If you have never thought about visiting Puerto Rico, why not!? Puerto Rico is seriously a hidden gem in the Caribbean. And I’m actually embarrassed to say, I never knew the beauty it contains! Being from Miami, I have a ton of Puerto Rican friends and they’ve always #humblebragged about how amazing their island is, how beautiful the beaches are, and how great the adventures in Puerto Rico are. In my mind I always pictured it as Miami with a little bit of Bahamas beauty. But it’s so much more than that guys!
The green lush mountains across the entire country are spectacular enough on their own, but pair that with the beaches full of majestic rocks, powerful surfing waves, and so quiet we were the only people on the beach… more than once! Then there is the beauty of charming Old San Juan, the vastness and wildness of El Yunque Rainforest, and the mangroves that stretch for miles and miles. It’s so beautiful, I’ll even brave their more than crappy roads at a chance of visiting again and exploring more. I also got engaged to my best friend during this trip to Puerto Rico, so it will always hold a special place in my heart!
There are so many things to do and see in Puerto Rico. Here are 7 amazing adventures in Puerto Rico you definitely won’t want to miss!
Amazing Adventures in Puerto Rico:
(1) Beach Hopping: There are so many gorgeous beaches in Puerto Rico but some of my favorites were on the west side of the island. And they’re all pretty close to each other so it’s easy to wake up early and do a day of beach hopping to discover all the beautiful beaches they have to offer. Here are some of my favorites:
- Crash Boat Beach: A beach full of activity in the town of Aguadilla. Make sure to jump off the end of the pier! There are ladders to easily get back up.
- Surfers Beach: Also in Aguadilla. We went here twice because we loved it so much. It’s full of surfers so you can sit and watch them ride the waves. There’s also a hidden area with a cool little stream. TRAVEL TIP: Before you get to Surfers Beach there’s a little beach on the left hand side. Both times we went here we were the only people! Head here for a little peace and quiet.
- Jobos Beach: This was a local beach in the surfer town of Isabela. It was full of families and there was a ton of places to eat and drink.
- Steps Beach: A little quiet beach in Rincon with a fabulous food truck right outside. It’s called Steps Beach because of the concrete steps sitting on the sand and is also known as one of the best surfing beaches on the island.
- Playa Sucia: This beach is located in Cabo Rojo and is only reachable by a dirt road so it is a bit difficult to get to and definitely one of the more interesting adventures in Puerto Rico. But it’s one of the most beautiful beaches!
- Playa Buye: This is where I got engaged so it’s obviously my favorite. 😋 Located in Cabo Rojo, it’s a beautiful little local beach that has plenty of shade from the surrounding trees.
(2) Getting Tipsy at the Bacardi Factory: About 20 minutes outside of Old San Juan is the Bacardi Factory which is the largest premium rum distillery in the world. If you’re a rum drinker, it’s definitely a must-see! They offer 3 different tours every day that take you around the factory and give you the history of Bacardi Rum. We did the Historical Tour which was $15 USD /person and included a tour around the factory, a Bacardi cup, and a drink of our choice. Being half-Cuban it was a very interesting tour because Bacardi originated in Cuba in 1862. It didn’t come over to Puerto Rico until 1936.
(3) Hiking Through El Yunque Rainforest: Looking for one of the best adventures in Puerto Rico? Look no further than El Yunque. This gorgeous tropical rainforest on the northeastern side of the island lies within El Yunque National Forest Reserve. It gets it’s name from an ancient Indian legend. According to the legend the good spirit ‘Yuquiyu’ reigned on this mighty mountain-top throne, protecting Puerto Rico and its people. There are no entrance fees to visit the forest. You just drive through it and stop at the spots along the way. It is host to many unique plant and animal species such as the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot and the tiny indigenous tree frogs, coquis, that serenade the forest every night. A couple highlights from our day within the the forest were:
- La Coca Waterfall: On the side of the road, this gorgeous waterfall is a great picture location.
- La Coca Trail: Right next to the waterfall is La Coca hiking trail. This is a tough 2-3 hour hike through the rainforest. It’s full of slippery mud and rocks and insects and you have to cross 3 streams. It’s especially hard on the way back up as everything is uphill. But we enjoyed every second of being surround by the beautiful forest and listening to the springs and waterfalls in the distance. STYLE TIP: Wear sneakers you don’t mind getting dirty and wet. We were covered in mud after this hike!
- Yokahu Tower: Right after La Coca is a tower. Climb to the top and get the most breathtaking bird’s eye view of El Yunque and the surrounding towns.
- La Mina Waterfall: Definitely my favorite part of the whole day! It’s an easy 30 minute hike on a paved walkway to get to this magnificent waterfall. Once there you can jump into the freezing water to cool off and clean up (definitely needed after the La Coca hike). There’s something just so magical about a powerful waterfall.
(4) Strolling Through Old San Juan: Take a step back in time and visit the beautiful little area of Old San Juan. It’s the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and it’s the historic colonial section of the city of San Juan. And, there’s something for everyone. There are beautiful views, interesting architecture, plenty of restaurants, art, museums, bars and shopping and a deep history. Looking for more historical adventures in Puerto Rico? Check out the ancient forts! El Morro (Castillo de San Felipe del Morro) is a 400 year old fort that used to protect San Juan from sea attacks. Fort San Cristobal was built to protect San Juan from land attacks and is 225 years old. You can visit both for $5 USD/person. TRAVEL TIP: There are a couple of parking garages that aren’t too expensive. The cheapest one we found was a lot at the end called La Puntilla.
(5) Exploring Las Cuevas de Camuy: We were so bummed that we weren’t able to do this because we didn’t realize they would be closed on Mother’s Day! It’s the third largest underground cave system in the world. There are walking tours offered all day for $18 USD/person. They are open Wednesdays-Sunday from 8am-5pm. TRAVEL TIP: Make sure to get there early as possible because they’re based on a first come first serve basis. And, check and make sure they’re going to be open before you go instead of driving all the way over there and realizing they’re closed, like we did. 😋
(6) Enjoying the Salinas de Cabo Rojo: AKA the Salt Flats. This is one of the most under appreciated natural treasures in Puerto Rico. The seawater in this area is extremely salty. So they devised a system to flood these pits with this water (they’ve been using the same pits for generations) and then let the wind and sun evaporate the water naturally. Salt crystals form from the water that is left behind and they fall to the bottom of the pit. Once there is enough salt built up, they drain them, scoop the salt out, and form large piles. They use this salt for non-food purposes. Brine shrimp are abundant here. They help with the production of salt and contribute to the pink color. The operation of extracting salt in this very location actually began with the Taino Indians dating back to 700 AD. They’re open Thursday-Sunday from 8:30am-4pm and there is no entrance fee. Here are a few more interesting things to do at the salinas.
- Bird Watching: The Salt Flats have the highest number and the most diversity of birds in the Caribbean. About 40,000 birds from North and South America head here during winter as this area is considered the most important stop over for for migratory shorebirds.
- Hiking: There are a few hiking trails where you can observe the natural beauty and the SIX ecological systems necessary for the protection and conservation of the salt flats.
- Observation Tower: The views from the top of the Observation Tower are absolutely breathtaking and perfect for photography. The different colors are a work of art and are never the same from one day to the next. They vary with the sunlight, the amount of water, salt and organisms in the water.
(7) West Side Road Tripping: Do a little road trip along the west side of the island and hit up all of the most beautiful sites. Here are a couple of the amazing things we saw:
- Guajataca Train Tunnel: Located in the town of Isabela, this tunnel is a remnant of the sugar cane era and has some of the best sightseeing on the west coast of Puerto Rico. The railway was used to transport sugar cane from the farms in the area and connects the towns of Quebradillas and Isabela. Walk through the tunnel to fantastic views of the Atlantic ocean. It’s a must-see in my opinion!
- Peña Blanca: Located in the middle of a residential area in Aguadilla, this area is considered a beach but it was more of just a beautiful view and excellent picture location.
- Faro Punta Higüeras: A lighthouse in Rincon with serious views! You can even get views of humpback whales during their yearly migration between January and March.
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Where to Stay:
We stayed in the town of Rincon which is known as Pueblo del Surfing (the surfing town) and El Pueblo de los Bellos Atardeceres (the town of beautiful sunsets). Our cute little Airbnb studio apartment was perfect for 2. It was so affordable at only $35 USD/night and very modern. All appliances were brand new and they included little touches like a rolling cooler, a boogie board, a couple of beach chairs, and beach towels which made beach days so much more enjoyable. They even had an outdoor space with a pool table and a little seating area. I totally recommend this place. It was located high in the mountains on a very narrow and steep road so be aware of that!
What to Wear:
Puerto Rico is HOT guys. It’s located in the Caribbean and it’s a tropical island so not only is it hot, it’s humid as hell! Make sure to bring thin, loose fitting clothing to stay cool. Dresses are your best bet or pieces that can be used many times and in different ways. Of course bring a bathing suit and sandals to enjoy all the beautiful beaches and some sneakers for hiking. Also bring a raincoat! In tropical climates it can rain at any second. I was able to pack everything in a personal item so I could avoid Spirit Airline’s carry on bag fees.
-Other Things to Note-
- Puerto Rico is a very small island so I totally encourage you to see as much of the island as you can! You can drive from one side of the island to the other in about 3-4 hours.
- The east side is the more popular side of the island and where most tourists head. But, in my opinion, the more local, west side is where it’s at! We loved the super laid back, surfer feel on the west side of the island and were super happy we chose this area. Instead of flying into San Juan, fly into Aguadilla airport. We did drive to the east side twice to do #toursitythings and it was very easy.
- Which brings me to my next point. You must rent a car! Puerto Rico does not have much public transportation and taxi’s are very expensive. Save yourself a headache and rent a car. TRAVEL TIP: Make sure to buy the insurance! The roads are really rough and the drivers are aggressive. Drive slow and be aware of all the potholes.
- Puerto Rico is a US territory so if you’re a United States citizen you don’t need a passport and you don’t need to go through customs. They also take US dollars, your phones will work there, and everything is in English and Spanish.
- Wear as much sunscreen as you can! The Caribbean is hot and sunny. ZIKA is also advertised heavily throughout the island so make sure to bring bug spray as well. Mosquitoes come out every night.
Our 6 days and amazing adventures in Puerto Rico are 6 days I will never forget. What has been your most memorable trip? Let me know in the comments!