All of reggaetoneros Looking for Bad Bunny’s Favorite Party Spots Wide-eyed honeymooners drawn to chic beach resorts can agree: Puerto Rico easily lives up to its name as the Enchantment Island, the Island of Enchantment. A series of news flights to the island offered by Delta and other top careers are starting this winter, making it easier than ever to enjoy a trip to this tropical paradise — no passport required.
Part of the joy of visiting Puerto Rico comes from exploring its hidden beaches, visiting small white-sand islets, and hiking to jungle waterfalls that other travelers have missed. With the help of locals and experts from PADI, Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton reservation, we’ve put together a list of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico, from the best surf spots to winding cave systems and the best places to eat local dishes like alcapurrias It is mofongo.
Old Saint John
The historic heart of Puerto Rico’s capital, Old San Juan is vibrant beyond its colorful colonial architecture or its iconic “Umbrella Street,” Calle de la Fortaleza. Stroll along cobblestone streets lined with century-old mansions before arriving at Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a Spanish fortress that crowns the western tip of the historic neighborhood and offers spectacular views of the ocean. End the day exploring with local snacks at one of the neighborhood’s numerous rooftop restaurants or a drink at the La Fatoriavoted the best bar in the Caribbean in 2023.
The seaside Condado neighborhood is the ideal place in San Juan, with luxury apartments, the city’s best restaurants and lots of fantastic shops. Visit La Placita de Santurce, a favorite destination among locals and visitors, for frequent cultural events, street parties and Puerto Rican roosters in places like La Alcapurria Quemá.
County is also home to some of our Readers’ Favorite Resorts in Puerto Rico. Among them shines the Condado Collection of hotels and resorts, including La Concha Resort, Condado Vanderbilt HotelIt is Condado Ocean Clubsituated along some of the most beautiful beaches in San Juan.
Those looking to enjoy a retreat from energetic San Juan without traveling too far will love the pristine, palm-lined beaches of chic Dorado Beach. Stay in Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton reserve, perhaps the most exclusive resort in Puerto Rico. Known for its championship golf courses and sanctuary-style Botanical Spa with treehouse treatment rooms, it offers the personalized luxury experience you would expect from a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property.
El Yunque National Forest
The only tropical forest within the U.S. National Forest System, El Yunque Nacional Forest It’s one of the island’s natural gems, crisscrossed with hiking trails and home to endless rivers and hidden waterfalls. Although El Yunque is a popular day trip from San Juan, there is much more to explore than a day trip allows, including natural pools such as Charco El Hippie and the Yokahú Observation Tower, over 1,500 feet tall, with its panoramic canopy views. End your visit with a stop for nearby farm-to-table Puerto Rican cuisine Bacoa Finca + Fogón.
There are no traffic lights on the island of Vieques, just pristine beaches and dreamy boutique accommodations on the largest island off the coast of the Puerto Rican mainland. The most popular attraction on Vieques is the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, which glows blue at night as visitors kayak through its waters teeming with phosphorescent plankton. Enjoy a day trip to the island or spend a few nights in Finca Victoria in one of the 14 exclusive cabins, tree houses or guesthouses amid the lush vegetation of the island’s interior.
Travelers who can’t make it to Vieques to experience Puerto Rico’s most famous bioluminescent bay should go to La Parguera. Located on the island’s southwest coast, La Parguera is home to Puerto Rico’s only bioluminescent bay where visitors can swim in the sparkling waters, so be sure to bring your costume. Drive for the experience or spend a night in one of the town’s small guesthouses and spend the day visiting nearby islands for snorkeling and paddleboarding among the mangroves.
Located on the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico, the laid-back island of Culebra is small but packs a big travel punch. With fewer than 2,000 permanent residents, it earned a spot on our list Readers’ Favorite Islands in the Caribbean in 2023. The famous Flamenco Beach of Culebra frequently appears at the top of lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The abandoned, graffiti-covered U.S. Navy tank at one end of the coast is simultaneously an Instagram icon and a grim monument to the island’s past use for naval gunnery and bombing exercises.
From Culebra, take a 15-minute water taxi ride to the even more remote islet of Culebrita. Impressive beaches with incredibly clear waters are the main attraction of this part of the island. Tortuga Beach, so called due to the countless sea turtles that nest there year after year, is considered one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico.
Another of the white sand coves located on the east coast of the island, Cayo Icacos is an increasingly popular day trip destination in Puerto Rico that beach lovers won’t want to miss. Tour from Fajardo to Cayo Icacos by booking a catamaran trip to enjoy the pristine beaches and shallow waters of this uninhabited island for a day.
Camuy River Caves
Escape the heat of the Caribbean sun in Camuy River Cave Park in northwest Puerto Rico. These limestone caves were carved over the centuries by the immense underground river, Río Camuy. Although geologists have identified at least 220 caves and 27 kilometers of natural tunnels, much of the area remains unexplored. Reservations are required, so be sure to book in advance with a registered tour company.
“Forget the Maldives, I’ll stay in Palomino”, reflects Bad Bunny in his hit “El Apagón”. There are no overwater bungalows here, but Palomino Island’s white sands and clear sea certainly warrant a comparison to a Maldivian atoll. The 100-acre uninhabited island off the east coast of the Puerto Rican mainland is for the exclusive use of hotel guests. El Conquistador Resortlocated just a short ferry ride away.
On the island’s west coast, the town of Rincón reigns supreme as one of the best surfing destinations in the Caribbean. Numerous beaches offer waves for surfers of all levels, although Domes Beach is where you’ll find huge waves that host an international surfing competition every year. October to February is the best time to visit Puerto Rico if you’re exploring waves, but Rincón has a lot to offer year-round, even for those who prefer to stay on the beach.
Puerto Rico is home to an impressive array of diving destinations, but few are as famous as the uninhabited Desecheo Island, located just off the island’s west coast. With a complex cave system offering memorable tours and a dive site so colorful it’s known as “Candy Land,” visitors will have plenty to see while taking in what’s on offer. PADI considers it one of the best underwater visibility in all of Puerto Rico.
Surfers and travelers looking for the island’s best beaches will love Aguadilla, located on the island’s west coast. Aguadilla’s Crash Boat Beach is one of the island’s most famous beaches, with a heady mix of white sand, water sports and an all-day party atmosphere fueled by beach bars and food trucks serving tropical cocktails and local dishes. Although the beach offers great visibility for snorkeling, be careful when entering the water; North of the beach is Gas Chambers, one of Puerto Rico’s most famous surfing spots.
Many travelers pass through Mayagüez, the largest city on Puerto Rico’s west coast, and head directly to the region’s smaller beach towns. However, Mayagüez can be a convenient base for exploring the best of the western side of the island; its charming historic center and booming culinary scene certainly don’t hurt. Mayagüez is also known as the “City of Pure Waters” for its proximity to some of Puerto Rico’s best diving destinations, including Desecheo Island and Mona Island.
Isabela is Puerto Rico’s best laid-back beach town, with beaches that attract everyone from backpackers and surfers to San Juan’s elite looking for a weekend getaway. Trace the coastline and visit Isabela’s most beautiful beaches by renting a bike and riding the Paseo Lineal de Isabela, a 7.2-kilometer seaside route perfect for morning runs or sunset viewing. Or head inland to Guajataca State Forest for miles of lush forest trails, hidden caves, and campgrounds.
Puerto Rico’s second largest city tends to be ignored by travelers, but the “Pearl of the South” has the historical charm and cultural weight that justifies a trip. Explore the city’s historic squares and numerous museums, or escape to the countryside for a visit to Buena Vista Farma coffee farm (among countless others) that once brought wealth and fame to Ponce.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Caribbean without sampling some of the best local rums. Puerto Rico is home to a few different distilleries, although Casa Bacardí, located across the bay from Old San Juan, is the number one destination on the island for visitors curious to learn more about the Caribbean’s most famous drink. An impressive visitor center and panoramic views of the city make for an excellent tasting and touring experience, although the unrivaled rum selection is the real star of the show.
Related: 5 best tours to do in Puerto Rico
Located just 45 minutes west of San Juan, the coastal city of manatee It feels like a world away from the big city. Come here for stunning, less-crowded beaches, like the crystal-clear, crescent-shaped bay at Mar Chiquita or Los Tubos Beach, known for its perfect surf tubes.
Puerto Rico Capital of the Sun (Capital of the Sun) is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Luquillo Beach and Balneário Monserrate are the most popular beach in the area for its size and extensive public beach amenities, but there are several beaches in Luquillo to choose from. Head to Luquillo after a day exploring the nearby El Yunque National Forest, or use this town as a base to explore lesser-visited areas of the rainforest.