Puerto Rico is known as La Isla del Encanto – the Island of Enchantment – and enchanting it certainly is. Whether Puerto Rico draws you in with its pristine beaches, lush rainforest (the only one in the United States!), or vibrant culture and captivating music, it is only a matter of time before it captures your heart.
In this ultimate guide to the best things to do in Puerto Rico, you’ll find excursions to hidden caves, recommendations for luxury beach resorts, and everything in between to help you create your dream Puerto Rican getaway. From the historic streets of Old San Juan to deserted beaches on the wild western coast, these are the gems of Puerto Rico you can’t miss.
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22 Things To Do in Puerto Rico
1. Party with Reguetoneros at Fifty Eight
Tourism in Puerto Rico is booming, in part thanks to the love for the island shown by its most famous celebrities. If you’d love to rub shoulders with Puerto Rico’s most famous stars, you’ll be sure to find them at Fifty Eight, San Juan’s most popular club, located at La Concha Resort in the neighborhood of Condado.
This place is an institution. Bad Bunny mentions the club in the song “Yo No Soy Celoso” off of his hit album Un Verano Sin Tí: “Ayer te vieron dizque en Fifty-Eight con otro tipo.” Fifty Eight is such a favorite spot that appears extensively in the Bad Bunny – Arcángel music video “La Jumpa,” filmed at the end of 2022 during an appearance at the club.
Even if you’re not at all interested in visiting Fifty Eight, La Concha Resort is an incredible place to stay – a true favorite in San Juan. With its emblematic ocean-front seashell-shaped structure emerging from the sands La Concha Resort is a retro gem and architectural landmark in one. Recent refurbishing has transformed this beloved beach destination in the neighborhood of Condado into one of the most sought-after spots in the city.
2. Sample (Real!) Puerto Rican Food
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried authentic Puerto Rican food. Get ready to fall in love with complex flavors and inventive uses for ingredients you’ve never seen before. Don’t leave Puerto Rico without trying these dishes:
- Mofongo: mashed plantains with seafood or pork
- Arroz con gandules / arroz con habichuelas: rice and beans, Puerto Rican style
- Pastelitos: pastries stuffed with sweet or savory fillings
- Tostones: fried savory plantains
If you’re looking for delicious and affordable Puerto Rican street food, make Piñones your first stop upon landing in San Juan. Located next to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport outside of San Juan, this area is known for its food stalls selling some of Puerto Rico’s favorite dishes.
Go for the alcapurrias (fried yuca and plantain dough stuffed with meat), bacalaítos (codfish fritters), and endless seafood options like oysters.
3. Go Beach-Hopping
Puerto Rico is rimmed with stunning beaches, and any visitor would be crazy not to visit at least one of Puerto Rico’s white-sand beauties during their trip to the island.
Whether you’re looking for a vacation spent at a fancy beach resort – Puerto Rico is a great place for it! – or are looking to beach-hop around the entire island, Puerto Rico is sure the be the beach destination of your dreams.
You’ll find great beaches even in San Juan. Check out the beachfront in Condado and Ocean Park, both great neighborhoods to stay in if you’re looking to combine a beach break with a city getaway – stay directly on the beach or within a few blocks of walking distance.
Looking for a truly spectacular beach getaway? Many of Puerto Rico’s best beaches are on the north and western coasts of the island. These are some of Puerto Rico’s best beaches, worth traveling for:
- Crash Boat Beach, in Aguadilla on the west coast;
- Baleanario de Boquerón, in Boquerón on the west coast;
- Seven Seas Beach and Playa Colara, near Fajardo on the north coast.
Of course, Playa Flamenco on Puerto Rico’s island of Culebra is among the best beaches in the Caribbean, so it’s certainly worth a visit, even if you don’t have a lot of time to spend on Culebra. It’s just about as dreamy of a Caribbean beach as you can possibly imagine. Or, visit Tortuga Beach on Culebrita.
4. Take a Day Trip to Icacos
Did you know that Puerto Rico isn’t just one island in the Caribbean, but dozens? That’s right – Puerto Rico comprises nearly 150 islands, islets, and cays, and visiting these islands is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico!
While most travelers stick to the main island, or at best visit larger islands like Vieques of Culebra, taking a day trip to the stunning island of Icacos is a highlight for travelers looking to get off the beaten path on their trip.
Depart from the town of Fajardo on the Puerto Rican mainland for an unforgettable day trip in catamaran to Icacos. For many travelers, especially those who don’t have time to spend jumping from beach to beach around the island, it’s the best way to enjoy an unforgettable day on some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.
You’ll enjoy white sand beaches, incredible snorkeling, and a day of eating and drinking onboard a stunning ship. It’s no wonder these excursions are becoming more and more popular. You’ll find a lot of tour operators running these excursions, though Castillo Tours in Fajardo is the best in our humble opinion.
5. Visit the World-Famous Playa Flamenco
As one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, we thought Culebra’s Playa Flamenco deserved more of a mention on this list of best things to do in Puerto Rico than just a quick word amongst the list of the island’s other beautiful beaches.
In the protected Bahía Flamenco (Flamenco Bay), this powdery-soft white-sand beach is nearly waveless, perfect for swimming and a divine day in a tropical paradise. You’ll find food trucks and vendors, chair rentals, snorkeling gear available, and pretty much everything you could want to have on hand for a day at the beach.
This beach also has some interesting and historic – if dark – features, with an abandoned graffiti-covered U.S. Navy tank on the far end of the beach, a remnant from when the island was used by the United States military for training practices.
While you’ll find day trips from Fajardo to Culebra on a catamaran, you can also take the ferry to Culebra from Ceiba on the island’s eastern shore or even fly from San Juan to the airport on Culebra. No matter how you get here, try to spend at least a full day in Culebra to enjoy both this stunning beach and the rest of the island.
Read More: 16 Best Beaches in the Caribbean
6. Explore El Yunque
El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest that is part of the U.S. National Forests system, and a diverse, lush destination that you should add to the very top of your Puerto Rico bucket list. Whether you spend your visit hiking, swimming in rivers, spotting flora and fauna, or even ziplining, a visit to El Yunque is a highlight of any traveler’s trip to Puerto Rico.
El Yunque day trips from San Juan are one of the best ways to visit El Yunque without having to rent your own car, so they’re a favorite among most travelers. You’ll also find half-day trips to El Yunque from cities that are closer to the National Forest:
While there are seemingly endless things to do in the park, favorite activities include hiking, swimming, trekking to waterfalls, and even sliding down natural slides into the river below. While the forest has different trails, most tend not to be overly challenging – though they can get muddy, so come prepared to get dirty!
7. Go Caving
While Mexico is known for its cenotes, Puerto Rico is known for its incredible caves. From underwater caves for unique diving adventures to caves home to the petroglyphs of the indigenous Taino population, you’ll find that exploring these unique geological features is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.
Some of the most famous caves in Puerto Rico are the Rio Camuy caves near the island’s northern coast. These extensive caverns stretch on for nearly 10 miles, and still haven’t been entirely mapped! For incredible hikes among stalactites and stalagmites deep under the lush forest, this is an incredible destination to visit.
Cueva del Indio, just outside of Arecibo on the northern coast is another one of Puerto Rico’s most famous caves. In addition to plunging ocean cliffs with spectacular views, you’ll find petroglyphs from indigenous populations on the cave walls – they’re extremely impressive!
Day trips to Cueva del Indio from San Juan are very popular excursions from the city, and a great way to explore the area. They often include stops at the surrounding beaches, too, which can make for a great way to explore some of the island’s stunning beaches.
8. Explore Old San Juan
This charming and historic city – the oldest in America! – is a highlight of any trip to Puerto Rico.
Just wandering the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan is a treat. It’s easy enough to wander and explore the colorful streets of Old San Juan on your own self-guided walking tour, though you can also find FREE walking tours of Old San Juan – just book ahead with Civitatis. They’re very well done and offered by local guides.
Looking for the spots you can’t miss when exploring Old San Juan? Here are some of the most important and picturesque spots in this beautiful neighborhood.
- Castillo San Felipe del Morro: Better known simply as El Morro, a visit is it’s own highlight on your list of the best things to do in Puerto Rico
- Catedral de San Juan: The second oldest cathedral in the Americas!
- Fortaleza Street: Known for its colorful umbrellas
- Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery: Weirded out at the thought of visiting a cemetery? This historic seaside burial ground has impressive monuments, statues, and views to boot.
- La Fortaleza: Home to the governor of Puerto Rico, you can tour this impressive and historic mansion, or just admire it from the outside.
You could easily spend the better part of a day exploring Old San Juan (as you should – it’s one o the bet things to do in Puerto Rico). In fact, if your itinerary allows for it, I’d recommend it! There’s so much to see and do in Old San Juan, plus great cafes and restaurants, that it’s certainly a highlight for travelers.
Choose a restaurant or bar with a rooftop for drinks with sunset views – we loved La Vergüenza, but there are plenty to choose from.
Take note before visiting the colorful Old San Juan waterfront neighborhood of La Perla. While travelers love to visit – it’s been recently featured in a number of music videos, including Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” – it’s important to be aware that the area is sometimes used for buying and selling drugs. No need to be scared, but please, don’t take photos here.
9. Stay at Finca Victoria
Looking for a memorable – and sustainable – place to stay in Puerto Rico? Consider booking a stay at Finca Victoria on the island of Vieques. This beloved eco-hotel feels almost like staying in a treehouse; its secluded location makes visitors feel like they’re in the heart of the lush tropical forest while still being easily accessible to rest of Vieques.
This unique property has its own fruit and vegetable gardens, which contribute to the hotel’s ayurvedic vegan kitchen, while medicinal plant gardens are made into all-natural products sold in their store and used in the wellness house. You’ll find an abundance of wellness offerings, from yoga sessions to dedicated wellness retreats.
All in all, Finca Victoria offers guests the best base for exploring one of the Caribbean’s most precious hidden gems.
10. Visit Puerto Rico’s Black Sand Beach
It’s undeniable that visiting Puerto Rico’s beaches is a highlight for travelers and one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico. However, if you’re looking for a totally unique beach experience in Puerto Rico, consider visiting a black sand beach.
The most strikingly black sand beach in Puerto Rico is fittingly called Playa Negra, and is on the southern coast of the island of Vieques, near the town of Esperanza.
If your Puerto Rico itinerary won’t take you to Vieques, don’t worry – there are some black sand beaches on the Puerto Rican mainland, too! Not far from San Juan outside of Manatí you’ll find Playa La Boca and Playa La Esperanza, both of which have dark, almost-black sand.
Playa La Boca, near the mouth of a river, isn’t a great beach for swimming, though Playa La Esperanza is much prettier and worth spending an afternoon.
11. Explore Santurce
There is much – so much! – more to San Juan than just Old San Juan, so don’t make the mistake of just sticking to this historic neighborhood and skipping out on all the rest this vibrant city has to offer. Make sure to visit the lively Santurce neighborhood while you’re in town; from upscale oceanfront highrises to artsy districts overflowing with galleries and restaurants, it has something for everyone.
Santurce is a vibrant neighborhood east of Old San Juan, with so much to see and do. The entire area has a growing art scene; as soon as you visit, you’ll see tons of street art, with major areas of street art on Calle Loiza and Avenida Juan Ponce de León.
Santurce is also home to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, which has very impressive permanent and rotating exhibits from a variety of eras. Frequent events and the stunning sculpture gardens make it a popular spot – make sure to check out the museum’s schedule before you visit San Juan.
Santurce is technically home to two of the other neighborhoods we love in San Juan – Condado and Ocean Park. Make sure to check out these lovely parts of Santurce as well!
Condado is a high-end oceanfront neighborhood filled with highrise apartment buildings, luxury hotels, and incredible places to eat, drink, and shop. Stroll down Ashford Avenue with its designer shops, grab a kayak and hit the water, or just enjoy the stunning beaches – you’ll love having all this variety at your fingertips.
Whether you stay in Condado or just visit for an afternoon, you’ll be impressed with everything it has to offer. While it can be one of the more expensive areas to stay in San Juan, it’s packed with things to see and do, and it’s close to the attractions of Old San Juan, making it an excellent choice.
If you’re looking for the beachfront of Condado without the glitz and glam, head to Ocean Park. This neighborhood just a bit further down the beach is much more local (and affordable) but still has plenty to see and do. Grab delicious Puerto Rican food at Kasalta Bakery, sip drinks at Acapulco Taqueria, or check out any of the other great places to eat in the area after a long day at the beach.
We stayed in Ocean Park when we visited San Juan, and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. The neighborhood was walkable, had plenty to see and do, and we were within just a few blocks of the beautiful beachfront. It ended up being the perfect combination of a city break and an affordable beach vacation.
12. Kayak in a Bioluminescent Bay
The water seems to ignite in Puerto Rico as several spots around Puerto Rico are home to unique bioluminescent algae that light up. The most famous by far is Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques.
The images of the bioluminescent effects are stunning – not just a trick of Photoshop! Mosquito Bay is considered to have the brightest bioluminescent effect anywhere in the world. For reasons scientists can’t quite put their finger on, the bioluminescence in the bay has gotten even stronger since Hurricane Maria passed over the island in 2017.
You can find plenty of tours to Mosquito Bay, offering guided excursions with the opportunity to experience the bioluminescence by catamaran or kayak through the bioluminescent bay. However you explore the area, it’s an incredible way to discover one of the most fascinating parts of Puerto Rico.
You’ll also find excursions closer to San Juan at other sites that have bioluminescence in the water. Though they’re not as brilliant as the waters of Vieques, it’s a convenient way to experience an incredible phenomenon, one of the most unique and memorable things to do in Puerto Rico.
- Mosquito Bay: excursion by catamaran
- Mosquito Bay: excursion by kayak
- Bioluminescent Bay near San Juan: excursion by kayak
13. Stay at a World-Class Resort
One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico might be… nothing? Kicking back and relaxing in island paradise is definitely one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico. If you’re dreaming of a picture-perfect beach getaway on a slice of white-sand paradise, Puerto Rico is a great choice.
You’ll find beautiful and luxurious resorts in San Juan and around the island, either perfectly secluded or very much in the heart of all the action. It’s a convenient and perfectly dreamy choice for travelers, particularly from the United States.
While there are endless accommodation options across the island, these are some of the best spots to consider if you’re looking for a resort getaway in Puerto Rico.
La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort
With its emblematic ocean-front seashell-shaped structure emerging from the sands of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s most beautiful beach, La Concha Resort is a retro gem and architectural landmark in one. Recent refurbishing has transformed this beloved beach destination in the neighborhood of Condado into one of the most sought-after spots in the city.
Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Just an hour east of San Juan, the secluded Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve is among the island’s most beautiful and luxurious resorts. Stunning beachfront, next-level attention and service, delicious food, and a lovely spa make a stay at this Ritz-Carlton Reserve property a memorable experience from start to finish.
St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
Nestled along the pristine shores of Puerto Rico’s northeast coast, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is one of the best choices for a beach getaway in Puerto Rico. Beautiful beachfront, spacious and luxurious rooms, and unending amenities are just the start.
Located just a short drive from El Yunque, the beautiful beaches of Fajardo, and even the ferries to Vieques and Culebra in Ceiba, this is the perfect spot from which to explore the very best of the island before returning for sunset drinks by the pool.
The iconic Caribe Hilton is a San Juan institution, perfectly retro yet recently refurbished for an even more luxurious experience. Enjoy this lovely resort’s enviable position in the heart of the city if you can’t wait to explore San Juan, or retreat to the sprawling beachfront, pool, fitness center, and spa if you’re looking for an island escape.
14. Go Rum-Tasting at Casa Bacardi
You can’t visit the Caribbean without tasting local rum, and that is certainly true for Puerto Rico, home to the world-famous Bacardí rum. While Bacardí got its start in Cuba in 1862, it moved out of the country following the Cuban Revolution, and now you can find Casa Bacardí in Puerto Rico, just outside of San Juan.
Visits to Casa Bacardí are now almost an obligatory part of a visit to Puerto Rico. Experiences at the distillery are quite affordable and include drinks, taste-testing special Casa Bacardi rum you can’t get anywhere else, and a full distillery tour where you’ll learn all about the process for making this much-loved drink.
Book online in advance, as it can get busy, especially during the high travel season, as this is one of the most beloved things to do in Puerto Rico.
15. Explore the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
A gem within the vibrant Santurce district of San Juan, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (Museum of Art of Puerto Rico) is a highlight of a trip to San Juan. It’s much more than just a stuffy art museum and is among the best things to do in Puerto Rico whether you’re an art lover or not.
There is a great mix of artists and exhibits on display, as well as a good number of rotating exhibits you’ll love – it’s an absolute must if you’re an art lover. The gardens outside are lovely as well.
You’ll also find a regular schedule of events, including concerts and festivals throughout the year, all part of its mission to bring art to the people, while preserving and protecting Puerto Rico’s artistic traditions. Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours exploring, though you’ll want more time if you coincide with an event.
16. Try Surfing in Aguadilla
Puerto Rico is a surfer’s haven and boasts what many consider to be some of the best spots for surfing in the Caribbean. You can catch a wave anywhere around the island, but the best area for surfing on the island is the northwest corner, with popular surfing beaches found in Isabela, Rincón, and Aguadilla.
Aguadilla is a great spot for many travelers looking to try surfing while in Puerto Rico; a fun fact about this laid-back city is that it has the most beaches of any city in Puerto Rico. You’ll find great spots for surfers of all levels in Aguadilla, including Crash Boat Beach, Gas Chambers, and the famous Jobos Beach. For the pros, Playa Domes in Rincón is number one.
17. Learn About Taino Culture and Traditions
Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Caribbean, indigenous peoples populated much of the region, including Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Cuba. While the indigenous Caribbeans we’re entirely monolithic, the Tainos were the majority people group of Puerto Rico, and learning more about their influence and history is a great way to experience a unique side of the island.
Explore the Cueva del Indio in Arecibo to see petroglyphs first-hand (in addition to enjoying this spectacular oceanfront destination!), or visit the Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes near Ponce to see one of the Caribbean’s most important ceremonial spots still in existence today.
You can also visit the stunning Cueva Ventana near Arecibo for stunning valley views and informative chats with local guides about the Taino influence and history in the area.
18. Visit Humacao
Located on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, Humacao is one of the island’s best-known resort towns. Just an hour from San Juan and a short drive to the ferry at Ceiba to transport you to Vieques or Culebra, it’s a great place to base yourself for discovering the rest of Puerto Rico.
Highlights of a visit to Humacao include hitting the beaches, visiting the Humacao Nature Reserve, and taking a trip out to the Isla de Mona, which is home to hundreds of free-roaming Rhesus monkeys. Some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico are just a short distance away.
Humacao is also one of the best spots in Puerto Rico for snorkeling and diving. If you can’t make it out to Culebra or Vieques, Humacao is a perfect spot for embarking on a snorkeling or diving expedition from the mainland. While there are nearly 25 different dive sites in Humacao, a favorite is called The Cracks, a series of underwater caves and caverns you have to see to believe.
19. Wander Through El Morro (and Fly a Kite!)
Old San Juan’s stunning Castillo San Felipe del Morro – better known as El Morro – is easily the city’s defining feature, with its enviable position at the tip of the city and centuries-long history of guarding San Juan against invaders and pirates alike. Visting was one of my favorite things to do in Puerto Rico!
You can’t visit San Juan without visiting El Morro and exploring the chambers, walls, and corridors of this historic building. With small exhibits and plenty of information on hand to illuminate the importance of the fortress, it’s an impressive spot even if you’re not a history buff.
Plus, the ocean views are spectacular, truly a site to behold – it’s no wonder this is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico!
Perched on a spacious lawn, the area around El Morro is also a popular gathering spot, and you’ll find families and friends enjoying picnics, stretched out in the sun on towels, and enjoying the incredible ocean views. On a windy day, you’ll see kids and adults alike launching colorful kites into the air; it’s the perfect spot for flying a kite with the ocean breezes.
20. Visit Hacienda La Esperanza and Cueva de las Golondrinas
Get a taste of Puerto Rico’s history and its natural beauty all at once with a visit to Hacienda Esperanza, just an hour west of San Juan near Manatí. This was once one of Puerto Rico’s richest sugar plantations, and now visiting is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.
Visitors can explore the estate and learn about its history and importance in Puerto Rico, though the grounds and incredible flora and fauna of the nature reserve is equally as impressive.
Don’t end your visit with a trip to this nature reserve – make sure to use your time in the area to visit Cueva de las Golondrinas, just on the coast. This stunning beachfront actually has two separate beach areas, and while it can be a bit difficult to reach, it’s worth it. The massive cave facing the water is impressive!
21. Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
Puerto Rico holds its own among neighboring Caribbean islands with its abundance of gorgeous beaches and incredible spots for swimming and water sports, so why would you expect its underwater features to be any less impressive?
With an unending list of snorkeling and scuba diving destinations – for beginners and professionals alike – this is among the most popular excursions for visitors to Puerto Rico.
Some of the most popular spots for snorkeling are actually found near the smaller islands east of the Puerto Rican mainland, including both Vieques and Culebra. While Vieques is a perfect choice for beginners, Culebra offers a wider range of snorkeling and scuba destinations. Either are dreamy spots with clear waters and beautiful reefs.
Some of Puerto Rico’s other most famous diving locations include The Wall near La Parguera and Isla Desecheo off of the western coast near Aguadilla. The Wall is particularly noteworthy as a 22-mile-long dropoff wall with abundant corals and marine life, while Isla Desecheo is part of a marine reserve and has pristine corals, including a reef known as Candyland.
22. Explore Puerto Rico Like You’re Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny isn’t just blowing up the charts with his genre-bending music – he’s actually inspiring travelers to visit his beloved Caribbean island home.
With songs peppered with references to Puerto Rico’s best beaches, hottest clubs, and hidden getaway destinations, any traveler could easily follow in Bad Bunny’s footsteps with his favorite things to do in Puerto Rico and plan their own Puerto Rican getaway.
Here are some of the spots you can find Bad Bunny, per his Me Fui de Vacaciones song about some of his favorite spots on the island.
- Boquerón: this small town in Cabo Rojo along Puerto Rico’s southern coast is known for its stunning beaches. Boquerón’s boardwalk is a lively spot with tons of restaurants, cafes, and shops.
- Manatí: just 40 minutes from San Juan, Manatí is a popular beach escape from the city. From pristine beaches to amazing caves (this is where you’ll find the Cueva de las Golondrinas!), there is plenty to see and do here, whether on a day trip or for the duration of your vacation.
- Isabela: with its famous Jobos Beach, Isabela on the island’s northern coast is a beloved beach spot, though it also has a lush, protected forest reserve and historic sites as well.
Of course, you can also visit Bad Bunny’s hometown of Veja Baja, not far from San Juan. You can see the famous Bad Bunny mural near the beach, where his recent La Jumpa music video was partially filmed.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.