Top 10 things to do in Puerto Rico is your ultimate Puerto Rico guide designed to give you a general idea of what to expect in this Caribbean paradise, including best places to visit in Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico transportation guide (to Uber or not to Uber)! Top attractions in Puerto Rico include Bio Luminiscent Bays, Old San Juan, El Yunique Rain Forest and the islands of Culebra and Vieques.
What Puerto Rico is famous for
Puerto Rico is well known for its picture-perfect beaches, and rightfully so. But Puerto Rico is rich in tradition, too — molded by Spanish, African and indigenous Taíno cultures over hundreds of years. In the capital city of San Juan, alongside the heritage, you’ll also find innovation. It’s a delicate dance, balancing the new with the old, and supporting amazing local businesses, whether just-opened or established.
Colonial, yet cosmopolitan city of San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and is one of the oldest cities on US territory. San Juan is also one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean!
What places should I avoid in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a very safe place to visit. In San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, you can walk safely and easily to restaurants, night spots and more. Gangs are only a problem in the public housing areas, and activities linked to the drug trade often take place there. How to spot them? These areas are known in Puerto Rico as caserio, and are easily identifiable by their cement facades and apartment-like balconies.
Most Popular Places in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a popular holiday destination for visitors looking for sun, sand, and sea. This Caribbean Island has a rich history that is visible in its people, food, and culture. You will find so much to see and do other than spending a day at a pristine resort!
Most popular places in Puerto Rico include Bio Luminiscent Bays, Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, surfing and whale watching in Rincón, Rio Camuy Caves, El Yunique Rain Forest and the islands of Culebra and Vieques.
So let’s get down to the countdown of the most popular places in Puerto Rico!
10. Puerto Rico’s La Perla
La Perla is a beautiful neighborhood in Old San Juan, established in the late 19th century. It is the historic district of Puerto Rico’s capital! Located near San Felipe Del Morro Castle and other famous attractions in the area, its beauty is something for residents of this socio-economically disadvantaged community to be proud of. La Perla is Spanish for “the Pearl”. Recently the houses of La Perla have been painted and there is a rainbow of hope in the humble neighborhood. Watch the video for a drone view of La Perla.
Is La Perla safe to visit?
A decade ago, La Perla neighborhood was not a place that visitors would typically go, but the area is growing and changing. That said, there’s a difference between taking a walking tour during the day and wandering around the streets alone at night. Using good judgment will help to ensure you have an enjoyable and safe experience. If you are still weary of La Perla, visit during the daytime!
9. Old San Juan Cemetery
Old San Juan Cemetery is an iconic place to visit. Its official name is Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery. A lot of Puerto Rico’s biggest thinkers and most accomplished people are buried at this cemetery. The street then ends in front of El Morro Castle and the college, School of Plastic Arts of Puerto Rico. To get a visual glimpse into Puerto Rico’s La Perla, you can explore these oceanside photos.
8. El Morro Castle
Do not skip visiting El Morro Castle. Take advantage of breathtaking views and its iconic value! Facing the Atlantic Ocean and situated in what is now known as Old San Juan, the capital city’s historic district, El Morro bridges the past with the present.
The Castillo San Felipe del Morro, or El Morro for short, was the second fort built on the islet of what is now Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra. El Morro’s construction commenced in 1539 and finished in 1790; during those 250 years, El Morro went from a promontory mounted with a cannon to a six-level fortress designed to unnerve attackers approaching from the sea.
El Morro is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The entrance fee is $7 for adults, and children under 15 years of age have free admission.
7. El Yunique Rain Forest
El Yunque National Forest is a tropical rainforest in northeastern Puerto Rico. You will need to make a reservation per vehicle when entering the rainforest. You can access the information on registration using El Yunique Reservations online and get your timed El Yunique Reservation Ticket.
Walking trails wind through the El Yunique rain forest, allowing hikers a closer look at over 200 different species of trees and hundreds of species of plants, as well as an abundance of smaller wildlife. El Yunque’s peak reaches 3,500 feet above sea level, and the forest covers 43 square miles, including three-quarters of the island’s remaining virgin forest. El Yunique rain forest is the home to 50 species of orchids!
How much does it cost to go to El Yunique?
There is no entrance fee for the Forest itself. The El Yunique Portal Visitors Center price is $4/adult and $2/senior. Kids under 16 are free. There are lots of tour operators who will provide transportation from your hotel and give you a guided tour of the El Yunique rain forest for a fee
Can you drive into El Yunique? Do you need a car for El Yunique?
There is no “trail” that you can drive on that goes through the El Yunique rain forest. The road that goes up into the rain forest is road #191. When you first get to the rain forest, you will have to stop into El Yunique Visitor Center.
You will need your own car (or rental car) – In order to get into and out of the park. This is because taxi’s and Uber’s are not allowed into the park for drop-offs or pick-ups due to fees imposed on them (as explained to me by one of the drivers).
6. Humacao Wildlife Refuge
The Humacao Wildlife Refuge is also known as the Punta Santiago Natural Reserve in Humacao. The Natural Preserve is located on the east coast of Puerto Rico. There are numerous trails for walking, biking and light hiking as well as long stretches of beach and spectacular views of the coast. You can also fish, kayak and bike. The best thing is that since the reserve is not heavily visited, so you may very well have this large area almost all to yourself!
How to get to Humacao Wildlife Refuge
It’s located right on Route 3, just south of the Punto Santiago Beach. The entrance is clearly marked with a brown sign for the “Reserva Natural de Humacao”. Pull your car right through the gate and park. For free!
You can easily spend 3-4 hours at this Nature Reserve by kayaking, then lunch, then biking. The bike trail is nice and well-kept with a few side trails that take you to the ocean for some amazing views. I’d highly recommend this: pack your lunch, bring a cooler and make a full day of it.
5. Puerto Rico’s Best Beaches
Puerto Ricos beaches are diverse, peaceful and beautiful. There are over 270 miles of coastline in Puerto Rico and nearly 300 beaches to choose from! Puerto Rico and its surrounding islands boasts some of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean!
Soak up the sun, and visit the golden and white-sand beaches backed by striped emerald, turquoise, and deep blue hues. I highly recommend Flamenco Beach, Liquillo Beach, Pelicano Beach, Cayo Icacos and many other fascinating Puerto Rico Beaches. Additionally, Puerto Rico’s hidden beaches are fun to explore as well!
4. Laguna Grande – Bio Bay Fajardo
Laguna Grande is the home to the bioluminescence tour to see thousands of bioluminescent organisms that make the water sparkle like bright blue gemstones! It’s located to the east of San Juan in the town of Fajardo and it’s one of three bio-bays found in Puerto Rico. We used kayaking Puerto Rico (alternatively you can also use yokahukayaks.com) to do the bioluminescence tour.
3. Mosquito Bay – Vieques Island
Mosquito Bay is the other bio bay in Puerto Rico and is one of the most stunning sights in the world! This one is located the southern shore of the island of Vieques, just off the coast of Puerto Rico and it’s a second most popular place to take the bioluminescence tour!
2. Mar Chiquita Beach
Mar Chiquita beach deserves a separate mention because it’s a natural pool. And it’s one of the most beautiful natural pools! The half-moon opening is created by two limestone outcroppings that allow the intense turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean to rush in. This area is ideal for swimming!
Are you traveling with family? Let the kids build sandcastles on Mar Chiquita beach, while you enjoy margaritas and Pina coladas under the shade of a lounge chair.
1. Puerto Rico Islands
Puerto Rico Islands are beautiful destinations on their own! Vieques is the largest island other than Puerto Rico itself, and it is home to the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.
Another great island is Culebra. Culebra consistently wins prizes for having one of the world’s 10 best beaches.
Black Sand Beach on Vieques Island
Black Sand Beach on Vieques Island is the home to wild horses! It’s very secluded and cannot be accessed by a car. You can rent a scooter or a bike to get to the beach. From the main road, you will hit a path with the wild horses welcoming you to the Black Sand Beach. You will be able to move around Viejas either by scooter, taxi or rental. All three are available on Vieques.
Culebrita is a pristine island in the Caribbean Sea. Its beautiful beaches and remote location make it a lovely place to visit and enjoy peace and tranquility.
The horseshoe-shaped Playa Flamenco is the most popular beach on the island. The water is crystal clear with no surf, making it a good place for swimming or diving.
Puerto Rico Ferry Service between the islands of Vieques and Culebra
Ferry service between Puerto Rico and Culebra and Viejas is dependable and a fun way to get in between the islands. Ferries depart every couple of hours, unless halted by protestor in the water.
I always find it helpful to compare places before visiting them. If you are like me and if you are interested in comparing the two islands against each other, I found this article on Vieques vs. Culebra comparison to be very informative.
How to get around Puerto Rico
To get around Puerto Rico, you can either rent a car, go on a great variety of tours — from exploring the island to water adventures — or use one of the typical, white taxis. It’s the ideal destination for travelers who seek novelty, relaxation and excitement!
How to Rent a Car in Puerto Rico
How to rent a car in Puerto Rico can be easy or difficult depending on the season. If you are traveling during high travel times, such as spring break, Easter or memorial day weekend, vehicle supplies will be limited, unless reserved in advance.
Otherwise, congratulations! You are on the island with tons of plans to visit as many places and beaches as possible. Unfortunately rentals can be unpredictable in Puerto Rico compared to the main land. It’s completely understandable since vehicle supplies are limited due to the territory.
You can rent car through Enterprise or a smaller place such as this. I highly recommend reserving your car rental for Puerto Rico well in advance, especially when traveling during busy times!
How to get an Uber in Puerto Rico
Are you thinking of taking Uber within San Juan, the largest city in Puerto Rico? Uber service is very reliable as long as you don’t leave San Juan, with an average wait time of 20 minutes. However Ubers are extremely limited and often unavailable outside the San Juan area, so you will risk not finding a ride back, specially at night.
Are you thinking of taking Uber from San Juan to Bioluminocent Tour in Fajardo? I do not recommend Uber from San Juan all the way to Fajardo! It will it be hard to get an Uber after your kayak tour at night. Instead you can get a driver that will come pick you up and then wait for you when you are done kayaking. See next section below:
How to get a ride from San Juan to Fajardo
Ubers are extremely limited outside San Juan capital district and often unavailable outside the area, so you risk not finding a ride back if using Uber all the way to Fajardo, specially at night. This is what I did.
I used two services to get from San Juan to Fajardo to access Bio Bay or El Yunique rain forest.
- First one is Puerto Rico shuttle service. It is very reliable and charges $80 to $90 per ride. If there are two of you, or five – it does not matter – you will still pay the same price.
- I have also used Shawn with Luquillo Taxis & Tours ~ (787) 513-7685 to get around that area and he is very reliable. I highly recommend giving him a call.
- Option 3 is to contact kayak companies. Some Kayak Companies provide pick up for an additional fee.
- Go to Vieques Island for a night if you want the real bio bay experience. Vieques Island offers THE BEST BIO LUMINESCENT EXPERIENCE!
Most Beautiful Destinations in Puerto Rico
There’s no limit to cool experiences to have on the island! You can swim in beautiful beaches and zipline through exotic rainforest. You can jump on a ferry and get to the nearby islands! Most Beautiful Destinations in Puerto Rico are its natural wonders, such as natural pools and islands, and opportunities for adventurous activities such as kayaking, hiking and surfing.
If traveling to Puerto Rico, you can book more trips in Puerto Rico and decide for your self which Puerto Rico you want to see.