With the help of some island locals, we created this region-by-region guide of Puerto Rico vacation spots. From San Juan to Ponce to Vieques, these places have something for every travel style.
No matter how you like to travel, get the most out of your vacation by working with a Puerto Rico local to plan your trip. They'll design a custom guidebook based on your interests and their insider knowledge—which means you'll see a side of Puerto Rico that most tourists miss. Learn more.
If you're hoping for city-centric travel in Puerto Rico locals suggest you look no further than the island's vibrant capital city, San Juan. Here, you'll find spectacular neighborhoods, tons of history, delicious food, and—of course—beaches!
Old San Juan is a vibrant city center with colonial Caribbean architecture, bright colors, and delicious street food. Locals recommend pairing a Coco Rico soda with a massive piece of (fried fish).
Local tip: Puerto Rico is safe on the whole, but you should take precautions as you do anywhere else. For example, La Perla is a cool neighborhood to visit during the day (it's where Despacito was filmed) but you may want to avoid it at night. For more safety tips, get travel support from one of our locals.
A fortress built by the Spanish nearly 500 years ago, Castillo San Felipe del Morro delivers some of the most photogenic views in Puerto Rico. Constructed to defend the city, the fort's stone walls loom dramatically over the ocean. Locals recommend relaxing on the fort's generous green lawn after your visit—it's a great way to build up energy for the rest of the day.
A sunny tropical mansion built for explorer Ponce de Leon, Puerto Rico’s “White House,” Casa Blanca, is now a house museum for San Juan’s early history. Locals say it's a great way to get a sense of San Juan's story—plus, its flowery balconies and seaside views provide a lovely atmosphere.
About ten minutes from San Juan, Isla Verde offers blue skies, white sand beaches, and crashing clear waves. Our local trip planners tell us that Isla Verde is home to some of Puerto Rico's loveliest beaches.
Local tip: Looking to save money? Skip the Uber to Isla Verde from San Juan and wave down the A5 bus, instead.
Just a 20-minute drive from San Juan proper, the small town of Piñones is the prime beach spot for experiencing northern Puerto Rico. A little more rustic than other popular PR spots, Puerto Rico locals tell us that Piñones is famous for its street food (especially mouth-watering and empanadillas) and its uncrowded ocean views. Our trip planners say it's an excellent destination if you're looking to get off the beaten path.
An easy ferry ride from Old San Juan, Casa Bacardi has gifted the world with rum since 1862—with such a long history, you need to try at least a sip. Cheers to that!
Locals tell us that Casa Bacardi is among the most popular tourist attractions in Puerto Rico. If you're a rum drinker you'll have a lot of fun. Plus, the ferry to get there is a cool adventure.
La Factoria is Old San Juan’s #1 stop for lavender mules, bacon-wrapped dates, and some of San Juan’s hottest dancing. If you’re wondering what to do in Puerto Rico to finish off a day of exploring, our local trip planners tell us this is a good place. They report that the bar stays busy late into the night!
Local tip: Snap a picture at the door painted like the Puerto Rican flag on Calle San Jose, nearby.
Locals tell us that beautiful Humacao is a great vacation spot if you're hoping to explore off-the-beaten-path attractions in Puerto Rico. Though it was hit hard by Hurricane Maria, locals tell us that Humacao is safe to visit—and as gorgeous as ever.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Puerto Rico, the Humacao Nature Reserve is a great destination for ecotourism. It boasts an incredible array of butterflies, iguanas, and coqui frogs. Locals tell us this is a Puerto Rico must-visit for nature lovers.
Home to over 1,000 macaque monkeys, Cayo Santiago (aka Monkey Island) is a monkeys-only space—even scientists who study the monkeys have to eat lunch in cages. Our local trip planners tell us that a cool way to see Cayo Santiago is by booking a kayaking or snorkeling trip in the waters nearby—they've recommended La Paseadora Cruise to other adventurers.
A set of eerie bunkers abandoned after World War II, El Morrillo sits on the edge of the Humacao Nature Preserve. Perched at the top of a hill, locals tell us that your climb to El Morrillo will be rewarded with stunning Caribbean views. Visiting El Morillo should 100% be on your list of things to do in Puerto Rico if you love history—or if you're aiming for some Instagram love.
Locals tell us that Rancho Buena Vista is a really special spot. Here, you can ride from the rainforest to the Caribbean Sea on Paso Fino horses, Puerto Rico’s handsome breed of horses.
Locals tell us that Vieques is one of the top places to stay in Puerto Rico. The island, about an hour from Puerto Rico proper, is home to bioluminescent bays, semi-wild horses, sea turtles, and striking nature.
Mosquito Bay never fails to enchant. Visit at sundown to watch the waters burst into blue light, the effect of microscopic, bioluminescent critters beneath the surface. Our Puerto Rico trip planners suggest adding a kayak tour to your custom guidebook for a unique way to enjoy the bay. They also note that it's called Mosquito Bay for a reason—so pack a chemical-free bug repellent to keep the mosquitos away while protecting the ecosystem.
The brightly-painted Fortin Conde de Mirasol has kept watch over Vieques for over 200 years, beginning as the last Spanish fort in Puerto Rico before becoming an art and artifacts gallery. Locals suggest catching your breath in the A/C then venturing out to the brick ramparts, where colonial-era cannons look out over breathtaking tropical scenery.
If you love wildlife, locals suggest checking out the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Not only is the area is ideal for leisurely strolling through acres of jungle greenery and weathered cliffs, but it also protects many of PR’s endangered species. Locals recommend giving the beach a close look—you might spot a turtle nest on the dunes.
Our local trip planners recommend a vacation in Ponce if you're looking to stay in a city but without the crowds of San Juan. Puerto Rico's "Jewel of the South", Ponce has drawn aristocrats and adventurers for over 300 years.
Locals tell us that Hacienda Buena Vista is an excellent stop if you love coffee. Here, you'll earn about the coffee growing process, which will make you appreciate that morning cup of joe so much more.
Plus, enjoying the island's coffee culture is a great way to support Puerto Rico's economic recovery from Hurricane Maria.
The first official firehouse in Puerto Rico, Parque de Bombas is a Ponce icon—with good reason. The bright red and black building (Ponce's colors) is hard to miss. Locals suggest visiting the museum inside (dedicated to Ponce's firefighters) and then snapping a pic outside with Parque de Bombas' dramatic backdrop.
The Spanish once used the steep hill of Cruceta del Vigia (“Cross of the Watch”) to look out for pirates. Today, our local trip planners tell us that you can still climb this dramatic 100-foot cement cross to catch a gorgeous view—although it's not likely that you'll see a pirate flag fluttering in nearby waters.
Local tip: After taking in the view, chill out at the Japanese zen garden next door.
If you're looking for places to visit in Puerto Rico that are a bit off the beaten path, locals recommend checking out Cabo Rojo. The area boasts lagoons, dramatic cliffs, and a majestic lighthouse. An hour drive from Ponce, our local trip planners especially recommend Las Salinas—Cabo Rojo's dramatic pink salt flats.
If beautiful beaches are your driving reason for visiting Puerto Rico, our local trip planners recommend vacationing on Culebra Island. Think white sands, azure waters, and a salty sea breeze.
Playa Flamenco boasts white sand beaches and some of PR’s most amazing coral reefs. It's an incredible vacation spot if you're looking to get away.
Our Puerto Rico locals tell us that if you want to get off the beaten path off the beaten path, check out Zoni Beach. This vacation spot changes a bit every year due to strong winter tides.
Although its name translates to “Little Snake Island,” locals tell us it’s Puerto Rico’s sea turtles that have the run of Culebrita Island. Totally uninhabited, Culebrita Island is known for its lagoons and secluded dunes that attract hundreds of sea turtles every year.
Local tip: There aren't any food vendors on Culebrita Island. Bring towels and snacks!
Our Puerto Rico trip planners recommend vacationing in Guanica if you're looking to explore nature. On Puerto Rico's southern coast, Guanica is packed with incredible sights like its famous dry forest.
Cayo Aurora (also called Gilligan's Island, but don't expect to find any zany professors here) is only minutes from Guanica by ferry. Known for its shallow waters and twisted mangrove forests, locals tell us that Gilligan’s Island is a great spot for snorkeling.
Locals rave about the hidden gem of Finca El Girasol, a tropical farm filled with sunflowers. Charming and romantic, visit here to buy some flowers to brighten your hotel room, or simply take some beautiful pictures.
A small, secluded beach cove on Guanica’s coast, Playa Jaboncillo (“Soap Beach”) is home to some of the island’s calmest waters and least crowded views.
Guanica’s dry forest reserve, Bosque Estatal de Guanica is the opposite of a rainforest—with cacti, beaches, and cliffs, it's a kind of nature most have rarely seen. Our trip planners recommend hiking the beach trails or biking the sands—just be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
About 20 minutes from Guanica, locals tell us that Parguera is a great stop if you love animals. With giant iguanas jumping on palm trees, tropical fish and octopi darting around coral reefs, and it's own bioluminescent bay—locals tell us you can swim here, unlike at the more famous Mosquito Bay—Parguera has the well-earned status of a hidden gem.
No matter how you like to vacation, get the most out of your stay by working with a Puerto Rico local to plan your trip. They'll design a custom guidebook based on your interests and their insider knowledge. Basically, it's like having a best friend in Puerto Rico.