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. Read our Puerto Rico Travel Guide and plan a vacation of a life time to Puerto Rico.
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.
Puerto Rico Attractions
Locals claim that this magnificent bay, a designated wildlife preserve about 2 miles east of Esperanza, has the highest concentration of phosphorescent dinoflagellates not only in Puerto Rico, but in the world. A trip through the lagoon – take a tour – is nothing short of psychedelic, with hundreds of fish whipping up fluorescent-blue sparkles below the surface as your kayak or electric boat passes by (no gas-powered boats are permitted – the engine pollution kills the organisms that create the phosphorescence). Reservations are essential for boat and kayak tours in high season. Note that trips are often cancelled if there’s a full moon or if the waters are rough.
Stretching for a mile around a sheltered, horseshoe-shaped bay, Playa Flamenco is not only one of Culebra’s best beaches, it’s also generally regarded as the finest in the Caribbean. Backed by low scrub and trees rather than craning palms, Flamenco gets very crowded on weekends, especially with day-trippers from San Juan. Alone among Culebra’s beaches, it has a range of amenities. Weekdays are good for a visit, when crowds are few. Services include a collection of kiosks (selling snack food, lunches, rum punches and beer, and renting beach gear), toilets, outdoor showers, lockers, lifeguards, picnic tables and an often jam-packed parking lot. Camping is allowed.
If you need a reason to hire a water taxi, Isla Culebra is it. This small island, just east of Playa Zoni, is part of the national wildlife refuge. With its six beaches, tide pools, reefs and nesting areas for seabirds, Isla Culebra has changed little in the past 500 years. The north beaches, especially the long crescent of Playa Tortuga, are popular nesting grounds for green sea turtles – you might even see them swimming near the reefs just offshore. Bring a lot of water, sunscreen and a hat if you head for Isla Culebra – there’s little shade here. And don’t forget snacks and snorkel gear. Round-trip water-taxi service costs around $50 per person, including beach gear, hammock and snorkel set.
Playa Carlos Rosario
Remote Playa Carlos Rosario is a thin, white-sand beach with one of the best snorkeling areas in Puerto Rico. This is mostly due to a barrier reef that almost encloses the beach’s waters; you can snorkel on either side of it by swimming through the boat channel – look for the floating white marker – at the right-hand side of the beach. But be very careful: water taxis and local powerboats cruise this channel, and swimmers have been hit. For truly spectacular snorkeling, continue working your way north along to the beach for about a half-kilometer to a snorkeling site called The Wall, which has 12m drop-offs, huge sea fans and rich colors.
Sometimes a little piece of paradise lies in store even in the least obvious of locales, and Gozalandia is San Sebastián’s: a flurry of dramatic cascades 5km north of town that tumbles into some inviting plunge pools. The crashing river here is backed by steep forest and is a truly beautiful spot to spend some hours soaking up the quietude. There are two key cascades. At the lower it is possible to climb behind the waterfall, while at the upper, there is a rope swing. Near the parking area, the Sha’s restaurant rustles up great cocktails using fresh fruits, and it is rarely crowded.
Humacao Nature Reserve
Almost 3200 acres once used for a sugarcane plantation have been given back to nature at this gem of a nature reserve. Mangroves and palm trees provide shade for lagoons that serve as havens for myriad birds and fish; turtles and iguanas are easily spotted too. Kayak the placid waters or bike or walk along the many nature paths. Bilingual signage provides interesting information about the reserve’s flora and fauna. Fishing poles also available for rent ($5 for three hours). Located just west of Punta Santiago.
Reserva Natural Laguna de Joyuda
The heart of Playa de Joyuda’s 300-acre Reserva Natural Laguna de Joyuda is a sizeable saltwater lagoon with a depth that rarely exceeds 4ft. The sanctuary is of great importance to waterfowl and other migratory birds that come here to prey on more than 40 species of fish. Humans come here for the same reason. The reserve is also home to one of Puerto Rico’s famous bioluminescent bodies of water, like those in La Parguera and Vieques, but is free of commercial tourism. After dark, microorganisms give the dark water a green glow. Travelers with access to a kayak can launch a nighttime exploration of the lagoon.
Fanning out immediately south of Boquerón town, the Balneario Boquerón ranks among the best public beach facilities in Puerto Rico. The 2km-long arc of sand gets insanely busy on high-season weekends, but it’s still big enough to carve out a relatively quiet space, and the beach area is backed by coconut palms and ample grassy lawns and showers, changing rooms, toilets and picnic tables. It’s designated as one of only a handful of Blue Flag beaches in Puerto Rico. Its manicured nature means it’s nice for families and swimmers, and it also boasts an area of cabins and villas where you can stay the night.
Puerto Rico Tours & Activities
Culebra Day Trip by Catamaran from Fajardo
Cruise by high-speed catamaran to Culebra from Fajardo for a fun-filled day trip snorkeling, beach combing and sunbathing on this island paradise. Spend your morning exploring the fascinating undersea creatures that populate the island’s coral reefs before enjoying a buffet lunch complete with rum punch and piña colada refreshments. Then take the afternoon to relax and swim on the area’s perfect sugar-sand beaches, including Playa Flamenco and nearby Culebrita. Read more about Culebra Day Trip by Catamaran from Fajardo
San Juan Snorkel and Picnic Cruise
Get a taste of island life during this full-day catamaran cruise and snorkeling trip to a nearby nature reserve, where you’ll explore the tropical isle of Icacos. Pretend you’re Jacques Cousteau as you snorkel among the area’s fantastic marine life, then stroll the deserted beaches of a protected island for some shell hunting and sunbathing. Along the way enjoy a buffet lunch, with included rum punch or piña coladas, plus optional hotel pickup and drop-off from select properties in San Juan. Read more about San Juan Snorkel and Picnic Cruise
El Yunque Rainforest Half-Day Trip from San Juan
Discover the natural wonders of El Yunque rainforest on this laid-back half-day exploration from San Juan. Enjoy a walk to a beautiful waterfall, incredible views and more than 240 species of plants and animals that call this sub-tropical habitat home. Your Puerto Rico rainforest tour also includes round-trip transportation from most hotels in San Juan, professional guide and all park entrance fees. Read more about El Yunque Rainforest Half-Day Trip from San Juan
Old San Juan Food Tour
Get a taste for the flavor and culture of Puerto Rico on this 3-hour, small-group Old San Juan food tour featuring several local eateries. Join your guide for a culinary exploration of island staples like plantains and sofrito, all with the cobblestone streets and colorful facades of the city’s oldest neighborhood as your backdrop. Your tour also includes a complimentary alcoholic beverage. Read more about Old San Juan Food Tour
Deserted Island Catamaran Day Sail from Fajardo
Live out your island castaway fantasies aboard a luxury catamaran as you visit the deserted tropical island of Cayo Icacos from San Juan on this half-day sailing cruise. Sail into the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean, admiring views of the El Yunque mountains in the distance, before arriving at the nature preserve of Icacos for a leisurely day of swimming, snorkeling and a lunch buffet with drinks. Your sailing excursion also includes snorkel equipment and an optional upgrade with round-trip transportation from hotels in San Juan. Read more about Cayo Icacos Island Catamaran Tour with Snorkel from Fajardo
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.
Best Puerto Rico Hotels
Malecon House is a boutique hotel situated on the Malecon, a fun, picturesque Caribbean seaside boardwalk in the charming village of Esperanza, Vieques, Puerto Rico. Stroll to interesting beach bars, a variety of restaurants, boutiques and exciting island-style activities. Close by, enjoy fine dining, shopping, funky exotic nightlife, exhilarating ocean sports and beaches of unmatched natural beauty. Or enjoy peaceful seaside relaxation in the hotel’s beautiful gardens and oasis pool. The bioluminescent bay tours pick up right down the street where you can also rent snorkel gear, kayaks and jet skis. Onsite parking, though a car is not essential. The hotel offers a complimentary continental breakfast on our sea view terrace where you can savor Puerto Rican coffee, tea, cereal, fresh fruit and homemade bakery items.
Bravo Beach Hotel
The Bravo Beach Hotel is an 18 unit ocean front hotel consisting of 2 properties – the main hotel and Casa Roja (located just across the street). All guests have the same amenities and 24 hour access to the main hotel property. We are located on the Atlantic coast of Vieques, five minutes from the town of Isabel Segunda. Amenities include daily continental breakfast, WiFi, satellite TV and free use of beach towels, chairs and coolers to take with you while you explore the island.
Royal Isabela greets guests with much more than suite accommodations. Located just steps from The Restaurant at La Casa, 20 freestanding Casitas are true “little houses” designed for the ultimate in Puerto Rican resort stays. Each Casita encompasses 1,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor space and is sited to best catch Royal Isabela’s stunning ocean vistas with minimal impact to the environment. Escape to an intimate oceanfront resort on Puerto Rico’s spectacular northwest coast.
Hix Island House
Relax, rejuvenate and refresh midst Zen-like architectural elegance at Hix Island House, located in a 13-acre natural refuge. Our spacious lofts feature matchless Caribbean views, open-air private terraces, outdoor showers, Frette linens and luxurious lounging shirts. In-room kitchens are stocked with everything one needs to make breakfast; eggs, cereal, juice, Puerto Rican coffee, fruit, tea, jam and homemade bread. We also showcase one of the Caribbean’s most magnificent pools and offer onsite Yoga and massage.
Dorado Beach – A Ritz Carlton Reserve
Following a meticulous restoration, Dorado Beach emerges more spectacular than ever, featuring expanded offerings, amenities and facilities. Our Ladies and Gentlemen are pleased to welcome guests once again. Somewhere between idyllic and perfection sits one of the most enchanting Puerto Rico luxury resorts — one that calls to those who believe every journey should be a voyage of discovery. With its serene coastline, private residences, spa retreat and a harmonious sense of place that blends masterfully into the natural surroundings, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a rare resort that invites guests to arrive spellbound — and depart speechless.