quality tourism infrastructure that attracts both Puerto Ricans and foreign travelers, who take the time to make their way over to the island. There are no large hotels or high-rise condo complexes. At 21 miles long and five miles wide, Vieques is the largest of the Spanish Virgin Islands but still offers a small-island feel.
The island is also known for a unique phenomenon at Mosquito Bay (also known as Bioluminescent Bay), where a large concentration of phosphorescent dinoflagellates light up movement in the water at night.
Take a tour, either in a boat or canoe, or a bioluminescent bay kayak trip after dark to experience this natural wonder. While this phenomenon occurs in other areas of Puerto Rico, this is this best place to experience it. Vieques can be reached by air or ferry, with ferries departing from Fajardo.
Catedral de San Juan Bautista
Dating back to 1540, the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, also known as the Cathedral of San Juan is one of the most important religious sites in Puerto Rico. The church is famous for being the final resting place of Ponce de Leon, the Spaniard who undertook the quest for the Fountain of Youth.
One of the lesser known facts about the church is that it is the second oldest structure in the Western Hemisphere. However, the church has aged well, with the generous support of its parishioners. Inside, it’s immaculate, and the stained-glass windows glow as brightly, if not more so, than the day they were created.
The Catedral de San Juan Bautista is a working church and the seat of the Archdiocese of Puerto Rico.
With all the beautiful beaches on the mainland, it may seem strange to want to get on a boat and go to another one. However, don’t let that thought process derail you from one of the best things to do when visiting Puerto Rico.
Cayo Icacos, known for its incredible beach, is about a 20- to 30-minute boat ride from Fajardo, a small town found at the northeast end of the island. Cayo Icacos is located in La Cordillera Nature Reserve, so you won’t find any development here; it’s as close to a deserted island as you can get.
Most people take a tour on a large catamaran that includes transport, a luncheon, and drinks. These sociable tours leave around 9am and return around 4pm each day, with a stop for snorkeling at an offshore reef on the way back.
Surfing and Whale Watching at Rincon
Often called “Pueblo del Surfing” (Surfing Town) and “Little Malibu,” Rincón is known to Puerto Ricans as a “Gringo Paradise.” The dominant language in the area is English, with many foreign surfers and other expats making this town their home.
Rincon became a surfing mecca after the World Surfing Championships in 1968, when images of Rincón and the frequent 15-foot-high waves were transmitted worldwide. Surfing not your thing? Beautiful beaches that are suitable for swimming are mostly to the south of town.
Rincón is also one of Puerto Rico’s main areas for whale watching excursions. The prime whale watching season is mid-January through to March, when humpback whales are in the area. Tours are easily arranged in town.
For an easy escape from the busy beaches of San Juan, Luquillo is a terrific option. Luquillo Beach, just a short drive from the city, is a palm-lined stretch of golden sand that offers a fair degree of tranquility, without surrounding high-rise buildings and development.
The water is generally calm for swimming and the beach stretches on for almost a mile, making it ideal for walking. On the grounds, which are shaded with coconut palms, are modern restrooms, showers, and changing rooms with lockers, and just outside the entrance are food sellers. A stop at the beach can be combined with a day trip to El Yunque National Forest.
Rio Camuy Caves (Parque de las Cavernas del Río Camuy)
The Rio Camuy Cave Park features a huge cave system covering 268 acres and is thought to be the third largest cave system in the world. A trolley bus transports visitors to a 200-foot-deep cave, or sinkhole, which is now a preserved area known as Cueva Clara Empalme.
The caves feature various rooms, in some cases with extremely high ceilings, stalagmites, and stalactites, and rivers rushing along the base. A guided tour leads visitors through the Cueva Clara Empalme. In addition to the natural wonders the cave system presents, it’s also interesting to note that the caves were used by the indigenous population long ago.
You’ll find the main entrance to the caves located in the Quebrada area of Camuy.