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Top Things to See & Do in Puerto Rico

Picture of Old San Juan
Be sure to take in Old San Juan, with
its many shops and outdoor cafes.


There are few places as vibrant and alive as Puerto Rico.

At once bustling and laidback, rural and cosmopolitan, the Caribbean island has a little something for everyone.

And because Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth territory, you don't even need a passport to travel there!

The list of things to do and see in Puerto Rico is endless, but I've narrowed it down to my five favorites:

  • Take a trip back in time in Old San Juan. While Puerto Rico has been a part of the United States for more than a century, its Spanish heritage survives in the cobble-stoned streets of Old San Juan. Stroll around the imposing city walls, grab a café con leche in the Plaza de San Jose and browse through handicrafts at Mi Pequeño San Juan, a charming locally-owned shop. Be sure to check out the massive fortress of El Morro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and join the hordes of locals who fly kites in the surrounding park at dusk.

  • Get illuminated in the BioBays. The waters around Puerto Rico are home to several tropical phosphorescent bays, which light up with millions of microscopic organisms each night. This natural phenomenon, said to occur as a natural defense system against predators, is most prominent in the bays of La Parguera in the southwest, Mosquito Bay in Vieques and Laguna Grande in the Cabezas Nature Reserve in Fajardo. Come nightfall, local boat guides are available to take visitors into the bays for night swims. Go during the off-season, when the moon is high and the water is empty, for a truly unforgettable experience.


  • Picture of Rincon beach
    Spend the day surfing the waves
    at Maria's Beach in Rincon.


    Be one with nature in El Yunque. The Caribbean National Forest, also called El Yunque, is the only protected rainforest in the U.S. Forest System and a top Puerto Rico ecotourism destination. Located in the eastern part of Puerto Rico, the forest is crawling with all varieties of exotic creatures, including the vibrantly colored Puerto Rican Parrot and the island's unofficial mascot, the noisy coqui tree frog. Visitors can take guided tours of the forest or explore it on their own.

  • Surf the waves in Rincon. A sleepy town in southwestern Puerto Rico, Rincon's warm vibes and consistent waves attract surfers from around the world. After a day spent surfing the waves on Maria's Beach, sample the fresh ceviche at Calypso Cafe or unwind with live reggae music at Tamboo Beside the Pointe.

  • Salsa through the streets. Come nightfall, Old San Juan and the surrounding districts of Condado and Isla Verde heat up. Be sure to check out the Parrot Club for delicious tropical drinks and a taste of tradition. Then head over to the Nuyorican Cafe, a red-lit bohemian bar that hosts live bands, poetry slams and salsa nights. Whatever you're in the mood for, whether day or night, you're sure to find it in Puerto Rico.

About the Author...Jessica Arriola Marati

 

also see -> Puerto Rico Beach Travel Guide

 

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