The Best Puerto Rico Guide – Puerto Rico is one of the top Caribbean destinations, with its warm hospitality and an island that is full of wonders. There are so many sights to see on the island. Puerto Rico is an archipelago made up of about 143 islands, cays and islets. The main island of Puerto Rico, Vieques & Culebra are the only inhabited islands. The offshore islands, cays and islets, are all very unique offering visitors the more natural side of Puerto Rico. You will not want to miss the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, the best art collection in the Caribbean. Take a day trip to the island of Culebra, explore the caves at Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy, enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Flamenco, or paddle thru the Bioluminescent Bay off Vieques.
Puerto Rico has modern amenities and services, with world class hotels, gorgeous beaches, fun city life, historic sites and natural treasures. It attracts millions of tourists every year, many who come back year after year. Experience a different state of mind while in Puerto Rico, and allow the island to enchant you. Taste their food, move to their music, feel the warmth of the people and allow the beauty of the land to embrace you. There’s so much wonder in Puerto Rico, you’ll be coming back for more. The more you explore, the more you’ll fall in love. Puerto Rico is a great beach destination, and has so many wonderful beautiful beaches to explore. For more information on Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches, visit our Greater Antilles Travel page, or visit us on Pinterest.
Puerto Rico Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and just before the rainy summer. Spring weather is also very pleasant, barely escaping the mid-80s on most days. The island sees its best weather in winter — which is partly why this is the most crowded and expensive time to visit — but with careful planning you might uncover a pretty good discount during those months as well. You could also plan an enjoyable and affordable trip for the fall, when hotels can be as cheap as $80 a night. However, keep in mind a fall visit leaves you susceptible to the effects of Atlantic hurricane season.
Top 5 Puerto Rico Beach Areas
Flamenco Beach stuns with its sparkling white sands and calm water that turns different shades of aquamarine throughout the day. Frequented by snorkelers and families, this popular shore boasts a campground and beach vendors selling authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Underwater explorers will love snorkeling with manta rays and sea turtles at Playa Tamarindo, but if snoozing under a palm tree sounds more your style, opt instead for Zoni Beach.
A well-known surfing hub, Rincón boasts several beaches perfect for catching a wave. During winter, surfers flock to Domes Beach, Maria’s Beach or Steps Beach, where the waves can get up to 20 feet high. When summer rolls around, the water calms and these beaches become havens for sunbathing, sea glass collecting and snorkeling. Meanwhile, Rincón Balneario attracts swimmers and the popular shoreline of Sandy Beach is loved for its close proximity to bars, restaurants and lodging options. Regardless of where you decide to lay your towel, you’re in for a breathtaking sunset.
Conveniently located near several islands and cays, Fajardo is a great home base for day trippers. Travelers who are looking for a beach with plenty of amenities should consider Playa Seven Seas, a popular shore with calm water ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Those drawn to a more secluded atmosphere will enjoy Playa Escondida and Playa Colorá. Whether you’re taking a catamaran charter to Cayo Icacos, kayaking around the bioluminescent bay at Laguna Grande or snapping the perfect Instagram photo at La Zanja’s natural swimming pool – Fajardo has no shortage of awe-inspiring landscapes to choose from.
Named “Isla Nena” (Little Girl Island) by poet Luis Llorens Torres, Puerto Rico’s little sister sits roughly 10 miles off the mainland and is a haven for romantics. Take a kayak tour of Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, or sunbathe alongside Vieques’ free-roaming Paso Fino horses. Snorkelers should head for the glass-like waters at Esperanza Beach and La Chiva, while families enjoy the amenities at Sun Bay Beach, which offers food vendors, lifeguards and camping access. For an unforgettable experience, Playa Negra’s black sand beach is the perfect place to sink your toes in the sand.
This town on Puerto Rico’s northwest shore was made for uninterrupted days by the water. During summer, the lively atmosphere at Crash Boat Beach draws crowds looking to snorkel, scuba dive or play a rousing game of beach volleyball. Come winter, this action-packed shoreline is filled with surfers hoping to catch their next wave. Grab a drink and some sustenance from a nearby vendor and watch thrill-seekers jump from Crash Boat’s unique pier. Meanwhile, families will love the calm waves at Rompeolas Beach, but if you’re looking for more seclusion, Peña Blanca and Survival Beach are both great options.
Best Puerto Rico Restaurants (San Juan Area)
José Enrique $11 – 30
Though hidden in a pink house without a sign, you’ll have no problems finding one of the western hemisphere’s best restaurants – just follow the excited hordes in the know. Reservations aren’t possible, so be prepared to wait on the sidewalk; your meal is definitely worth the minor inconvenience. The menu changes regularly – so much so that it’s written on a white board and presented to each table. Look for favorites like fresh fish with sides such as malanga (a taro-root mash), and local cheeses served with an amazing guava and papaya salsa. Telephone: 787-725-3518 Web: Jose Enrique.
Cocobana Under $10
A mural of a cow with a toothy smile and a flower behind its ear will be the first sign that you’ve arrived at one of the best vegetarian restaurants in town. Cocobana has an extensive menu of innovative sandwiches, wraps, salads and smoothies – oh so many smoothies. Ingredients are fresh and local, prepared in an open kitchen, the bustling chef in full sight. Be sure to look beyond the menu though. The daily specials, served cafeteria-style, entice many meat eaters to the veggie side. The special includes a criollo main, rice and beans, salad, soup and a drink. All for 10 bucks. Swap in a smoothie for some extra change. Telephone: 787- 268-7758 Web: Cocobana.
Punto De Vista
Punto De Vista Restaurant & Bar specializes in authentic Puerto Rican food cooked to order! They proudly claim to have the best Mofongo in San Juan which is confirmed by the 600+ reviews on Yelp at their previous location. We offer Bacardi Mojitos and have many varieties of rum. The only rooftop restaurant and bar in Old San Juan. Telephone: 787-725-4860 Web: Punto De Vista.
Océano $11 – 30
Resting on a stunning beach front property that juts towards the ocean, Oceano combines the warmth of a Caribbean getaway with the vibrant energy of South Beach. For an oceanfront dining experience unlike any other, the menu combines an eclectic array of Puerto Rican and international cuisine infused with local herbs & flavors, matching your palate to the tropical breeze. Telephone: 787-724-6300 Web: Océano.
Pb Ysla $31 – 50
At the forefront of modern-day dining, PB Ysla embraces Jose Mendin’s famed hospitality culture of superb service, food and flavor, and brings to the Caribbean island an upscale-casual dining experience in a comfortable and trendy setting. Set in the heart of an up and coming neighborhood in San Juan, the restaurant is down the road from where Chef Jose Mendin was born and his culinary story began. Telephone: 939-355-0068 Web: Pb Ysla.
Best Puerto Rico Bars & Nightlife
El Farolito Bar
This small bar is located on Calle Sol in Old San Juan and to find it, just look for the purple building in the area. It is a regular spot for local writers to come together and share food and drinks. The bar features walls lined with Puerto Rican artwork and chessboards that guests are welcome to play. At El Farolito Bar, the staff are welcoming and are always happy to suggest the ideal cocktail or beverage to suit each person’s tastes. When visiting, make sure to try the chichaito. Web: El Farolito Bar.
Nuyorican Café, located on Callejon de la Capilla Street in Old San Juan, is a very lively place particularly after 11pm. There is a $5 cover charge on entry, but free salsa lessons are offered on certain days and drinks here are quite cheap, with cocktails costing $7. Try the tamarind margaritas to cool down from dancing and if you’re feeling like a late night snack, food is also available until 3am. Telephone: 787-977-1276 Web: Nuyorican Cafe.
El Batey meaning ‘gathering place’ is appropriately named as this bar really draws in a crowd. Located next to El Convento hotel in Old San Juan, this dive bar bar serves lots of beer at about $3 a pop as well as basic cocktails. Graffiti covers the walls and an old-time jukebox adds to the vibrant atmosphere that patrons love about this watering hole. Web: El Batey.
El Bar Bero
This local watering hole, located on Loiza Street, has a unique interior resembling a barber shop. Hanging light bulbs are adorned with mustaches and the walls are decorated with similar hair-related artwork. At El Bar Bero, the fantastic cocktails are made to your specification. Bees knees is an excellent concoction made with gin that is highly recommended. To make sure you’ve made the right, and informed, choice, the bartenders give in-depth explanations about your drinks and the staff are able to answer any of your questions. Telephone: 787-473-8161 Web: El Bar Bero.
Café Carli Concierto
This intimate bar is located in Old San Juan and has a very romantic atmosphere. The award-winning bistro has won the Table Chef’s Hat Award for four years straight. To create the romantic ambiance, jazz pianist Carli Munoz serenades his patrons while they savor their cocktails. At times, he is accompanied by a cellist or a quintet. If you visit this venue, make sure that you sample the sangria and the excellent mojitos. Cocktail prices range between $8 – $13 dollars, making this bar very reasonably priced. Telephone: 787-725-4927 Web: Cafe Carli Concierto.
We have never been to Puerto Rico but have recently been considering it as we have a recent family friend who is from there and speaks so highly of it. I appreciated the tip on the best time of year to visit and considerations for different times of year. Keeping an eye on weather can certainly make travel in the fall affordable and less crowded. The Bahia Mosquito was quite fascinating with the phosphorescence.
My dad was stationed there and he always talks about how wonderful it is there. I agree, Puerto Rico is a great travel destination. I think you would really love it. Thanks for visiting my Puerto Rico Travel Guide.
There are so many beautiful places such as Puerto Rico, and I do want to travel to places this. But i lack the money, and the bravery to ever get on a plane. On top of that, none of my family and friends could come I guess for now I’ll keep dreaming about it!
One day you will go! Thanks for stopping by and dreaming 🙂
Great site with so much info! My father was from Puerto Rico but I’ve never been and I’ve been wanting to visit there. I’m glad I came across your post on Puerto Rich, as now I know where to go to plan my trip….you have everything I need! I am looking forward to meeting my fathers side of the family, and hoping all is well with them after the devastation they’ve experienced. Thanks for providing the UNICEF link its nice to see that you really care about the places you write about. I am sure it might be a while before I will be able to visit, but when I am ready I will be back to your site. Maybe you can help me with my travel when I am ready?
Thank you so much, and yes I do care. Such beautiful places, and so much devastation. I am not sure how long it will take them to rebuild, I imagine a little while considering the damage they suffered. I would be glad to help you when you are ready to start making your plans. Thanks for reading the Puerto Rico Travel Guide!
Oh wow! I don’t think you missed anything here. Thanks for putting this together. Very informative. As a surfer, Puerto Rico is on my list of places to go. But after reading this, it’ll be the NEXT place to go. Can’t wait! I’d assume the best time of the year for waves is in the winter!?
Yes, November thru March is going to be the best time to go surfing in Puerto Rico. Hopefully they can rebuild quickly as a country so that visitors will be allowed back into their beautiful country. Thanks for reading!
When I was at Fort Gordon, some of my best friends were Puerto Ricans. They told me I could get a ticket extremely cheap and since it is considered with the U.S. it would be a pretty easy passage. I plan on going someday soon, it is very beautiful. I need to brush up on my Spanish first! Great post.
Thanks Patrick! Yes, you can go to Puerto Rico at a rather reasonable price. Hopefully, they can rebuild quickly and become the beautiful country they were before the hurricane. So you do have a little time to brush up on your Spanish! Thanks for visiting my Puerto Rico Travel Guide.
The most precious of Puerto Rico after its people and beaches, is the food, when visiting this beautiful island, don’t forget to ask the famous MOFONGO,(green plantain) BI-FONGO (green plantain & yellow plantain) and TRI-FONGO(green plantain, yellow plantain & yucca). The Puerto Rican’s are artists with plantain recipes.
hanI have never tried plantain. I guess I need to be adventurous and give it a try. Thanks for sharing and visiting my Puerto Rico Travel guide!
Hi, what a fantastic post! Puerto Rico is definitely on my travel bucket list after reading this. The islands of Puerto Rico look wonderful. If you were on a limited time frame and had to pick one to visit, which would it be? Thanks for sharing, cheers Karen
Thank you 🙂 Puerto Rico really does have a lot to offer. I hope and pray they can rebuild their beautiful country quickly. If I were on a limited time, I would visit Isla De Culebra and Flamenco Beach. That would be my top pick. Thank you for visiting my Puerto Rico Travel Guide!
After reading this excellent guide, I want to go to Puerto Rico!! This is a great article, really informative and well written, I love the fact that you have covered everything, and I can now feel the temptation coming on to travel! Thank you, I will check out your other pages too…. now, where shall I book to go for my Xmas holidays?…….
Lots of choices! So many actually to pick from. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything!
This is a great review of this fantastic looking tourist destination and it looks fantastic, just going on the images that you have posted on this article.
There are so many places to see and visit and cost wise, it appears to be very inexpensive.
Naturally being an island in the Carribean, it has beaches and turquoise seas to die for.
Some of the island tours look very interesting and I suspect that in real life, they would make an even better experience for the visitor.
Thanks again for the great informative post
You are very welcome Phil, and yes the beaches are even more impressive in person and yes, Puerto Rico is fairly inexpensive compared to other Caribbean destinations. Thank you for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com.
I have always been very interested in visiting Puerto Rico. It looks like such a beautiful place and rich in culture. Do you know if there are places to stay on Isla de Vieques? It looks gorgeous! my wife and I are from Canada and don’t get to the Caribbean very often but this looks like our next destination–thank you very much for the information.
Yes, stay at the Hacienda Tamarindo or the El Blok hotel. Both top rated and a guest favorite. Please let me know if you have any other questions and thank you for visiting the Puerto Rico Travel Guide.
Wow! I love your website! My husband works in Oilfield construction and he has stayed a several of the places that you mention in Texas. When he was in Rockport he sent me a few pictures but they were nothing compared to what you have on your site. Don’t get me wrong, the pictures he sent me were beautiful but very few. I wish I could have went with him but at the time, I had a toddler at home and was expecting our daughter. We actually went to Galveston for our honeymoon and it was absolutely amazing. I’m actually planning a trip to go visit family in Palm Bay, Florida. Do you have any suggestions for places to go or things to see in the area?
Palm Bay is close to Melbourne beach on Florida’s Space Coast. Oh, there is so much there and Texas beaches don’t come close to Florida beaches. I know, because I moved from Texas to Florida. Anyway, go to this link which is from my site and lists everything to see and do 🙂 Enjoy! Please let me know if you need anything else!
I am all about going to a remote Caribbean beach destination and completely unwinding for a while, but sometimes I like a bustling area with plenty of restaurants in a walkable historic setting, like Old San Juan possibly.
Are there good beaches within walking distance of the old section, or would we need to either lodge somewhere close by or maybe take day trips to the beaches and other areas from Old San Juan?
Thank you for the information.
There are beaches within walking distance to Havana, yes as it is fairly close to the coast. Puerto Rico is really a great beach destination that most would not consider. You would love it!
Wow! I love traveling, but haven’t been to Puerto Rico yet… I’ve been reading your interesting and informative article and wondering if this is my family’s next destination… escaping New England cold and snow this coming winter, perhaps? Is there a parking problem in San Juan and/or other places (if we decide to get around by a rented car)?
And what are these bio-organisms, which make the Mosquito Bay glow? How do people get to this beach? Is there a place to stay overnight? Thank you!
You won’t find any real parking problems per se. At the most popular beaches, the parking will get full but you should not have a problem finding a spot. They are phosphorescent dinoflagellates which glow. The dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals—offering a potential mechanism for how the algae create their unique illumination. The following hotels are the closes to Mosquito Bay: Bravo Beach Hotel, W Retreat & Spa Vieques, El Blok Hotel, and Malecon House. Thanks for reading BeachTravelDestinations.com and all about our Puerto Rico Travel Guide.
Excellent guide. Thanks for the thorough information.
Since I am vegetarian, I would like to try out Cocobana, but I also want the atmosphere at Oceano. I wonder if there are vegetarian options there?
I will be sure to check out Puerto Rico as soon as Irma passes! Its supposed to be one of the worst hurricanes in history. To anybody in Puerto Rico or elsewhere that is affected by this storm, my heart goes out to you!
Oceano is a seafood restaurant and I looked at the menu and did not see any menu items that did not include seafood, other than the salads. The best choice for vegetarian is going to be Cocobana. I suppose you could still enjoy the atmosphere at Oceano and stick with the salad or side dishes 🙂 Thanks for visiting my Puerto Rico Travel Guide.