Discover a sun-kissed Caribbean paradise full of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, majestic mountains, delicious food, friendly people, rich culture and plenty of pina coladas. Called the Isla del Encanto, or “Island of Enchantment,” Puerto Rico is an ideal destination for relaxation and adventure any time of year. Here are some hot spots you won’t want to miss.
The capital of Puerto Rico is bustling with things to do. Whether you want to enjoy shopping, dining and nightlife or see historical sites, you’ll find San Juan to be a charming city where the Old World meets the new. One of the oldest European-founded cities in the Americas, this picturesque destination features walkable streets and a free trolley.
Head to Old San Juan to visit two historical forts—the Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal. Built by Spanish settlers to protect the city, these forts are hundreds of years old. Wander through historical city walls, tunnels, dungeons and see the original cannons. Next, visit the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. Originally built in the 16th century, this elegant church is home to the tomb of Ponce de Leon. While in Old Town, be sure to stroll by the Raice Fountain on the Paseo de la Princessa to see one of the most romantic spots in the city.
Home to an international airport, San Juan is an ideal place for kicking off your multiday adventure.
Puerto Rico is an archipelago with dozens of cays and islets. One of its most popular nearby islands is Culebra. Just a short boat ride from the mainland, this breathtaking tropical island offers stunning white sand beaches and an active reef full of fascinating marine life.
Enjoy relaxing on iconic Flamenco Beach, renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Go snorkeling in crystal clear waters, sunbath on its pristine sand and take Instagram-worthy photos of the abandoned tank on its shores. Nearby, Tamarindo and Carlos Rosario Beaches offer tranquil beauty and colorful fish.
You can see Culebra on a variety of multiday tours or take a day trip there from San Juan.
Experience a rare, glow-in-the-dark phenomenon at one of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays. When you paddle or splash in the bay, the water lights up in a neon blue-green light thanks to a rare ecosystem of special microscopic organisms. There are only five bioluminescent bays in the entire world, three of which are in Puerto Rico (the other two are in Australia).
The most popular bioluminescent bay can be found in Laguna Grande in Fajardo, on the northeastern region of the mainland. See it on a day trip from San Juan that also includes a stop at the Bacardi rum distillery.
Arecibo Observatory & Lighthouse
Just an hour west of San Juan, Arecibo is home to limestone caves, breathtaking beaches and interesting attractions. Don’t miss the Arecibo Observatory. Built into a giant limestone sinkhole, it’s one of the largest fully operational single-dish radio telescopes on earth. The Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park is also a must-see on any visit to Puerto Rico. This neoclassical lighthouse was built in 1898 and is a remnant from the days when pirates roamed the northern shore.
On your way to the lighthouse, see replicas of the three Spanish ships, a Taino village and a pirate ship that kids can climb and explore. The park also has a museum, an aquarium, a mini-water park and food vendors onsite—making it a great place for a daylong getaway. Or, see it as part of a multicity tour.
Cuevo del Indio
Also located in Arecibo, Cuevo del Indio (Indian Cave) has postcard-worthy views thanks to its sea cliffs and arches formed by ocean waves over hundreds of years. Creating a natural bridge over the waters, it’s a great place for taking stunning photos of the turquoise sea. (You may even recognize it as a filming location from the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie.) Nuevo del Indio also contains the largest number of petroglyphs by the Taino, an ancient tribe native to Puerto Rico, left long before the days of Columbus.
Camuy River Caverns Park
Located on the northwestern coast about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from San Juan, Camuy is home to the third largest cavern system in the world. The 268-acre (108-hectare) complex is renowned for its million-year-old stalactites and stalagmites, lush foliage and the Rio Camuy river which rushes its way underground through the caves. Note: Hurricane Maria caused extensive damage to the caves and they are currently closed. Be sure to check before your visit if they have reopened. (It’s definitely a sight not to miss.)
While Camuy River Caverns Park may be closed, there are still plenty of sights to enjoy in Camuy. Known as the Romantic City, it’s home to 1912 Ernesto Memorial Stone Church, Penon Amador Beach and “Pinky” the Lone Flamingo.
Find more ways to enjoy Caribbean paradise at Tours4Fun.com.