Beach on Icacos island Puerto Rico

15 Reasons to Visit Puerto Rico

Graphic 15 Reasons Puerto Rico

 

1. Palmas Del Mar

(Humacao, SE Puerto Rico)

This is definitely the area where we’d recommend staying. Palmas Del Mar is the hidden gem of Puerto Rico. This idyllic private tropical beach has everything you could possibly want to start off your vacation- soft sand, crystal clear turquoise water, small waves, a beachfront bar, and palm trees as far as the eye can see.

Palmas Del Mar Beach Puerto Rico

Palmas Del Mar Puerto Rico view

Palmas Del Mar Puerto Rico pool view

 

2. Snorkel with tropical fish, sunken statues, and purple coral fans

Isla Caja de Muertos (Island, S of Puerto Rico)

Take a catamaran to Isla Caja de Muertos, where you can snorkel with exotic tropical fish, sunken statues, and gorgeous coral formations, and take a hike through several ecosystems. Keep an eye out for butterflies, blue-tailed iguanas, and blue lizards (like the one below)!

Isla Caja de Muertos snorkeling Puerto Rico

Isla Caja de Muertos snorkeling Puerto Rico

Isla Caja de Muertos view from the top Puerto Rico

blue lizards Puerto Rico

 

3. Explore colorful Old San Juan

(Old San Juan, NE Puerto Rico)

The worn cobblestone streets and the colorful, tropical, hundreds-of-years-old buildings of Old San Juan transport you to another world. Take your time getting lost in the streets, finding random statues and fountains, exploring local shops, trying street food, and people-watching.

Streets of Old San Juan Puerto Rico

Cobblestone streets of Old San Juan Puerto Rico

View of San Juan from El MOld San Juan Puerto Rico orro Puerto Rico

Fountain Old San Juan Puerto Rico

 

4. Explore El Yunque National Forest

(Rio Grande, NE Puerto Rico)

If you have time to spend a few days chasing waterfalls, DO IT. (We’ll do another entire post about hiking El Yunque later!) But if you only have time for one adventure, skip the paved-path waterfalls full of tourists, and go off the beaten path to find Juan Diego Falls. It’s not well-marked, but just park along Road 191 around km 9.9. There is a trailhead marker and a little path on the right hand side of the road around km 9.5. You’ll see a series of smaller waterfalls as you hike upstream. (Note: The path is very muddy and uneven, so we’d advise wearing sneakers and being extremely cautious if you’re a beginner.) Juan Diego Falls is one of Puerto Rico’s most picturesque waterfalls.

Juan Diego Falls El Yunque National Forest Puerto Rico

On your way to Juan Diego Falls, you’ll see La Coca Waterfall just off the right side of the road:

La Coca Waterfall El Yunque National Forest Puerto Rico

 

5. See the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world

Vieques (Island, E of Puerto Rico)

Puerto Rico was blessed with 3 bioluminescent bays, and the brightest in the world is Mosquito Bay on the small nearby island of Vieques. Tiny single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates glow a vibrant blue-green when they are disturbed. Take a guided boat tour for an unforgettable, magical experience. It feels like a combination of Avatar and the scene from Moana with the glowing sting ray.

Bioluminescent bay Vieques Puerto Rico

 

6. Enjoy a Pina Colada at the restaurant where it was first served

(Old San Juan, NE Puerto Rico)

In 1963, a bartender by the name of Ramon combined pineapple juice, coconut cream, condensed milk, and ice in a blender, and made the very first Pina Colada. Visit Barrachina in Old San Juan to taste that delicious tropical concoction at its origin.

Barrachina First Pina Colada San Juan Puerto Rico

 

7. The sound of the coqui at night

For us, there is nothing more nostalgic of Puerto Rico than the sound of the coqui at night. These tiny frogs are called “coqui” because of sound of the male’s mating call (KO-KEE).

Coqui Puerto Rico

 

8. Culebra’s beautiful coral reefs and Flamenco Beach

Culebra (Island, NE of Puerto Rico)

Flamenco Beach was once ranked the “3rd Best Beach in the World” by Trip Advisor, and is known for its shallow turquoise waters, white sand, old U.S. Navy tanks on the beach, and pristine diving sites. Bring your own snorkel equipment or rent some when you arrive at the port on Culebra, and take a cab around the island to enjoy some of the most beautiful, healthy, colorful coral reefs in the world. Look for turtles and stingrays in the grassy beds, and purple coral fans and exotic tropical fish in the reefs.

Flamenco Beach Culebra Puerto Rico

Turtle Culebra Puerto Rico

DSCN1356

ray Puerto Rico

 

9. Go on a zip-lining, caving, and Via Ferrata climbing adventure (from National Geographic’s “500 of the World’s Greatest Trips”)

(Rio Camuy Caves, NW Puerto Rico)

If you love adventure as much as we do, this is THE ONE for you! Aventuras Tierra Adentro delivers big time on this one. We ziplined back and forth across a rainforest canyon, Spiderman-dropped hundreds of feet down into a cave, hiked in complete darkness over bizarre dried coral formations through limestone caverns, ran through bat “guano” that acted like quick sand, walked across underground waterfalls, jumped blindly into cave ponds, and climbed a vertical Via Ferrata (meaning “iron path” in Italian) route out of the rainforest canyon. This is one of our favorite days of all time. 

Dropping into Rio Camuy Caves Puerto Rico

Waterfall in Rio Camuy Caves Puerto Rico

 

10. Snorkeling and drinking catamaran to Icacos and other islands

(Island, E of Puerto Rico)

Some days you just want to snorkel and have food and yummy rum drinks made for you. This catamaran cruise is perfect for just that. You’ll hop around to different snorkeling spots, stop at a few picturesque islands, and be provided with lots of yummy treats to keep you going.

Beach on Icacos island Puerto Rico

DSCN1236

stingray Culebra Puerto Rico

 

11. Castillo San Felipe del Morro (“El Morro”)

(Old San Juan, NE Puerto Rico)

This 16th-century fort sits majestically on the northeastern coast of Old San Juan. The large grassy lawn in front is the perfect place to fly a kite, and a self-guided tour through the fort takes you back in time. Keep an eye out for the iguanas hanging out on the fort overlooking the ocean!

View of San Juan from El Morro Puerto Rico

El Morro San Juan Puerto Rico

kissing El Morro Puerto Rico

Iguanas on El Morro San Juan Puerto Rico

 

12. Delicious parcha (passionfruit ice cream)

(Old San Juan, NE Puerto Rico)

In close proximity to El Morro, you can find ice cream carts sprinkled throughout Old San Juan. Most carts typically have 3 choices of flavors: “parcha” (passionfruit), “pina” (pineapple), and “coco” (coconut). Tip: Mix pina and coco for a Pina Colada vibe.

ice cream Puerto Rico

 

13. Scuba dive through underwater caves

(Shacks Beach, Isabela, NW Puerto Rico)

Take your scuba diving cred to the next level by diving through the underwater arches and caves off the coast of Rincon. When the light beams stream through the arches, it’s absolutely magical. (Note: This is for experienced divers only- some areas are difficult to navigate and may require you to remove your tank and temporarily hand it off to your partner.)

Underwater caves scuba diving Puerto Rico

Scuba diving underwater caves Puerto Rico

 

14. Arecibo Observatory radiotelescope

(Arecibo, N Puerto Rico)

Take a drive up into the mountains of Puerto Rico to the Arecibo Observatory. You may recognize this from the James Bond film “Golden Eye”, but in real life this 1,000 ft radio telescope does the important job of monitoring the close flyby of Earth by asteroids.

Arecibo Observatory radiotelescopio Puerto Rico

 

15. Old Aguadilla Lighthouse Ruins

(Aguadilla, NW Puerto Rico)

The Borinquen Point Lighthouse was built by the Spanish in 1889. Its stone and brick remnants lie right on the beach- take a seat somewhere among the ruins and take in the beautiful sight of waves crashing on a secluded beach in paradise.

Ruins Puerto Rico

 

 

 

Thanks for reading, and be sure to take a peek at our other travel guides:

Graphic 20 Things Portland  Graphic 48 Hours San Diego

Follow us on Instagram @wildthingsandcoffee to follow along with our current adventures!

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