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See Puerto Rico like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

Places to See in Puerto Rico: 12 Hidden Gems

ViaHero
Updated January 24, 2022

There are tons of reasons to travel to Puerto Rico. The island has wonderful landmarks, fantastic food, and beautiful beaches. But locals tell us that Puerto Rico is also full of hidden gems — if you know where to look. 

Locals tell us that these are 12 of the most beautiful off-the-beaten-path places to see in Puerto Rico. Check it out!

Work with a local to plan your trip. They can introduce you to more of the island's hidden gems—and help you stay away from the crowd. Learn more

#1: Tres Picachos

One of the island’s highest mountains, Tres Picachos is one of those places in Puerto Rico you have to see to believe (one of many, to be honest).

Tres Picachos sits in the middle of Puerto Rico’s central mountain range, making it perfect for 360-degree views of nearby tropical peaks.

Although only 3.4 miles long, the hike up Tres Picachos can be physically demanding. Locals suggest taking time to recover over locally-grown coffee at Cafe Tres Picachos.

#2: Caja de Muertos

An uninhabited island just off of Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast, Caja de Muertos (“Coffin Island”) is far from deadly. Rather, this isolated island is all about tropical beauty.

To get there, take the ferry from Ponce to one of the five beaches on Caja de Muertos—Playas Pelicano, Blanca, Larga, Ensenadita, or Chica.

Locals tell us that, interestingly, Caja de Muertos is the least crowded in peak season. 

(Read up on the best times to visit Puerto Rico here and make sure to chat with a local about when to visit)

#3: Survival Beach Sea Caves

The breathtaking cliffs and bizarre rock formations at the Survival Beach Sea Caves make this spot a Puerto Rico must-visit.

Nestled on Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast, the Survival Beach Sea Caves are a bit tricky to get to even with a car, so getting directions from a Puerto Rican local is a must.

Be sure to bring comfortable shoes for the 20–30-minute hike to the cliffs, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Caribbean.

#4: Lago Dos Bocas

Lago Dos Bocas (“Lake of Two Mouths”) is easily one of Puerto Rico’s most underrated sightseeing attractions.

Tucked away in Puerto Rico’s central mountainside town of Utuado, Lago Dos Bocas is packed with incredible things to experience, like lakeside restaurants and $5 boat rides (perfect for a cheap trip to Puerto Rico).

Pro tip: While access to Lagos Dos Bocas was sketchy after Hurricane Maria, it’s now safe to visit once more. If you’re interested, check out this Puerto Rico tourism update for more info on hurricane recovery.

#5: Playa Mar Chiquita

If you’re traveling to San Juan, you need to stop at Playa Mar Chiquita.

Just a 45-minute drive west of the city, Playa Mar Chiquita (“Small Sea Beach”) gives ‘paradise’ a whole new meaning. The half-moon-shaped beach is known for its ever-changing tide pools and emerald-toned waters, which are smoothest in the summertime.

Add Playa Mar Chiquita to your Puerto Rico itinerary if you’re all about tropical island life but don’t like the crowds of bigger beaches.

Pro tip: Locals recommend sticking to the shores and avoiding nearby cliffs, which can become slippery as tides come in.

#6: Condado Lagoon

An 11-minute drive from Old San Juan, Condado Lagoon is the perfect thing to do in San Juan for travelers who want to experience tropical gems without the hassle.

Just between the neighborhoods of Condado and Miramar, Condado Lagoon can easily keep you busy for a day with kayaking, paddle boarding, and even manatee watching!

What really makes Condado Lagoon one of the best Puerto Rico vacation spots, though, is its sunset view—right over the San Juan skyline.

#7: Playa Escondida

A super secluded beach only minutes from Fajardo, Playa Escondida’s pure white sands and crystal-clear waves make it one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful beaches.

Mainly a walking beach because of strong tides, Playa Escondida is best as an afternoon or day trip on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast—especially because it’s only 30 minutes away from major highlights like El Yunque and Punta Santiago.

#8: Isla Culebrita

Often overlooked by tourists because of its small size, Isla Culebrita is a 15-minute boat ride off of Culebra, the gorgeous island off of Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.

Isla Culebrita is completely uninhabited, making it one of the best places to take advantage of Puerto Rico’s many activities like snorkeling, hiking, and diving.

If you want to make a day trip to Isla Culebrita, ask a local for insider tips on spotting sea turtles and swimming in the island’s natural seaside jacuzzis.

#9: Vieques Green Beach

Hidden on Vieques Island (off of Puerto Rico’s eastern coast), Vieques Green Beach is a gorgeous spot. 

Green Beach should be Puerto Rico priority #1 for snorkelers and animal lovers since the area is known for its pristine coral reefs and families of manta rays, sea turtles, and purple squid.

Even if you’re not a strong swimmer, Green Beach boasts a series of piers from which you can easily find sea turtles.

#10: Rio Camuy Cave Park

The Rio Camuy Cave Park is located in central Puerto Rico, about 2 hours west of San Juan.

With 10-story caverns and unforgettable views of the Arecibo Valley, the Rio Camuy Cave Park is an essential thing to do in Puerto Rico for anyone who loves a bit of adventure.

Visitors can set their own pace while hiking around the caves and stalactites, making Rio Camuy great for every type of traveler.  

#11: Pozo de Jacinto

The otherworldly cliffs and caverns of Pozo de Jacinto are the perfect example of Puerto Rico’s natural beauty.

A well-kept local secret on Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast, Pozo de Jacinto is home to an iconic, naturally-made limestone bridge—which just so happens to be part of Pozo de Jacinto’s legend of the lost cow (we can’t make this stuff up).

Pozo de Jacinto is also just 10 minutes away from Isabela, one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico.

#12: Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay

Located on the shores of Fajardo (only an hour east of San Juan), the bioluminescent Laguna Grande is the definition of a hidden-gem place to visit.

While most tourists go to Mosquito Bay in Vieques, it’s a little difficult to get to—think cars, ferries, and boats.

Laguna Grande, on the other hand, is almost as gorgeous and much more accessible. And since fewer people go, you’ll have fewer crowds and more unique tour opportunities like glass-bottom boat trips and midnight kayaking.

Pro tip: For prime views of the bioluminescence, our locals advise going to Laguna Grande when it’s darkest outside—so reserve a tour when it’s cloudy or there’s no moon. Ask a local for advice on the best tours and for help booking.

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These 12 natural wonders are only the beginning of Puerto Rico’s incredible places to see. Get started on your tropical adventure with insider info from Puerto Rican locals, who know even more hidden gems to add to your off-the-charts itinerary. Any questions? Message us! And make sure to check out:

Still have questions about travel to Puerto Rico?
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