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La Planta waterfalls in Arecibo are pretty and popular. These man made dams for the electric company make for some pretty pictures. But there is a third waterfall up the road a bit that is less well known. Locally, it is called “Jurassic Park” for reasons that I do not know. But it is pretty cool. This one takes a little more effort to get to, and I don’t think the falls are as pretty as the other two, but I think the walk is so pretty, it was well worth it!
Sometimes I see a photo of something that I think it is so pretty, I just have to see it for myself. Piedra Blanca is one of these places. This giant rock is on top of a mountain in Yabacoa, so besides being impressive in its own right, the view from the area is great!
If you, like me, enjoy spending the day hunting waterfalls, then heading to the center of the island is a must! With so many rivers running down the many mountains, waterfalls are all over in Utuado, Jayuya, and the surrounding towns. Salto del Limón is a waterfall in the Río Limón, which separates the towns of Utuado and Jayuya. This beautiful walterfall has a nice deep pool, and it is just one of many falls along this river.
I just love the rugged coastline in the area around Manatí - the rocks, the ocean, and the pretty views. I was delighted to see that Loíza has a mini version of this, as it is much closer to the San Juan area - and closer to home for me! An added bonus is that it has a beautiful beach, Playa Vacía la Talega, that is a large cove that is very popular with locals. We have been there many times, but the crowded beach is not our style. Now that I have found these trails along the rugged coast, I am in love!
April is our shoulder month between Spring and Summer. During this time, the rough winter seas begin to calm down, and the hotter weather starts — so beaches and water sports pick up as the month goes on. Here are some highlights for for things happening in April 2021.
There was once a time that trains traveled almost completely around the island of Puerto Rico. There were multiple trains used to move people, cargo, and sugar cane from place to place. But that all ended in the 1950s, and today almost nothing remains of the railroad system. However, Vega Baja has restored their old train station and turned it into a museum. It is really interesting to learn about this forgotten piece of Puerto Rico’s history!
Utuado is one of my favorite towns in Puerto Rico for outdoor activities. It has so much to offer — so much natural beauty, loads of different types of tours, and amazing history. Lago Dos Bocas is a beautiful man-made lake, created by damming two rivers. Today, Utuado is working on getting tourism back to the Lago Dos Bocas area, and Hacienda Las Cascadas is leading the way! This new family-owned company has a beautiful property right up-river from Lago Dos Bocas, where they have started a new kayak tour!
We have almost perfect weather in March, and the fun never stops. As Puerto Rico slowly reopens, there are a few activities going on in Puerto Rico in March. Here are some of the more noteworthy events.
To me, finding petroglyphs and any old "markings" is a way of having the past speak to us today. I have always been interested in the historical drawings and markings (graffiti) found at El Morro Fort and Fort San Cristobal in Old San Juan. These markings were made by bored soldiers who once lived and worked inside those walls. But sadly, with time, weather, and the changes that have occurred at the forts over the years, many of these historical images are disappearing. I suggest that you embark on a "treasure hunt" to look around and find as many of these as you can!
Orocovis is a mountainous town in the exact center of the island of Puerto Rico. While these mountains make driving a bit of a challenge, the views are fantastic, and they make for some interesting hikes. If you are exploring in the area, this is a 3-for-1 trek that requires some serious effort — but the payoff is huge. You can enjoy both Cascada La Plazuela and Charco El Guitarra in one river trek. But, it is not without a price - visiting here requires either a super "exciting" 4x4 drive on a horrible road, or a tough walk. We highly recommend the walk … better safe than sorry.
If you are exploring in Orocovis (especially near Cerro Mime), here is a special little treat for you. You can find a pretty little pool and cascade right by the roadside. For the more adventurous, a 10-minute river hike will get you to the big payoff - a large waterfall called Cascada Vidrio! This little-know spot is so worth a visit. You will be surprised how nice it is!
Orocovis is a mountainous town in the exact center of the island of Puerto Rico. While these mountains make driving a bit of a challenge, the views are fantastic, and they make for some interesting hikes. And believe me, the payoff when you peak these mountains is well worth the effort of getting there! Cerro Mime is one of those peaks. It is actually a rather short hike, but it is not easy.
Ponce is a large town, in fact, it is the second largest city in Puerto Rico It has many interesting, historical and modern things to see and explore. The starting point for most people who want to check out the city will be Ponce’s main plaza. Called Plaza de Las Delicias, it is the center of the historic area, with many of the older buildings having been maintained and restored. The city name (Ponce) and its nickname La Ciudad de los Leones (City of Lions) are references the famous explorer Ponce de Leon and his descendants
The San Sebastian Street Festival, or Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian for 2021 will be different. Due to COVID-19 health restrictions, the music and parades etc will be shown virtually. The Artisans will be live in the Ballaja area. The dates will be Jan 29-31, 2021.
The Castillo de Morovis (castle of Morovis), is an incomplete and abandoned home that pops up out of the forest like some kind of tropical mirage. When you see photos of it on social media, you know that you just have to go see it in person!
We have had a lot of time on our hands lately, which has given us a chance to do more "internal tourism", and return to places we have visited in the past to explore them more thoroughly. The town of Coamo is best known for its thermal springs, but it has so much more to offer than that. You can spend a whole day just checking out all the nice things in this town. And that is what we did!
We have had a lot of time on our hands lately, which has given us a chance to do more "internal tourism", and return to places we have visited in the past to explore them more thoroughly. The town of Coamo is best known for its thermal springs, but it has so much more to offer than that. You can spend a whole day just checking out all the nice things in this town. And that is what we did!
MLB Winter League Baseball in Puerto Rico is starting in December! This is a special COVID-aware season — no fans will be permitted in the stadiums, but the games will be live-streamed on Facebook. The action is non-stop, and it is a great family-friendly atmosphere!
If you love beaches and snorkeling, and going some place a little different than the rest of the crowd, check out a snorkel boat trip to Vieques! Pure Adventure has a number of tours available, but this one in particular caught my eye. Their Vieques Island Beach and Snorkel Tour is an opportunity to see enjoy a little bit of Vieques both under and above the water. The Nature Reserve area on Vieques has crystal clear water that is teaming with wildlife. It was a great experience.
Sugarcane used to be the money crop here in Puerto Rico for many years. Unfortunately, there is not a lot left to see from that time — most everything has either been demolished, or left to rust away. So, when I saw this little sugar treasure hidden in a housing development, I had to point it out. There is a locomotive, and some rusting metal parts of the sugar processing enclosed inside a fenced area in Humacao.
Being an island, there are lighthouses all around the coast of Puerto Rico. Many were built in the late 1800s, and many are still in use today! We were down in Arroyo, so we went to check out the restored Punta de las Figuras Lighthouse (Faro Punta de las Figuras). It is not in use nor open to enter, but you can stroll around it and take photos.
Ponce is a city that has a long history and some amazing architecture. It is a great place to visit, and there is a lot to see. But the city is really spread out. Going on a tour and having someone telling you where to go and explaining the cool things you are seeing is probably the best way to really get to know Ponce. Isla Caribe is a small, locally-run tour company that offers a variety of tours of Ponce and the surrounding areas. We went on their “Ponce Walking Tour” and really feel we now have a better idea of Ponce.
There is something so peaceful about walking around in a nature reserve. The Reserva Natural Humedal Punta Tuna (Punta Tuna Wetlands Nature Reserve) offers many trails and ecosystems to enjoy, with features to make it accessible to people with vision, hearing, and mobility issues. It's a wonderful place for photography, bird watching, getting some exercise, or just relaxing. Let me tell you about it!
There is a lot of urban art around Puerto Rico these days, which I think brightens everyone’s spirits. Now, in Barceloneta, there is a wall of wings, where you can be photographed as an angel. It is so colorful and wonderful! It was a must stop for us on a recent visit along the north coast. It is guaranteed to make you smile!
Puerto Rico is famous for a lot of things, with rum being one of them. Back in the mid 1870s, Pedro Fernández started making rum at his home to share with his family and friends. Today, Ron del Barrilito is a hand-crafted rum that is still made with the same recipe that Pedro used, and they welcome people from around the world to visit, learn the history, and enjoy this delicious rum through a variety of different tours.
Located just across the bay from Old San Juan, the Cataño waterfront area is a place where you can go for a relaxing time with your family. There are some colorful piers, a long waterfront walkway, some playgrounds for the kids, murals, bars, and restaurants. It's a fun place to visit!
Antiguo Molino La Berdedera is the ruins of a windmill that was used to crush sugar cane to extract the juice during the mid-1800s. Located in just on the side of the road in Arroyo, it is an interesting quick-stop, and a great place for photos.
You decided to visit Puerto Rico during a world-wide pandemic, only to find that things are closed and there are restrictions on activities you can participate in. If you are not under mandatory quarantine, we have some ideas for things to do where you should be able to maintain proper distance and limit interaction with non-household members.
The busiest parts of El Yunque National Forest are the trails and recreation areas on Road 191 on the North Side of El Yunque in the “La Mina Recreation Area”. Access to this area is now being controlled using a timed reservation ticket system for visitors. All private vehicles will need a reservation ticket to enter the forest, which must be pre-purchased on-line prior to your visit. Here is the info you need to know.
Artistic people who can create something that beautifies the world are so inspiring. In Fajardo, a group of artists got together, and with the help of the community, sponsors, and volunteers, created 8 beautiful murals around the downtown Fajardo area called CROMÁPOLIS: Proyecto de Arte Urbano. The colorful artwork brings the town to life.
Sometimes nature is just awe-inspiring. A good example is the huge Ceiba pentandra tree, whose size is best appreciated up-close. There are a number of these large, amazing trees throughout Puerto Rico, with some of the oldest and largest growing in Ponce, Vieques, Mayagüez, Patillas, Quebradillas, and Peñuelas. These trees are native to the island, and it is the national tree of Puerto Rico! We recently went to visit the one on Patillas, locally called the "Ceiba Atabey".
In Yabucoa, there are these two neat rock formations that are really interesting. One sort of looks like a sphinx, and it is called "La Piedra El Morrillo". The other is a huge rock that is split right in half, and it is called "Piedra Las Guaretas". While this is not a must-visit place, but if you are in the area, it makes a fun stop. I think you will enjoy it.
Las Piedras is the latest town to paint their buildings with macromurals. These colorful artworks are a joy to behold. Swing by the town plaza, park your car, and take a walk up the colorful street!
I am always looking new places to go hiking. If you want to try something different from rain forest hiking, you can go to Palmas del Mar and go for a hike in a dry forest. The Guayanes Dry Forest has so many great view points, a series of dirt trails that lead to a number of beaches, and an observation tower. We spent a few hours exploring the area, and it is definitely worth checking out!
If you are a more active beachgoer, and you want a little exploration in your beach day, trekking to some "secret" pools can be fun. There are some nice, and fairly accessible, hidden pools in Fajardo. The one I think is the best is called Piscina Natural de Cabeza Chiquita. It is accessible from Playa Escondida (or Playa Colora for the more adventurous explorer). While the route is not an easy stroll, it is worth the effort. The prize for your effort is beautiful views from the rocks, and a quiet place to relax.
Adrenaline junkies can get their fix of fun racing at Top Eliminator Dragster Puerto Rico. Located in Canóvanas at The Outlet at Route 66, Top Eliminator Dragster is one of the offerings at the Sector Sixty6 family-fun center. Climb behind the wheel of a real drag racing car and feel the G-forces of super-fast acceleration and deceleration in this dragster racing simulation ride. Who wants to try it?
Marathons, festivals celebrating everything from coffee to music to rum, and some of the best weather of the entire year! There are lots of activities going on in Puerto Rico in February 2020. Here are some of the more noteworthy events.
If you like rum, then Puerto Rico is the place for you! If you like rum that is handmade with quality, local ingredients, Tres Clavos is a must-try. What better place to taste it than at it's source - the San Juan Artisan Distillers in Vega Alta! Here, you can tour the sugar cane fields and distillery, and learn first hand about how they make the product from start to finish. It is a really interesting tour, and a delicious one at that!
Baseball, Fairs, Kings, Surfing, Biking, and the biggest street party this side of New Orleans. There are lots of activities going on in Puerto Rico in January 2020. Here are some of the more noteworthy events.
Puerto Rico is beautiful, and it has great beaches. But if you want that really "Tropical Island" look, heading to an out-island is best. The Innovation Snorkel Tour is your passport to the fun. They take you to Icacos Island, a small island just a quick boat ride away from Fajardo. There, you get to snorkel, swim, sun bathe, eat, drink and be merry at this white sand, clear blue water paradise.
Most people don't realize that the land defense system of what is now Old San Juan consisted of much more than the big forts that are popular with visitors today. Fortín San Gerónimo played a vital role in the defense system on the eastern end of the island. That fort has been abandoned and vandalized since 2008. In 2018, a group of volunteers started a renovation project at the fort, and, though it is still very much a work-in-progress, you can visit it today and get a better understanding of the forces that shaped the Puerto Rican culture.
December in Puerto Rico is a lively time, with a generally festive atmosphere. Holiday lights are everywhere, and everyone is getting in gear for Christmas and New Years. While there is always something fun happening somewhere in Puerto Rico, there are a few special events each month that deserve a mention. Here are some highlights for December 2019.
From our beaches, to rivers, to waterfalls, to canyons, and beyond, there are many extremely beautiful spots in Puerto Rico that are best experienced while being on or in the water. And many of the activities we write about take place in, on, or near bodies of water. With a little advance planning, all of those spots can be explored safely and without incident. The last thing you want to happen on vacation is the get banged up in the water, or swept out to sea, or worse. So spend a couple minutes reading this article so you are better prepared to have the best and safest vacation ever in Puerto Rico.
Playa Caracoles is a nice, coved beach in Arecibo. It is picture-perfect, with a protected shallow area, where you can sit and enjoy the water. And if waves are high, you can see some beautiful wave breaks as they crash into the natural rock barriers that surround the cove.
Vega Baja has a number of natural , fresh-water springs. These pretty, crystal-clear pools of water are a wonderful natural resource that are beautiful to look at, and refreshing to cool off in. This one, the Manantial Ojo de Agua, is located right in a neighborhood, and they have kept is as a nice place for people to enjoy themselves.
It's November already, and that means the official start of the holiday season in Puerto Rico. Look for many towns having their official town "Lighting of Holiday Decorations" celebrations, usually featuring Christmas lights, fireworks, traditional music, food, artisans, and more. Other things to do in November include the Winter Baseball League, various food festivals, concerts, and sporting events.
Puente Bellaca is a metal bridge that spans a deep ravine. Though it's not for the faint of heart — with it's open grid floor and supports — it does give you a nice view from 125 feet above the ground. You'll see the ocean to the north, and the wall of the ravine with caves to the west, all while looking down at the treetops below.
Agrotourism at it's finest! Martinez Dairy (Vaquería Martinez) offers tours of their dairy facilities during which they explain all about dairy farming, from start to finish. It is a really interesting and informational tour for the whole family.
October is generally a slow month here in Puerto Rico. We're at the lowest point of our "low season" for tourists, and many businesses that depend on tourism cut back their hours either to take their own vacations. There are still plenty of things to do this month. Here are some highlights for October 2019.
Kira's World Exotic Mini Zoo works with the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales ( DRNA) to house and imported exotic animals safely away from Puerto Rico's native wildlife. They also rescue some sick or injured local pets and animals, and give them the care they need to have better lives. They offer tours of their facilities to teach people about the animals, the importance of not taking animals out of the wild, and proper care of animals. It's a quick visit, and one we recommend for everyone!
The Natural Pools (or Piscinas Naturales) are a beautiful place. They require some effort to get to, which is a good thing because there usually aren't too many people there. These little holes in the rocks are filled with seawater from the waves. They are a bit of a walk to reach, but the beauty of the area is worth it! Just watch the waves; this is not the place to go during rough seas.
If you are looking for a beautiful beach to enjoy long walks, Playa Pastillo is perfect. If you walk to the west, you may be able to get to a cave (Cueva las Golondrinas). But the cave is but it is rarely accessible, depending on the tides and waves. The beach and area is a great place for photos and private walks, but no swimming!
With the month of September comes the official end of summer … kids are back in school, and visions of the upcoming holidays are beginning to show up in the stores. Here in Puerto Rico, we still have plenty going on from hot beach days, to food festivals, and the height of Hurricane Season. Here are some highlights for September 2019.
Anyone who visits Puerto Rico can't help but notice that we have a stray animal problem. There are a number of wonderful, non-profit organizations on the island that help these animals by finding homes for them in the States. But they need to fly there. That is where you can help! Be an volunteer sato escort and take the animal as your under-the-seat carry-on. It's free for you, and it helps so much.
There are a bunch of zip line companies around Puerto Rico, and all will give you a thrill. Campo Rico Ziplining is just a quick taxi ride from San Juan, and is perfect for you to get your "zip" on! We have done almost all the zip lines in Puerto Rico, but we never got to this one until just recently. Let us tell you about it!
August is a fun time in Puerto Rico. The first two weekends are the final "summer flings" before school resumes and, after that, things calm down a bit. But it is still "summer" weather here … fruits are ripe, temperatures are high, and people are still in a party mood. Expect water-related activities to be busy as people try to keep cool during the "dog days" of summer! A few towns have their Patron Saint Festivals, so get ready for lots of music food and fun! Here are some highlights for August 2019.
The town of Humacao invited a number of different artists/muralists to come in to create a huge outdoor art gallery of colorful and interesting murals, in all different styles and sizes. Located all around the town plaza, it is a great reason to stop into Humacao town center to wander around, enjoy the murals, and support the local businesses.
If you like savoring good quality liquor, want to learn more about the how it is made, or even want to try it for the first time, the Bacardí Rum Tasting tour is for you. This tour includes a brief tour of part of the distillery ("behind the scenes"), but it also includes rum, and lots of it! You get to taste some of the best and most exclusive Bacardí sipping rums available. afterward. you can relax and enjoy the breezes and views at the Bacardí Pavilion. It's a great way to spend an afternoon.
The month of July is probably the busiest month here in Puerto Rico. We have lots of holidays this month, so locals take vacation in July. Combine that with the tourists spending their summer vacation on the island, and you can expect lots crowds and lots of activities happening, especially on the weekends and holidays. Here are some highlights for July 2019.
Are you looking for a beach with calm water close to San Juan? Playa La Posita is a family favorite. This little "pool" of water is protected from the rough north coast swells by a ridge of rocks. The waves rarely come over the top, so this water is usually calm and warm. It's great for the little ones to play in.
As with many islands in the Caribbean, sugar was once the primary cash crop here in Puerto Rico. The Aguirre Central Sugar Mill, located in the town of Salinas, had a thriving "company town" around it to support the employees of the mill. But when the sugar industry declined — they stopped growing sugar cane commercially in Puerto Rico and the mill closed — the town and large tracts of waterfront property was left to waste away. Luckily, The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research reserve has acquired much of this area and made a nice nature reserve there. Today, you can enjoy nature and check out what is left of the sugar town.
The month of June … It’s officially “summer” here on the island, beaches are in full swing, and tourist spots are getting more crowded. While there is almost always something interesting happening somewhere in Puerto Rico, there are a few special events each month that deserve a mention. Here are some highlights for June 2019.
Puerto Rico has a diverse geographic landscape, with lots of karst, a type of rock formation that formed many caves, caverns, and underground rivers. The town of Morovis has about 60 caves, and many of the caves and surrounding areas house significant natural and archaeological wonders. The town of Morovis has decided to join the ecotourism bandwagon by offering guided tours to see some of their caves
May is a the beginning of "summer" here on the island, and the beginning of "beach weather". Schools let out for the summer in May, locals head to the beaches, and the action really picks up! Expect fun family activities, lots of plant sales (especially for Mother's Day), food & drink fests, and dancing & music events. While there is almost always something interesting happening somewhere in Puerto Rico, there are a few special events each month that deserve a mention. Here are some highlights for May 2019.
There is nothing better than enjoying the beautiful water around Fajardo. The water at Playa Ensenada Yegua is usually nice and calm, due to a coral reef, which makes the area perfect for kayaking, stand up paddleboarding (SUP), and even some snorkeling. If you don't have your own gear, there are 2 companies right there on the beach that will rent gear to you. They even offer guided snorkel tours. We recently spent an afternoon checking it out.
Following the hurricanes in 2017, The Outlet @ Route 66 has been undergoing a transformation from a pure shopping mall to an activity destination. With the recent opening of Sector Sixty6, you can now enjoy indoor race cars, bowling, a rope course, an arcade, simulator rides, and a few new bars/restaurants. Add those to the multiplex movie theater, outlet and retail stores, and a newly renovated interior ... and you have the perfect place to spend a rainy day, or a hot afternoon, on your vacation. We went recently with a group of friends, and we had a blast!
If you are looking for a long and pretty beach, Playa Los Tubos in Manatí might just fit the bill. It offers a lot … surfing, a boat ramp, diving spots, beach, beauty, and history. The water is crystal clear, and the sand is a nice creamy color. And recently, ancient petroglyphs were uncovered by the waves — proof that people have been enjoying this spot of hundreds of years. Go check it out!
Puerto Rico has some really interesting and beautiful natural areas that not many people get to see. A large part of the island is comprised of "karst", which, over millions of years of water filtering through it, makes some of the coolest formations and designs. There are many underground rivers and caves in the karst region of the island, and exploring them safely is best done through guided tours. NaturHabitat EcoTours has a great tour of the Charco Azul and Cuevas Arenales in Vega Baja that we highly recommend
The Northeast Ecological Corridor is a protected nature reserve located on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. It is about 3000 acres of land that runs from Luquillo to Fajardo. There are many types of ecosystems/habitats in the area, from beach to forest, rivers, mangrove swamps, marshes, fields and more. Many types animals and birds call this area home. Taking a tour, via kayak or stand-up paddleboard, on the rivers through this area is relaxing, beautiful, and interesting. We recently enjoyed a trip with with Sun Capital Paddlesports and had a nice time. Check it out!
San Lorenzo has a number of interesting things to do and see, but for me, searching out natural river beauty is the best. With many rivers and mountains in the town, you know there have to be beautiful waterfalls … and El Periquito is one of them. This little waterfall and natural pool is easy to find … it's just a 10-minute walk from the road. It's a definite "must visit" place if you are in the area!
Cerro de Punta, at just under 4400 feet in elevation, is the highest peak in Puerto Rico. Cerro de Punta is located on the Jayuya/Ponce town line, in the Toro Negro State Forest, along the Ruta Panoramica. Plan your trip to the peak with weather in mind - on a clear day, the views are amazing! You can see from coast to coast! And the beautiful green mountains all around make it stunning.
There are a number of natural springs around Puerto Rico, and a few are pretty close together near the Laguna Tortuguero Nature Reserve. These springs are important sources of fresh water for wildlife. For us humans, they are beautiful, small pools we can enjoy, but need to protect. The Manantial de Guayaney is one of these springs. We visited this little pool and loved the scenery. It looked like something from a dream.
The Cuartel del Ballaja is now decked out in lights - the outside glows with different colored lights, luring you in to see the real show … a 3D projection mapping film called Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto. The film is projected onto the walls of the courtyard, creating an amazing show of light and sound.
I have found that using mountain bike trails (MTB) here in Puerto Rico can be a source of many wonderful adventures. We don’t have bikes, so we walk these trails. They are usually well-maintained, and sometimes they lead to some beautiful places. The Área Recreativa Los Tobos MTB in the Reserva Natural Laguna Tortuguero looked so inviting, we knew we had to check it out. The Hidden Beach (Playa Escondida) at the end of walking Trail 1 was well worth the visit.
The Curva del Árbol Renace (Curve of the Reborn Tree) was once just an overgrown area on the side of the road. A group of people knew the potential to be a pretty spot, and decided to clean it up. They added some steps, a swing, and a flag … and a beautiful tourist spot was born, showcasing the beauty of Puerto Rico! The tree itself is a large flamboyant tree. It suffered a little damage in Hurricane Maria, but it is still magnificent. I can't wait to go back to see it in bloom!
Adjuntas is a beautiful, mountainous town in the center of the island. It has many rivers running down the mountains, so there is always some beautiful water feature waiting to be found … if you know where to look! Just check out Charco El Mango … it is stunning. This little beauty is just off the beaten path enough that it is often overlooked. It’s an easy walk to get there, and when the sun is “just right” … it’s beautiful!
The Guilarte Forest (Bosque de Guilarte) is a beautiful area, located high up in the mountains of Adjuntas. "Cool and green" are the best words I can find to describe it. There is a hiking trail to the peak which offers beautiful views - when you are lucky. For those that don't like hiking, there is a lovely flat, paved walking area to enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest. This forest is a bit off the beaten path … you really have to want to make the trip. But there are a few other things in the area that are nice to see, like waterfalls, natural pools, and a hanging bridge. You can make a nice day-trip by bundling a visit to this forest together with a few different stops in the area
There was a time, more than 100 years ago, that the pink flamingo was a common sight here in Puerto Rico. Flamenco Beach on Culebra is actually named for the flamingos that were once so prevalent in its lagoon. Today, due to hunting and other causes, it is now rare to see flamingos in Puerto Rico. But Camuy is home to "Pinky", a beautiful, wild, year-round resident. Pull over on the road and see if you can get a peek of her.
El Yunque National Forest is the single most-visited area in all of Puerto Rico, with about 600,000 people from all over the world visiting the forest each year. The hurricanes in 2017 caused considerable damage in the forest … landslides, washed-out roads, deforestation, downed trees, and other structural damage. Because of that, much of forest has remained closed to the public ever since. Little by little, the Forest Service is repairing and reopening parts of the National Forest. This article serves to itemize the parts of the forest that have reopened, and those that remain closed.
Following the hurricanes of September 2017, more and more citizen groups in Puerto Rico are turning to the Arts to aid in the recovery efforts of their towns. The group Arte Para Unir (Art to Unite) in Yauco, in the southwest region of the island, is one of those groups working to help their town rebound. Yaucromatic2 is an urban art and mural initiative aimed at increasing the number of visitors to Yauco. The art is colorful and bright, and you can't help but smile when you see it. Be sure to add Yauco to your list of places to stop as you travel the south coast of Puerto Rico.
Here are 6 or 8 of our favorite things to do on an easy road trip between San Juan and Arecibo. You can do as many, or as few, as you like, and as daylight permits. We've included beaches, places to eat, outlet shopping (if that's your thing), or just a nice drive along the north coast.
In January 2019, for just 24 performances, the smash Broadway hit HAMILTON will be in Puerto Rico, with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his role as Alexander Hamilton. This is a must-see event, which will raise funds to help support the Arts in Puerto Rico following the devastating hurricanes of 2017. Tickets went on sale beginning 10 November 2018.
Many visitors to Puerto Rico get the bright idea that they want to take their rental car on the ferry from the main island to Culebra or Vieques. Not only is that not recommended, it's difficult to do and not real reliable. The cargo ferry is used mainly for local transport and delivery of goods to residents on the islands.
If you are in the Camuy area, make a quick detour to see La Igelsia Metodista de Piedra (Methodist Rock Church). It is a beautiful memorial church made out of local limestone.
For as long as we can remember, the ferries that service Culebra and Vieques have operated out the ferry terminal in Fajardo. Beginning on 10 October 2018, the ferries will be operating out of the new ferry terminal in Ceiba, located in the old Roosevelt Roads Naval Base. Not only will they be using a new ferry terminal, there will be a new fleet of "fast" ferries . These faster, modern ferries, coupled with the shorter route between Ceiba and Vieques, will reduce the travel time needed to make the crossing.
I love the town of Arecibo and the surrounding are - there is so much to do and explore. We usually go to check out the natural beauty, but the murals around town are beautiful, too! Called "Urban Art", this is a colorful collection, in all different styles, sizes, and meanings.
Sugar was once the primary commercial crop in Puerto Rico. That period ended long ago, but there are still some places around the island where you can catch a glimpse of the bygone era. The town of Barceloneta once had a large sugar mill, "Plazuela", which employed many people in the town. It has long since closed, but the town has set aside what remains of the windmill for people to visit. It is a quick photo stop to see this pretty building.
So people are always looking for places to cool off. Natural springs are "cool". So cool in fact they are down right "fria"- meaning cold! Zanja Fria in Arecibo is one of the newest "must see" swimming holes around. Add it to your to-do list!
El Yunque National Forest is the most visited attraction in Puerto Rico, by locals and tourists alike. But there is another little gem that most people buzz right past on their way to the rain forest … the sector of Río Grande known as Palmer. If you've ever driven up Road 191 into El Yunque, you've driven through Palmer, and you probably didn't even notice. More local businesses are opening up in the area, catering to day-trippers into El Yunque, making Palmer a great place to stop for souvenirs, a bite to eat, or information on the forest.
We enjoy zip lines, but time spent waiting in line and clipping on/off of a series of short zip lines dilutes the excitement of flying through the air. If you feel the same way, then The Monster at Toro Verde is for you. At 1.57 miles long, it takes more than 2 minutes to go from end to end. It is a lay-down type of zip line, so all the while you are "flying" over beautiful terrain.
If you like rum drinks and would like to learn a little bit of bar tending, the Mixology "class" at Casa Bacardí is for you. Heck, even if you just want to have fun and drink some cocktails, this class is for you! They offer 3 different tours: a Historical Tour, a Mixology Tour, and a Rum Tasting Tour. We recently went for the Mixology Tour, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
If you are a craft beer fanatic, you will be happy to know that you can visit a local brewery and enjoy some delicious Puerto Rican craft beer at Ocean Lab Brewing Company. Located close to Isla Verde, the SJU airport, and just a short ride from Old San Juan ... It's right on the water. A great location, and great beer - don't miss a visit.
Punta Borinquen is a rocky area on the coast of Aguadilla. It is really part of the Borinquen Beach, so it is a quick walk from the beach for photographers to get some unique photos. There are some "secret" caves/indents you can visit, either by walking along the rocks and in the water, or snorkeling/paddleboarding there. It is a bit of an adventure, but you have to admit, it is a place of unique beauty!
Puerto Rico is blessed with so many beautiful beaches, and Crash Boat Beach is one of them. It is very popular, so it can be busy (especially on weekends), but it is has two sandy areas with ample space people to spread out. here are some facilities, some food and water sports vendors, and even a chair/umbrella rental place. It is a colorful beach, with the pier and the fishing boats, you can get lots of good photos. Really, this beach offers something for everyone! If you are in the area, it is a must-visit stop.
Katarina Sail Charters is the only sailboat tour that goes out of the Rincón area. They offer a couple tours per day, allowing you to get out on the water and experience Rincón from the ocean side. See where the winds take you … to great views of the lighthouse and beyond, maybe to check out the surfers and the large swells, watching for whales and other marine animals, to great snorkel spots, or just hanging around to relax and watch the beautiful show the sun displays as it sets for the evening.
Viewing Old San Juan from the water adds a new dimension to the experience - it kind of gives you an idea of what the original visitors saw and experienced some 500 years ago. La Paseadora offers a sunset tour of San Juan Bay via boat. They depart from the waterfront area, at Pier 1, along the bay in Old San Juan - just steps from the cruise ships piers.
We recently decided to spend a day exploring San Lorenzo. When we heard about a place with "Siete Chorros" (seven jets of water), we knew we had to see it! These "jets" of water form what appears like seven waterfalls that descend into a very nice pool. It is an easy-to-find location that will give you a real "local" experience.
La Zanja in Fajardo was once one of those "lesser known" places, but it has become famous very quickly on social media as "the" spot to visit and snap a pic floating in the water. It is a very pretty area that is pretty remote, and requires a bit of a hike to get to, but the great views make it worth the extra effort.
When people go to Old San Juan, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is touring the forts and museums, and generally walking around the old city. But now, there are actually quite a few water sports available to enjoy right in Old San Juan. SUP Action offers a 2-hour Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) & Snorkel tour that goes from the San Juan Bay into the Condado Lagoon. SUP is an easy and relaxing way to enjoy this pretty lagoon, and see some of the local sea life … and maybe the manatees!
El Yunque National Forest is full of rivers and waterfalls. As many people have come to appreciate, the rivers offer great places to jump in and cool off as they make their way to the ocean. The Mameyes River is a beautiful river that runs down from high in El Yunque National Forest. As it gets to the flat "Palmer" area in Río Grande, the river is known locally as Río la Poza. Here, you will find La Poza del Angel — a nice, deep swimming area surrounded by green areas for picnics and general enjoyment.
Neither Ray nor I drink coffee, but that doesn't stop us from going to coffee plantations and enjoying the experience. That is because these plantations are about more than just a coffee product, it is a whole nature experience. Hacienda Muñoz, in San Lorenzo is an agrotourism farm that features a coffee plantation tour, but has so much more to offer.
If you're looking for an exciting way to see Old San Juan, you can get a tour of the 500-year old city from a different angle — on a Jet Ski. Wow and Aquatica offer Jet Ski Tours that are wet and wild, and combines some history and a lot of fun. Located at Club Nautico in OSJ, just across the bay, they are just a short taxi ride from the cruise ship piers.
Casa Roig, built in the 1920s for sugar barons, is an excellent example of modernist architectural design adapted for the hot, humid Caribbean environment. You can take a quick tour of this house museum, and the rotating artist displays they have on the second floor.
The Palmas del Mar resort in Humacao has a really nice Pterocarpus Forest where you can commune with nature. There is a raised walkway through the marshy forest and observation tower, which allow you to comfortably enjoy the forest and bird watch. It's open to the general public, and admission is free.
While I love the main island of Puerto Rico, sometimes just a short boat ride brings you to some of the prettiest little out-islands. Isla Cardona is just an 8-minute boat ride off of Ponce, but it offers a beautiful beach, nice snorkeling, some trails to explore, and a lighthouse. Unless you have your own boat or jetski, the trip offered by Waterland Adventures is your best way to get there.
Are you looking to challenge yourself and to experience an adventure in one of the most beautiful parts of Puerto Rico? El Columpio de los Suspiros has it all! There's a swing on the edge of a mountain that overlooks the rushing cascades of El Yunque … that you will soon be jumping into! This extreme adventure will get your adrenaline pumping. Montaña Explora offers a few tours on the south side of El Yunque, and this new one gives you a little taste of everything.
If you want to enjoy wide open beach, beautiful vistas, and a picnic with ocean breezes, then Borinquen Beach in Aguadilla is perfect for you! Located just a few hundred yards from the old lighthouse ruins, this beach is a great place to have a picnic lunch under the palm trees, or on the sand while enjoying this picturesque area. It is a large beach, on both sides of the parking lot … I doubt you will ever feel crowded here!
Para la Naturaleza is a non-profit conservation organization that owns and protects many environmentally and culturally significant parcels of land across the island. They have recently started offering tours in the Medio Mundo y Daguao area that they acquired in the old Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba. We went on their Birding, Snorkeling & Kayaking Adventure in Los Machos Wetlands, and we had a great time!
El Columpio de Ceiba is one of those places that was made popular by photos on social media. It was a hot spot for selfies and Instagram snaps in Puerto Rico. It's basically a couple of swings in crystal clear blue water in the old Roosevelt Roads Navy Base in Ceiba, which is on the east coast. It's a pretty area, with a small beach. It's a great spot for "how I spent my vacation" photos to post to make your friends envious.
Survival Beach in Aguadilla is a stunning beach with huge rock formations at its western end. The hike starts at Surfers' Beach, and takes about 20 minutes along a wooded trail, over tree roots and rocks. Though not generally recommended for swimming, Survival Beach is great for walking, taking photos, or just enjoying time on the beach looking out at the waves.
The Auto-Cine Santana is the last remaining drive-in movie theater in Puerto Rico. Located in Arecibo, this drive-in shows first-run movies in a nostalgic outdoor setting. If you've never been to a drive-in movie, or if you remember them from your younger years, you should definitely check this place out. It's an inexpensive night out that the whole family can enjoy!
Charco Los Morones in Utuado - with it's waterfalls, natural pools, huge rock formations, petroglyphs, and backdrop of green mountains - is a photographer's paradise. Getting there is a bit of an effort, but it is totally worth it.
The Aguirre State Forest in Guayama is over 2000 acres that contains a mangrove forest that has walking paths, salt water lagoons, and marsh areas. Given that environment, and the warm, dry climate, it's a perfect spot for migratory (land local) bards … and for bird-watching! This protected natural area is a nice place to spend some time exploring the marshy shores.
Puerto Rico has a wonderful climate for year-round growing of many ornamental and food crops. Lately, sunflowers have become all the rage. They are so beautiful and popular, so a number of sunflower farms have opened around the island. Some are just for growth and production of the cut flowers, but a few are open to the public for enjoyment, photographs and/or purchases.
La Ruta Taína is a loose connection of significant sites highlighting the indigenous people of Puerto Rico — the Tainos. Visiting these sites offers travelers the opportunity to embark on a cultural experience to learn about Puerto Rico’s heritage and indigenous traditions. La Ruta Taína runs north to south, from Arecibo to Ponce, passing through the towns of Utuado, Jayuya and Adjuntas. Along the way, visitors will discover the oldest ceremonial centers in the Caribbean, indigenous petroglyphs, villages, tombs, museums and legends, as well as caves, beaches and natural reserves.
The town of Hatillo is known for a few tourist attractions, but I think that the beach Playa Sardinera and the adjacent Punta Maracayo should be at the top of that list. We finally (after 13 years of living in Puerto Rico) took the time to check out this beach and … wow! This beautiful beach was such a surprise to me. Besides being pretty, it has facilities, and it is a protected cove, which keeps the water calm so that people can enjoy the beach year-round.
Want to see something fun and unusual? Make a short visit to Casa Caracoles in Salinas. The owner of this property has covered almost every surface of his house and every item he owns … including his car … with locally collected sea shells. It's worth a quick stop if you happen to be in the area.
Cerro el Rodadero is high in the green mountains of Yauco, a town in the south western part of the island. From the peak, you can see all the way to the coast and many surrounding towns. If you are a photography buff, this place is a must-see. When I saw some friends' photos of this spot, I knew had to see it for myself. But be forewarned — this place is not for kids, nor the faint of heart. The drive itself is nerve wracking, the hike is really slippery, and the peak … let's just say, you are on the edge and the first step is a doozy! But it is beautiful and well worth the effort!
Zip lining is one of those adventure activities that is on almost everyone’s
As we all know by now, the 2016 Summer Games of the XXXI Olympiad are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 05 August to 21 August 2016. Puerto Rico will be represented by 41 athletes at these Olympic Games. They will be competing in Athletics, Boxing, Diving, Equestrian, Judo, Road Cycling, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.
Zika is a mosquito borne virus that can be acquired Puerto Rico and other tropical areas. But you just need to do a little research and understand the facts about the virus. Protection yourself from insect bites and you can enjoy yourselves without worries!
It has been a while since we have done any white-water rafting … I guess that’s mainly because there was never a company in Puerto Rico that offered it. I didn’t even know there was a river on the island that was suitable for it. But luckily, Puerto Rico Ríos Rafting Company started running trips out of Las Marias on the Río Grande de Anasco river. The river has lots of twists & turns, and ups & downs, to make for an exciting and fun adventure.
While traveling around exploring Puerto Rico, it is nice to find a pretty spot just to stop and relax for a bit. That is what we found at Area Recreativa El Trece (aka Parque Trece or "Park 13"). Located in the town of Vega Baja, this recreation area is a perfect spot for families and friends to get together and enjoy nature. We found it to be a wonderful picnic stop on a busy day of exploring, and it is extremely popular in the summer and on weekends with families, for good reason.
We like nature and adventure, and we were psyched to find Puerto Rico Interior Tours - an adventure company that offers something a little bit different than other adventure companies. Their tour has thrilling zip lines, hiking and cave exploration, but they also have subterranean hikes, waterfalls, and a rappel into a river inside a cave. You don't get to do those things every day!
I think nature is amazing, how it slowly and quietly rejuvenates, and how it always wins. This is true of anything it touches. The Bosque Urbano de San Patricio is a great example of nature reclaiming a concrete jungle. This park is a nice place to walk around, or bike with the family.
Sangría is a traditional drink in Spain … and of summer. This delicious and light blend of wine and fruit juices make it a perfect drink to enjoy any time. With Puerto Rico's Spanish heritage, and year round hot weather, it is only natural that sangría is all the rage here. Sangría Los Hermanos is a small (but fast-growing) family-operated business, specializing in hand-crafted sangría. It is a labor of love, and it tastes great! We had the opportunity to visit them for a tasting recently. Here's the scoop.
I like waterfalls, so when I see photos of local waterfalls, I make every effort to find them. That is how we found Cascada Patrón. This waterfall looks really nice in pictures, and it is relatively easy to reach. Technically, it is in the town of Morovis, but it is on the boarder with Vega Baja, so it is a quick stop when doing other things in the area. Another plus is that it is not too far from San Juan.
The hike to Arbol Solitario, though difficult, rewards your effort with an amazing 360° bird's eye view of the central mountain range, the towns of Cayey and Salinas, and the Caribbean Sea. The tree itself is not the reason for the trek. It's the photo opportunity that awaits you at the peak. Strap on your hiking boots, slap on on sunscreen, grab a bottle of water, and get ready for a great cardio workout with a prize at the end!
While Puerto Rico has a number of bio bays, Mosquito Bay on Vieques is the brightest and most protected. It is worth planning on spending at least one night on Vieques to see it. You used to be able to get to Vieques and see the bio bay without spending the night. But that is no longer true. Now, you need to stay overnight. But that is not a bad thing … Vieques has loads of beautiful beaches, and some other interesting things to do to keep you busy. And at nightfall, an easy way to visit the bio bay is by electric boat with Vieques Sea Tours.
The Rio Caonillas in Utuado has a mystical feel to it. The river, the large rock cliffs, the majestic mountain in the distance … it's all really inspiring. I don’t think that I am the first person to feel this way … In numerous places along the river you can find a number of beautiful pre-Columbian petroglyphs carved into the rocks. Of all the places I have been in Puerto Rico, this is one of my favorite spots.
If you are looking to buy fresh, locally grown or made items, then a Farmers’ Market is for you. These markets are where you will find some really unusual and wonderful stuff. And it is not just for health nuts. Buying fresh and local is a win-win for everyone — you get fresh food or some local and handicrafts, and you help support the local economy.
Visiting one of the massive forts in Old San Juan is a must-do for a couple of hours while on vacation in Puerto Rico. But can you imagine what it was like to have lived in a fort? The National Park Service offers a number of different educational tours at the forts. They are usually around 45-minute guided hours tours that tells you about the forts and life in the fort back in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
We are lucky enough to be able to call El Yunque rain forest “our backyard”. We have explored many areas of it, and still we have not seen everything there is to see. When talking with some friends who live in our area, they mentioned the really nice waterfalls just up the road. What!? We’ve lived here 10 years … how did we miss them? We once did a little exploring down river, but obliviously didn’t go far enough! We’ll let you in on this little-know secret!
Sea glass hunting is a hobby I enjoy whenever we go to a beach. Some areas and beaches are more fruitful than others. Rincón is one of those bountiful places that have a number of different beaches that offer a variety of shapes, sizes, and some unusual colors of sea glass. I'll tell you where to look, and what we have found.
You gotta love a pretty waterfall that is close to your home. Here in Puerto Rico, once you get out of the city, it is not too difficult to find some beautiful falls. We recently went to Los Pilones Falls and Charco de los Caballos, located just in the next town over from where we live. The river (Río Canóvanas) is actually a very pretty and interesting river that starts way up in El Yunque, and runs to the sea, with many waterfalls and swimming holes along the way. People have been enjoying this river for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, as evidenced by petroglyphs that we have found in other locations in this river. It was a real nice place to spend some time and cool down.
Laguna Tortuguero Nature Reserve is a large, natural body of water that is in the towns of both Vega Baja and Manatí. Just off the north coast of Puerto Rico, it is home to many species of plants and animals. Though the lagoon is known mostly as a fishing and kayaking area, the marsh and sandy land around it has other diversions like bird watching, trails for mountain biking and walking, and picnic pavilions. Managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, it is a nice place to spend some time exploring.
Mona Island, or Isla de Mona, is often referred to as the Galápagos of the Caribbean. It is a natural, uninhabited island, surrounded by crystal clear water, coral reefs, soaring cliffs, ample marine life, and the occasional white-sand beach. Top-side, the island is filled with caves, historically significant artifacts, and endemic plants and animals, some of which are endangered. The trip to Mona Island is not for the average person, but it is a remarkable place that is worth visiting if you are able.
During the "summer" months, you see and hear a lot more about "internal tourism" (turismo interno) both in the news and on the internet. That's great for everyone … we all find out about new and beautiful places to visit. Salto Collores Waterfall is one of those places that we found out about through local media. This pretty waterfall is one of the easiest places to visit on the island. It's not far from the Ponce area, so it can be added onto a day-trip to the area.
While everyone knows that Puerto Rico has beautiful beaches and rivers, there are a few other natural bodies of water getting a lot of attention lately. One of those is the Manantial de Vega Baja. This is a small pool of crystal clear water that is fed by a natural spring. There are a few natural springs in Puerto Rico, but especially around the Tortuguero Nature Reserve area of Vega Baja and Manatí. Once a quiet “secret” spot, word has spread about it and now it is “The Place” to go.
Río Abajo State Forest in Utuado has a handful of hiking trails, and a couple of caves to explore. On this trip to the forest, we hiked to and explored Cueva del Agua. This cave is a multi-level cave system, with a river running through the mid-level cave that creates a waterfall in the lower-level cave. A visit to this forest can be combined with a trip to Cueva Ventana or the Arecibo Radiotelescope. It's worth a visit!
If you like to hike (like we do), then you will want to check out some of the forests in Puerto Rico, beyond El Yunque National Forest. As it turns out, the Río Abajo State Forest is pretty interesting, and it has some good hikes that will appeal to bird-watchers and people who enjoy exploring caves. It also has a really nice camping area. This forest, located in Arecibo and Utuado, is well worth a visit!
Puerto Rico is a great place to surf, with year-long summers and some of the best waves in the Caribbean. Learning to surf at La Pared Beach in Luquillo is an experience you will not soon forget. Surfing Puerto Rico offers surfing lessons for everyone, young and old, in a fun and encouraging environment. We recently took surfing lessons with them, and everyone in our group was able to get up and surf for real during the lesson. It is an amazing feeling of accomplishment!
Every so often we find a spot that just makes us really happy. Las Delicias Falls was one of those spots. We both said that it looks like something out of a tropical movie set. So pretty and perfect that it doesn't look real. The best part is that it is real, and it is actually easy to access.
If you are in the Ponce area on a weekend, and you want to go somewhere to hang out like a local, head to La Guancha. This boardwalk area is a family-friendly place to enjoy local food, music, and the company of other people. There are also some other fun diversions like a beach, a playground for the kids, kayak rentals, tarpon feeding, and boat rides. It is a fun place to spend a weekend afternoon or evening.
Located in the town of Peñuelas, La Soplaera Falls is a set of waterfalls that is easy to find and easy to access. Though probably not interesting enough to do as a stand-alone day trip, these waterfalls can make a fun side-trip if you're visiting Ponce, Cabo Rojo, or just driving through the south part of the island.
The first three parts of our walking tour took you to most of the older, historical sites in Old San Juan. This fourth installment leaves the "old world" and moves on to the "newer" parts (relatively speaking) of the city … those parts constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Taken together, these four walking tours make a full circle around Old San Juan.
The sugar industry had hundreds of years of prosperity in Puerto Rico. But, now that era is over, all that is left as a reminder of the “sugar heyday” are a few empty structures and chimneys that dot empty fields throughout the island. Some of these are quite pretty, such as the ruins of La Lucía Sugar Mill (Hacienda Ingenio Azucarera La Lucía) in Yabucoa, along the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.
The town of Manatí is about 45 minutes west of San Juan, and it boasts a number of beautiful beaches. Playa la Cueva de las Golondrinas and Poza del Mujeres are two beach areas in Manatí that are very close to each other, and that each have small and beautiful beaches. They require a little bit of walking (a couple of minutes) to get to, but you should do both the same day as they are both worth the effort.
When I think of Bayamón, I picture a suburb of San Juan, with lots of people, stores, and general congestion. One thing that I didn’t expect to find in Bayamón is the Poza Prieta waterfall. This hidden gem in the back-country of Bayamón is one of the biggest surprises because of its size — probably one of the highest waterfalls in Puerto Rico (at least out of the waterfalls I have seen here). However, this waterfall is well off the "beaten path", so hiking to these falls is not for everyone, and it best done with an experienced guide.
Sometimes, when you make a wrong turn, you find the most interesting things. We found this "Recycled Garden" along the road in Utuado the other day. It made us smile. Here's hoping it makes you smile, too.
After exploring Puerto Rico since 2003, and writing about it here since 2007, I still find some beautiful sites that just amaze me. Charco Azul & Cuevas Arenales (Blue Pool & Sand Cave) in Vega Baja is one of these places. Located less than an hour’s drive from of San Juan, this little area looks like it is from another planet or era. Millions of years of rain and river water has carved these rocks into beautifully odd formations. It is a great place to spend a few hours cooling off.
We have been wanting to see the Wuanikí Bawá or Piedra del Indio petroglyphs for many years. They are drawings of three figures, etched a monolith at the water’s edge, that are accessible only from the water. Now that the old Roosevelt Roads US Navel base is mostly open to the public, we recently rented kayaks and spent a couple hours exploring the petroglyphs and nearby mangrove lagoon.
What do you do when you've had too much sun or are simply tired of lounging around on beautiful beaches? You take a road trip! Even though Vieques is known for it's beautiful beaches, there are still some non-beachy things you can do to pass the time. Here is a list of things you can do on the south side of Vieques that don't involve a beach blanket.
Puerto Rico boasts the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, and outlet malls in both Barceloneta and Canovanas. Now we can add to that list with the high-end stores at the Mall of San Juan, which opened in March 2015. Anchored by Nordstroms, it also has many upscale retail shops. The mall is located just across the San José Lagoon from Isla Verde and Condado, and only minutes from the SJU airport.
Waterfalls, both natural and man-made, are always great backdrops for photos. These dams in Comerío are no exception. Built in the early 1900s as hydroelectric plants, these now defunct sites offer some great photo ops. And the best part is that you can see them from the side of the road without even setting foot on a trail!
Manatees are endemic to the ocean surrounding Puerto Rico. Due to boating "mishaps" and the loss of coastal habitat, there are fewer than 600 of these gentle creatures in our local waters. The Manatee Conservation Center at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico works to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured and orphaned manatees. Their endeavors are supported by volunteers and donations. You can help by taking a tour of their rehabilitation center, meeting the manatees "in person", and making a donation. Your visit can help make a difference between saving this species … and extinction.
If you've spent some time on the island of Vieques, you have no doubt visited some beautiful beaches. But what do you do when you get bored of yet another gorgeous beach? You jump into the water with a mask, fins, and snorkel to see what lies beneath the waves! Here are some spots that on Vieques that we've found to be good for snorkeling. Is your favorite on the list?
The Jardín de la Princesa park in Old San Juan was opened to the public in October 2014. It features five bronze sculptures by Jose Buscaglia representing the Source of the Heritage of the Americas. There is a small garden, and a playground for the kids. It along Paseo de la Princesa, not far from the cruise ship piers … so it's an easy stop on your tour of Old San Juan.
Coffee-infused Puerto Rican rum is a tasty treat that is quick and easy to make. It can be used in other recipes as a substitute for Kahlúa, added to coffee, or enjoyed as a shot or on the rocks. Make a bunch of bottles to give away as gifts, and be sure to keep one for yourself!
Do you know someone who loves amusement parks or carnivals? Then La Feria – The Park will be right up their alley. This annual carnival runs from Early December through the end of the first week of January. This family-friendly fair is full of amusement park rides and games, food and refreshments, live music and shows, holiday light displays and even a petting zoo.
The town of Loiza has a long and interesting history. The African heritage of the area is seen all around town — in the music, dance and art. The Loizeno people are proud of their ancestry, and the local artisans often use it as a primary theme in their artwork. If you really want to take home a meaningful and authentic hand-crafted souvenir from Puerto Rico, skip the Made in China stuff that you'll find at the airport. Instead, take a short trip to Loiza where you can learn a little history, and buy directly from the artists.
If you are looking for something to do on Vieques other than go to beaches, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has made 3 new hiking trails. Called Vereda Cerro Playuela, they opened these trails in mid-2013. The trails offer the experience of going through a few different types of forests, great views, and remote beaches that are so beautiful you will be so happy for this diversion.
Archaeologists have found evidence of pre-Taino people living in what is now Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo. They have uncovered human skeletons, bones, shells, tools, and clay pots that date back to 300-600AD. But now, this historical site is at risk of being lost due to actions of the waves and wind, and the rise in sea level. It is a race against time to save the remains - and they need your help!
Vieques is known for it's beautiful, white-sand beaches with calm, sparkling blue water that are perfect for sunbathing and swimming. There are other beaches on the island that have rugged beauty and seem to go on for miles. Playa Grande is that kind of beach. It's perfect for long walks, sunbathing, and countless photo ops.
What do you do when you've had too much sun or are simply tired of lounging around on beautiful beaches? You take a road trip! Even though Vieques is known for it's beautiful beaches, there are still some non-beachy things you can do to pass the time. Here is a list of things you can do on the north side of Vieques that don't involve a beach blanket.
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes fever and intense joint pain. Primarily found in Africa and Asia, the first cases of Chikungunya in the Caribbean were detected in December 2013. This article provides a run-down of the symptoms and what you can do to help prevent the Chikungunya virus.
Moonshine, White Lightning, Hooch, Tennessee White Whiskey — call it what you will. Here in Puerto Rico, alcohol made in your backyard is called Pitorro or Cañita. Sol Taino Distillery (was Destilería Cruz) produces a brand of legal Pitorro, called PitoRico, that is available plain or in various local fruit flavors. They also make rums (and now a Vodka!) Their factory is in Jayuya, and the public is welcome to stop by to see them making it, have a taste of local moonshine, and pick up a few bottles to take back home.
Vieques is a small island located in the Caribbean. And guess what? It is loaded with beaches! And not just any beaches - some really amazing beaches. They come in all shapes, sizes and sand colors. I bet everyone that visits Vieques has a few that stand out for them as favorites. With so many beaches to choose from, it is hard to choose which one is the best!
Parque Historico Cueva Maria de la Cruz in Loiza is a historical area, a cave that contained evidence of some of the earliest inhabitants of Puerto Rico. This small, historically significant cave is a short drive from Isla Verde, and is worth a quick visit if you happen to be in the area. The added cultural workshops make it fun and educational.
I love old, historic buildings and rum, so of course I had to make a point to visit Hacienda Santa Ana - the home of Ron del Barrilito, one of the local Puerto Rican rum producers. Their rum is made and aged here, on the family’s property, which used to be an old sugar hacienda. They offer a variety of tours, all start with a Historic Tour which will show you around the property and explain the process. You will have a great time and get some good photos of this historic site.
We recently went on a tasting tour at Café Gran Batey in Utuado, and we fell in love. We got to see coffee growing in their fields, and how they process the coffee at every step … all the way up to bagging the freshly-roasted, warm beans for sale. This is not to be missed if you are in the area and have a couple hours to spare.
Food, glorious food ... Drinks ... Cooking technique & recipe demonstrations by famous local & international chefs ... Live entertainment ... All in a glorious ocean-front setting. That is what you will experience at the 13th annual Saborea Puerto Rico "A Culinary Extravaganza". It will be April 2-5, 2020 at the Ventana al Mar area of the Balneario de Carolina . We have gone for the past couple of years, and we've really enjoyed ourselves. So you know we will be there again!
There are only a few bioluminescent bays left in the world, and Puerto Rico is fortunate enough to have three of them. The biobays in Puerto Rico are Laguana Grande in Fajardo, Mosquito Bay in Vieques, and La Parguera in Lajas — with Mosquito Bay being the brightest of the three. We visited Mosquito Bay with Black Beard Sports, and had a great time!
Vieques to known for it's remote and secluded beaches. Now, thanks to some relatively recent road improvements on Vieques, Playa Caracas (aka Red Beach) is a beautiful white-sand beach in the US Fish & Wildlife reserve that is accessible by the local public transportation. No Jeep required!
Culebra Island Adventures offers some tours that allow you see some great beaches, do some kayaking, and come face-to-face with sea turtles while snorkeling. They can coordinate all of your transportation and act as your tour guide, which makes for a carefree way to see some of the best stuff that Culebra has to offer.
Fine chocolate and fine art … what is not to love? Casa Cortés ChocoBar is a restaurant & art gallery in Old San Juan operated by the Cortés family. This chocolate-producing family has opened this venue to allow the rest of us in on some of their greatest family treasures — meals that incorporate their amazing chocolate, and pieces from their amazing art collection.
Culebra is loaded with amazingly pretty seaside spots. Some are very popular and crowded, while some are little, hidden gems. For us, one gem is Playa Larga on the north-east tip of the island. Playa Larga is not easy to get to, and it is not a spot to go to for swimming, but it is our favorite quiet spot to just sit and enjoy the view.
The Museo Agricola de Aguada contains a varied collection of items and antiques, including carved wooden Santos, a restored locomotive, pre-Columbian artifacts, musical instruments, household items, … and a huge collection of clothes irons. It's an eclectic collection of "stuff" that will give you glimpse into the history of Puerto Rico.
The Guánica Dry Forest has loads of hiking and biking trails, and it offers a number of different sights and opportunities for viewing nature. Our most recent hike on the Ballena Trail was no exception. Besides the amazing cactus and easy bird viewing, we found small cave, ruins, and a 700-year old tree.
Culebrita is a tiny cay located off the north-east corner of Culebra. It is uninhabited, visited only by a few people every day, and holds many wonderful “secrets” waiting to be explored. You can only get there by boat, but it is totally worth the effort in order to experience this unspoiled island.
Tembleque is a coconut dessert that is like a cross between Jello and pudding (tembleque translates to trembling or jiggly). It is fast and easy to make, and it is a sweet (but not too sweet) and delicious way to end a meal.
The town of Río Grande has branded itself as the “Cuidad del Yunque” - the “City of El Yunque”. While El Yunque National Forest is certainly the highlight, there are a few other things of interest to do here. One of those activities is a trip on the Río Espíritu Santo on La Paseadora pontoon boat.
If you are looking for a fun beach spot in the north-west part of Puerto Rico, you can head to Playa Jobos (Jobos Beach) in Isabela. This stretch of sand offers surfing, beach bars, and a little exploration around the rocky coastline.
Playa Puerto Hermina in Quebradillas is a perfect spot for relaxing on the beach, or under a shady picnic pavilion, and just enjoying the beautiful scenery. It has historical ruins, soft sand, waves for surfing or body boarding, beautiful rock formations, and natural areas to explore.
Over the last few years, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has become extremely popular. It is very easy to do, requires just a little equipment, and provides a great whole-body workout. If you haven’t tried it yet, or even if you are an experienced pro, paddling in Puerto Rico is a great vacation activity that the whole family can enjoy.
We spent a half-day meandering off the beaten path on Route 123 in Utuado and found a number of cool things to check out. Taking the highway might get you where you're going quicker, but taking some of the winding roads through rural areas can give you a good idea of what the "back country" of Puerto Rico looks like.
We've known for years that there are pre-Columbian petroglyphs in the river down the road from our house. We cross the bridge over that river every time we leave our house … that's how many times since 2005? We finally made the time to stop and check them out. Wow! What a great (and easy to get to) find!
There are so many little gems hidden around Puerto Rico, and Charca las Vegas is another one of them. This little waterfall and river swimming hole was a huge surprise. So peaceful and pretty. And obviously its beauty has been appreciated by people for many hundreds of years - there are pre-Columbian petroglyphs on the rocks around the pool as evidence.
Playa La Jungla is a natural beach surrounded by mangroves in Guánica. Visited primarily by locals, it offers a quiet respite from the party atmosphere of nearby Playa Santa.
What impact will the US Government Shutdown have on your well-planned vacation in Puerto Rico? In this brief guide to navigating the tourist-related closures on the island during the government shutdown, we will tell you what's closed, what's open, and — most importantly — we'll suggest some options to help fill those empty spots in your vacation schedule.
Playa Capitolio (or “Bajamar”) is a small beach in Old San Juan, across the street from the Puerto Rico Capitol Building. While far from being the most beautiful beach on the island, It is a place you can visit if you're in Old San Juan for the day. And, if you're a collector of sea glass … this beach is the mother lode of sea glass in Puerto Rico!
Roaring Lions … not part a circus, but a colorful, outdoor art exhibit in Ponce. Like many towns around the world, Ponce is displaying life-size animal statues painted by local artists. Since the symbol of Ponce is the lion, they chose lion statues to be turned into magical works of art. These colorful lion statues are on display all around the main plaza, giving you one more reason to make the trip to Ponce.
When I first saw a photo of Laguna Guaniquilla, I knew that I had to find it myself. Huge, jagged rocks that look like they came from the moon in the middle of a lagoon … you don’t see that every day! It was so unusual looking — hauntingly beautiful and roughed. A photographer’s and hiker’s dream …
Are you looking for a beach with soft, light sand, and warm, clear, blue water, with just little waves lapping at the shore? Well then look no further — Buyé Beach fits the bill. Buyé Beach (or Playa Buyé) is a bit tricky to find. But once you do find it, it is really nice. Located in Cabo Rojo, in the south-west corner of Puerto Rico, this beach is worth a stop if you’re in the area.
Punta Ventana is a natural rock “eye” that very few people get to see. It is in an out-of-the-way place along the coast in Guayanilla, and not visible from any road. But, with the right planning, it is not too difficult to get to — and well worth the effort.
Ermita San Antonio de Padua de la Tuna is the remains of the first Spanish settlement in the northwest part of Puerto Rico. It's an interesting bit of history that is worth a quick stop while you're in the Isabela area. It was the original town of what is now Isabela.
Most people think that the town of Camuy is all about "the Caves". But there are more things to do and see in Camuy. Peñón Amador Beach is one such place — good for surfing (in winter), fishing and sunbathing. And there are a couple surprises to be found here, too!
If you are looking for a fun place that the whole family can enjoy, head to Columbus Park (Parque de Colón) on the waterfront in Aguadilla. This little park has something for everyone in the family — a wooden boardwalk overlooking a small beach, playground equipment, and a big wooden treehouse for the kids.
After years of planning and construction, the expanded waterfront area along San Juan Bay formally opened recently. Called Bahia Urbana, this public space runs east along the waterfront, from the cruise ship area (Piers 1-4) to the Pier 7-8 area. This space offers a great place to walk or sit and enjoy the cool breeze coming off of the bay. If you’re not in the mood to sit and relax, it is also active with various tours, activities and programs.
What do you get when you attach a wakeboard to a jet ski? The super fun of a Flyboard, of course! A Flyboard allows you to hover over the water, giving you a sensation like you have never had before. Seriously. Just check out the video and tell me it doesn't look like fun!
If you are an art fan, Bayamón should be on your list of places to visit. There are two noteworthy art museums in town — the Bayamón Museum of Art, and the Oller Museum of Art and History. Both museums feature the works of local artists, from the mid-1800s through today.
Milk a cow. Race pigs. Go ice skating. Ride a pony. Meet some farm animals. Those are some of the activities for little kids at Villa Campestre in Guaynabo. It's a small, local park, with facilities for parties and a summer camp program. It's not Disney, but it may keep the little ones entertained for a couple of hours.
Quesos Vaca Negra is a small, artisanal cheese producer in Hatillo, that makes some excellent cheeses. They also offer a hands-on cheese-making tour, where you'll learn about the dairy industry and cheese-making, taste some of their cheeses, and walk away with a cheese wheel that you've made with your own hands. It is a yummy, fun, and informative way to spend a morning in the heart of Puerto Rico's dairy farm region!
The Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve offers eco-oriented activities for children, teens, and adults. Each of the programs are designed to highlight an aspect of Puerto Rico's natural wonders and cultural heritage, while promoting the importance of ecology and sustainability. Unlike most activities at the Ritz-Carlton, these ones are available to anyone, even those not staying at the resort.
Do you love coffee? Do you want to learn (and taste) the differences between specialty and commercial grade coffee blends? Are you interested in the history of coffee production in Puerto Rico? If you answered Yes to a least one of these questions, then you should check out this Coffee Cupping Workshop offered in Old San Juan.
We had our first Bushwacker drinks while on Culebra, and every time we go there, this is our drink of choice. It is kinda like a Mudslide, but with a hint of coconut. We did our research and came up with a recipe that is delicious and easy to make at home. You just need to provide your own white sand beach and deep blue water. Enjoy!
Julio Enrique Monagas Park in Bayamon offers both a unique nature respite for families, and amazing adventure opportunities. It is a great place for bird watching, walking trails, picnics and playground fun, without having to go too far from San Juan. For the more active person, it also has bike (MTB) trails and lots of karst (limestone) rock walls, perfect for rock climbing.
We managed to snorkel, hike, explore white sand beaches, hunt sea glass and shells, play in the water and relax all in one day on a recent trip in Culebra when we kayaked over to Cayo Luis Pena. This little island is rarely visited, but it really is worth the effort to experience this beautiful nature reserve.
For more than 275 years, the haciendas throughout the cool mountain regions of Puerto Rico have been growing coffee. It was once one of the largest crops in production on the island. The Museum of Coffee in Ciales is a place where you can explore some of the history of coffee, and to experience some of the best coffee available in Puerto Rico today.
The Spanish settlers made Puerto Rico their home more than 500 years ago, and you can see the archaeological evidence of their first settlement at the Caparra Ruins Museum and Historic Park in the town of Guaynabo. It is a small but important spot that has been set aside for its historical significance.
What do you do when you get tired of lying on a beach on Vieques? You go for a hike! There aren't that many places for hiking on the island, but Cayo de Tierra, at the western end of Playa Sun Bay, offers a challenging uphill walk that has some great views at the top.
If you are someone who just loves spending lazy days lying on a beautiful beach, or if (like us) you need more activity including beach-combing, snorkeling, hiking, and great photo ops … then the out-island of Culebra is for you. It offers the best of both worlds! Here is a sample itinerary that you can use for planning a quick getaway to Culebra.
While we don’t get out to the west coast of Puerto Rico very often, when we do, we make a point to toast the sunset with a Pirate Special. This amazing concoction of rum and coconut is devilishly delicious. Though we don't have the exact recipe, we've come up with one that tastes pretty good to us!
I really love visiting the small out-islands around Puerto Rico. They are so pretty - just spits of white sand and palm trees surrounded by clear blue water. But with a name like Isla Ratones (Rat Island), this one kind of scared me. But then I finally got to go, and it’s a cute little island. It’s a nice place to visit for a couple hours (or a day) if you are in the area.
Did you know that Vieques has been a favorite stop for travelers to the Caribbean for thousands of years? Seriously … there is archaeological evidence. The skeletal remains of a 4000 year old man, El Hombre de Puerto Ferro, were found on Vieques in 1991, surrounded by large boulders.
We recently took some time to explore the Capital District of Old San Juan. In addition to the Capitol Building, there are a number of memorial plazas and sculptures, including a Holocaust Memorial, Fallen Soldier Memorial, Monument to Police killed in the line of duty, and quite a few more. We've driven through this area many times over the years without even knowing these things were there. Boy, were we surprised by all that we found!
Culebra is a small island off the east coast of PR, that offers some great water-based activities. There are some even smaller, less-visited islands surrounding Culebra that are just begging to be explored. But, to get to those, you need a boat. Captain Bill Penfield offers charters to all areas around the waters of Cuelbra on his Pez Vela sailboat. It is a great way to spend a day!
Parasailing is one of those things that, once you see someone doing it, you just want to do yourself. It is amazingly calm and quiet up there, and takes almost no effort on the part of the passenger, so just about anyone can do it. It is an activity that is available all around Puerto Rico, so you’ve come to the right place if you want to give it a try.
Sea glass or beach glass collecting has been a long tradition in my family. I have many fond memories of going to the beach with my grandmother and hunting for sea glass with her. I enjoy continuing this tradition whenever I go to a beach. Some beaches in Puerto Rico are better than others for finding these sea-tumbled treasures, and Vieques has some really nice sea glass beaches.
Vieques is most popular for its bright biobay, and for its many lovely, unspoiled beaches. But there are other less-visited sites that are interesting. The ruins of the Central Playa Grande Sugar Mill is one of those sites.
Stuff you need to know - A new law, prohibiting the use of handheld mobile phones while driving, goes into effect in Puerto Rico on 01 January 2013. The law specifically bans drivers from texting or talking on cellphones, without the use of hands-free equipment. Violations carry a $50 fine.
The big holiday in Puerto Rico is Three Kings Day, celebrated on January 6. And nowhere else on the island are the Three Kings taken more seriously than in the town of Juana Diaz, referred to by some as the Bethlehem of Puerto Rico. Juana Diaz is also home to the only museum dedicated exclusively to "all things Three Kings". Stop into the Casa Museo de los Santos Reyes to learn about the Christmastime traditions of the island.
Vieques is probably most well known for its beaches, many of which have beautiful white sand. But there is one little beach that has black sand, called Playa Negra. You need to walk a path for about 20 mins to get there, but it is so worth the effort.
When I was looking for non-beach things to do during a recent trip to Vieques, I came across the Puerto Ferro Lighthouse ruins. Commissioned in 1896, and abandoned in 1926, these ruins are perched atop dramatic cliffs, offering a spectacular view of beaches and the southern coast of Vieques.
When it comes to beaches, I like white sand and clear, blue water. Most of the beaches on the big island are cream or beige colored, with the occasional black sand beach. So imagine my surprise when we went to Playa Los Machos and Playa Media Mundo … and discovered two more white sand beaches on the big island!
We recently did an adventure trip that seriously tops all others we have done - Canyoning the Rio Blanca and Rio Icacos in Naguabo. Not for the faint of heart (nor body), this trek was extremely beautiful and extremely difficult. Words, photos, and video do not do justice to this trek - but we're going to try!
The Santuario de la Virgen de la Providencia in Cupey is the future home for the Archdiocese of San Juan. Today, you can visit this site to see a 15-story cross, and life-sized bronze sculptures of the Stations of the Cross. It's an awe-inspiring sight.
Attention all adventure-seekers … we have another crazy thing for you to try … body rafting down a river. We recently did this trip with Explora Multi Aventura, and it was really fun. On this trip, you float down the Tanama River … rapids and all. This trip is challenging and exhilarating, and it will really get your heart pumping.
Traveling from the San Juan area to Rio Grande, Luquillo, and Fajardo just got a whole lot easier and faster! The second phase of Route 66 opened to traffic on 01 October 2012, and it extends Route 66 from Canovanas to Rio Grande. It’s not much of a day trip itself, but it will sure reduce the driving time for trips to El Yunque National Forest, beaches in Luquillo, the biobay in Fajardo, snorkel trips in Fajardo, and other eastern points on the island.
The Plaza del Mercado and the Paseo Honor al Rio are two nice places in Caguas where you can explore more of the local side of Puerto Rico. On their own, these are not really must see places, but they are still fun to check out if you have some time in the area.
As you may know, I enjoy looking at ruins. So the ruins of the Ermita Espinar church in Aguada was on my list to see. But, as we explored the area looking for ruins in a field, we couldn't find it. As it turns out, these ruins have been enclosed inside of a new church. It was a very neat thing to see, and I am so happy they have been able to rebuild this parish while preserving the past.
Palominitos Island is a white sand beach east of Fajardo, with a handful of palm trees, that is very popular with the local weekend boating crowd. But something is happening to Palominitos Island - it looks like it is disappearing back into the ocean from which it was born.
While growing up in the north-eastern part of the States, every winter, we would strap on skates a go out onto any frozen body of water for fun. As it turns out, anyone in Puerto Rico can try ice skating too! This is a great way to spend some time while you’re on the west coast. The Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena is a cool (literally!) place to spend an hour or more of your vacation.
If you need an excuse to take off early from work and drink rum … now you have it. August 16 is Nacional Dia del Ron, which translates to "Let’s make up a holiday that gives us an excuse to drink rum". And what better way to celebrate that made-up holiday than with your favorite rum-infused beverage?
I don’t mean to state the obvious, but you have to look to the west if you want to see great sunsets. Weather permitting, almost every evening somewhere in Puerto Rico you can see an amazing sunset. We'll tell you some of our favorite places in Puerto Rico to watch the sun set. Where are you favorite Puerto Rico sunset spots?
The Puerto Rico Convention Center is more than just a venue for professional gatherings. It is often a place for fun — hosting fairs, shows and exhibitions of interest to the general public. Located in the Isla Grande/Miramar neighborhood, it is a short ride from Isla Verde, Condado, and Old San Juan. It may be just the type of fun you are looking for during your visit.
As we all know by now, the 2012 Summer Games of the XXX Olympiad are being held in London from 27 July to 12 August. Puerto Rico will be represented by 25 athletes at these Olympic Games. They will be competing in Athletics, Boxing, Gymnastics, Judo, Shooting, Swimming, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.
Culebra Island is as laid-back as any place in Puerto Rico can be. This little island east of the big island of Puerto Rico offers naturally beautiful beaches, and a relaxed feel that many people love. Culebra offers white sand beaches, crystal clear blue water, healthy reefs teaming with sea life, and a tropical breeze that keeps you cool as you are watching the amazing sunsets.
Loiza is a town steeped in tradition. It has roots that combine Spanish culture and traditions with African culture, and meld them into a unique Puerto Rican experience. One of the most colorful examples of this would be the annual Saint James Festival in Loíza. It is a multi-day event that occurs around July 25, the feast day of Saint James.
We love visiting Old San Juan - it is so colorful and interesting. One could spend ages there and never run out of things to do, see, photograph, and learn. Some of the most unique and interesting things are often overlooked. From the body of a Saint to a replica of the Liberty Bell, here is a list of some not-so-usual things that you can find in Old San Juan.
There are a number of trails inside the Guanica State Forest and Bioshpere Reserve that lead through the dry forest. There is also the Meseta Trail that leads along the southern coast in Guanica. It is a wonderful hike that offers cliff and beach views in a unique sea-side setting.
The mojito is a rum-based cocktail that is cool, minty, and just perfect for a hot summer day. While its origin is contested, it has become a local Puerto Rican classic. I have tried to make mojitos from scratch a few times, with varying results. Finally, I think I have come up with a winner of a recipe that is amazingly easy.
The Rio Sabana Trail is the newest trail in El Yunque National Forest. Officially opened in April 2011, this trail connects the Rio Sabana Recreation Area, at the end of Road 191 South, to the Trade Winds Trail. This trail is rated difficult, so it is not for everyone. It is the only official trail on the south side of El Yunque National Forest.
Every year, the town of Aibonito hosts the largest plant show & sale on the island. It features flower & plant displays, a large section for plant sales, live local music shows (of course) and food kiosks. However, It has been cancelled due to COVID-19
Beaches abound on the islands of Puerto Rico. Playa Sardinera, located in Dorado on the north coast, is another one that we visited recently. It is a balneario, so you know that the water quality is safe, and it should have all the services that you could want on a beach. It is a nice long stretch of sand that provides access to the typically calm water, though it didn't fit my idea of the perfect beach.
Culebra is a beautiful island, probably one of our favorite local beach mini-vacation getaway places. But lodging can be pricey. If you are looking for really low cost "lodging", and don't mind roughing it a bit, camping might fit the bill. The only campground on Culebra is the right on Playa Flamenco. It is an amazingly beautiful location, offering breezes and most of the amenities any camper could want.
Balneario Cerro Gordo is a really nice government-run beach in Vega Alta, along the northern coast, with all of the amenities that anyone could ask for. It is just 45 minutes from San Juan, yet it has a far away feel — much more local than city. It is a favorite of locals from the surrounding areas (and one of my favorites) in the central northern coastal area.
Do you love ice cream like I do? Then a trip to Jendys Heladería (ice cream parlor) in Caguas is a must-do stop. No matter what you are in the mood for, they have probably made that flavor. They specialize in odd, unusual, tropical and totally delicious flavors of small batch ice cream.
Public transportation on the island is always a hot topic among travelers. Puerto Rico's transportation system within the San Juan metro area is pretty good. But, unlike many other Caribbean islands, our public transportation system does not encompass the entire island. Info on the public bus system is hard to find. To counter that, we've put together this brief guide, and we've drawn our own version of the AMA bus route map, in the hopes of making travel on the island a little easier for at least a few visitors.
We explore at lot of places in Puerto Rico, and I love it when we find something unusual that is relatively unknown. A recent find for us was Ojo de Buey along the coast in Dorado. This natural rock formation resembles the head of on ox, and it held special meaning for the pre-Taino inhabitants of the area. You may want to do a little exploring and check it out for yourself!
Old San Juan is one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico. The history, the architecture, and the photo opportunities all make it a must-visit place. You can walk around in the city and see what there is to see. But for a whole different perspective, how about sitting back and relaxing while taking in the views of the old city from the sea? We recently took a sail boat trip in the San Juan Bay, and it was one of the most relaxing hours I have ever spent in Old San Juan.
While Culebra is known for its beautiful beaches, great sea life, and relaxing lifestyle, there are also some hiking trails for those times you want to get away from the beach. Some hikes are an easy walk on the beach, and others are longer and more difficult.
If you like to snorkel, then the island of Culebra is calling your name. Hardly developed, this tiny island has miles of shoreline, and lots of healthy sea life and coral formations. Which makes for what is arguably some of the best snorkeling available in Puerto Rico. To make things even better, most of the great snorkel spots are easy to get to right from the beach. So grab a mask, snorkel and fins, and jump in!
If you're a waterfall person, we have another one for you — Chorros del Río la Planta in Arecibo. While not a destination in itself, these waterfalls are a great quick stop while visiting something else in the Arecibo area.
Waterparks are an enjoyable way to keep cool on a tropical island. Puerto Rico has a number of water parks to choose from, ranging from those for infants and small kids, to larger parks for bigger kids of all ages. Many of them are only open during the summer months (meaning mid-May to mid-August), but a handful are open year-round. Here's a list to help you keep your cool.
There are few thing more fun on a hot day then spending some time splashing around in a waterpark. We have visited a number of waterparks in the States, but had never been to any in Puerto Rico. Recently, we enjoyed a day at Las Cascadas Waterpark in Aguadilla. Though not a huge park, it has a little bit of something for all the members of your family to enjoy — pools, slides, lazy rivers, and a kiddie area.
In April 1797, the British attacked San Juan and were defeated by the local militia. Each year, in April, a reenactment is held at the San Juan National Historic Site complete with living history volunteers in uniform, encampments, canon firings, and military drills. Stop by and check it out!
Do you want to party like a Puerto Rican? I can't help you with that too much, but I can give you some recipes for a local favorite drink called Chichaito. Chichaito is a seriously strong alcholic beverage, made with Anisette liqueur and rum. It is a yummy, anise (licorice) flavored drink, typically served as a shot, though sometimes it is chilled and sipped.
I like turtles. So when spring comes around, we head to the Luquillo town plaza to celebrate the annual Festival el Tinglar. Since 2006, the Sierra Club has sponsored this event to help promote awareness and conservation of the wonderful natural environment in this part of Puerto Rico. This year's Festival el Tinglar is on Saturday, May5th,2018. We encourage you to stop by!
We consider the cliffs of Cabo Rojo, near the lighthouse, to be one of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico. We have found that, as you explore the area around the lighthouse and head northwest, you will see how these rugged cliffs have been worn and sculpted by the ocean waves over time. There are all sorts of arches, little caves, and other amazing rock formations along this coastline. The photo opportunities are endless!
If you are interested in religious art and old architecture, a visit to the Convento de Porta Coeli church in the town of San German is a must. Convento de Porta Coeli, the second oldest church in the New World, was restored by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, and is now a museum called the Museo de Arte Religioso. Located in the south-west part of Puerto Rico, San German is a bit off the beaten path. But, if you're visiting that part of the island, plan a little extra time to make a side-trip to this quaint, little town.
We are fortunate to have El Yunque rain forest as our backyard, so we have had the opportunity to hike all of the trails in El Yunque National Forest. Los Picachos trail is a short, side spur along El Yunque peak trail that is definitely worth the effort it takes to get there. Los Picachos trail heads to the east, and leads to an incredible 360° view.
Spring is in the air, so that means that is is time for Plant Shows here on the island! There are a number of orchid and plant shows on the island, featuring displays, sales, and seminars. If you love tropical plants and flowers, be sure to mark these dates on your calendar!
Puerto Rico is the self-proclaimed Rum Capital of the World, so what better place to come and enjoy the best Puerto Rican rums? It is that time of the year again — the Rums of Puerto Rico is holding its next Taste of Rum event on March 7, 2020. Taste of Rum is the official Rum Festival of Puerto Rico, dedicated to promoting high-end Puerto Rican rums to the world.
The oceans and seas around Puerto Rico are full of amazing creatures. And every winter, humpback whales join us for a 2-3 month period to rest, mate, and care for their young before heading back up north. You will have the best chance of spotting them from mid-January though mid-March in the west coast/north west coast towns.
To make the most of the Parguera area, you need to get out on the water and visit the mangrove islands and/or the biobay. In order to do this, you obviously need to have access to a kayak or a boat of some kind. One option is to rent a little skiff. It is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to get around to see the mangrove cays and maybe do a little snorkeling.
Black sand beaches sound so exotic, don't they? On the big island of Puerto Rico, we have found only two beaches that have black sand, and both of them are in the Barceloneta/Manatí area on the north coast. This particular black sand beach, called Playa La Boca, is easy to get to, and is available 7 days/week.
If you are a foodie, then Puerto Rico is a place for you! Besides the multitude of award winning chefs and restaurants, there are a number of special food festivals and events held throughout the island every year. They range from local specialty-food celebrations to professional chef competitions. Make a point to attend one of these festivals, then get ready to enjoy Foodie Paradise!
If you like Jazz, Old San Juan is the place to be on the last Sunday of every month. That's when Heineken sponsors Ventana al Jazz - a free, open-air jazz concert at Paseo Caribe. Bring a chair or a blanket, make an evening of it!
The center of the island is full of mountains, and the views from these peaks can be breathtaking. If you want to get to a these views, and not get out of breath doing it, consider going on horseback at Hacienda Madrigal in Cidra. Not only do you get to enjoy a horseback ride, you enjoy the cool fresh air of the Puerto Rican countryside.
The mangrove cayos in La Parguera are really something to see. They are tiny specks of green in middle of the blue ocean. Most are nothing more than clumps of mangroves and broken coral. However, there is one in particular - Mata de Gata - that has the facilities that you need to make a perfect setting for a picnic. Being an island, you will need a kayak, boat or another type of watercraft out to it. But once there, you may never want to leave
The Ponce Carnival is an annual week-long celebration. There are parades with wildly decorated floats, crazy costumed people, lots of music, loads of spectators, and merriment. Similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it is derived from the old world tradition of a final celebration before the beginning of Lent. But over time, it has transformed into a week-long party!
When you hear about the Guanica area, you probably hear all about how hot and dry it is. But, actually, Guanica also boasts some great swimming beaches - like Playa Santa. This lovely beach is a free, public beach, so it is open all the time, and it is a great place to cool down and relax.
Tropcial breezes, warm nights, swimming in secluded waterfalls, private beaches, beautiful views, hot & sexy salsa dancing - forget Virginia, Puerto Rico is for lovers! There are so many ways to romance your sweetheart here that you need only to decide which one suits your style.
For both locals and tourists alike, there are a lot of really great things to enjoy in Puerto Rico. But, when you’re busy enjoying yourself, the expenses can add up a lot quicker than you realize. But, thankfully, Puerto Rico has finally joined in the online-coupon trend that helps save everyone some money on the things they want to do.
I know that when you see this cute, little church, you assume it is somewhere in Europe. But this lovely place is actually right here in Puerto Rico! The church is a replica of a church in Germany. The grounds are very beautiful, and they welcome all visitors who want to come and enjoy this peaceful place.
The Cambalache State Forest (Bosque Estatal de Cambalache) offers a lovely oasis for picnics and gatherings, and it has several miles of trails designed for enjoying nature via mountain bike or walking. This is one of the few places in Puerto Rico where you can mountain bike along cool and shaded forest trails.
Puerto Rico has an extra-long holiday season. It starts at Thanksgiving and runs until mid-January. While you may think that Christmas is the big day, tradition dictates that Three Kings' Day, or El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, is the biggest holiday in all the island.
Amazing ... That about sums up my feelings about the new Museo del Nino (Children’s Museum) in Carolina. The museum is a fun, hands-on place full of interactive, passive-learning activities. It has over 100 exhibits, each with something to play on, with, in, or around. Kids of all ages are sure to find something interesting and fun to do. I know we did!
The spirit of the Jibaro of the past is still alive today in what their values and traditions mean to today’s Puerto Ricans. The Monumento al Jibaro Puertorriqueno on Route 52 in Cayey is a testament to that strong Puerto Rican spirit.
Felicidades y Próspero Año Nuevo to all of our readers!
For a great drive along the north coast, take Road 681 in Arecibo instead of Route 2 or Route 22. This coastal road allows you to stop off and enjoy a number of amazing views and beaches. While the Atlantic Ocean can be too rough to swim during much of the year, it provides a great backdrop for a nice afternoon or quick stop by the beach.
We took a cruise recently, and I did all the planning for our excursions in the various ports. For those of you coming into San Juan and trying to plan your day in port — I feel your pain. It is not easy to decide what there is to do in (or around) San Juan, and there are so many questions that need answering. Will I have enough time in port? How will I get there from the ship? Do I need a guide or can I do it on my own?
La Parguera offers natural beauty above and below the water. Going out in the afternoon and into the evening gives you some of the best of both worlds — clear blue water, green mangrove islands, colorful sunsets, and later, after dark, the sparkling Parguera Biobay lagoon water and thousands of stars above. We recently did a sunset snorkel and biobay tour with Paradise Scuba & Snorkeling and it was an enjoyable end to a great day.
When people come to Puerto Rico, they are often bummed to find that fresh seafood is not all that readily available. It really is kind of shocking, being that we're on an island surround by vast oceans. But there is one area in Puerto Rico that should be known as the seafood heaven — the seaside community of Joyuda, in Cabo Rojo. We stopped in for lunch recently, and were pleasantly surprised.
Located on the southwest coast of the island, La Parguera boasts about 30 tiny mangrove islands just 1 to 5 miles off the shore. Once you get to those mangrove cays, you can swim, snorkel, and ride the currents in the crystal-clear, warm water. We went kayaking there. It was a great experience, that was both fun and educational.
What does a town do when they have a beautiful waterfront area, but no natural beaches there? Enclose the ocean, build decks around it, and make an ocean pool. That's just what the town of Lajas did to create Playa Rosada — it boasts a nice ocean swimming area without the sandy beach, and without the risk of any "big critters" to bother you while swimming!
If you are a fisherman you know how enjoyable it is to spend time out on the water, especially when you catch something. While no captain can gaurentee a catch, Captain Marcos of Light Tackle Paradise in Fajardo is known to have lots of luck. Our friends Wally and Anton recently had a productive morning of fishing, that included tarpon, king mackerel, grouper, and snapper.
Balneario Punta Salinas, in Toa Baja, is a lovely Beach that offers a wide, crescent-shaped beach. It has restrooms, showers, life guards, water-quality testing, along with other facilities and amenities. Though it's not the prettiest beach on the island, it is only about 20 minutes from the San Juan area, so it a just a short drive to get to a beach "out of the city".
Though Puerto Rico is full of all sorts of neat things to do, one of the few things we don't have here is river rapids for tubing or rafting. We did find an adventure that offers "lazy river" tubing through a cave, along with some hiking and Taino cave exploration. Those are some of my favorite things all rolled into one day, and all in beautiful Utuado. So, when some family members came to visit, we decided to check it out.
If you have always dreamed about riding a horse on a beach on a tropical island, then Tropical Trail Rides in Isabela is just what you are looking for. They have combined a few of my favorite things — beautiful horses, the amazing scenery of the rugged north coast of Puerto Rico, and plenty of sandy beach riding time — into a reasonably-priced, great riding experience.
Some people spend a lot of time and money coming to visit Puerto Rico and explore its natural beauty. But did you ever wonder what local folks feel are the most beautiful places to visit on the island? Let us introduce you to some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring spots in Puerto Rico!
I am not a camper, but I know a number of people who are, so I am always looking for places where they can camp in Puerto Rico. I can’t say I have been too impressed with most of the campsites around the island, but Monte del Estado in Maricao gets my vote for probably the nicest, cleanest camping facility.
Since we first wrote about the Lionfish invasion, about a year ago, this fish species has continued its expansion in the waters of Puerto Rico, and throughout the Caribbean. In order to really make a dent in the population explosion, more people need to get involved in the eradication effort. Here are some things that you can do to help.
Many people come to Puerto Rico and are surprised to find that there are not that many good snorkeling spots that you can access directly from the beach on the big island. If you go to the west coast in the summer, Tres Palmas Marine Reserve in Rincon offers great snorkeling at Steps Beach. We went recently and found a healthy forest of Elk Horn coral, along with a bunch of marine critters.
The Central Mountain range that runs through the middle of Puerto Rico is full of canyons, caves and waterfalls. We recently took a hike, sponsored by the local chapter of the Sierra Club, into Canyon Las Bocas to see the Cascade Grande waterfall. It was an enjoyable, and challenging, day of hiking and river-trekking.
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?" Check out this article for our Top 10 in Puerto Rico list.
When someone says Piña Colada, you immediately picture a frosty drink with tropical fruit hanging off the edge of the glass. It is cool, delicious, and sweet. It is the "national" drink of Puerto Rico, and is available just about everywhere here — beaches, roadside stands, restaurants, and bars. Here's our recipe for this favorite, vacation-time drink.
San Cristóbal Canyon has been named one of the top 10 Natural Wonders of Puerto Rico. With that high distinction, I needed to see it for myself. It is not the easiest place to get to (being at the bottom of a 500+ foot descent), so it does require some planning and, for best results, a tour guide!
The Northeast Ecological Corridor is a wonderful stretch of about 6½ miles of coastline, from Luquillo to Fajardo. We had never been in that area, so after some recent guests told us about the long walk they took along the beach there, we decided we needed to see it ourselves. It really is a wonderful, natural place. We hope that more awareness of Puerto Rico's natural wonders will encourge people to want to preserve it.
When touring Old San Juan, no visit would be complete without a visit to at least one of the forts. Recently, we had the opportunity to take the Outworks Tour at Fort San Cristobal. This tour highlights just how much of a military engineering marvel this fort is, and how it is designed with all sorts of boobie traps, and visiual deceptions, to really mess with the heads of any invading enemy’s troops.
If you enjoy adventure tours — those with ziplines, rappelling, hiking, caving, and other fun things — and you also enjoy going to special, off the beaten path places — then this tour is for you. Batey Zipline Adventure, in beautiful Utuado, offers all of that in a nice half-day package. The majority of the activities are on, around, and above an organic farm near the Tanama River, making this the most eco-friendly adventure tour we've taken in Puerto Rico.
Culebra has always been a popular island, with its beautiful beaches and easy snorkeling right from the beach. The problem is, the amazingly beautiful Flamenco Beach has also become so popular that it can be a bit crowded at times. For people who are looking for a quiter beach that still offers great snorkeling, Playa Carlos Rosario may be just right for you.
Walking and hiking in El Yunque National Forest is one of our favorite things to do. On my brother’s recent visit, we decided to go to the south side of El Yunque and walk the Waterline Trail to Los Prieto Falls, and then to continue past the falls to the end to see the view. We have done this trail a few times, and we really like it. It's WAS an easy hike, but not anymore!
A trip into a biobay is one of the best things you can do during your visit to Puerto Rico. Something as fascinating as the biobay certainly qualifies as a Kodak Moment, right? Well, yes and no. It's really difficult to take even mediocre photos of the bioluminescent glow. You can spend lots of time trying to get the perfect photo, or you can spend your time enjoying this natural phenomenon. If you want to try for the photos, we have some tips for you.
Puerto Rico is known for its coffee, and the best coffee comes from ripe beans grown high in the cool, moist mountain regions of the Toro Negro mountain range. There are a number of coffee Haciendas in the towns of Jayuya, San Sebastian, Ponce, Adjuntas, Las Marias and Lares. Most of larger coffee plantations are not open to the public, but some of the smaller, specialty/gourmet places are open for tours, and purchases. Our tour at the small, gourmet coffee plantation Hacienda Pomarrosa was informative and enjoyable.
Sometimes, finding off-the-beaten-path things to do leads to great discoveries. And, other times, it doesn't work out as planned. Lots of our adventures come about from some serious research for basic information and the general location of possibly interesting things on my part, and lots of stopping for directions and U-turns on Ray's part. One recent Sunday, we took a drive in Naranjito to find some exciting new waterfalls and amazing views. It turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
I love it when you explore some place new and you are happily surprised with the outcome. That is what happened to us on a recent visit to the Centro Histórico Turístico del Cibuco (Cibuco Historical Tourist Center) in Corozal. We had heard that they offered a tour of this park, but we had no idea what a gem this place was. There is something for every family member packed into this lovely place, where you can spend a couple hours or the whole day.
On a recent, sunny Sunday, we decided to take a drive down the east coast of Puerto Rico. It is a nice drive if you go along the coast, with some great views along the way. At the south-east corner if the island is the town of Maunabo, in which you can find the Punta Tuna Lighthouse (Faro Punta Tuna) and beach. While you can't enter the lighthouse itself, the park and beach area are worth a stop.
I had heard that Isla Caja de Muertos (or Coffin Island) was lovely, but I think it has been kept a secret just how fantastic it is! Visiting the island has been on my "to do" list for years, but we never really made the effort to go. We finally made it out there, and I can kick myself for waiting so long. It is a beautiful island and it is too nice to be missed, especially since it is an easy day trip.
The minute you make your plans to come to Puerto Rico, you know his name — Luis Muñoz Marín. You might wonder Who was this guy that the airport is named after? Luis Muñoz Marín was the first elected Governor of Puerto Rico, and he changed Puerto Rico forever. A Foundation has been set up to preserve his legacy for future generations. While this is not a must do for most people, his home is an interesting place that deserves some attention.
We've been to a number of beaches along the northern coast of Puerto Rico, and I've rarely been let down by their rugged beauty. Playa La Esperanza was no exception. Located in Manatí, it is a remote and beautiful place. Not only did it have a great cove for cooling off in the water and beautiful views, it had a surprise — a black sand beach area.
The forts of the San Juan National Historic Site are hundreds of years old, and they hold many secrets from the past, many of which can be discovered just by wandering around by yourself. There are others that can be found in areas only accessible on a tour with one of the park rangers. One of those areas is the water cisterns located below Fort San Cristobal. We recently had the chance to visit those cisterns, and we were amazed by what we found.
The sugar era played a huge role in the history of so many Caribbean islands to make them what they are today. As the remains of the sugar mills disappear, a huge part of our local history goes with them — lost, not preserved, not discussed … forgotten. Recently, the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust has completed the first phase of the restoration of the old sugar plantation Hacienda La Esperanza in Manati. They are now offering tours to help educate people on this forgotten part of Puerto Rico’s history.
Everybody these days is talking about "going green" or being "eco" something or other. But, if you are really interested in learning about how to actually live green, and especially about sustainable forestry, Las Casas de la Selva is a place you should visit. This off-the-beaten path homestead is a an example of how you can live in and with nature, while still sustaining it.
Rain Forest Zip Line Corp is a new zipline company that offers a zipline experience, just seconds off the road that leads up to El Yunque National Forest. While not the largest nor the most modern zip line facility on the island, it offers a zip line experience that the whole family can enjoy. It would be great for kids or those people in your group who are "less adventurous" but who still want to try a zip line activity.
Playa Puerto Nuevo is another must-visit beach. I would have to say it is on my Top-10 list of beaches in Puerto Rico. Located on the north coast, in Vega Baja, about 45 minutes west of San Juan, it is has something for everyone.
Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park is the place for adrenaline junkies on vacation in Puerto Rico. They have plenty of ziplines (the longest on the island), mountain biking, and hanging bridges. You would need almost 2 full days to do everything in this park.
The forts in Old San Juan are amazing architectural marvels and defense systems, full of secret tunnels and passages. The National Park Service offers a guided Tunnels Tour at Fort San Cristobal on which you can learn about the fort and its defense systems. This tour also provides the opportunity enter a tunnel under the outworks that is normally off-limits to visitors.
Are you looking for a fun shopping experience in San Juan? On the first Sunday of every month, the Mercado Urbano is set up at La Ventana al Mar in Condado. Under big tents, this market holds about 40 or 50 vendors of local, Puerto Rican made products. Everything is home grown or home made on the island. You'll be able to find all sorts of things. It is a great stop.
The Ponce Art Musuem (Museo de Arte de Ponce) was renovated in 2010. It is larger and it has more than 800 art objects on display. I think it is the nicest art museum on the island, that I have visited, and it is a must-visit for anyone who has even a remote interest in the arts.
The north shore of Puerto Rico has miles of beautiful shoreline and it is one of my favorite spots for great views on the island. Mar Chiquita is a small cove of a beach protected from the rough Atlantic by a rocky wall. This picture-perfect beach, located in the town of Manatí, is not always good for swimming, but it is always beautiful.
The Coamo Thermal Springs is another one of those natural wonders that makes Puerto Rico a pretty cool place. For hundreds of years people have been enjoying these natural hot springs, which are said to have healing powers. And now, with the recent completion of a refurbishment of the public area, everyone can enjoy the springs in clean pools.
More than 150 years ago, the Plaza del Mercado in Old San Juan was the place to go to shop for food stuffs, fruits and veggies. Once again, it is open and, similar to in olden days, it is full of only organically grown and homemade organic products. Today, it is called the Mercado Agricola Natural Viejo San Juan and it is a treat for the eyes and the taste buds, for locals and visitors alike.
Here is another example of a local historical spot that is way under-visited. The Museo Casa Jesus T. Piñero is located right on Route 3 in Canovanas. Ray and I have passed this place literally hundreds of times and never have stopped in. We finally went for a visit recently and got a special tour of this beautifully restored home that has historical significance for Puerto Ricans.
BRAIN: The World Inside Your Head is a hands-on educational exhibition in Caguas all about our brains, how they work and what can go wrong. Though it is geared toward kids, it is still educational for people of all ages.
The nighttime sky has been beckoning people for probably as long as man has been on earth. I think most people have fond memories of their grade school solar system projects. If you really want to get a closer look at the night sky, you can go to the observatory at the Humacao campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). It’s a fun and educational evening for the star-gazer in all of us.
Right on the grounds of the UPR Botanical Garden in Rio Piedras is a little-known museum all about insects. Called the the Museum of Entomology and Tropical Biodiversity, it houses the largest collection of insects in Puerto Rico. While I am not a big lover of insects, I understand their place in the world. So while we were visiting the botanical garden, we thought we would check out the "bug museum".
The Museum of History, Anthropology and Art on Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico contains a diverse collection of fine art, sculptures, Egyptian mummies, and pre-Taino archaeological remains. All in all, it was an interesting way to spend a couple of hours on a hot day in August.
Lionfish are beautiful fish that have distinctive red, maroon, brown and white stripes on their head and body, and fan-like fins. They are native to the Indo-Pacific oceans, but have started to show up in the waters of the Atlantic and Caribbean. There have been numerous Lionfish sightings reported around Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands.
We had some guests staying with us last week, and I discovered that the husband brought his SCUBA gear and wanted to fit in a couple dives during their stay with us. As it turned out, he was the only SCUBA certified member of the family, and he would need a dive buddy. So I made some calls, and was able to hook us up for a 2-tank dive mid-week with Sea Ventures out of Palmas del Mar in Humacao. It turned out to be a nice morning of diving for both me and our guest.
Puerto Rico has lots of wonderful things to do, see, eat and listen to. One thing it is lacking is any form of "exciting" wildlife. I know that when you hear El Yunque rain forest you think of all sorts of colorful and exotic animals — like monkeys, jaguars, and macaws. You are not going to see those here, but we do have some critters that are worth being on the lookout for.
Are you looking for a little quiet culture in the heart of San Juan? Maybe something to do on a rainy or super hot day? The Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico are just a few blocks apart, and they are full of interesting objects of art.
Caguas is a wonderful small city, just 20 minutes south of San Juan, that offers many things to do for visitors. One of those things is La Ruta del Corazón Criollo (the Route to the Heart of Creole). It is a self-guided walking tour to 12 museums and places of interest, all within a few blocks around the town square. These museums provide visitors some insight into the history of Caguas and Creole.
The Central American and Caribbean Games have been held every 4 years since 1926. This year, the 21st Central American and Caribbean games will be held in Puerto Rico, officially in the town of Mayaguez. Opening ceremonies are July 17 and closing ceremonies are August 1, 2010. Athletes representing 31 countries from around the Caribbean and Central American region will be participating. Many events have free admission.
Save a Gato is a volunteer organization that manages the care and feeding of the colonial cats of Old San Juan. Through an agreement with the National Park Service, Save a Gato provides food, water and medical assistance for these cats. They do what they can, as a completely volunteer organization, run on donations. But every trap-neuter-release costs money. Find out how you can help.
Carnival — the word itself conjures up images of festivals and fun from around the world! And Puerto Rico is no exception. Almost every town holds a carnival — some big, some small. No matter what the size, you can always count on finding music, dancing and food. Carnival will be held in Rio Grande at the end of June. Stop by and take part in the fun!
Are you looking for a little good luck, or perhaps you just want to experience a local tradition? La Noche de San Juan, or Saint John’s Night, is celebrated annually on the night of June 23. To take part in this tradition, all you need to do is get yourself to a beach, be prepared to stay up late and get wet. Are you ready to get lucky?
When looking for day trips to do, I sometimes forget to look at places close to home. Luquillo is a great little town in the north east part of Puerto Rico. It is home to diverse natural beauty — both miles of beautiful beaches and acres of rain forest. It has a rich and interesting history and a decently active, modern social life. Most people assume they have "done" Luquillo if they make it to the food kiosks and Luquillo Beach, but there is a lot more for people to do and enjoy. So take some time and come explore Luquillo!
If you take a trip to the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park, you can learn about the people who lived in Puerto Rico (or Boriken as they called it) prior to the arrival of the Spanish. In this a small area in Utuado, archaeologists have uncovered many artifacts, petroglyphs and a number of stone-lined areas. Many years later, after further excavations, research and preservation, this area is said to be one of the most important Taino-culture archaeological sites in the Antilles today.
If you are in the Luquillo area and enjoy seeing unusual artwork, a quick stop at Saint Joseph’s Church in Luquillo is worth a visit. Its old and lovely facade holds a rare treasure inside — some of the most beautiful wood carvings. While wood carvings are not unusual for a Catholic church, these ones are — they combine Catholic religious presentations, with nature and symbols from other cultures and religions. This is one of those rare and pleasant finds!
Here is another fun adventure made possible by the rivers that flow down from El Yunque. The Río Fajardo in Ceiba offers two types of fun — mild or rugged. For the mild type of nature lovers, there is Charco Frio, which is a series of pools in the river that you can enjoy cooling off in on a hot day. The rugged part is Las Tinajas, which, after a hike in, has a rope swing, a little rock water slide, pretty waterfalls, river views and some nice pools to enjoy.
Almost everyone that visits Puerto Rico makes the trip to El Yunque National Forest to see some waterfalls and get some great views. But there are other forests in Puerto Rico that offer all that, too. We had hiked in the Toro Negro Forest a number of years ago. I remembered it was very nice and parts of the forest looked very much like El Yunque. So we decided to go back again recently to take notes and write about it for anyone who wants an alternative to hiking in El Yunque.
Once you decide to venture away from the San Juan metropolitan area, your best bet (and the cheapest way to get around) is to rent a car. You may have heard horror stories about Puerto Rican drivers, but, in reality, it is not that bad! Here are some tips to make your experience driving in Puerto Rico as painless as possible.
We live on the north side of El Yunque National Forest, and I am pretty familiar with most of the trails and things to see in the rain forest in our area. But I have been on a quest to get to see the petroglyphs located in Rio Blanco on the south side of El Yunque for a long time. We were finally able to find them, along with swimming holes and a water fall.
Being a rain forest, there are plenty of rivers that come down from El Yunque. Over many years, the rushing waters have made some of these river rocks into natural playgrounds, complete with pools and water slides. There is a place in Luquillo called Las Paylas (or Las Pailas) were the rocks in this river are real smooth and make for some really fun slides.
The El Yunque National Forest covers 28000 acres, and much of it is protected as wilderness areas. Ray and I are always looking for new trails to hike and, of course, elusive waterfalls. We recently went to the south side of the rain forest in search of Los Prieto Falls. We found a great hike and beautiful set of waterfalls, too!
Isabela, the western-most town on the north coast, offers visitors great views and beaches. If you are like me, you will be in heaven watching the beauty of the ocean crashing onto the shore or over rocks. Though best-known for its beaches and surfing, Isabela also has a forest reserve, caves, lakes, rivers and historical sites all waiting to be explored.
Looking for a nice off the beaten path way to spend a weekend afternoon? You can hop in the car and head to Lago Dos Bocas toward the center of the island, where you can enjoy a free boat ride around the lake or, to make a longer day out of it, go to one of the lakeside restaurants and enjoy drinks or a meal while admiring the views.
El Yunque National Forest has a lot more to explore besides the forest along Road 191. If you have a little extra time and want to get a little more rain forest immersion, you can take a short drive up Road 186, above the El Verde area in Rio Grande, and find a hidden waterfall just steps from the road.
Campo Rico Trail Rides has a horseback riding excursion in Hacienda Campo Rico, just outside of San Juan. We had the opportunity to go on a horseback outing with them in their beautiful location and we had a lot of fun.
Cueva Ventana is one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico. Nature has made such a fantastic view!
Culebra is a little island that is a nice day-trip away from the main island of Puerto Rico. We have been to a few beaches there and have never been disappointed. When we were invited by East Island Excursions to check out their Culebra Get-away trip, we were excited to go.
There are a number of beaches in the Luquillo that will suit most people — a protected cove, some snorkeling, boogie boarding and surfing beaches. Take your beach blanket, beach chairs and cooler, and have a great day in the sun.
What do you get when you cross scavenger hunts with GPS technology? The "sport" called Geocaching. You can grab your GPS unit and try to find one of the 350 treasures hidden around Puerto Rico. You may be pleasantly surprised by what else you discover about the island during your hunt.
Puerto Rico has many great "selling points" to attractive visitors to our shores — beaches, forests, adventure, history, food, music and friendly locals. Being an inexpensive vacation destination is not one of the island’s strong points. However, don’t be discouraged. With some careful planning, you can have a fun-filled vacation and still remain within your budget.
Dengue is a tropical disease that one can possibly contract while in Puerto Rico. Occasionally a large number of people get it at once and an epidemic is called. The last one was in 2014. Currently the threat of contracting the virus while in PR is very low. Just do a little research, understand the facts, and protect yourself.
Guánica encompasses a large area with lots of shoreline — which, in turn, means lots of beaches. However, most of the area beaches are not protected coves, so you have to be careful of the water conditions. On a recent visit to the area, we stopped in to see a few of the beaches and, while we didn’t find any hidden gems, we did find some that might appeal to the outdoor enthusiast.
Nature lovers, avid photographers or anyone who just wants to make a nice pit stop on the way on your way out west, can head to Quebradillas. This little town is on the north coast boasts some beautiful beaches, an old sugarcane train tunnel, and endless photo opportunities.
The Flavors of San Juan Old San Juan Food Tour is a guided walking tour in Old San Juan. Throughout this tour, you'll get to sample food & drinks at different restaurants, learn about the history & culture of Puerto Rico, see some of the sites in the city, and learn about some of the local arts & crafts. We thought it was an interesting & delicious couple of hours.
Añasco, a town just south-east of Rincon, is along the west coast of Puerto Rico and has beaches and forests to explore. We didn’t have a lots of time to spend in this area, but we did visit two points of interest. Unfortunately, I was left saddened by the state of disrepair of the places we visited.
The Cabo Rojo area, in the south-west part of Puerto Rico, offers many opportunities for nature and beach-lovers. Combate Beach and Balneario Boquerón are two of the beaches in the area that provide the backdrop for a great day at the beach.
If you are driving along the Ruta Panorámica in the Maricao area, and you may want to check out some amazing 360° views, make a stop at La Torre de Piedra (the stone tower). Though the tower itself isn't that tall, it sits on top of a mountain — so the views are great.
With names like Domes, Steps, Spanish Wall, Pools and Indicators, Rincon boasts miles of beaches. Some of the beaches are suitable for swimming. Others have world-class surfing conditions. And most are perfect for watching the sunset. So, grab a map or a GPS unit and start looking for your perfect beach.
The Salinas de Cabo Rojo, or salt flats, is an active salt-mining operation in Cabo Rojo. This operation is part of the 1800-acre National Wildlife Refuge, which is a mecca for bird-watching along the many walking and biking trails. And it's right up the road from the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse.
One of nature’s gifts to us are waterfalls. Power and beauty at the same time. Here is another easy-to-find waterfall in the central/west region of Puerto Rico. Salto Collazo is located in San Sebastian, right along a bridge on the main road as you are going east out of town. It’s impossible to miss, and oh so pretty.
There are a number of small islands and cays off the coast of Fajardo with beautiful white-sand beaches, fringed by reefs with abundant marine life. Imagine spending a half-day piloting a mini-boat to these beaches and snorkeling in the open ocean. You can do just that on the new Island Hop & Snorkel Guided Mini Boat Tour offered by Kayaking Puerto Rico.
For all you lighthouse folks, photographers, or people who want to explore some off-the-beaten-path places — I thought the old lighthouse ruins in Aguadilla (or, as they are referred to here, Las Ruinas) were pretty cool. There is not much left of this lighthouse (only parts of 2 walls, really), but it provided a setting for some beautiful photos.
The Guajataca Forest, in the karst region of Puerto Rico, has 25 miles of trails within its boundaries. Most people will only use 2 of these trails: the Interpretive Trail and the trail to the Cueva del Viento. One can spend an hour or so exploring the Interpretive Trail and learn about what makes this part of the island unique.
Waterfalls are always beautiful, whether you pick the right day to go or not. Salto Curet in Maricao is another example of an off-the-beaten-path waterfall that is not easy to get to. Besides being about ½-hour drive along a small, twisty, turning mountain road, once you actually get to the river there is a hike in and then a walk up stream. But it is very pretty.
For 3 short days in October 1950, Puerto Rico was declared an independent nation called La Republica de Puerto Rico by Blanca Canales and a band of Independentistas. Today, the Canales Museum houses a collection of memorabilia that provides a glimpse of the revolution of that time.
Gozalandia or Las Cataratas Waterfall in San Sebastian is sometimes called the secret waterfall but it is not that secret after all! A beautiful waterfall, with "secrets"- live an underwater cave and another waterfall upriver!
The Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center is a window into the history of Puerto Rico. At this site, archaeologists have uncovered ball fields, burial sites and ceremonial plazas associated with the pre-Taino and Taino Indian cultures. You can spend a half day visiting and learning about one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean.
El Ultimo Brinco in Rincon is a 30-foot waterfall with a small, natural swimming pool at it's base. The only problem is there is no easy way to get to the pool - you either have to jump or climb down the rock wall. In the afternoon, there are lots of local teens playing in the falls - they showed us the best way to get to the bottom.
Some really nice SCUBA diving and snorkeling in Puerto Rico is in the Luis Pena Reserve on Culebra. We recently went diving with Taz from Aquatic Adventures and had some great dives. An added bonus is that he is able to work around the Fajardo ferry schedule, making this an easy day-trip to do for people staying on the "big island".
A French coffee hacienda in Puerto Rico - what a surprise! The Old Labadie House (aka the Palacete los Moreau) is located in the town of Moca, in the north-west part of Puerto Rico. This lovely, old house has been turned into a museum, and they offer great, informative tours about the house and the people who lived there. What a wonderful piece of Puerto Rican history and a local treasure. I really thought it was worth a visit.
Puerto Rico is blessed with a natural phenomenon that is found in only a few other places on earth — it has 3 year-round bioluminescent bays. I am so excited to say that Bio Island offers an eco-friendly way to visit Laguna Grande without having to kayak or walk. They have an electric motor boat tour that is both safe for the environment and fun.
With 16 lighthouses to visit and explore, Puerto Rico is a dream location for lighthouse enthusiasts. Some of our lighthouses are very old and very beautiful. The Rincon lighthouse isn’t particularly either of those. However, it is a great place to watch surfers, the sunset, and dolphins and whales.
Campo Rico Trail Rides ATV Tours at Hacienda Campo Rico is located just a few minutes from San Juan, and yet it feels like a world away. Hacienda Campo Rico is a 2,200 acre "ranch" so the ATVs have loads of trails. They go through fields and forests, up and down hills and through mud puddles. And then you get to explore a cave filled with bats and more. It was a ton of fun!
If you want to be part of a local experience, get up early on a Friday and head to the San Sebastian Market. I guess I would call it a large flea market or farmers market, since it had a little bit of everything. The market is located on the Centro Agropecuario grounds. It has slots for over 340 tables inside the grounds and, of course, there are other people selling things outside in the parking lot.
Being an island, Puerto Rico has more than 300 miles of beaches, including the out-islands and cays. That’s one beach to explore and enjoy for each day of the year. There is a perfect beach for everyone - it all depends your idea of the perfect beach. Luckily, almost all the beaches in Puerto Rico are open to the general public.
A few years ago, Scuba Diving Magazine readers voted Puerto Rico as one of the Top 20 Overall Dive Destinations in the Caribbean. I have done a number of dives here over the past few years and I had yet to encounter a Top 20 -type dive. We were heading out west and I hoped to find one of those WOW dives at Desecheo Island. I was not disappointed.
Casa Pueblo is a community-based organization focused on, among other things, the protection and management of natural resources. On a visit to their headquarters in Adjuntas, you'll learn about their on-going eco-friendly endeavors and educational programs, and you'll have the chance to buy some local artisan goods in their gift shop.
The Guánica State Forest & Bioshpere Reserve is a dry forest that receives only 30" of rain annually. It covers almost 1000 acres and is home to many endangered plants and wildlife. There are a number of hiking trails throughout the forest, and it is a bird-watcher's paradise.
If you love ice cream and exotic flavors, you need to visit Heladeria Lares and Heladeria El Grito, located on the town square in Lares. They have home-made ice cream in flavors like rice & beans, garlic, corn, pumpkin and cod fish (to name a few). Most are tasty. Some are just bizarre. For the faint of heart, they also have "safe" flavors like vanilla and chocolate.
El Portal Rain Forest Center is the main visitor center in El Yunque National Forest. It features an elevated walkway through the tree tops, educational displays, a short interpretive walking trail, a deli/restaurant and a small gift shop. Though completely optional, the Forest Center is an informative stop for first-time visitors to El Yunque.
Puerto Rico has a long history of Indian cultures that lived here many hundreds to thousands of years ago. The most recent Indian culture, the Tainos, left many petroglyphs on rocks near rivers or in caves. The town of Jayuya has a nice example of a piedra escrita that contains many different Taino drawings.
The Guajataca Forest in Isabela is in the karst region of Puerto Rico and the landscape and plant life is totally different than what we are used to seeing in the north-east of the island. I thought the best part about this forest is exploring Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind).
There are lots of waterfalls that can be found throughout the island. Most are in obscure locations and can only be found with the help of a local. We knew about Las Garzas Falls in Adjuntas, but we didn't really know where it was located. So, one day, we decided to try to find it.
The Cemi Museum (Museo El Cemi, in Spanish) in Jayuya is a visitor center for the area and a showcase of Taino artifacts. The leaders of Jayuya wanted to preserve and educate about the Taino culture, so they opened this odd-shaped museum in 1989.
During a trip to the south-west part of the island, we found some diving that I would highly recommend. That region is home to "the Wall" and the diving was great! We went wall diving at La Parguera and I thought it was the best diving we have seen on PR.
We were at the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse a couple weeks ago and the panoramic views were simply magnificent. I was surprised to see one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in Puerto Rico. We asked the lighthouse ranger about the beach and, he said lovingly, "Oh – the jacuzzi? That is La Playuela".
Located on top of 200-foot limestone cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse marks the south-west tip of Puerto Rico. Though the lighthouse is interesting, the big attractions are the dramatic views of the ocean and cliffs.
Waterfalls are facinating — they are beautiful, powerful and natural. With the Cordillera Central that runs through the middle of the Puerto Rico, we get a lot of rain that falls on those peaks, resulting in a number of waterfalls across the island. Many of them require hiking in forests and wading rivers to get to see them. But Dona Juana Waterfall is right along the road. Can it get any easier?
Gilligan's Island is a tiny island about a mile off the coast of Guánica. You can get to the island by kayak or ferry. We found some decent snorkeling, picnic pavilions and lots of privacy ... at least for us during low season. I'd guess it gets pretty crazy on a July weekend!
We recently had the opportunity to re-visit the biobay in La Parguera, after having visited it for the first time 18 years ago. They say the brightness of the bay comes and goes, but it was not at all bright the night we went out on the large boat. Smaller boats can go deeper into the bay, so the sparkles are better seen. You may get lucky and see the bioluminesence! But If nothing else, it's an inexpensive nighttime boat ride.
The Carite Forest is located just up the road from the Guavate area in Cayey. The forest encompasses over 6000 acres and is maintained by the Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales as a recreation area. The forest has some nice picnic and camping areas, some great natural pools and waterfalls.
If you like natural swimming pools, Charco Azul (blue pond, in English) is one of Puerto Rico's most famous ones. Located in the middle of the Carite Forest, about 15 minutes up the road from the lechonarias in the Guavate region of Cayey, it's the perfect spot for a picnic and swimming.
Playita del Condado is a small, public beach located on Ashford Avenue next to the Condado Plaza Hilton. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Condado Lagoon, it has shallow, calm water, a golden sand beach, rinse showers, and beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent.
Imagine speeding around a race track, in a convertible, with the wind whipping through your hair. What fun! OK — miniaturize that thought and think go-karts! There are a couple places in Puerto Rico that offer go-kart rides for a reasonable price.
Whether you have just a couple of hours or a couple of days, there are plenty of things to keep you busy and entertained in the northeast part of Puerto Rico. From the rain forest to beaches to biobays, we've put together a list of activities sorted by the amount of time you need to do each.
Get some exercise on vacation and take a tour of the San Juan area at the same time. Rent The Bicycle, in Old San Juan, offers bike rentals and guided bike tours in the Old San Juan, Condado and Piñones areas. They offer options that are great for cruise ship visitors, tourists and locals alike.
Many visitors to Puerto Rico get the bright idea that they want to take their rental car on the ferry from Fajardo to Culebra or Vieques. Not only is that not recommended, it's difficult to do and doing so may void your rental car contract. Used mainly for local transport and delivery of goods to the islands.
Enjoy a 1 or 2 hour horseback riding tour in the foothills of El Yunque at Carabali Rainforest Park in Luquillo. They have over 70 horses ready to take you through the trails that criss-cross their 600-acre property. These tours are good for beginners and less experienced riders.
Salsa is practically the national dance of Puerto Rico. You can brush up on your moves, or learn your first basic steps, with some Salsa dancing lessons during your vacation, or just show off your skills on the dance floor. Just let the rhythm of the beat move you! Here is info on Salsa in PR.
What do you do once you've hiked on all of the official trails in El Yunque National Forest? You start looking for unofficial trails ... which is exactly what we did. We found a new trail (currently under construction by the Forest Service) that leads from the north side of El Yunque down to the south side. Though it's not for the casual hiker, it does provide some nice views and an exhilarating workout.
For the real Puerto Rican local market experience, head to Rio Piedras. There, you will find a large indoor Mercado de Rio Piedras (Rio Piedras Market) and blocks of outdoor sidewalk shopping where the locals go to shop!
If you are a birdwatcher, then Puerto Rico needs to be added to your must-visit bucket list. Puerto Rico has so many different geographical regions, all within a small 35x100 mile area — rain forests, dry forests, and forests in-between, seaside, mangroves and mountains. You have a pretty good chance of seeing at least a few of the 17 endemic birds and many of the 300 different types of bird species that call Puerto Rico home at some time throughout the year.
My favorite Puerto Rican dish is Arroz con Habichuelas, or rice and beans. The beans are actually a stew, with potatoes, squash, other veggies, some ham and, of course, beans. Everyone here makes Habichuelas, so it was only a matter of time that I was able to find a good recipe. I got this recipe from a local woman and it’s really easy and delicious. Give it a try and enjoy!
Visiting Vieques is usually best done as a multi-day trip — when you have time to rent a car and explore the most remote beaches. But what do you do if your vacation schedule only allows time to spend one day on Vieques? Head on over to Vieques and spend the day at Sun Bay, one of the many beautiful beaches on the island.
For reasons that I can’t figure out, of the trails right along Road 191 in El Yunque National Forest, La Coca Trail is seemingly unknown. It is as if someone found out how beautiful it is and decided to keep it a secret! We invested some time and effort in hiking this trail, and were handsomely rewarded with rivers, waterfalls and swimming pools galore!
Andrew travels to Puerto Rico where the flavors of the food tell the history of the island, from the deep-fried treats brought in by Africans to the roasted pork made popular by the Spanish. Tune in on June 9 @ 10pm on the Travel Channel.
One of my favorite things about going on vacation is the opportunity to try food that is different than I can get at home. Tropical fruit has become somewhat of a passion of mine, and it's always something I seek out whenever we travel. Luckily for me, we can grow a bunch of different types of tropical fruit right in Puerto Rico. Luckily for you, there are many different places you can get a taste of the tropics!
The Luquillo kiosks (or kioskos) are a much loved part of Puerto Rico. This long row of humble (think almost ramshackle) buildings are right on Route 3 along the beach in Luquillo. But don't let their appearance discourage you — stop in and you will be in for an experience that is uniquely Puerto Rican.
If you can tear yourself away from the beautiful beaches on Vieques, and want to explore, you can make a quick stop at the wonderfully restored Count Mirasol Fort (or Fortin Conde de Mirasol in Spanish) high above the town of Isabel II. In addition to the view, it offers art exhibits and a nice museum of Vieques artifacts. The view alone is well worth the visit!
Rocaliza’s Half-Day El Salto Adventure in the Carite rain forest crams a whole-day of hiking, waterfall climbing and ziplining into a half-day excursion. It's perfect for cruise ship visitors or other people who don't want to spend a full day on an adventure excursion.
To really see Puerto Rico, you need to get out and explore. Whether you are in port for the day with a cruise ship or you’ve flown in for a couple weeks, renting a car is a great way to get around. There are loads of agencies that have all types of cars and vans, so even with a large family, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.
If you are looking for some nice diving, head over to Vieques. Good visibility and a plethora of sea life, you are sure to have a great day underwater.
If you are planning a trip to Vieques, you need to plan on renting a car or jeep while you're there. This may seem odd because it is such a small island, but be forewarned — things you want to do can be spread out across there island. There are limited routes servied by the local public transportation, and many things of interest to tourists are not on these routes.
Have you ever wanted to learn to surf but never had the chance? People staying in the north-east part of the island can easily get a private surfing lesson without having to travel very far. Bob Roberts, a NSSIA-certified surfing instructor, offers lessons right in the Luquillo area. He can have you catching a wave long before your vacation is over.
Located across from El Morro on the western side of the San Juan Bay, El Cañuelo fort was built in the late 1500s to help protect the entrance of the bay. Today, this fort is part of the San Juan National Historic Site that you visit on Cabras Island.
What is vacation for if not to try different things and experience something new? If you are the adventurous type, Rocaliza offers an excursion along El Salto river in the Carite rain forest that includes hiking, rappelling & ziplines.
At 4.6 miles, Trade Winds Trail is the longest single trail in El Yunque National Forest. It starts at KM 13.5 on Road 191 and climbs about 1100 feet to El Toro Peak, the highest peak in the rain forest. We found this hike both challenging and enjoyable-it is one of the least-used trails in the forest.
Some of the best snorkeling in Puerto Rico is around the islands of Culebra and Vieques. Kayaking Puerto Rico has put together a great trip that provides snorkeling at the Luis Peña Nature Reserve that can be done easily whether your staying on the big island of Puerto Rico or on Culebra.
It's possible to find budget lodging in Puerto Rico - it just takes a little research and planning. In this article we present some ideas to kick-start your planning effort.
Guaynabo City has created a beautiful forest reserve of approximately 600 acres for the enjoyment of future Puerto Ricans and visitors to the island, called La Marquesa Forest Park (or Parque Forestal La Marquesa in Spanish). Take a couple hours to enjoy the natural beauty of this forest.
If you're flying out of Puerto Rico or embarking on your cruise from San Juan, then you'll be able to purchase duty free liquor and cigarettes at the pier before you board the ship and at the airport.
The Luis A. Ferré Science Park in Bayamón houses an eclectic collection of attractions — a Planetarium, a Zoo, an Observation Tower and museums ranging from Natural History, to Transportation, to Telecommunication, to Archeology, among others. It's an enjoyable way to spend a few hours of vacation.
Finding a restroom while visiting a strange city can be difficult. We've scouted out some of the public (and not so public) places you can find a restroom during your time in Old San Juan. This is one list that you'll want to keep with you!
For an unobstructed view of north and east coasts, hike El Toro Trail to the highest point in El Yunque National Forest. We thought it was an enjoyable day of hiking, though it can be muddy and strenuous at times.
The recently expanded Puerto Rico Premium Outlets Shopping Village in Barceloneta now boasts over 85 designer and famous-name factory stores. You'll find discounts on brands like Coach, Gap, Tommy, Polo, Adidas, Nike, Reebok, and many more. And it's only about 1 hour from the San Juan area.
Las Piedras is the home of an interesting Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave) that has hundreds of petroglyphs etched into the rocks by Taíno Indians centuries ago. A visit to this site provides a glimpse into the ancient Taíno culture.
Join a community in their celebration of their African heritage at the COPI Center in Piñones. Enjoy the Bomba & Plena music & dance that invigorates this culture.
Playa Escondida is the perfect beach if you're looking for a secluded beach spot (though no swimming allowed). But you will have to do some work to get there! It's about a 25-minute walk through the mangrove forest from Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo.
Biking on the boardwalk in Piñones is a favorite activity of locals and tourists alike. It's just minutes from Isla Verde, and it has bike paths go along the beach and through the mangrove forest, where the views are fantastic.
Until recently, the only way to access any of the bioluminescent lagoons in Puerto Rico was either in a kayak or aboard a boat. But now there is another alternative! The Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico (Para Naturaleza) now offers night-time walking tours of Las Cabezas Nature Reserve and Laguna Grande.
Enjoy a free Flamenco dance show while eating dinner at Barrachina Restaurant on Saturday night in Old San Juan.
Fort San Cristobal is often considered the other fort in Old San Juan. For reasons that I can't fathom, people flock to El Morro and rarely visit Fort San Cristobal. But they don't know what they're missing - it is a definitely worth a visit!
Caimitillo Trail is a short and relatively easy trail that gives you a taste of what the rain forest has to offer. If you are pressed for time time or short on energy, this is the trail for you! It is perfect for people who want to see a bit of the rain forest, but don't feel that they are able to "make it" on one of the longer trails.
You will see many neat things in Puerto Rico, but wild animals are not usually one of them - except if you check out Monkey Island. Monkey Island is a small island off of the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, that is home to about 1000 free-roaming Rhesus monkeys. The island is not open to tourists, but you can get an view of the monkeys from the water.
The Ceiba International Airport (RVR) opened at the end of November 2008. Located at the old Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, this airport replaces the recently closed Diego Jiménez Torres Airport (FAJ) in Fajardo.
Though it feels like worlds away, Pinones is only a sort distance from the San Juan area. If you enjoy kayaking, you can rent kayaks at COPI, which is just over the bridge from Isla Verde. You can spend one, or many, hours paddling around Torrecilla Lagoon watching birds and iguanas going about their business.
The Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park is a cultural theme park based on the history of Puerto Rico. Within the park, you'll find the lighthouse, the Pirates' Hideout cave, Taino village recreation, aquarium, mini-zoo, replica sailing ships, and kids' playground.
El Morro Fort, or officially Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, stands guard at the entrance to San Juan harbor as a reminder of a by-gone era when invading countries would attempt sea attacks to take this prized city and harbor. No trip to Old San Juan is complete without a visit to this UN World Heritage Site.
For the horse lovers in our audience, check out Hacienda Don Carmelo, to learn about the beautiful Paso Fino horses and see the lovely property.
Old San Juan is a 400 year old city, that has come into the modern age with original great old buildings that blend well with the modern conveniences. You can see art all over as you walk around outside in Old San Juan. There are sculptures galore, in all sizes and styles, depicting all sorts of people and things. So explore the old city and see what wonderful art you can find!
Getting married on a tropical island, on the beach, with the sun setting behind you ... How romantic! Or how about getting married in a garden surrounded by tropical flowers ... or in the rain forest ... or just about anywhere your heart desires! If a destination wedding is what you desire, Puerto Rico can make your dreams become a reality!
We found a cute secluded beach, just a short 25-minute walk from Seven Seas Balneario in Fajardo, called Playa Colora.
The Cataño Ferry, also called La Lancha de Cataño, is a small commuter ferry that runs between Old San Juan and Cataño. It can be used as affordable transportation, or as a quick boat ride or sunset cruise.
Traveling with kids changes everything. You need to find a place where there are things that everyone in the family can enjoy. Luckily, you are planning to visit Puerto Rico where there are many activities for every member of your family. We've put together this list with families and convenience in mind. All of these activities are within about a 1-hour drive of the San Juan area.
Juan Diego Falls is a series of beautiful waterfalls located a short walk from the road. We feel that the largest of the falls is better than the more popular La Mina Falls, and the walk in is much shorter!
We are now offering resources from AccuWeather for current weather conditions and 15-day weather forecasts. We have satellite imagery from the National Hurricane Center so you can get a snapshot of weather systems in our vicinity. We offer a great tool from Stormpulse.com that tracks developing and established storms in the western Atlantic and Caribbean regions.
We get asked time and time again about things to do in Old San Juan in the evening. And you know what? There are actually lots of things to choose from! In addition to the usual ideas of walking tours or having a drink, we complied a list of live music and dance shows that you can enjoy around town.
In the spring of 2007, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources banned tour operators from allowing swimming in Laguna Grande in Fajardo. This simple act reduced the wear and tear on the biobay and allowed nature to begin undoing the damage that humans inflicted on the environment. This past year we had heard the health of the biobay was making a comeback, so we were eager to see that for ourselves.
What could be more refreshing than taking a swim in a crystal clear river on a hot day? If you are in El Yunque and want to do some swimming, you may want to try Angelito Trail. The trail leads to Las Damas pool in the Mameyes River.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company has defined five tourism zones that encompass the areas around the SJU airport, Isla Verde, Condado, Miramar, Old San Juan, and the cruise ship piers. Taxi fares within and between these tourism zones are fixed and posted. If you're traveling to or from a hotel, it's helpful to know the taxi zone for your hotel.
If you're looking for some casino action, Puerto Rico has something for you from Slots, to Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Texas Hold'em and Baccarat. Casinos are located in most of the resorts and large hotels all around the island.
Swimming in La Mina Falls in El Yunque National Forest is lots of fun. Getting into the waterfall can prove to be challenging, as this video shows.
There are plenty of things to do with kids in Old San Juan. Whether you explore an ancient fort, fly a kite, feed 100s of pigeons, taste some local ice cream, or just enjoy one of the many family-friendly activities on the weekend, you'll be sure to keep busy.
Everyone comes to Puerto Rico for a different reason. If you are an avid golfer, Puerto Rico’s many golf courses might be reason enough! Here is a list of the golf courses in Puerto Rico.
Guavate is an area in Cayey that is full of "Lechoneras" (cafeterias serving roasted pork). It is a weekend place to be since it offers cooler temperatures, great food and live music. But the delicious food is available weekdays too.
Puerto Rico is rich in history and culture. It also has a perfect climate to grow some of the prettiest flowers and plants imaginable. Caguas decided to put these things together and opened the Botanical and Cultural Garden (Jardin Botanico y Cultural) in April 2007.
OK, with all this day-tripping around, you will eventually get hungry! And in your travels you'll see countless people cooking fried food or frituras by the side of the road, at the beaches, and in little kioskos or kiosks. This article will explain what the local stuff is!
There are a few non-profit organizations dedicated to ending the suffering of stray dogs in Puerto Rico. These strays (called satos by the locals) are in need of medical attention, food, water, and, more importantly, a loving home.
There are a number of things you can do to help them.
Update Dec. 1st, 2017- Post Maria- They are going out fishing! The water around Puerto Rico is deep, rich, and full of some of the world’s best big game fishing. The Puerto Rico trench runs just beyond the north shore of the island. In this deep water swim loads of big fish, such as mahi-mahi […]
You might think that all beaches in Puerto Rico are the same. If you do, then you couldn’t be more wrong. Every beach has something different that makes it special, so you will want to visit a few different beaches during your time on the island. If you are looking for a nice light sand […]
East Island Excursions no longer offers trips from Fajardo to Vieques so you can experience the bioluminescence in Mosquito Bay. However, another company PR Tour Desk offers a similar trip. This article is about our experience with East Island, we have no experience with the trip offered by PR Tour Desk.
Segway Tours of Puerto Rico offers 45-minute and 2-hour tours of Old San Juan. Riding a Segway is fun, easy and a unique way to see the city and forts.
There are many trails in the El Yunque National Forest, but one great trail that is often overlooked is the Bano de Oro trail. Bano de Oro is one of my favorite trails because it goes along the river through a very lush part of the rain forest, there are sounds of the river and forest all around you
When you visit Puerto Rico, one of the must-do things is a trip to one of our bioluminescent bays. Whether you go to Laguna Grande in Fajardo, Mosquito Bay in Vieques, or La Parguera in Lajas, you’re sure to have an experience that you will never forget. One important thing to take into consideration is how bright the moon will be the night you want to go.
Plaza Las Americas is the largest mall in the Caribbean. People come from other Caribbean islands just to shop here! The mall is located in the Hato Rey district of San Juan. There are about 300 stores, including the anchor stores of JC Penney, Macy's, and Sears.
When you think of the Caribbean islands, you think of turquoise blue water, white sand beaches, wonderful local cuisine, and, of course, all those great rum-based drinks. It’s no wonder that rum is the spirit of choice in the islands. Historically, most islands had basis in the sugar trade. And where there’s sugar, there’s bound […]
The Tropical Agricultural Research Station (TARS) in Mayaguez is the tropical research center of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Crops under study there include dry bean, sorghum, banana, plantain, cacao, papaya, and tropical exotic fruits such as rambutan, carambola, mamey sapote, lychee, longan, sapodilla and mangosteen.
Depending on where you want to travel by taxi you'll pay either a fixed rate or a metered rate.
At Cueva del Indio, you will be transported back in time. The Taino Indians held tribal meetings in this area and made numerous carvings in the walls of these natural limestone caves. Also beautiful stone arches and views. Photographers dream!
If you enjoy animals and are in the Mayaguez area, you might consider spending a few hours at the Mayaguez Zoo. Formally, this little zoo is called the Parque Nacional Zoologico de Puerto Rico Dr. Juan A. Rivero
On a clear day, the view from the top of El Yunque is breathtaking. Looking out over the lush green tree tops, past the towns, you see the blue water of the northern coastline and the easternmost tip of Puerto Rico. You know you are pretty high when the clouds come rolling up the sides of the mountain toward you. Take El Yunque Trail to the top!
To get around the San Juan metro area, your can take a taxi.
Take a refreshing dip in clear rain forest water. Swim under a waterfall. It sounds like a dream. But it is actually a very popular and fun thing to do during a trip to El Yunque National Forest. The waterfall is called La Mina Falls, and it can be accessed by La Mina trail.
If you have always dreamed about swimming in a waterfall, having the water cascade onto your back, massaging you, then you are in luck. Many people have that experience at La Mina Falls in the El Yunque National Forest. Big Tree Trail in El Yunque gets you there.
There is something about Old San Juan at night that is really magical. Night Tales in Old San Juan is one of the tours available to educate you a little about Old San Juan.
La Cruceta del Vigia or El Vigia Cross is a 100-foot tall cross-shaped observation tower, located on top of Vigia Hill in Ponce. It is directly behind the Serralles Castle museum. Come chek out the view!
Old San Juan has a free trolley service to help you get around the city.
The Arecibo Observatory is the home of one of the world's largest radio telescope, which is used to study the ionosphere and nearby planets as they pass overhead. Since it's opening in 1963, this radio telescope has been in continuous operation and has made many significant scientific discoveries.
If you are in Ponce and like antiques, gardens, hand-crafted furniture and stunning views, then a visit to the Serralles Castle (Castillo Serralles) should probably get on your "must do" list. Located on the hill above the City of Ponce, Serralles Castle was the "summer home" of the Serralles family.
In the States, the traditional Holiday drink is Eggnog. In Puerto Rico, it is Coquito. This super sweet, alcoholic concoction is a crowd favorite at any holiday gathering. Here is our favorite recipe for Coquito.
Rio Camuy Caves Park (or, in Spanish, Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy), offers tours of the cave system. This large cavern has guided tours through it, where you can see beautiful cave formations, a river and bats!
Personally, I think one of the prettiest things about the Holidays is all of the lights. And Puerto Rico does not disappoint. Most towns decorate their town squares and government buildings with loads of lights and displays. This is especially true in Old San Juan. Check it out...usually from just after Thanksgiving until mid- January.
Located in Rio Grande, in the foothills of the El Yunque National Forest, Coqui’s Hideaway offers a tranquil rain forest retreat, with 2 or 3 bedroom accommodations, that is the perfect combination of beach and rain forest vacations. We’re located just minutes from the rain forest, about 35 minutes from the SJU airport, 45 minutes […]
Smoking in all public places is a violation of Puerto Rico Law 66. That means that smoking is prohibited in virtually any enclosed space, including restaurants, clubs, discos, casinos, bars, buildings, shopping centers, businesses, elevators, public transportation, ambulances, hotel rooms designated as no-smoking rooms, and private cars when children are present as passengers. In effect, […]
Besides the Forts, there are a number of smaller museums in Old San Juan that are really enjoyable, and I think are definitely worth making time in your schedule to visit. Two that we really like are the Casa Blanca and the Museum of the Americas. You'll find information on these, and many others, in the following article.
If you like a little excitement while on your vacation, you can take a trip to Carabali Rainforest Park. This 600 acre facility, located in the foothills of the El Yunque National Forest, offers a wide range of activities. They have a fun ATV tour to get your heart pumping.
Puerto Rico is actually a pretty large island, with lots of cool things to do and see. To provide some perspective on where things are on the island, we've put together an interactive map that shows the locations of attractions across the island, GPS coordinates too!
The El Yunque National Forest is a large, lush and interesting place to visit. It easy to see the beauty, but to really know about the rain forest, an educational guided tour is great. The Federal Forest Rangers offers "Walks and Talks", that are 30 min long educational programs designed to teach you all about the El Yunque rain forest.
A visit to the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanico) is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Here's a map to help guide you through the gardens.
Part 3 of our San Juan Self Guided Walking Tour series sets you off to see Fort San Cristobal, the Capitol, and shopping!
The Mount Britton Trail is a 0.8 mile, one-way hike. It starts a short walk from Road 9938 off of Rd 191. But it climbs 594 feet in this short distance and get to an elevation of 2,493 feet. The trail is narrow, but paved, and well-maintained.
Puerto Rico is known for many things, and great coffee is just about at the top of the list. Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce offers educational tours of a restored coffee plantation.
El Yunque National Forest has many trails, streams, rivers, and waterfalls that can be enjoyed year-round. Though the forest covers 28,000 acres, when most people (especially tourists) speak of "going to the rain forest" they're referring to the Recreation Area on the north side of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains.
Part 2 of our Old San Juan Self Guided Walking Tour series takes you to El Morro and down Calle Cristo to see the sites.
So you decided to spend some time exploring Old San Juan? You will not be disappointed! The old city is a small area, only 7 square blocks. But there is so much to do and see in that small area that you can spend days there and never see everything.
Ask anyone about what they consider a "Must See" while visiting Puerto Rico and they will most likely say Old San Juan. That is because this old historic city offers so much. There is literally something for everyone: beautiful views (great for photographers), architecture, restaurants, museums, shopping, history, outdoor-art, people-watching, music, dance, bars and nightclubs. But, to get the most out of a visit to Old San Juan, it is best to follow a self guided walking tour (like ours!) so that you don't miss out on something you really would have liked to have seen.
Seven Seas is a lovely, small, crescent-shaped beach, with soft sand and almond and palm trees that provide some protection from the sun. The views are fantastic, just beautiful to look out at the water and see the lighthouse in the distance. Water is blue and beautiful.
If you are a sun worshiper, a beach lover or snorkel fanatic, I don't think a trip to Puerto Rico would be complete without a trip to Culebra. It has been voted one of the prettiest beaches in the world!
An economical way to get to the out-islands of Culebra and Vieques is by using the passenger ferry (La Lancha). These ferries, operated by the Port Authority Maritime Division, carry about 200-600 passengers and run during the day hours, 365 days a year.
The Humacao Wildlife Refuge (now called the Punta Santiago Natural Reserve in Humacao) is located on the east coast of Puerto Rico. Within the reserve you'll find numerous trails for walking, biking and light hiking, long stretches of beach, spectacular views of the coast, lots of fishing opportunities, an area with picnic pavilions, some ruins from the area's history as a sugar plantation, old bunkers from wars past, and the availability of kayaks and bikes to rent.
The Plaza Mercado in Santurce is a market place with vendors selling things, including all sorts of fresh, local fruits and veggies. We definitely make an effort to stop by these vendors to discover something new. The colors and fragrances alone make it worth the trip.
Pinones mangrove forest (Bosque de Pinones) offers a unique experience for tourists and locals alike. We find that almost no matter what we like doing, we can find it and spend an enjoyable day or evening in this area. Food, music, exercise, beach...it has it all!
So you came on vacation to Puerto Rico expecting all blue skies and sunny beaches. And now it’s raining. Or maybe pouring is a better description! Don’t worry. All is not lost. There are plenty of things to do on your PR vacation that don’t require perfect weather. With terms like “wet season”, “hurricane season”, […]
Balneario El Escambron is a little beach, just outside of Old San Juan, that is part of the Blue Flag beach program. It is located in Puerta de Tierra section of town, next to the old Normandie Hotel and the Parque Sixto Escobar. Great little beaches for the whole family.
There are three bioluminescent bays (bio-bays) in Puerto Rico. La Laguna Grande in Fajardo is pretty bright (it varies with conditions) , and it is convenient to do from San Juan and the main island. Kayaking there is a magical experience.
The Conservation Trust of PR owns Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo, at the north eastern-most tip of the island. Encompassing hundreds of acres, the Conservation Trust offers tours to explain the different eco-systems that are in the reserve.
Sun and Fun snorkeling to Icacos island on catamaran sailboat or motorboat. Lunch and beverages included. Hard to beat for a great day of vacation. There are a number of snorkel boat tours that leave out of the Fajardo area and visit reefs and the out-islands.
Hipodromo Camarero Race Track. It is the only thoroughbred race track in Puerto Rico. If you enjoy horse racing, or just want a fun way to spend a few exciting hours - you can put this on your To-Do list.
Looking for a bargain on new designer clothes, a new pair of designer sunglasses, or maybe just some time out of the sun or rain? There is always the all-enclosed air conditioned The Outlet- Route 66 Mall where you can "shop 'til you drop".
The National Botanical Garden of Puerto Rico is a big name for a lovely green oasis in the middle of a city. Locally, it is known as "el Jardin Botanico". The garden (Jardin Botanico SUR) is affiliated with the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), and it is open to the public free of charge.
Balneario Monserrate is one of my favorites beaches, just due to the scenery - it is a crescent of fine sand, blue water and lots of mature palm trees for shade. And behind that, you have the Rain Forest - it's picture perfect.
El Yunque Rain Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the US National Forest system. Ample rainfall (over 200 inches a year in some areas) creates a jungle-like setting - with lush foliage, waterfalls and rivers. Hike along the trails that cover miles of breathtaking terrain.
Use one of the private boat "water taxi" ride over to Icacos for a day of quiet beach time and snorkeling. Icacos is a small island off of Fajardo. The boat ride took us only about 10 minutes from the boat launch in Las Croabas.
We took a trip to Bacardi Rum Factory to see the tour. I have been on other sugar cane and rum tours on other islands and always enjoyed them. This was different, more of a tour about Bacardi that takes place at their factory, but not a whole factory tour. But it is generally entertaining.
Update Nov. 30th, 2017- Post Maria- Currently, We don’t have electricity, so we are not accepting reservations until further notice. Nestled in the foothills of El Yunque, in Rio Grande Puerto Rico, we offer the ideal location for exploring the Rainforest, San Juan, and the beaches of Luquillo and Fajardo. Hike in the Caribbean National […]
Welcome to our new web site. This is our first post ever! How are you planning on spending your vacation in Puerto Rico? Old San Juan The Caribbean National Forest / El Yunque / The “Rainforest” Ponce The Bacardi Rum Factory Culebra Vieques Rincon “the beach” PuertoRicoDayTrips.com is a compilation of our adventures here in […]