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Activities in Puerto Rico: The Ultimate Guide

ViaHero · January 3, 2019

Wondering what to do in Puerto Rico? Here’s the ultimate guide to Puerto Rico’s best activities, including all the best spots to snorkel, hike, surf, eat, drink, explore, and party. Any questions after reading? Contact us!

Want to explore Puerto Rico differently? Have a local plan your trip.

Snorkeling

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The warm waters surrounding Puerto Rico make it one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. Snorkelers have endless places to visit, from coral reefs to mangrove forests and even shipwrecks.

  • Playa Flamenco—Consistently ranked one of the best beaches in the world, Playa Flamenco is located on the island of Culebra off Puerto Rico’s eastern shore. Accessible by plane from San Juan or ferry from Fajardo, this white-sand beach borders a quarter-mile of coral reefs and sea turtle nests.
  • Caja de Muertos—With a name like “Coffin Island,” you might not expect Caja de Muertos to be quite as gorgeous as it is. A small island off the southern coast, Caja de Muertos is home to possibly the bluest waters and biggest schools of fish you’ll ever see.
    • Pro tip: Catch a ferry from La Guancha Boardwalk in Ponce to get to Caja de Muertos. Beware: the ferry only makes one trip per day, so be sure to check arrival and departure times.
  • Cayo Santiago / Monkey Island—Just off Puerto Rico’s eastern coastline, Monkey Island gives you the chance to snorkel past macaque monkeys and colonial-era shipwrecks.
    • Pro tip: Waters can be choppy, so don’t go on breezy days.
  • Pata Prieta—On the southern edge of Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Vieques, this small, remote beach is known for its empty sands and extremely calm waters. The only way to get to Pata Prieta is a rough dirt road, though, so it’s probably better a car for the day.
  • Escambron Marine Park—A great option if you’re staying in San Juan, Escambron Marine Park is a quiet snorkeler’s paradise just outside of the bustling metro area. You can even see seahorses and turtles here!

Hiking

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Whether you’re a hiking powerhouse or just enjoy a good walk, Puerto Rico’s diverse landscapes boast prime strolling spots for everyone.

  • El Yunque Rainforest—The only tropical rainforest in the U.S., El Yunque is easily one of the most gorgeous places on earth—and entry is free! For a really incredible walk, take La Mina Trail past Yokahú Tower then dive into the waterfalls of Cascada La Mina.
  • Bosque Estatal de Guanica—Pretty much the exact opposite of El Yunque as far as vegetation is concerned, the dramatic desert landscape of Bosque Estatal de Guanica is perfect for beachside hikes. Since this “dry forest” is only 40 minutes from Ponce, it makes for a great day excursion.
  • Cabo Rojo—Home to one of Puerto Rico’s most stunning views, Cabo Rojo is a cliffside paradise on the island’s southwestern edge. Wear comfy hiking shoes to trek the rocky cliffs to the top of Cabo Rojo Lighthouse. Since the lighthouse is closed on Wednesdays, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
  • Tanamá—Deep in Puerto Rico’s central mountains, Tanamá is packed with hiking adventures through caves and coffee fields. Though not many people visit this region, it’s by far one of the best places to go in Puerto Rico.
  • Rio Camuy Cave Park—The world’s third-largest cave system, northwestern Rio Camuy is full of massive caverns to explore. An easy walk for all ages, Rio Camuy is still rebuilding from Hurricane Maria. For more information, check out this Puerto Rico tourism update.

Surfing

Surfing in Aguadilla is one of the many activities in Puerto Rico

Did you know that Puerto Rico’s west coast is one of the world’s best surfing spots? With the island’s crystal-clear waves and uncrowded beaches, surfing is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico for a reason.

  • Rincon—Great for beginner and intermediate surfers, the town of Rincon is the ideal surfing spot from November to March. Shred the waves at Sandy Beach, Little Malibu Beach, and Maria’s, where ocean temps get up to 82 degrees even in the winter.
  • Isabela—With its coral reefs and rocky outcrops, northwestern Isabela is a spot for more experienced surfers to test their skills. Check out Jobos Beach and Middles Beach, where waves can get past 7 feet high.
  • Aguadilla—Only 20 minutes from Isabela, the western town of Aguadilla is a well-kept local secret—not only for its off-the-beaten-path vibes but also for its all-level surfing swells. Head over to Surfers Beach or Wilderness for fewer tourists and more locals hanging ten.

Eating

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To really get a taste of Puerto Rico, it’s essential to try a little (or a lot) of the diverse cuisine found on the island. From mom-and-pop food stands to posh, five-star restaurants, these are the must-go spots for your foodie tour of Puerto Rico.  

  • Piñones Boardwalk—About a 30-minute drive from San Juan, the seaside town of Piñones is a local favorite for its fried street foods (fritura) and cheap drinks. Pro tip: most stalls only take cash.
  • Miramar Food Truck Park—In the heart of Santurce and only 6 minutes from Old San Juan, the Miramar Food Truck Park is a local favorite.
  • La Ruta de Lechon (The Pork Highway)—Little-known but insanely delicious, this 3-mile stretch of highway outside the town of Guavate is lined with outdoor restaurants selling slow-roasted pork off the spit. Cheap drinks and music are also common, making it by far one of the best off-the-beaten-path attractions in Puerto Rico.
  • Ricomini Bakery—If you haven’t tried Puerto Rico’s famous sweet bread, you’re missing out. Head over to the Ricomini Bakery in southern Mayagüez to treat your sweet tooth.
  • Jose Enrique—One of San Juan’s up-and-coming restaurants, Jose Enrique is a deliciously bougie taste of Afro-Caribbean cuisine. Seriously, we’d travel to San Juan just for Jose Enrique’s mofongo.

Drinking

Drinking pitorro (similar to moonshine) is one of the activities in Puerto Rico

If you don’t partake in caffeine (which confuses us greatly, but whatever) don’t worry—coffee’s only the tip of Puerto Rico’s culinary iceberg. Check out these places to grab bebidas (drinks) that will have your taste buds on overdrive.

  • Casa Bacardi—The best place to find Bacardi rum is obviously the distillery itself! That said, Casa Bacardi can be a bit touristy, so if you want something a little more off-the-beaten-path ask your local trip planner for other rum distillery options.
  • Hacienda Buena Vista—You haven’t really had coffee until you’ve had Puerto Rican-grown coffee in Puerto Rico. Tour this fully-functioning and restored coffee plantation/museum, then try the strangely scrumptious specialty cafe con queso (coffee with cheese).
  • Destilería Cruz—Have a few sips (or gulps) of pitorro, Puerto Rico’s moonshine rum, in Jayuya (central PR).
  • La Guancha—Okay, we cave; you can’t experience Puerto Rico without trying its national drink—the piña colada. Don’t miss La Guancha boardwalk in Ponce, where piña colada kiosks give free samples on hot nights.
    • Pro tip: you can get phenomenal piña coladas just about everywhere in Puerto Rico. It’s kind of one of the best reasons to travel there.

Exploring

Castillo San Felipe del Morro is one of the places to go for activities in Puerto Rico

When you’re in major cities like San Juan, San German, or Ponce, Puerto Rico’s main tourist attractions tend to be within walking distance of each other. Distances and neighborhoods can be a bit hit-and-miss, though, so expedite the process by having a local travel planner create customized walking maps for you.

  • Castillo San Felipe del Morro—San Juan’s iconic 16th-century fort overlooking the sea, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is free to the public—ideal for doing Puerto Rico on the cheap.
  • Plaza de Delicias—The central square in the city of Ponce, Plaza de Delicias (Plaza of Delights) is full of shady trees, fountains, and colonial charm, all next to Parque de Bombas, Puerto Rico’s first firehouse.
  • San German—San Juan’s more low-key twin, San German is home to quaint must-sees all within walking distance of each other.
  • Fortin Conde de Mirasol Museum—Just outside of Vieques proper, this 200-year old fort-turned-museum is ideal for strolls around the cliffside ramparts.
  • Isla Verde—Just a 15-minute drive from San Juan, Isla Verde isn’t just one of Puerto Rico’s best vacation spots; it’s also full of white-sand beaches for romantic walks.   

Partying

Partying at Club Brava is one of the activities in Puerto Rico

Enjoying the island’s fabled nightlife is one of the most important things to do in Puerto Rico for any visitor. Don’t worry for a second about going out at night—contrary to popular belief, Puerto Rico is actually really safe, and you can take Uber anywhere.

  • Bar La Factoria—A Brooklyn-esque bar in Old San Juan known for its incredible cocktails and popping salsa weekends, Bar La Factoria is a great scene for local drinks and music.
  • Club Brava—A posh club in Isla Verde, San Juan, Club Brava is well-known among locals and visitors alike—just get there soon after it opens to avoid super long lines.
  • La Respuesta—An off-the-beaten-path spot in Santurce, San Juan, La Repuesta is where locals go on weekends for reggae and salsa, and on Mondays for hip-hop.  
  • Club Salsa—Located in the town of Salinas (on the island’s southern coast), Club Salsa is a local favorite for Juan’s professional salsa classes.
  • El Boricua—A salsa joint in the heart of Rio Piedras (San Juan’s college district) El Boricua has live music every Tuesday, with the longest lines on Thursdays. As an added bonus, Rio Piedras is also one of the best places to stay in San Juan.

With so much incredible stuff to do in Puerto Rico, it makes sense to have a local travel planner (aka a Hero) plan you a personalized, curated trip. They can create a custom guidebook and itinerary for you, make your reservations, even offer 24/7 phone support… basically everything but pack your bags. Any questions? Just send us a message. And for more Puerto Rico insider info, check out: