Puerto Rico is one of the most historically packed places in the United States, as well as one of the prettiest archipelagos in the Caribbean. 311 miles of coastline and hundreds of historical structures await in this piece of earthly heaven. Puerto Rico is a perfect destination for all kinds of visitors; whether you’re more into art and culture, adventure activities or if you just want to sunbathe relax, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Take a look at these 9 places you can’t be missed on the Caribbean archipelago!
Number Nine: Old San Juan
It’s inevitable to include Old San Juan in the list. With over 500 historical buildings scattered throughout the area, Old San Juan—one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites—is the best place to visit on the island for a top quality cultural experience. Getting lost in its colonial Spanish cobblestone streets you will come across hundreds of charming little cafés, museums, craft and souvenir shops and restaurants. Once you’ve filled your stomach, don’t forget to head to the Morro Castle, which dates back to the 16th Century!
Number Eight: El Yunque National Forest
It’s not all sunbathing and snorkeling in Puerto Rico. The island has a fair share of inland treasures too. El Yunque National Forest is one of these gems, and the only tropical forest in the National US Forest System. Hiking along its beautiful trails, surrounded by some 240 different species of trees, is a life-chaning experience!
Number Seven: Rincón
Who here is up to some whale-sighting? Rincón, often referred to as “Little Malibu”, or “Pueblo del Surfing” (Surfing Tow,) is Puerto Rico’s main ‘gringo’ hotspot. English is widely spoken here, and it’s always plagued with international surfers catching some waves. It’s not uncommon to share these waters with large groups of humpback whales, who migrate to the area from mid-January through March every year.
Number Six: Flamenco Beach
We briefly talked about this exceptional spot in our list of 15 things you didn’t know about Puerto Rico. Flamenco Beach, located in Culebra Island (which is Northeast of Puerto Rico’s main island), looks right out of a dystopian movie. The beach alone is gorgeous but, to make things even more interesting, it’s topped with a few abandoned WWII U.S. Navy tanks scattered throughout the coast. The tanks are considerably rotten and filled with graffiti; we promise there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. Flamenco Beach will make your Instagram a hell of a lot cooler—guaranteed.
Number Five: Bacardí Factory
Definitely not the most aesthetically pleasing experience, but it’s still great if you love your alcohol. The distillery offers three tours: the historical tour, the rum tasting tour and the mixology tour. The historical one is only $12, while the other two cost $45 each (drinks included in all of them.) Rum is an important part of Puerto Rico’s cultural and historical development, and Casa Bacardí is the most popular rum brand in the world. This is definitely a fun activity to participate in if you have enough time (and money) to spend on the island!
Number Four: Puerto Rico – Mosquito Bay
We’re well aware that the name doesn’t sound very appealing, but we promise you’ll fall in love with this unusual place. Mosquito Bay, located in the south shore of Vieques, counts with one of the few bioluminescent beaches in the world, and the brightest in the United States. The beach has wowed first-time visitors for years due to its neon blue glowing microorganisms that light up the ocean in the darkest hours of the night. Kayaking tours are offered to make the most out of the experience!
Number Three: Camuy River Cave Park
This wondrous cave system is shaped by the world’s third largest underground river, and it’s barely an hour drive from San Juan! The 300-acre geologic site offers endless expedition possibilities. Guided tours are offered throughout the park, which all begin with an amusing trolley ride down the mountainside. Camping is allowed during the Summer (June through August) for just $5 per person and day.
Number Two: Caja de Muertos Island
Perhaps it’s because of the unsettling name (“the box of the dead”) or because it is remote and uninhabited, but most people, locals and tourists alike, tend to not set foot on this charming little island. The island, which is a protected natural reserve, can be reached by ferry and it’s heavily populated by endangered turtles. Five different beaches can be found here, all of which have crystal-clear turquoise water and soft, white sand. It’s definitely one of the best places in Puerto Rico for visitors seeking a peaceful, far-off location to just chill for a while!
Number One: Luquillo Beach
If you’re visiting Puerto Rico for its gorgeous coastline, then you should definitely stop by Luquillo. Much more accessible than Caja de Muertos Island, Luquillo, “La Capital del Sol” (the sun capital) is a small city on the northeast coast of the main island, less than an hour drive from San Juan. Lots of tall palm trees will give you shade, and the numerous beaches in the town all count with several facilities to make your stay comfortable. There’s a camping and picnic area by Luquillo Beach, and a bunch of food stalls throughout the coast to keep your stomach full at all times. Luquillo is very close to the aforementioned Yunque National Forest so it’s possible to combine both visits on the same day. Enjoy your trip, and thanks for reading!