What are the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico?

Hayley Bosch

Many people who aren’t familiar with Puerto Rico think solely of San Juan when they think about this destination. But the rest of the Caribbean island is quite exciting and has plenty to offer. Here, according to Forbes Travel Guide’s editors, are the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico:
 
1. Experience Mosquito Bay. Catch the ferry to the tiny island of Vieques for dinner and then take a boat ride on Mosquito Bay. This is the brightest of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. The organisms that fill this body of water glow when they are disturbed, so you’ll see the water light up with a beautiful blue hue in the boat’s wake.
 
2. Explore Old San Juan. As the oldest American city — founded by Spanish colonists in 1521 — San Juan has plenty of history to explore and the most intriguing is in the forts of Old San Juan. Visit El Morro, where you can walk among the ramparts and through the dungeons.
 
3. Soak up the sun at Flamenco Beach. On the island of Culebra, Flamenco Beach is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. The horseshoe-shape beach makes for great snorkeling, and the water is crystal clear. Vendors selling everything from clothing to food line the beach, and there are also lifeguard towers.
 
4. Take a catamaran tour. Hop on a boat in Fajardo and head out to the smaller islands like Palominito and Icacos for some unrivaled snorkeling. Carve out a half-day trip and plan to see some top-notch underwater scenes. Many of the boats have food and drinks included in the package.
 
5. Discover Gilligan’s Island. Whether you’re snorkeling through the mangroves or simply rafting and drinking the day away in the calm waters, this natural wonder is a must-do. You can rent snorkeling equipment in the nearby town of Guanica.

  • On March 18, 2013
    Jossell Louie Velazquez answered the question: Jossell Louie Velazquez

    What are the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico?

    Puerto Rico is an incredible Caribbean Island with a fascinating multi - cultural history which started with the colonization by Spain and the introduction of several European Countries which have shaped and created their own history and created a fantastic and unique flavor.  Mother Nature has provided some alluring and captivating features, allow me to share some:

    1. El Yunque National Tropical Rainforest:
    Enjoy the majestic National Tropical Rainforest, El Yunque.  A quick stop at the Visitor's Center for a comprehensive short movie about this incredible ecologic system followed by La Coca Falls, (no hiking involved); then onto The Yukahu Tower which provides a captivating view of the East Coast including the sister municipality islands of Vieques and Culebra and a great finish is to include a true hike trail into La Mina Falls where you can enjoy a quick swim in the refreshing waters!  Make sure to allow yourselves at least four (4) hours to enjoy this fantastic attraction and please do not forget to apply sunscreen lotion, mosquito repellant and bring along water to keep hydrated!
  • On March 18, 2013
    Jossell Louie Velazquez answered the question: Jossell Louie Velazquez

    What are the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico?

    Enjoy the majestic National Tropical Rainforest, El Yunque.  A quick stop at the Visitor's Center for a comprehensive short movie about this incredible ecologic system followed by La Coca Falls, (no hiking involved); then onto The Yukahu Tower which provides a captivating view of the East Coast including the sister municipality islands of Vieques and Culebra and a great finish is to include a true hike trail into La Mina Falls where you can enjoy a quick swim in the refreshing waters!  Make sure to allow yourselves at least four (4) hours to enjoy this fantastic attraction and please do not forget to apply sunscreen lotion, mosquito repellant and bring along water to keep hydrated!
  • On March 18, 2013
    Jossell Louie Velazquez answered the question: Jossell Louie Velazquez

    What are the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico?

    Enjoy the majestic National Tropical Rainforest, El Yunque.  A quick stop at the Visitor's Center for a comprehensive short movie about this incredible ecologic system followed by La Coca Falls, (no hiking involved); then onto The Yukahu Tower which provides a captivating view of the East Coast including the sister municipality islands of Vieques and Culebra and a great finish is to include a true hike trail into La Mina Falls where you can enjoy a quick swim in the refreshing waters!  Make sure to allow yourselves at least four (4) hours to enjoy this fantastic attraction and please do not forget to apply sunscreen lotion, mosquito repellant and bring along water to keep hydrated!
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  • On October 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Puerto Rico?

    While San Juan has the highest concentration of hotels in Puerto Rico, there are plenty of spectacular places to stay all over the island. From boutique-style hotels to full-on resorts, there’s something for everyone. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best places to stay in Puerto Rico:
     
    1. W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island. Sitting on the tiny island of Vieques, this W Retreat & Spa is unlike any other W Hotel. The seemingly private resort feels worlds away from civilization. With two private beaches, tennis courts and a spa, you won’t get bored at this island retreat.
     
    2. El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. This is a great place to go if you’re traveling with your family. You won’t even need to leave the resort to keep everyone entertained, thanks to its restaurants, waterpark and spa. The hotel even has its own private island that’s just a short, eight-minute boat ride away.
     
    3. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico. Opened in late 2010, this luxurious beach resort has a Remède spa and an upscale seafood restaurant under the direction of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Located on the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico, The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is also home to a top-notch golf course.
     
    4. Horned Dorset Primavera Hotel. Across the island in Rincon lies Puerto Rico’s only Relais & Chateaux property, Horned Dorset Primavera Hotel. With just 22 suites, this boutique-style property is intimate and beautiful. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a delicious restaurant on the property.
     
    5. Hotel El Convento. This Old San Juan hotel shows off Spanish Colonial architecture, while remaining luxurious with marble bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. The views of America’s oldest city — it was founded in 1521 — and San Juan Bay allow you to dive head first into the culture.
  • On October 25, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best Puerto Rico food experiences?

    If you really want to get a taste of the island, experience Puerto Rican cuisine. The places that are overrun by tourists are usually good restaurants, but it’s where the locals go that you’ll find real Puerto Rican flavor. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best Puerto Rico food experiences:
     
    1. Traditional fare at La Casita Blanca. This tiny white house is a San Juan institution, known for its good food, homey atmosphere and mounds of tradition. Located in the Santurce neighborhood, La Casita Blanca serves up authentic Puerto Rican food like bacalao (salt codfish with yucca) and carne guisada (beef stew). It’s nothing fancy (the menu is written on a dry-erase board) but it’s definitely worth the visit.
     
    2. Luquillo kiosks. More than 60 beachfront kiosks line the shore just outside the town of Luquillo — and they’re home to some top-notch street food. Each stand has its own menu, ranging from fresh seafood to traditional Puerto Rican fried food like alcapurrias and bacalaitos.
     
    3. Breakfast at Caficultura. Head to Old San Juan's Plaza Colón for a weekend breakfast. Caficultura is known to serve up some of the best coffee in town, pairing perfectly with the delightfully sweet breakfast offerings — ranging from coffee pancakes to coconut French toast. The mallorcas are definitely a must-eat as well.
     
    4. Authentic dishes at El Jibarito. Another Old San Juan joint, El Jibarito is great for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. There’s a good mix of locals and tourists, which is always a good sign. From alcapurrias to mofongos, you’ll get a good taste of the local fare.
     
    5. Jam Rum Bar & Bistro Moderne. As Puerto Rico is known for its rum — Bacardi and Don Q to be precise — Jam Rum Bar & Bistro Moderne is the place to taste it. Offering more than 50 rums from Puerto Rico and other places in the world, Jam also serves Caribbean-fusion cuisine.
  • On October 9, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Where is the best shopping in Puerto Rico?

    Depending on what you are looking for, there are a few areas you’ll want to hit when it comes to shopping in Puerto Rico. Ashford Avenue in the exclusive Condado neighborhood is the place to go for designer shops. The street is lined with names like Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Ferragamo, making it San Juan’s ritziest quarter.
     
    If you’re looking for a deal, head to one of the outlet malls. East of San Juan, Canovanas’ Belz Outlets has names like Polo, Ralph Lauren and Nike. On the other side of San Juan in Barceloneta, you’ll find Puerto Rico Premium Outlets, which have many of the same stores as Belz.
     
    Plaza Las Americas in San Juan is the largest mall in the Caribbean, boasting just about every store you need. But we suggest going to Old San Juan for some authentic local souvenirs.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Which are the best beaches in Puerto Rico?

    Considering that Puerto Rico is 3,515 square miles, the island has tons of great beaches. Add in the tiny coastal islets and you can discover a new beach every time you visit. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best beaches in Puerto Rico:
     
    1. Middles Beach. Come to this beach to ride the waves. Middles Beach in Isabela is where handfuls of surf contests are held — it’s also where pro-surfer Kelly Slater got his latest world title. It’s best for experienced surfers since the break can be hollow and fast.
     
    2. Flamenco Beach. The stretch of beach on Culebra is a must-do when you’re in Puerto Rico. It’s widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Flamenco Beach is great for snorkeling, lounging and soaking up the scenery.
     
    3. Icacos. This tiny island is deserted, making it a great spot for a day on the beach. It doesn’t get much more scenic than this — imagine being surrounded by azure water and pristine white sand. Icacos is quiet and ideal for snorkeling.
     
    4. Ocean Park Beach. One of San Juan’s best beaches, Ocean Park Beach is filled with young people who want to see and be seen. While weekdays are not as crowded, weekends can be chaos.
     
    5. Jobos Beach. This is another surfing beach in Isabela, but this one is perfect for all skill levels. The beach break makes it easy to learn to ride the waves, while also appealing to surfing veterans.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What is the best thing to bring home from Puerto Rico?

    As Puerto Rico is known for its rum, that’s one thing you’ll want to bring back after a visit to the island. One in particular — Don Q — is difficult to find outside of Puerto Rico. Of course, you’ll have plenty of time to taste the varieties throughout your trip, so you can narrow down your choices. And with the sun always shining in Puerto Rico, be sure to bring back a suntan. Whether you visit in the dead of winter or the peak of the summer, the beach is a place you want to be familiar with.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best Puerto Rico food experiences?

    If you really want to get a taste of the island, experience Puerto Rican cuisine. The places that are overrun by tourists are usually good restaurants, but it’s where the locals go that you’ll find real Puerto Rican flavor. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best Puerto Rico food experiences:
     
    1. Traditional fare at La Casita Blanca. This tiny white house is a San Juan institution, known for its good food, homey atmosphere and mounds of tradition. Located in the Santurce neighborhood, La Casita Blanca serves up authentic Puerto Rican food like bacalao (salt codfish with yucca) and carne guisada (beef stew). It’s nothing fancy (the menu is written on a dry-erase board) but it’s definitely worth the visit.
     
    2. Luquillo kiosks. More than 60 beachfront kiosks line the shore just outside the town of Luquillo — and they’re home to some top-notch street food. Each stand has its own menu, ranging from fresh seafood to traditional Puerto Rican fried food like alcapurrias and bacalaitos.
     
    3. Breakfast at La Bombonera. Head to this Old San Juan bakery for a weekend breakfast. It’s one of the oldest restaurants on the island, which in itself is impressive. Family-run, La Bombonera is filled with locals chowing down on decadent pastries like mallorca con mantequilla, a flat pastry topped with confectioners sugar and butter.
     
    4. Authentic dishes at El Jibarito. Another Old San Juan joint, El Jibarito is great for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. There’s a good mix of locals and tourists, which is always a good sign. From alcapurrias to mofongos, you’ll get a good taste of the local fare.
     
    5. Jam Rum Bar & Bistro Moderne. As Puerto Rico is known for its rum — Bacardi and Don Q to be precise — Jam Rum Bar & Bistro Moderne is the place to taste it. Offering more than 50 rums from Puerto Rico and other places in the world, Jam also serves Caribbean-fusion cuisine.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Where is the best nightlife in Puerto Rico?

    San Juan is the place to be when it comes to nightlife in Puerto Rico — the city is filled with casinos, hotel bars and plenty of trendy hotspots. The cities ritziest district, Condado, is the best area to spend your night. Along Ashford Avenue, you’ll find a wide range of bars. If you can’t get enough of the beach, head to Oceano. The hip locale doubles as a bar and restaurant, hosting plenty of events. Though it just opened in 2011, Oceano is wildly popular with its sexy oceanfront setting. Nearby, you’ll find El Barril and Bar Gitano, which are sister venues that are very popular among locals. A long-standing favorite is the Lobby Bar at La Concha hotel.
     
    You can also find casinos at many of the hotels in San Juan. From The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan to La Concha, there is an array of opportunities for those who want to roll the dice. (Just keep in mind that the gambling age in Puerto Rico is 18.)
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