There are A LOT of things to like about Puerto Rico; I honestly do not know why we don’t hear about it more. Most people don’t realize how amazing the destination is, and how easy it is to plan a trip there. Flights there aren’t that expensive, and with it being an American territory, there are a number of things that make it even more enjoyable if you are coming from the mainland.
Top 10 Things to do in Puerto Rico
First off, if you are coming from the United States you do not need a passport to enter, and it is basically the same as a domestic flight. Also, most American cell phones still work there without extra charges.
On trips it can be nice to be disconnected from my technology, but being real, on trips it is super nice to still be able to be connected to my technology. Also, the official currency is the US dollar, so it is nice not having to worry about exchange rates.
Puerto Ricans speak Spanish, but they are accustomed to tourists from the mainland and in most areas the locals have at least a rudimentary understanding of English.
The main island isn’t too big, so it isn’t hard explore things on both sides. The Puerto Ricans I met were a perfect blend of laid back island style and playful Latin.
Best places to stay in Puerto Rico:
Although I have only been to Puerto Rico once, my husband has been there multiple times and stayed in multiple hotels. When we went we stayed in the Hyatt Place San Juan City Center and loved it.
Our hotel was located in the Condado area of San Juan where almost all the attractions on this list will be close to you. I highly recommend staying in the Condado area of San Juan. It is super safe, right on the beach, and within walking distance to great restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. Definitely one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico. Check current prices here.
You can search for the best hotels in San Juan below from booking.com
10 Best Places to See in Puerto Rico
1. Fort San Felipe del Morro
This huge citadel was built in the 1500’s by the Spanish to protect the Puerto Rican harbor. Even today it is a huge and imposing edifice on the edge of the promontory. It is easy to imagine ships coming in and out when touring the Fort.
2. Things to do in Old San Juan
It is not hard to find things to do in Old San Juan. This is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico, and it overflows with colonial charm. The thin cobblestone streets and colorful Spanish architecture make this quaint town perfect.
3. Bioluminescent Bays
The water just off the coast of certain parts of Puerto Rico literally glow at night. The microscopic organisms responsible for the blue-green glow light up when there is movement in the water (bays near Fajardo, Lajas, and Vieques are best).
I strongly recommend taking a boat tour to see it. Unfortunately, I missed this phenomenon as we were there during the wrong time in the lunar cycle (can’t be seen during a full moon).
Here are a few of the top rated and most popular tours:
- *Top rated – La Parguera Glowing Bioluminescent Bay Boat Tour from San Juan
- Fajardo: Bioluminescent Lagoon Kayak or Full Moon Kayak Tour
- From San Juan: Bioluminescent Bay Boat & Hot Springs Tour (Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance)
4. El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque is an explorers paradise. There are tons of the best hikes in Puerto Rico here through the rain forest. The foliage gets so dense that you can easily feel completely isolated, even if there are other hikers just ahead.
Make sure you make it to a few waterfalls, including Juan Diego Falls and La Mina. If you don’t want to navigate everything on your own I recommend this half-day tour to see the waterfalls and rainforest.
Here are the top rated El Yunque National Forest Tours:
- Book your tour: El Yunque Rainforest & Waterfalls Half-Day Tour
- Book your tour: *Top rated – El Yunque Rainforest Guided Hiking with Waterfall Tour
- Book your tour: From San Juan: El Yunque Rainforest and Waterslide Tour
- Book your tour: San Juan: El Yunque Rainforest and Bio Bay Combo Tour – This tour is super cool. You get to slide down natural waterfalls, swim in natural swimming pools, kayak through the Red Mangrove Forest and you get to kayak through the Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay at night. What more could you ask for?
5. Cueva Ventana (Window Cave)
Exploring caves with exquisite views, yes please! Accessing these caves is an easy hike off the main road, and they are located about half way between San Juan and Aguadilla. I bet you can guess why they call it the window cave.
6. Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Puerto Rico features numerous dive sites (there are also snorkeling sites, but these often aren’t at the same locations). There are coral reefs, underwater caves, and an array of sea life for divers of all levels. The snorkeling tours in Puerto Rico are amazing. I linked the most popular snorkeling tours below.
Best snorkeling tours in Puerto Rico:
- San Juan Guided Snorkel Tour – This was the top rated tour on Viator. Read the reviews here.
- Learn to Snorkel with Fish and Turtles – The perfect tour for beginners!
- Jet Snorkel-Snorkeling with Turtles! – I have always wanted to “Jet Snorkel”. If you book this tour let me know what you thought of it.
7. Rain Forest Zip Lines
The rainforests in Puerto Rico are steamy and lush! One of the best ways to get a tour of them is the fly over the top and through on one of the numerous zip lines. There are many to choose from, and certain tours like this one will even pick you up from your hotel.
Book your tour: Yunque Rainforest Zip-Lining Adventure
Book your tour: Rainforest Zipline in the El Yunque Foothills from San Juan
Book your tour: Half Day Tour in Rainforest Zipline Park with Transportation
8. Relax on the Best Beach in Puerto Rico – Vieques
If you are looking for an undeveloped tropical island escape you should check out Vieques (but go quick because people are discovering it and one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico).
Vieques features endless beaches, but with the charm of homes that don’t feature addresses (just names) and horses, chickens and roosters running wild in the streets.
Book your tour: Snorkeling Tour to Vieques Island – Half day tour that covers some of the best snorkeling spots on the island. *Includes snacks and beverages.
If you enjoy vacationing on the beach, you may enjoy our post on some of the craziest and most unique beaches in the world.
From what I saw this is the busiest tourist district of San Juan. There are beautiful beaches, good restaurants to eat at and, most importantly, one of the best places to shop in Puerto Rico. Also, this is where you can find the nightlife featuring bars, night clubs, and casinos.
10. Best Places to Eat in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican food is not like Mexican food! (I’ll admit it, I was the idiot that didn’t know) It is not spicy and is typically not wrapped in tortillas.
The biggest commonality I observed was rice and beans, but most of the best Puerto Rican dishes I sampled featured pork and plantains. Delicious!
Book your tour: Flavors of Old San Juan Food Tour
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Psst: If you’re interested in planning the cheapest trip possible to Puerto Rico, then I created a free cheatsheet for you, which details the top 5 tools we used to plan our trip to Puerto Rico. Click the image below to download it!