20+ of The Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

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20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico – Rachel Off Duty

If you’re planning to visit Puerto Rico, you’re in for a treat! Puerto Rico has a rich history, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant culture where you will find that despite its relatively small size, the options for things to do in Puerto Rico are abundant.

Whether you’ve been to Puerto Rico before or planning your very first visit, this list of 20+ things to do in Puerto Rico has got you covered.

Looking for the ultimate Puerto Rico itinerary to help you organize your trip? Be sure to queue up my Puerto Rico road trip itinerary next.

20 of The Very Best Things to Do In Puerto Rico

1. Do A Walking Tour of Old San Juan

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico
Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico

One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to start with a stroll through Old San Juan. The most famously picturesque part of Puerto Rico’s capital city, Old San Juan, is a colorful neighborhood filled with impressive architecture and landmarks combined with old UNESCO fortifications.

It’s also famously the birthplace of the always reliable and always delicious piña colada 🙂. 

While you could easily spend a couple days in San Juan, it really only takes a couple hours to walk the historic Old San Juan neighborhood. If you’re crunched for time, half a day is all you’ll need to wander the streets, take in the colorful architecture, grab a piña colada, and enjoy San Juan’s restaurants and nightlife scene. The narrow streets and cobbled plazas are best explored on foot, so throw on your most comfortable shoes to explore the town. 

Don’t miss out on Fortaleza Street when you visit Old San Juan, famously known as “Umbrella Street.” It is one of the most photographed places in Old San Juan and for good reason. Walking under a canopy of brightly-colored umbrellas suspended high overhead is a fun, quirky experience that is very IG-worthy (and because of that, expect some crowds!).

Due to construction and security, the street is often barricaded to prevent pedestrians from walking in certain areas, but you will still be able to enjoy the umbrella-specked backdrop if this happens while you’re here. After your photo op, be sure to grab a piña colada from Barrachina and a scoop of gelato from Anita-La Mamma del Gelato.

2. Visit El Morro, A Historic Fortress

Standing guard over the entrance to San Juan Bay, El Morro is a 16th-century citadel that will transport you back in time. It is one of the most popular activities to do in Puerto Rico! 

El Morro, formally known as El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, is an architectural marvel. Walking around the six-level fortress, you’ll be awed by the massive cannons still facing the sea and the intricate maze of tunnels and barracks. 

Be sure to tour the sentry boxes, known as garitas, that dot the outer walls – they have become an iconic symbol of Puerto Rico.

Inside, the fort houses a small but interesting museum where you can immerse yourself in the island’s history. Exhibits include artifacts from the Spanish colonial period, detailed accounts of historical battles, and information about the fort’s construction.

If you’re unfazed by heights, plan to venture to the top level of the fortress. From here, you get a breathtaking panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the city of San Juan. It’s an idyllic spot to watch the sunset, so consider timing your visit accordingly.

Before you leave, relax in the large, grassy area outside El Morro. Known as El Campo del Morro, it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to have a picnic, fly kites, or just lay back and watch the clouds roll by.

3. Explore Castillo San Cristóbal

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - Castillo San Cristobal

The Castillo San Cristobal is an impressive structure that helped guard the city from pirates and attacks dating back to the 18th century.

At Castillo San Cristóbal, visitors can immerse themselves in Puerto Rico’s history by touring the numerous tunnels, dungeons, and ramparts of this preserved fortress. 

You can view the centuries-old cannons, learn about the strategic military design of the fort, and explore the beautiful grounds that offer stunning views of the city and the sea. 

Don’t miss the Galeria de los Gobernadores (Governor’s Gallery), where you’ll find portraits of all the governors who have ruled Puerto Rico since its Spanish colonial days. Audio tours in multiple languages are available, so you can gain context as you traverse the fort’s many corners. 

For photography enthusiasts, the panoramic vistas from Castillo San Cristóbal provide a perfect setting for you to set up your tripod and capture Puerto Rico’s beauty.

4. Dance The Night Away at La Placita De Santurce

One of the most underrated things to do in Puerto Rico is enjoy a night out at one of San Juan’s trendiest and largest art deco neighborhoods, Santurce. La Placita De Santurce is a colorful spot where local revelers go to drink, dance, and mingle until the early hours of the morning.

The best time to visit is during the weekend, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when the area comes alive with music, dance, and party-going crowds. However, as someone who has been to La Placita one too many times to count on both weekends and weekdays, I can say with confidence that even weekdays (especially Wednesdays onward) are just as lively.

During the day, La Placita is a traditional marketplace offering a variety of local produce. But as the sun sets, the area transforms into an energetic block party, filled with contagious rhythms that spill out from the nearby bars.

In between dances, try out the savory Puerto Rican street food. Find a stall selling frituras or fried snacks, and savor the delicious taste of alcapurrias (stuffed fritters) or empanadillas (turnovers).

5. Enjoy a Rum Tasting at Casa Bacardi

A visit to the Bacardi Rum Factory, referred to more commonly as Casa Bacardi, is one of the best and most popular things to do in Puerto Rico.

At Casa Bacardi, you can immerse yourself in the rich history and tradition of one of the most celebrated rums in the world Take a guided tour and learn about the distillation process, the history of the Bacardi family, and the craft of rum-making. The tour usually ends with a rum tasting where you can sample some of their finest spirits.

For a more hands-on experience, you can even take an onsite mixology class and learn how to make rum cocktails from an expert mixologist!

6. Discover the El Yunque Rainforest

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico, El Yunque Rainforest
Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - El Yunque Rainforest

Whether you’re an all-out adventure seeker or simply someone who appreciates mother nature, El Yunque Rainforest is a must-visit in Puerto Rico!

El Yunque Rainforest is in northeastern Puerto Rico, so it’s easily accessible from most parts of the island. The easiest way to visit is by renting a car* or booking a tour from San Juan, about an hour’s drive away.

*If you rent a car to visit El Yunque, make sure to make a reservation in advance on Recreation.gov!

Once there, you’ll be able to take in some of Puerto Rico’s most stunning scenery that lives up to Puerto Rico’s nickname, La Isla del Encanto. Make sure to check out the Yokahú Tower for a panoramic view of the forest’s canopy, or walk the Big Tree trail leading to the La Mina waterfall, a perfect spot for a refreshing dip.

Pro Tip: Remember to wear comfortable shoes and pack plenty of water and snacks. The rainforest is a true natural paradise that offers a serene escape from bustling city life, but the humidity can catch up with you – stay extra hydrated while visiting El Yunque!

7. Beach Hop Across The Beautiful Coastline

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - Beach

Call me biased, but the best thing to do in Puerto Rico is 100% the beach.

Puerto Rico’s coastline boasts hundreds of beautiful beaches that are all public, which means you have the freedom to explore any stretch of sand that catches your eye. While some beaches are adjacent to resorts or private properties, and despite an ongoing battle around beachfront privatization, all beaches in Puerto Rico are 100% open to the public. 

Pack your reef-safe sunblock and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Flamenco Beach, Culebra: Known for its crystal clear turquoise waters and soft white sands, Flamenco Beach is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best beaches.
  • Playa Borinquen, Aguadilla: An off-the-beaten-path gem loved by locals. Perfect for surfing or simply lying back and soaking up the sun.
  • Luquillo Beach: Just east of San Juan, this beach is famous for its calm waters, making it an excellent spot for families and less experienced swimmers.
  • Playa Sucia, Cabo Rojo: Despite its name translating to “Dirty Beach,” Playa Sucia offers clean and clear waters backed by impressive cliffs. It gets its name from the red seaweed that occasionally takes over sandy shores all across the Caribbean, so just keep this in mind when visiting!
  • Playa Caracas (Red Beach), Vieques: Located within a National Wildlife Refuge, this beach boasts powdery white sand and crystal-clear blue waters.
  • Condado Beach, San Juan: A vibrant, bustling beach in the heart of San Juan, lined with high-end resorts and restaurants.

Each of these beaches offers something unique: the chance to see tropical wildlife, engage in water sports, or just relax with a good book.

8. Ride Puerto Rico’s Waves

Puerto Rico is a surfer’s paradise with many fantastic surf spots, especially along the west coast.

Rincón is one of the best-known destinations in Puerto Rico, often called the ‘Caribbean’s Hawaii.’ Here, surfers can catch world-class waves at beaches like Maria’s, Domes, and Tres Palmas. Or, if you’re new and looking to learn, you can book a surfing lesson at one of Rincón’s many surf shops.

Another top spot is Jobos Beach in Isabela, a favorite among locals and tourists. It offers waves suitable for all levels, and the vibrant beachside bars add to the beach’s appeal. For the more experienced surfers, Wilderness Beach, with its powerful waves and beautiful sandy stretch, is a must-visit.

9. Marvel at Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays

Have you heard of bioluminescence? In Puerto Rico, you’ll find not just one, but three places to encounter this fascinating natural phenomenon.

Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays are Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island, Laguna Grande in Fajardo, and La Parguera in Lajas.

These bays are a testament to nature’s magic, wherein microorganisms called dinoflagellates emit a luminescent glow when disturbed, creating an enchanting light show on the water’s surface.

  • Mosquito Bay, recognized by the Guinness World Records as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, is a must-visit.
  • Laguna Grande, nestled in the northeastern city of Fajardo, offers a serene escape in a mangrove-lined lagoon.
  • La Parguera in Lajas, though the least luminous, is an experience worth having as it’s the only bay you can actually swim in. In the darkness of night, the twinkling bioluminescence can look like dancing stars underwater for those brave enough to jump in! I did my Bio Bay tour with Paradise Scuba, and you can book your La Parguera bio bay tour using this link.

In Mosquito Bay and Laguna Grande, you can paddle through the calm, dark waters and enjoy the bioluminescence on the surface. As your oar dips into the bay and stirs the water, every movement triggers a cascade of sparkling lights, from the trail of your kayak to the darting fish beneath the surface.

10. Go on a Whale-Watching Tour

If you’re looking for the best place to visit in Puerto Rico from January through March, you might want to add a whale-watching tour to your to-do list.  

One of the most popular places to go whale watching in Puerto Rico is the west coast town of Rincón. This laid-back surf town transforms into a whale-watching hot spot in winter and early spring, with humpback whales often visible from the shore. The Mona Passage, a strait off the coast of Rincón that separates Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic, is essentially a marine life highway with abundant whale activity each year.

Two companies that offer boat tours in Rincón are Katrina Sail Charters and Taino Divers.

11. Explore Ponce, the Pearl of the South

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico - Ponce

Known as the “Pearl of the South,” Ponce is a city filled with serene plazas, historic museums, and colorful architecture. It is a must-do in Puerto Rico for art and culture lovers. 

Walk around Ponce on your own or book a tour. I did my Ponce walking tour with Nori from Isla Caribe Tours, and you can book your walking tour using this link. Nori is one of the best and most animated walking tour guides I’ve had in ages! 

While here, be sure to sample Ponce’s food scene. For something casual, head straight to the Plaza del Mercado food market. Or, for a sit-down experience, visit Lola, a restaurant renowned for its creative takes on traditional dishes, accentuated with fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

12. Discover Bomba and Taíno Culture in Loíza

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - San Juan, Loiza
Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - San Juan, Loiza

One of the most memorable things to do in Puerto Rico is to learn about Puerto Rico’s rich Afro-Caribbean heritage in Loíza.

Known as the epicenter of Afro-Puerto Rican culture, this small town just east of San Juan is the birthplace of bomba, a traditional music and dance style with roots in the island’s African history.

In addition to being renowned for bomba, Loíza offers insightful glimpses into the island’s indigenous Taíno culture. Be sure to visit the Ayala Family Art Workshop, where you can observe traditional mask-making techniques passed down through generations. These colorful masks, worn during local festivals, combine elements of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions to represent Puerto Rico’s diverse cultural history.

13. Unwind at Isla Verde

A beautiful beach neighborhood near San Juan, Isla Verde boasts some of the island’s best resorts, restaurants, and nightlife.

Isla Verde is so much more than just beach lounging. It’s a lifestyle.

Start your day with a yoga session or massage, sink your teeth into one of the neighborhood’s restaurant hotspots, and round out your afternoon wandering around Isla Verde’s upscale boutiques. At night, you’ll find everything from beachfront bars to lively nightclubs to end your day.

14. Take a Boat Tour

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - Boat Tours in Puerto Rico

Whether you’re an experienced sailor or a novice, the clear, shimmering waters around Puerto Rico offer an unbeatable boating or yachting experience. Charter a private yacht from Puerto Del Rey Marina in Fajardo, known as the Caribbean’s most comprehensive marina, or join a group boat tour to explore the sea and surrounding islands.

The adventurous can try their hand at sailing, guided by the expertise of local, seasoned sailors. For those seeking a more relaxed experience, just sit back and let the warm breeze guide your yacht along the coastline with the stunning backdrop of Puerto Rico’s lush mountains and golden beaches.

Take advantage of the opportunity to drop anchor at some secluded bays for a refreshing swim or a snorkel to discover the vibrant marine life beneath the surface. 

15. Visit the Camuy Caves

Explore the fascinating underground world of Camuy Caves, a network of limestone caves that are over 40 million years old.

The Camuy Caves are located in the municipality of Camuy, on the North coast of Puerto Rico. You can take a leisurely drive from San Juan, approximately 75 miles away, to reach these geological wonders.

Upon arriving, consider starting your day with a guided tour:

After the tour, take a walk along the trails surrounding the caves to soak in the lush greenery and try to catch a glimpse of the native wildlife. Pack a picnic lunch to relax and enjoy your surroundings, or consider ending your day with rappelling or ziplining from local adventure companies.

Remember, always respect the ecosystem and adhere to any provided guidelines to help ensure the preservation of wild, protected places like these!

16. Tour a Coffee Plantation

Rachel Off Duty: Things to Do in Puerto Rico - Coffee Tasting

Puerto Rico’s coffee is amongst the best in the world. On your list of things to do in Puerto Rico, add a tour of a coffee plantation. or at the very least seek out a local coffee shop so you can try one of the many varieties of coffee produced here.

  • Hacienda San Pedro: Nestled in the mountains of Jayuya, Hacienda San Pedro offers a well-rounded coffee experience. Besides a guided tour of the plantation and the processing facilities, visitors also get to savor the rich, aromatic coffee in their on-site café.
  • Café Gran Batey: This family-owned coffee farm in Utuado provides an intimate look into coffee-making. You’ll witness the journey from bean to cup, and the tour culminates with a delightful tasting session of their home-grown brew.
  • Hacienda Muñoz: Located in San Lorenzo, Hacienda Muñoz not only offers a comprehensive tour of their plantation but also a barista training session. Here, you can learn how to prepare the perfect espresso and even make latte art. The tour ends with tasting their premium coffee while taking in the surrounding scenery.

17. Go Scuba Diving in Culebra

Culebra, a small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, is a diving enthusiast’s dream. Its crystal-clear turquoise waters are home to vibrant coral reefs and marine life, making for a worthwhile escape from Puerto Rico’s mainland.

  • Carlos Rosario Beach and Tamarindo Beach are two notable diving locations providing a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of tropical fish, sea turtles, and corals.
  • Equally enticing is Melones Beach, a less crowded diving spot with excellent visibility and a tranquil ambiance ideal for beginners.
  • Luis Peña Marine Reserve offers more challenging dive sites where you might encounter stingrays, nurse sharks, and more. Respect the marine environment and follow all guidelines to help keep this place wild.

18. Catch a Glimpse of the Wild Horses in Vieques

Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do Puerto Rico - Wild Horses
Rachel Off Duty: 20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico - Wild Horses

Not far from Culebra, Vieques is another island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico’s mainland that is famous for being home to the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Beyond that though, Vieques is popular amongst both locals and visitors alike for its unique beaches, its nature reserve, and its abundance of wild horses that roam the fields, beaches, and streets throughout the island.

Both Culebra and Vieques can be visited via ferry from the Ceiba ferry station (though not required, it’s recommended to book your tickets ahead of time), or via a quick flight from San Juan.

19. Savor Puerto Rico’s Farm-to-Table Dining Movement

Rachel Off Duty: Things to Do Puerto Rico - Vegan Food at Finca Victoria

For an island that has had to heavily rely on imported food products, especially after some of the area’s most devastating hurricanes, Puerto Rico is not lacking in local produce or ingredients. As a way of creating food sovereignty and regaining control over where the food on Puerto Ricans’ plates comes from, many restaurants and projects are forging a sustainability movement that connects local farmers to local businesses.

To sample Puerto Rican farm-to-table cuisine and support the movement during your visit, consider one of these food experiences:

  • Book a pop-up dinner or a stay at El Pretexto, a woman-owned culinary lodge
  • Stay at a hotel that bakes sustainability into its entire identity, and focuses on growing its own small-batch produce. Finca Victoria, in Vieques, and sister property La Botanica in San Juan, both offer amazing vegan- and ayurvedic-focused menus centering locally-grown produce and indigenous flavors.
  • Dine at a farm-to-table restaurant in Puerto Rico, like Bacoa or Orujo in San Juan, Sana Farm to Table in Rincón, or Casa Vieja in Ciales

20. Explore the Ruta Panoramica

One of the most scenic drives in Puerto Rico, the Ruta Panoramica offers breathtaking views of the island and its countryside.

Starting from Maunabo in the southeast, this route stretches over 167 miles, meandering through the central mountains before ending in Mayaguez on the west coast. As you navigate the twisting, turning roads, you’ll be able to take in the varied landscapes of Puerto Rico’s interior, complete with the occasional Caribbean Sea vista along the way.

Along the way, you can stop at small towns like Jayuya, home to the Cemi Museum and the Jayuya Indian Festival. In Adjuntas, you can enjoy the serene beauty of Lago Garzas or visit a local coffee plantation. And remember to sample some authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at the roadside eateries along the route!

Cabaña de Doña Juana is a popular stop along the route featuring a Puerto Rican open-air restaurant best known for its pork leg, pig ribs, and roasted chicken.

Driving the Ruta Panoramica is not a race but a leisurely adventure. Plan to dedicate a full day to this Puerto Rico road trip route so you can explore at your own pace.

21. Hit the Pork Highway

Yes, you read that right. There’s a literal Pork Highway in Puerto Rico! 

To reach the Pork Highway, head towards the city of Guavate, about an hour’s drive from San Juan. Guavate, home to the Ruta del Lechón or Pork Highway, is a stretch of Route 184 famed for its lechoneras – roadside eateries specializing in lechón asado or roasted pork.

Upon arriving, you’ll be greeted by the dizzying aroma of roast pork drifting in the air. Start your journey by trying the lechón asado, a whole pig slow-roasted over charcoal, resulting in an irresistibly crispy skin and succulent meat. Don’t forget to pair it with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and a cold Medalla. 

Each lechonera along the route offers its own unique flavor and side dishes, making it exciting to hop from one to another. In addition to the food, the lively atmosphere with salsa music and fellow foodies make the experience all the more enjoyable.

The Pork Highway is not just about the food, it’s about embracing the island’s culture and traditions, making it a must-do in Puerto Rico. 

So there you have it! Your Puerto Rico vacation is all set to be an unforgettable journey filled with captivating landscapes, tropical adventures, and delicious culinary experiences.

What are you most excited to do first in Puerto Rico? Be sure to check out my Ultimate 10-Day Puerto Rico Road Trip Itinerary next to keep planning your trip!

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20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico – Rachel Off Duty
20 Things to Do in Puerto Rico – Rachel Off Duty

Hey there! I’m Rachel, a travel writer and a full-time advertising / marketing expert. In 2019, I traveled more than 25 times while working 9 to 5, and since then I’ve committed myself to living a more adventurous life, even if it means bringing my laptop along for the ride.

Are you hungry to travel more, but overwhelmed with how to juggle work and play? You’ve come to the right place!

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