ViaHero · November 30, 2018
Whether you choose to kick back and soak in the sun, shop till you drop, or adventure through the jungle, Puerto Rico’s best vacation spots have something for everyone—so check out this region-by-region guide to see the best of PR! Any questions after reading? Message us!
Want to explore Puerto Rico differently? Have a local
Region: Greater San Juan
You can’t travel to Puerto Rico and miss out on San Juan! Nestled on Puerto Rico’s northern coast, the city of San Juan is home to stunningly colorful houses, gorgeous shorelines, and
#1. Old San Juan
The heart of the city, Old San Juan is a vibrant city center with colonial Caribbean architecture, bright colors, and quite possibly the best food carts in PR—for best results, pair a Coco Rico soda with a massive piece of
Pro tip: Puerto Rico is safe on the whole, but like anywhere else, there are some places to be avoided. With that in mind, we’d avoid venturing into La Perla, one of the neighborhoods close to Old San Juan.
#2. Castillo San Felipe del Morro
A fortress built by the Spanish nearly 500 years ago, Castillo San Felipe del Morro delivers some of the most photogenic views in PR. Its stone walls overlook the ocean and were constructed to defend the city from British warships and pirates (drink up, me hearties, yo ho).
#3. The Casa Blanca Museum
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. Its flowery balconies and seaside views will make you want to move to PR right away.
Pro tip: Tell your personal trip planner exactly what you’re into, and they’ll plan your museum visits accordingly (or skip them altogether!)
#4. Isla Verde
Just 11 minutes from San Juan proper, Isla Verde is the epitome of island life—blue skies, white sand beaches, and crashing clear waves. If you’re looking for some of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, Isla Verde is where to find them.
#5. The Town of Piñones
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, Piñones is famous for its street food (we’re talking world-famous
#6. The Casa Bacardi Rum Museum
An easy ferry ride from Old San Juan, Casa Bacardi has gifted the world with tipsiness since 1862—with such a long history, you need to try at least a sip. Salud!
Pro tip: Casa Bacardi one of the most popular tourist attractions in Puerto Rico, but don’t let that dissuade you—if you’re a rum drinker, you’ll have a lot of fun. Plus, you can take a ferry to get there!
#7. Bar La Factoria
Any posh craft bar that combines Puerto Rico’s colonial flair with crazy twists, 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 that combines hipster goodness with local flavor, La Factoria is your place.
Region: Punta Santiago
A land of mountains and crashing waves on Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast, Punta Santiago is home to some of the most incredible off-the-beaten-path attractions in Puerto Rico. Though it was hit hard by Hurricane Maria, thanks to hard work and dedication Punta Santiago is as safe and gorgeous as ever.
#8. Humacao Nature Preserve
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Puerto Rico, the Humacao Nature Reserve is a prime ecotourism destination. It boasts an incredible array of butterflies, iguanas, and coquis, so this is a Puerto Rico must-visit for nature lovers.
#9. Monkey Island
Sadly, humans can’t buy real estate on Monkey Island. Home to over 1,000 macaque monkeys, Monkey Island (aka Cayo Santiago) is a monkeys-only space—even scientists who study the monkeys have to eat lunch in cages. Have your local trip planner book you an expedition to go see the monkeys at play!
Pro tip: Your best bet at making a monkey friend is on a kayak or snorkeling trip that goes around the island. Our Heroes love La Paseadora Cruise, in which the indomitable Captain Paco points out baby monkeys, swims around shipwrecks and provides free mangoes.
#10. The El Morrillo Bunkers
A set of eerie bunkers abandoned after World War II, El Morrillo sits on the edge of the Humacao Nature Preserve. Since El Morrillo is at the top of a hill, those who climb to the top are rewarded with the most stunning daytime views of the Caribbean—so El Morrillo should 100% be on your list of things to do in Puerto Rico if you’re trying to get Instagram-famous.
#11. Rancho Buena Vista
We’ve all seen pictures of horseback riders trotting through clear blue lagoons—and Rancho Buena Vista is your chance to live that dream! Only 20 minutes south of Punta Santiago, you can ride from the rainforest to the Caribbean Sea on Paso Fino horses, Puerto Rico’s special breed.
Region: Isla Vieques
Vieques, a southeastern island only an hour from the mainland by the ferry, is one of the best vacation spots around. With glow-in-the-dark bays, wild horses, and families of sea turtles, Vieques is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico—which is why in-the-know travelers come back again and again.
#12. Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay
We’re pretty sure that James Cameron’s Avatar drew inspiration from Mosquito Bay, which is packed with microscopic, bioluminescent critters. At night, the bay glows in the dark—if you want to see this incredible phenomenon, make sure to have your Hero book you a kayak adventure!
Pro tip: It’s called Mosquito Bay for a reason, and not because of how small it is. While you’ll definitely want to bring bug spray to deter the mosquitoes, consider buying a chemical-free bug repellent to help PR’s eco-preservation.
#13. The Fortin Conde de Mirasol Museum
The brightly-painted Fortin Conde de Mirasol has kept watch over Vieques for over 200 years, beginning as the last Spanish fort in PR and becoming an art and artifacts gallery. Catch your breath in the AC then venture out to the brick ramparts, where colonial-era cannons look out over breathtaking tropical scenery.
#14. Vieques National Wildlife Refuge
One of Puerto Rico’s best wildlife areas, the Vieques Refuge is perfect for leisurely strolling through acres of jungle greenery and weathered cliffs. It also protects many of PR’s endangered species; if you look closely enough, you might spot a turtle nest on the dunes!
Region: Greater Ponce
A taste of southern Puerto Rico, Ponce has been home base for aristocrats and explorers for over 300 years. It’s a must-do vacation spot for its eccentric mix of history, culture, and adventure.
#15. The Hacienda Buena Vista Museum
A carefully-restored coffee plantation, Hacienda Buena Vista not only makes some of Puerto Rico’s tastiest coffee—it’s also one of the best museums to be found anywhere in the United States.
#16. Parque de Bombas
No Puerto Rico itinerary is complete without getting to know the island’s roots. The first official firehouse in Puerto Rico, Parque de Bombas is a Ponce icon—with its dramatic scarlet-and-black checkered walls and towers, it’s certainly hard to miss.
#17. Cruceta del Vigia Hill
Like most spots in Ponce, the Spanish used the steep hill of Cruceta del Vigia (“Cross of the Watch”) to look out for—you guessed it—pirates. The best spot for birds-eye views of Ponce, this hill is topped by an eclectic mix: a 100-foot cement cross that visitors can climb, a Zen garden, and long-abandoned hotel.
#18. The Cabo Rojo Coast
One of the most beautiful and little-known places to visit in Puerto Rico, Cabo Rojo boasts lagoons, dramatic cliffs, and a majestic lighthouse. An hour drive from Ponce, Cabo Rojo’s remote beaches are so darn gorgeous that parts of Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed here!
Region: Isla Culebra
An island just off Puerto Rico’s east coast, Culebra is home to some of the most awesome beaches in the world. Take a ferry to the epitome of tropical beauty, leave the high rises behind, and live like a true beach bum.
#19. Flamenco Beach
You’ll be tempted to stay at Flamenco Beach for your entire trip—and we don’t blame you! Only a short ferry ride from central Culebra, Flamenco boasts white-sand beaches and some of PR’s most amazing coral reefs.
Pro tip: have one of our local travel planners plan your trip to Culebra—all you’ll have to do is pack your bags!
#20. Zoni Beach
With strong winter tides that change Zoni Beach’s look every year, one thing remains constant—Zoni Beach is the ultimate off-the-beaten-path PR getaway.
#21. Culebrita Island
Although its name translates to “Little Snake Island,” 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.
Pro tip: When it comes to Culebrita, you’ll get to beat the crowds of more popular beaches—but, that also means that there aren’t any food vendors. Bring towels and snacks with you!
#22. Zaco’s Tacos
Why not bring your taste buds on vacation with you? A local favorite Culebra spot for its pork belly quesadillas, Zaco’s Tacos is perfect for making a few new local BFFs over margaritas.
Region: Greater Guanica
On Puerto Rico’s southern coast, Guanica is full of nature, from sunflower fields to Puerto Rico’s “dry forest”.
#23. Gilligan’s Island
Named after your 1960s TV obsession, the IRL Gilligan’s Island is only minutes from Guanica by ferry. Known for its shallow waters and twisted mangrove forests, Gilligan’s Island is all about snorkeling, white sand, and coral reefs.
#24. Fincas El Girasol Farm
A total hidden gem, Fincas El Girasol is a little tropical farm with sunny vibes. Learn how to cut the flowers, harvest the seeds, or just soak in the sun with the flowers that do it best.
#25. Playa Jaboncillo
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.
#26. Bosque Estatal de Guanica
Guanica’s dry forest reserve, Bosque Estatal de Guanica is the opposite of a rainforest—with cacti, beaches, and cliffs, you’ll feel like you’ve entered an alien world. Hike the beach trails or bike the sands, and soak in some of PR’s best views of the Caribbean.
#27. The Parguera Region
An easy 20-minute stretch from Guanica, Parguera is bound to be your favorite PR day trip if you’re an animal lover. With giant iguanas jumping on palm trees, tropical fish and octopi darting around coral reefs, and its own bioluminescent bay, Parguera has the well-earned status of a hidden gem.
These gorgeous beaches, hidden historical gems, and natural paradises are only a taste of what Puerto Rico has in store. Get started on your Puerto Rico itinerary, and message us if you have any questions at all! And don’t forget to check out: