Top 10 Must-See and Must-Do Things
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 Food — lechon, 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 Island — Balneario 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 Region — Cueva 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 Islands — Balneario 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.
- Balneario Flamenco, Culebra: (18.328282, -65.318323)
- Balneario Monserrate: (18.383932, -65.730407)
- Car Rental @ SJU Airport: (18.435970, -66.010475)
- Cueva Ventana, trailhead: (18.374845, -66.692451)
- East Island Excursions: (18.287241, -65.635894)
- El Yunque National Forest (El Portal): (18.339091, -65.761671)
- El Yunque, Angelito Trail: (18.323188, -65.746902)
- El Yunque, Bano de Oro Trail: (18.300768, -65.786185)
- El Yunque, Big Tree Trail: (18.308582, -65.775177)
- El Yunque, Caimitillo Trail: (18.308582, -65.783903)
- El Yunque, El Toro Trail: (18.281118, -65.858327)
- El Yunque, El Yunque Trail: (18.301547, -65.784858)
- El Yunque, Juan Diego Stream: (18.312445, -65.775101)
- El Yunque, Juan Diego Trail: (18.311816, -65.777207)
- El Yunque, La Coca Falls: (18.318577, -65.771255)
- El Yunque, La Mina Falls: (18.303087, -65.776649)
- El Yunque, Mt. Britton Tower: (18.300623, -65.793297)
- El Yunque, Rio Sabana Trail (south): (18.267429, -65.795014)
- El Yunque, Trade Winds Trail: (18.293792, -65.792106)
- Erin Go Bragh Charters: (18.286856, -65.633073)
- Guavate Lechoneras (lechon / pig roast): (18.128968, -66.070619)
- Icacos Island: (18.384583, -65.590267)
- Laguna Grande, Fajardo bio bay: (18.375379, -65.622969)
- Mosquito Bay, biobay: (18.102986, -65.448389)
- Pinones Beach and Boardwalk: (18.455336, -65.972388)
- Playa Puerto Nuevo: (18.492002, -66.398205)
- Rio Camuy Caves Park: (18.346073, -66.825006)