The beautiful island of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Puerto Rico – which in Spanish means “rich port” – is actually an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. Hence, there is lots to do and see in this tropical island collective. Here are our top 7:
1. Visit Old San Juan.
2. Hike through El Yunque Rainforest.
El Yunque is the national rainforest of the island and nestled beautifully in a northern mountain range. The drive from San Juan is extremely simple and easy. Wear hiking shoes or anything with good grip and pack a poncho. Once you arrive, you can check with the Portal Visitor Center for help on navigating the area, as there are several different trails to hike. From here, the Sendero El Yunque climbs 1,365 feet through an eerie cloud forest. This 2.6-mile trail puts you atop the summit at 3,496 feet. When it’s clear, the 360-degree views are spectacular. We suggest a hike to the very top and witnessing the incredible view atop Mt. Britton Tower. Here, a spiral staircase leads to a viewing platform. The La Mina Trail will also lead you to a magical waterfall escape at the end.
3. Visit the Bacardi Rum Factory.
4. Sail to Vieques or Culebra.
5. Explore the Rio Muy Caves
About a mere 1.5 hours from San Juan, there is a network of more than 220 subterranean caves which stretch 286 acres below the above ground hustle & bustle of the island. The Cavernas del Río Camuy is the 3rd largest cave network on the planet, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere! Researchers unearthed the Río Camuy cave system in the late 1950s (most likely a re-discovery) and today, more than 10 miles of mapped trails run through the caves, with close to 20 entrances and additional, smaller unexplored cave networks. A tour through the caves lasts about an hour and is appropriate for children and adults. Booking ahead of time is advisable as tours fill up quickly and the park caps its daily attendance at around 1,500 visitors. Wear high traction shoes and pack a basket of goodies to enjoy after as there are numerous picnic areas and walking trails are located throughout the park.
6. Frolic in Isla Verde & Condado.
Isla Verde & Condado are two of the hundred tourist areas of Puerto Rico hosting various restaurants, hotels, casinos and discothèques. While not everyone wants to be cliche and hang just with foreigners in super tourista areas, they’re popular for a reason so why not check them out. They’re both beautiful areas with lovely beach fronts and worth the time.
7. Try Something New.
What is the point of travel if you don’t dare to try something new for the first time. Puerto Rico is the perfect locale to be a little adventurous. Here are just a few ideas:
- Try a new physical activity like ATV riding, kiteboarding, scuba, waterfall rapelling or paddle boarding. Not sure where to start? Toro Verde offers awesome activity based ours on the island.
- Enjoy a festival if you can get to the right place at the right time. Every town in Puerto Rico has a patron saint, and every saint is honored once a year in a Festival Patronal, or “Patron Saint Festival.” They’re also absolutely free – great music, dancing and local eats (except for the food). Now, getting to whichever town is holding its festival is another issue, but a público should do the trick without hurting your wallet. The biggest one of them all occurs in Ponce: The Ponce Carnival is an annual can’t-miss all-out party.
- With your rental, dare to drive around the North/East coast and stop off at off-the-beaten-path beaches.
- Eat & drink local – of course! Mofongo is a national delicacy and there are several restaurants that serve the island’s cuisine. Yelp.com continues to be a great resource for local cuisine when traveling abroad.
Happy planning Trekkers!