Plan your dream Puerto Rico itinerary with this detailed guide to beautiful beaches, buzzy cities, underground caves and amazing activities.
Looking for your own little slice of paradise? Puerto Rico is a very special Caribbean island, with pristine beaches flanked with palm trees, colourful corals surrounded by kaleidoscopic shoals of fish, and lush rainforest packed with incredible wildlife.
There’s so much to see and do on this beautiful island – the only problem is that you’ll have a hard time fitting everything into your Puerto Rico itinerary!
Whether you like lounging on the beach catching some rays, or racing around on a quad bike, you’ll find plenty of fun activities in Puerto Rico. The island is also steeped in fascinating history, and boasts some excellent museums. Plus, there’s colonial architecture to explore, a vibrant music scene to enjoy and some of the best slow roast pork specialities you’ll ever taste.
However, most people come here to experience the magnificent landscape and idyllic coastline – you could say Puerto Rico is Mother Nature at her best.
So, are you looking for some Puerto Rico travel advice? Trying to decide what to put on your Puerto Rico itinerary? To help you decide, I’ve rounded up the best things to do in Puerto Rico.
Amazing Things to Do In Puerto Rico
1. Take A Stroll Around Old San Juan
Old San Juan is one of Puerto Rico’s finest cultural attractions, and there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than by exploring the historic centre of this picturesque district on a walking tour. The vibe today is relaxed and laid back, but this old town has a history of turmoil, which has left its mark on the historic buildings and the ravaged fortress, Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
You can hear stories of intrigue, smuggling and revolt as you explore this impressive castle by the sea – one of the most popular things to do in San Juan. It’s also an excellent place to sample some traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.
The sights, sounds and smells of Old San Juan are simply charming, making this a must on any Puerto Rico itinerary.
2. Take A Trip To The Deserted Icacos Island
Lush, green and surrounded by pristine Caribbean waters, Cayo Icacos is a beautiful destination for a day trip. This completely deserted island just off the Fajardo coastline is surrounded by postcard-perfect shimmering turquoise waters and lush reefs, offering some of the best snorkelling in Puerto Rico.
There’s no camping permitted, and you’ll need to organise your own transport by boat, which will involve some planning. An easy way to make the trip is to book onto a tour like this one, which takes you to the island on a stylish catamaran.
A trip to Cayon Icacos is a very special addition to any Puerto Rico itinerary, and one of the best ways to experience a real taste of the Caribbean.
3. Go Scuba Diving in Paraguera
Paraguera is one of Puerto Rico’s hidden gems – a beautiful coastal town near one of the best coral reefs Puerto Rico has to offer. Get your Puerto Rico snorkelling fix at the Paraguera Wall. With colourful corals and incredible biodiversity, it’s one of the best places to observe marine life around the island.
Paraguera is also one of only three places in Puerto Rico (along with Mosquito Bay and Luaguna Grande) where you can observe bioluminescent phytoplankton. These tiny microorganisms light up when disturbed, creating incredible visual displays in the water after dark.
Seeing the glowing waters of the bioluminescent bay at night is simply unforgettable and easily one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.
4. Visit El Yunque National Forest
The only tropical rainforest within the US National Forest Service, El Yunque is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular attractions. This enchanting forest covers 28,000 acres on the north eastern part of the island, and receives a whopping 120 inches of rain a year.
The lush, green vegetation sustains a wonderful diversity of animals, insects, and birds, including the legendary coquí frog, an important symbol of Puerto Rican culture and identity.
After a few days on the beach, El Yunque is the perfect place to cool down, as it is dotted with natural pools where you can take a refreshing swim. To get the full experience, why not book onto an El Yunque Rainforest and Waterslide Tour? This tour is filled with unforgettable adventures in the wilderness which you’re guaranteed to want to add to your Puerto Rico itinerary.
5. Go Horse Riding At A Private Ranch
Hiking is a popular activity in Puerto Rico, but for something different, how about seeing the sights on horseback? This fantastic tour will take you deep into the lush countryside around San Juan where you can go wildlife spotting from the back of your very own trusty steed!
It’s a lovely way to venture through the lush forests and take in the views of the towering mountains east of San Juan, all while learning more about the traditions of the island. Whether you’re an expert jockey or a complete novice, this is one of the most unique and fun things to do in San Juan.
6. Hang Out On The Beach
Puerto Rico is known for its beautiful coastline. It’s home to miles of pristine white sand beaches where you can easily spend a day (or a week!) paddling in the warm turquoise waters and topping up your tan.
If you’re looking for the best beaches for paddling and snorkelling, head to Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo. With dreamy palm trees, golden sand, and a lovely sheltered bay where you can swim in peace, it’s a great option for a beach day in Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo is another popular option, especially for snorkelling.
Perhaps the best beach in Puerto Rico is trickier to reach! It’s located on the outlying island of Culebra, nestled in a sheltered bay with shallow water and jaw dropping scenery. It’s definitely off the beaten path, but if you go, it’s likely to be the highlight of your Puerto Rico itinerary!
7. Visit the Camuy Cave Park
One of Puerto Rico’s most popular attractions is the Camuy River Cave Park – an extensive cave network stretching for 286 acres underground. Shaped millions of years ago by the relentless course of the River Camuy, this impressive subterranean system is decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, occasionally opening up into vast caverns and sinkholes.
Step away from the lush green forests above ground and descend into a completely different world, where you’ll encounter strange wildlife and beautiful rock formations. This fabulous site should definitely be on your Puerto Rico itinerary.
8. Get Your Thrills On A Jet Ski or ATV Tour
Life in Puerto Rico is pretty relaxed and easy going, but if you’re looking for some thrills during your stay, you’ll get them on one of these brilliant tours. Finding the pace of life too slow? Hop on board an All Terrain Vehicle and enjoy a few carefree hours zipping around the fabulous Puerto Rican landscape on this popular ATV tour!
Alternatively, head out to the northern coast and tour the coastline all the way through the San Jose Lagoon to the beach of Isla Verde. I’d recommend taking a look at this awesome jet ski tour – definitely one of the most fun things to do in Puerto Rico if you’re looking for a little adventure!
Finally, if you’re still looking for that adrenaline high, head to the Toro Verde Adventure Park, where you can enjoy an epic 2.5km zip-line known as ‘the monster’. Wow, that sounds like fun!
9. Visit Cueva del Indio
Although Puerto Rico’s architecture is dominated by its Spanish colonial history, the island has a much longer cultural legacy. The Cueva del Indio is an ancient cave that contains a large number of petroglyphs made by the indigenous inhabitations of the island, prior to the period of Spanish colonisation.
Combine this fascinating spot with a trip to the ‘Taino Stonehenge’, an impressive stone circle covered in even more petroglyphs, which functions as a sacred ceremonial site for the indigenous Taino people. Peel back the layers of Puerto Rico’s rich history, and uncover a new side to this remarkable island.
Where To Stay In Puerto Rico
With colonial-style décor blended with rustic touches, luxury furnishings, and some of the best views on the island, the Villa Montana Beach Resort is our pick of the resort options in Puerto Rico.
The site itself covers three miles of beautiful golden beach, and offers everything you’ll need for a blissful stay in Puerto Rico. The friendly staff can organise tours and daily activities like scuba diving or horse riding, and the dining options are varied and simply delicious!
Without doubt, Villa Montana Beach Resort is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico.
If you’re looking for a unique, quirky hotel in the heart of San Juan, look no further than Hotel El Convento. Built in 1646, and once the site of an important convent, the building was converted into a smart and stylish boutique hotel in the 1990s.
With colourful décor, comfortable rooms and bags of character, this is one of the most unique places to stay in Puerto Rico. It’s also perfectly located for exploring the city, within walking distance of all the major sites.
With a rooftop pool and a lovely shady courtyard, it’s also a wonderful place to take refuge on a hot day. A swim here is one of the best things to do in San Juan!
Located on the island of Vieques, just off the coast of Puerto Rico, the beautiful Blue Horizon Boutique Resort is one of the most popular luxury accommodation options on the island.
The ocean views are breathtaking, and you can admire them in style as you sip a cocktail in the beautiful infinity pool at sunset. Rooms are tastefully decorated with comfort as a priority, and the local staff can organise all kinds of tours and excursions on and around the island.
It’s no wonder that this historic boutique resort is one of the most popular places to stay in Puerto Rico.
What To Pack For Puerto Rico: Useful Items
If you’re planning your trip, you should think about more than just clothing when you start packing. Here are a few items I’d recommend adding to your suitcase…
Bite relief – I usually take an after bite / anti-itch cream like this, that helps to soothe any bites. I also swear by this amazing Bite Away Pen, which sends a small electric shock to the itchy part of the bite. It takes a bit of getting used to at first (and sometimes hurts a tiny bit), but it does work. I’ve done a full review of the item (as it goes everywhere with me!!) so feel free to read more here.
Travel towel – A fast-drying microfibre towel like this one will come in handy on your trip. These are great not only for when you fancy a swim, but also when you want to sit down on the ground or to wipe your sweaty face on a humid day!
Sun cream – It’s important to apply suncream throughout the day. I’d recommend finding a brand which isn’t too heavy on chemicals, or is almost totally natural, like this one made by Sun Bum.
Sunglasses – It’s important to protect your eyes when you visit a holiday destination like this one. I’d recommend investing in some high-quality UV protected sunglasses. I’ve owned a pair of these Ray Bans for a few years now and love them!
Sun hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat to protect yourself on all of those sunny days!
After sun or aloe vera – Don’t forget some soothing cream incase you do burn. I really like this one made by Ultrasun. It’s lightweight and feels lovely on your skin.
Rain jacket – Be prepared for those sporadic rain showers. As you won’t need it for warmth, I’d recommend a lightweight waterproof jacket that packs down small. Something like this would be perfect.
Umbrella – I’d also recommend an umbrella for rainy season. I’d been looking for a super compact option for ages, and finally found this one which fits in my smallest handbag and is nice and sturdy.
Daypack backpack – I used a small backpack for day-to-day adventures, which could fit a water bottle, camera, sun cream and bug spray. I also took a small shoulder bag to use for going for dinner in the evenings. If you’re looking for something nice and small, lightweight, water-resistant and that will fit all your essentials, I’d recommend this daypack. It’s got some very handy zip-up pockets too!
Reusable water bottle – I always recommend packing a reusable water bottle for travel. Even if you can’t drink the tap water, it means you can top up from giant bottles or water coolers rather than buying lots of plastic bottles. Personally I’d recommend the Chilly’s water bottles. I’ve got a few in different sizes and they are excellent quality!
GoPro – This is an adventure-filled country. The best way to capture it is on a GoPro. They’re great for photos and videos, hard wearing, shockproof and waterproof. Whether you’re snorkelling, hiking, white water rafting, wildlife-spotting or zip lining, it’s the perfect accessory. Don’t forget to take out travel insurance that covers your gadgets too.
Power bank – It depends how much you use your phone on holiday, but I used mine a lot during my trip, snapping photos and videos along the way. A portable battery pack is a great idea so you don’t have to worry about running out of charge at an important moment.
I have a few made by Anker and they’re great quality and have lasted for a long time. This is the one I’m using at the moment, which is really small (similar size to my phone) but stores lots of charge and has a fast charging capability.
Plug adapter – I pack this universal travel adapter for all of my travels. It charges multiple items at once, using plugs or USB and can be used anywhere in the world. It’s one of my fave travel gadgets!
Dry bag – I’m really happy I invested in a dry bag like this. It’s made from a thick plastic and is totally waterproof. These dry bags are perfect for adventures on the water, visiting waterfalls, or if you think it’s going to rain heavily. I’d recommend a small one for your phone and camera gear, or a larger one if you want to use it as your main bag for an activity.
Waterproof phone case – Similarly, if you want to take your phone out and about in the water, I’d recommend getting a waterproof phone case. There are quite a few to choose from, but I’d recommend reading the reviews! You need this to protect your phone and be 100% watertight after all! I bought these Moko cases myself and my partner and they’ve been great. We’ve used them on several trips snorkelling and to waterfalls now, and no leaks!
I hope this guide helps you plan the perfect Puerto Rico itinerary. What’s at the top of your list?
Just a reminder, if you are flying to the States, you will need an ESTA USA. This is an electronic visa that you can easily apply for by filling out an online form. In just a couple of hours you’ll receive your ESTA without having to visit an embassy or consulate.
Whether you’re looking for a one week or 14-day trip, I hope this post has given you plenty of ideas for things to do in Puerto Rico. Have an amazing time!
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