Top 10 Must-See and Must-Do Things

Playa Puerto Nuevo

We get asked lots of questions through this web site. One of the most frequently asked questions is "What are the must-do activities and must-see places for my visit to Puerto Rico?"

That’s a really difficult question to answer without knowing anything about the person asking the question. The answer is different for each person. Something that is a must do for me might be totally boring for you. And vice versa.

Case in point — Our teenage nephew came to visit recently. He couldn’t understand why we would make him hike to the peak of El Yunque, get up at 4am to go to the beach to look for sea turtle hatchlings, or why he needed to go on another zipline tour. The highlight of his trip was the pizza we had for dinner one night! Go figure!

I feel, pretty strongly, that there is not a one size fits all answer to the "What’s the best?" question. The answer is personal, depending on your likes, dislikes, desires, goals, budget, fears, and physical abilities.

Here is Gwenn & Ray’s Personal Top-10 List for Puerto Rico

This is our list of "musts", presented in no particular order.

  • Wander Around Old San Juan — either on your own (using some type of guidebook), or on a guided tour. Take your time. There’s no rush to "see it all".
  • Sample Some Local Foodlechon, mofongo, exotic tropical fruit, rum drinks, …
  • Experience a Bio Bay — preferably Mosquito Bay on Vieques, or Laguana Grande in Fajardo
  • Hike a Tropical Rain Forest — this usually means El Yunque National Forest, but there are others here, too.
  • Hit a Beach on the Main IslandBalneario Monserrate in Luquillo, because is has good facilities. Or Playa Puerto Nuevo, for a stunning beach not too far from the metro area.
  • Explore a Cave in the Karst RegionCueva Ventana is one of our favorite caves. Rio Camuy Caves Park is good for the less adventurous.
  • Hit a Beach on One of the Other PR IslandsBalneario Flamenco on Culebra is probably the one of the prettiest, But Playa Caracas on Vieques is a close second.
  • Snorkel at at Deserted Island — You can do this on a organized snorkeling excursion, or in a more DIY, self-sufficient fashion.
  • Show Your Mettle on an Adventure Tour — Take one of these adventure tours for something you wouldn’t do back at home — Ziplines, ATVs, Rappelling, Hang Gliding, Horseback Riding, and more.
  • Chillax. After all, you are on Vacation! — Open your mind to cultural differences and new experiences. Slow down. Relax. It will get done when it gets done. Leave your expectations at home. Just let it be.

We feel that, to really enjoy Puerto Rico to the fullest, you need rent a car. That way, you’ll be free to go out and explore the island, on your on schedule. Though having a GPS (or a smartphone with Google Maps access) is extremely helpful, it’s not required. Make sure that you at least have a good map with you. But, if you really don’t want to drive yourself around the island, there are plenty of tour companies that can take you to some of the places we mentioned above.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

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This is a truly professional site-- well-researched and detailed information; thoughtful commentary; and obvious expertise. Thank you so much! You saved me endless hours of research for my upcoming trip!

Comment by Dorothy on 09 Jan 2014

I would like to get a travel brochure from Puerto Rico. i have few friends traveling to the island around July. Thanks Eva

Comment by Eva Crespo on 22 Apr 2014

Eva- you would need to contact the PR Tourism Company and they can send you all sorts of brochures. You can call them at 1-800-866-7827 But I think our webpage has so much more information than anything else.

Comment by Gwenn on 23 Apr 2014

This is a great 'to do list' for Puerto Rico. How long do you think it would take to do all those with limited time? Could you do/see the best bits in 4 days?

Comment by Beth Evans on 08 May 2014

Yup- in fact you can do most of them in 4-5 days. Old San Juan has lots of restaurants, you can do a hike in El Yunque, then go to Balneario Monserrate, then do the biobay at night. The Caves and a beach would be one day. A day on an out-island is another. Lots of adventure tours- ranging from just about 1 hr to all day. Need to pick and choose those!

Comment by Gwenn on 09 May 2014

Hi Gwen - Great site, as others have stated, it has saved me a ton of time researching what to do. We will do many of the things you have recommended using our hotel in Old San Juan as our base camp. We are there for 6 days starting 6/15 and looking forward to the trip and celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary! The info on your site made it so easy to plan. I am an avid hiker and run a hiking website with my friend Tony. Our goals are similar to yours, make it easy for our site users to get out and not spend a lot of time planning, we give them most of the info they need. All the best. - Bryce (www.hikingupward.com)

Comment by Bryce on 06 Jun 2014

Hi! Love the site, very good information. I am wondering if you can recommend a nice restaurant. We will be staying in Arecibo but will have a car rental and expect to drive around a lot. Its our anniversary and would like a nice place (fine dining or the like). Maybe even somewhere with a view? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Comment by Kristie on 12 Jun 2014

Hello, I will be San Juan next week June 16-20 celebrating my birthday I need some Ideas for my trip I want to have fun and do something exciting. Help!!

Comment by Sharmaine on 13 Jun 2014

Sorry- I missed your trips/question. Hope you found some great things to do.

Comment by Gwenn on 21 Jun 2014

Salitre is on the beachfront in Arecibo, it is nice and close to home. But going to OSJ or San Juan is where you will find the "fine dining", or at the resorts.

Comment by Gwenn on 21 Jun 2014

Great info, thanks. My family and I, ages 9 through 70, plan a week's trip in early September 2014. We will stay in San Juan. Will most of these activities be available around that time ?

Comment by J. M. Roig on 27 Jun 2014

Yes, everything should be open and available.

Comment by Gwenn on 28 Jun 2014

Hello, Three of my friends and I will be traveling to Puerto Rico-Isla Verde August 14th until the 19th. I wanted to have some advice on when to visit certain things and on which specific days. We want to visit Old San Juan, take a tour of The Bacardi facilities and go to El Yunque. Is it better to set up tours through our hotel or go to the destinations directly? Are there any other places you would recommend visiting? Thank you so much!!

Comment by KellyM on 21 Jul 2014

Well, since it is a summer weekend, El Yunque and beaches will be busier on Sat and Sun. So I would recommend you do those things on week days and save OSJ and Bacardi for weekends. If you have a car, go on your own. If not, you can set them up with the hotel. Most people really enjoy the catamaran snorkel boat trips. And the moon is great during your timing for visiting the bio bay. I also really love Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio (but you need a car for these). Have fun!

Comment by Gwenn on 24 Jul 2014

Is there a dinner cruise to take?

Comment by JoAnn Garcia on 02 Sep 2014

No. But I believe some sailboats offer sunset cruises with hors d'oeuvers. If you really want dinner and don't mind the price, I am bet if you contact one of the 6 person sailboats (in San Juan Bay or off of Fajardo) they might be able to work with you.

Comment by Gwenn on 03 Sep 2014

Hello My wife Barbara 2 more coples and myself will be arriving in Old San Juan on January 5 and leaving port he following afternoon. I know it will be during the Feast of the Three Kings, our Little Christmas and was wondering if you could suggest some things that will be open for us to see and do. This will be our third trip to Old San Juan but the people we are traveling with have some mobility issues. We love walking around the Old City and up to the fort's but we just don't know if there will be guides to help our friends. Will there be parties in the main square by the tourism building? We are at a loss as to what is available. The ship even has a limited shore excursions list. We love PR and want to get the most of our time on your island. Sincerely George Jeffers

Comment by George Jeffers on 13 Sep 2014

The forts will be open, so there will be some rangers/guides there. The trolley will be running.And there will be taxis also available. I don't know what else yet. We won't know about any parties/events happening until much closer.

Comment by Gwenn on 13 Sep 2014

Hello! Great information! My family, includes 12 year old and 6 year old boys, will be traveling to Puerto Rico and staying in the Luquillo over the Christmas holidays this year. What would you recommend we do? What is the weather typically like in December? Thank you!

Comment by Rachel on 24 Sep 2014

The weather is usually great (maybe a little rain), but usually sunny and warm (low 80's). Christmas time you need to go to OSJ at night to see the lights. Also, you can go to the hotels (like Wyndham in Rio Grande) where they have their Christmas decorations up. Many of the towns also have lights and sometimes music events....Luquillo is usually pretty active on weekend evenings for music. Over Christmas, you will need to check for restaurant and tourist attraction closings (same as in the States). Most things will close early Christmas Eve and be closed on Christmas day. El Yunque will be open, but there may not be any "rangers" there to help. I usually suggest people do a tour that day- we have enjoyed the snorkel boat tours on Christmases past. Check back on our calendar or Facebook pages for events (sometimes they are only posted a few days ahead of time).

Comment by Gwenn on 26 Sep 2014

My wife and I are going to spending a few days in Levittown, Puerto Rico before our cruise at the end of the month. I have a few questions... 1. Any ideas to get from airport to hotel in Levittown? Taxi? How much? 2. Any ideas about getting to the Port for our cruise from Levittown? Some have said there is a Ferry ride? 3. Any reasonable cheap things to do for 2 days before we get on cruise? Thanks for any suggestions

Comment by James on 17 Nov 2014

Hi! My friends and I are going to San Juan in the beginning of January 2015. We are college students so we do not have a large budget, but we definitely would like to make the most of this adventure. Can you recommend any free things to do, any must see place, or must do activities? Thank you!

Comment by Jessica on 02 Dec 2014

Well, you need a car rental to save money on adventures/exploration. Old San Juan is a great deal, full of museums and sight seeing that is free or cheap and bars/restaurants. Of course the beaches are free. You can rent bikes for about $5/hr and enjoy Pinones. Also kayaking there, or just walking the boardwalk. I love Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio in Arecibo, but not expensive and worth the drive. Hiking in El Yunque is great and free. The ferry to the out islands of Culebra and Vieques is just a couple bucks each way. Great day trip...bring snorkel gear and enjoy! So much stuff

Comment by Gwenn on 06 Dec 2014

I might have missed your trip. But Levittown is NOT near much. Definitely not where I would stay for a vacation trip, especially not without a car rental. Taxi rates would be metered and would be needed to do anything/go anywhere.

Comment by Gwenn on 06 Dec 2014

husband has surprised me with a first class trip to St. Regis Bahia Resort. While i love his spontaneity, I fear his hard wired highly educated Cal Poly engineered mind, will want to stay safely within the confines of the resort. Aside from the half day helicopter ride, (I found) we have no plans and 8 full days to fill. I would love to be immersed in the culture and get a true feel for its beauty, and people... not its safe hoity toity shopping and meals. We leave LAX on the 8Th of January 2015 ..... personal tour guide? rent a car and just drive? private driver so we can enjoy dinner & cocktails while still arriving safely? (and to be fair i almost killed him 12 yeas ago in a rental on the island of St. John) (but THEY were on the wrong side of the road!!) Maniacs!! open to anything... your site came highly recommended, thanks in advance for even reading this! Cher

Comment by cher on 02 Jan 2015

Well, it depends on what you like to do and if you want to rent a car. The hotel will have tours available if you don;t want to drive. Read through our site and find some thing that interest you. If the hotel does not offer tours, then consider renting a car. But honestly, there is nothing really within walking distance from the St Regis, so to go anywhere else, you need to get transportation of some kind. i suggest a visit to Old San Juan, a snorkel trip, maybe a visit to some caves (my favorites are Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio), a trip to El Yunque, a day trip to Culebra Flamenco beach, a bio bay visit. El Yunque and the biobay can be done the same day.

Comment by Gwenn on 05 Jan 2015

Hola! I stumbled upon your website and quite frankly, I'm relieved! There is so much helpful information! I have a couple of questions. Is 2 weeks too long of a stay for Puerto Rico? We are planning a July trip. Also, would you recommend that we (my husband and I) use San Juan as our city for lodging and then do day trips or would you recommend staying in other towns? Another question I have is regarding the transportation. I've read a lot of things that denounce the driving in PR. Is it really as dangerous as it's been made out to be? Thanks!!

Comment by Monica on 07 Jan 2015

Two weeks is not too long. But I would recommend staying in a few places. San Juan is ok for a bit, but then I would suggest you go and stay on one of the out islands (Vieques or Culebra) for a few days at least, and then Rincon area. That would decrease some of your driving and let you enjoy the different areas. Driving is a bit aggressive, but not dangerous really. Just drive defensively and accept that some people drive like idiots and you will be fine. Driving near the city is the worst, and you want to avoid rush hours to avoid the traffic.

Comment by Gwenn on 07 Jan 2015

Hi. Up late and trying to figure out what is best to do for a family with 2 little kids. 1 year old and a 3 year old. We are staying in the new Hyatt in Bayamon to be close to family but want to travel around. Will have a rent a car. Which beach would you recommend. Deff want to see clear blue water and willing to take a bit of a ride. Will do Old San Juan but where else would you recommend? Thanks for your time.

Comment by michelle on 13 Jan 2015

Clear blue water is everywhere here. With such little ones, you will want a calm water beach. So check out Escambron just at beginning of Old SJ, and the little beach by the Condado Plaza just after Dos Hermanos Bridge. Or going the other way, Punta Salinas in Toa Baja, or further on Cerro Gordo in Vega Alta.

Comment by Gwenn on 14 Jan 2015

I will be on a short trip to San Juan in Feb (19-22) & we have a 8 month old. We will be living near Condado Plaza, what activity or places would u recomend we should go for in that short time.

Comment by Dave on 30 Jan 2015

The beach of course, and pool! You can use a stroller around Old San Juan. There is a little kid "waterpark" at the Carolina Balneario. Do a bike ride (with baby seat) at Pinones boardwalk, or just walk with stroller. if it is rainy, go to the Children's Museum in Carolina or the one on Old San Juan. Do a drive to Guavate for lunch and then to Caguas for a walk/tour around the gardens. Just some ideas...

Comment by Gwenn on 01 Feb 2015

Hi.. I plan to visit San Juan, Puerto Rico August 7-10 with a few friends, and I am trying to determine a great area to stay in where we can enjoy the beach, daily activities, and some fun nightlife. We're a group of young women, and it's our first time visiting. Do you have any suggestions on areas and/or great hotels? Also, is August a bad season to visit due to weather and hurricanes?

Comment by Shoni on 20 Feb 2015

I would stay in Isla Verde or Condado for ease of walking to beach and bars. Lots of big name hotel/resorts that get good reviews. August is in hurricane season, but other than being hot/humid, it is a good time to visit. Just get travel insurance in case of a storm.

Comment by Gwenn on 21 Feb 2015

Great website with lots of helpful information!! Does anyone know any great salsa places around the Isla Verde or Condado area with live bands? Thanks!!

Comment by Brittany on 15 Mar 2015

Hopefully someone can answer. We have some places in this article: http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/salsa-lessons/ , but things change quickly.

Comment by Gwenn on 16 Mar 2015

Hi guys, I will be doing a trip to the US in November/December and I have a few days free before I go to NYC. Would Puerto Rico be a good/easy destination (for max 2 nights)?

Comment by John on 08 Apr 2015

Sure, I would recommend you stay in the Isla Verde area. That way you are on a beach, have easy access to Old San Juan and plenty of restaurants and stores.You can always take excursion tours to other places (or rent a car).

Comment by Gwenn on 08 Apr 2015

OMG. cant wait ti visit PR this summer! staying 5 night six days. but was wondering is that too long to stay . the island is not that small but there is only you can do. some suggestions please as far the must do. please advise.

Comment by minnie on 27 May 2015

PR is loaded with things to do. 5n/6d is not long at all. We have lived here 12 years and still find new and interesting things to do. The list of Top 10 things will be more than enough to fill your days. But check the website....right along the top there will be loads of posts depending on what type of vacation you want, where you want to visit and/or what you want to do while here.

Comment by Gwenn on 27 May 2015

Any thoughts on the use of the ferry? Is it reliable for tourist? We are a group of 4 couples, so I would not want to get all the way to the ferry terminal and not be able to board? Are some of the excursions worth it or would a DIY trip work as well?

Comment by Tyler on 03 Jun 2015

It depends on what ferry you are looking to get on. If it is the 9am ferry to Culebra, I highly doubt you all (or any) of you will get on. The big ferry is broken, and will be out of service for 3 months. If it is a later ferry, it is more possible for you all to get on. For Vieques, it may be possible to get the 9am ferry, but not guaranteed. If the excursion companies are offering a ticket on the 9am, go with it.

Comment by Gwenn on 03 Jun 2015

I will be going with my boyfriend to Puerto Rico in 2 weeks. We are staying for 7 days/6 nights. We are looking to be adventurous/relax/eat good food. We are staying in San Juan and will be renting a car. I was thinking of doing the bio-bay tour in Fajardo, a trip to El Yunque, trip to Flamenco Beach, a day in Old San Juan. My boyfriend likes to surf and wants to maybe do a trip out to Rincon for a night if the surf looks good. Any advice or other must-do or see recommendations? Thanks!

Comment by Andrea on 04 Jun 2015

If you are adventurous, definitely do a tour that will thrill you- ziplines or canyoning, or similar exciting things. Makes a lasting memory! I like to visit the caves and beaches in the north coast- Cueva del Indio and Mar Chiquita or Playa Puerto Nuevo are probably my favorites. But check the website- a few hundred ideas!

Comment by Gwenn on 07 Jun 2015

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