The Best Places to Go in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a reliable favorite for travelers looking to enjoy the sun, beaches, and culture of this beautiful destination. Though there is a wide array of diversions for visitors on the island, these are the 10 best places to visit in Puerto Rico for a variety of activities, special moments, and unique attractions. Read on for the top spot to see a whale, the best place to glow in the dark, the best beach to sunbathe, and more.

01 of 10

Playa Tortuga, Culebra

Playa Tortuga

 Getty / cdwheatley

Culebrita, Fraile, Culebra, Puerto Rico

As you can imagine, there are plenty of contenders for the best beach from all over Puerto Rico. Playa Tortuga tops this list for a few reasons (and it's not just because it's incredibly photogenic.) You can only get here by water taxi from Culebra (itself pretty remote) to Culebrita or by private boat.​ There is only one humanmade structure on the island, and that too an unoccupied one: the tiny Culebrtita lighthouse. You may share this beach with just a handful of visitors. Playa Tortuga is a beautiful crescent of sand where the water is protected from the fury of the tides by the encircling arms of the island.

02 of 10

El Yunque National Forest, Rio Grande

Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Forest, footpath through rainforest
Tim Draper / Getty Images
Puerto Rico
Phone +1 787-888-1880

Visiting this rainforest allows guests the opportunity to observe Puerto Rico as it must have existed thousands of years ago. Except for a network of trails and precious few structures, the El Yunque National Rainforest has remained untouched for millennia. If you want to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the island's interior, this is where you want to be. Lush vegetation, birdsong, the musical chirp of the coqui frog... these were the first inhabitants of Puerto Rico, and they remain to this day.

03 of 10

Raíces Fountain, Old San Juan

Raíces Fountain
George Oze Photography / Getty Images
101-103 Paseo de la Princesa, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

There are few places as romantic in Puerto Rico as Old San Juan and in Old San Juan, few places as lovely as the Raíces Fountain at the end of Paseo La Princesa. If you want a special moment with your loved one, take them on a stroll down the pedestrian-only Paseo right before sunset. Along the way are sidewalk vendors and maybe even live music, with the ancient city walls rising above on your right. In the distance, you'll see the beautiful fountain, its lights coming on as the sun sets, and behind it the calm bay of San Juan. Try to get here in time to watch the sunset, which dazzles on the water. Even at night, this is a special place to collect that kiss or ask that ever-important question: What do you feel like eating?

04 of 10

Camuy River Cave Park, Quebrada

Camuy Caverns
Ed Ivanushkin/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Carr. 129 K. 18.9, Quebrada, Camuy 00669, Puerto Rico
Phone +1 787-898-3136

While El Yunque is a special place, it doesn't present the wonder of the Camuy Caves, an incredible network of subterranean caves. Several tour companies offer tours to Camuy, which range from sightseeing to spelunking. But however you choose to see them, the caves are worth the trip if you want to be amazed by nature.

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05 of 10

Arecibo Observatory

World's largest radio telescope.
John Elk / Getty Images
86VW+MWP, PR-625, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico

Close by Camuy in Arecibo (many tour companies combine the experience) ​is another spectacular sight, this one courtesy of science. The Arecibo Telescope is the world's largest single-dish radio telescope. It's a breathtaking construction that covers around 20 acres. Visits to the observatory are organized daily by tour companies, and it is truly a work of scientific splendor. (This may look familiar to some of you as a filming location for the James Bond film "Goldeneye.")

06 of 10

Mosquito Bay, Vieques

Vieques Biobay

Chris Favero/Flickr/cc 2.0 

Mosquito Bay Beach, Vieques 00765, Puerto Rico

There's nothing quite like it. A swim in one of Puerto Rico's biobays ​is a thrilling experience where you glow in the dark, thanks to organisms in the water that react to you, as well as just about everything else. They're harmless to you (and you to them), and they make swimming at night a fantastic, shimmering fantasy. The best biobay (or bioluminescent bay, if you want to get technical) is in Vieques, which is home to Mosquito Bay, which is the brightest in the world. But there are others at La Parguera, in the south of the island, and at Fajardo, in the east. Of these two, Fajardo is the better choice. A reliable guide to this bay is Yokahú Kayak Trips.

07 of 10

Rincón Lighthouse, Rincon

tailfluke of a humpback whale

Michael Gerber / Getty Images

9P6H+QMV, PR-4413, Aguada, Rincón 00677, Puerto Rico

It's not a widely known fact, but from Puerto Rico's western coast, you can spot migrating humpback whales in the winter from Rincón. The best time to go is in February, but they've been seen from December to March. You can see them from land at the Rincón Lighthouse, also known as El Faro de Punta Higuero.

08 of 10

El Morro Fort, Old San Juan

Gun Tower at El Morro
Bob Ingelhart / Getty Images
501 C. Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
Phone +1 787-729-6960

When you've been around for more than four hundred years, you tend to collect a few ghosts, and Old San Juan has its share. Just ask your guide when you take the San Juan Nights tour. But if you want to do a little solo spook-searching, head to El Morro at night (also known as Castillo San Felipe del Morro), where, legend says, the ghost of a white lady can often be seen.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Piñones, Loiza


Hola Images / Getty

Campamento Piñones, Carolina, Loíza, Puerto Rico

If you want to visit somewhere that locals fo to have fun, then look no further than Piñones, which offers bars and eateries where people love to hang out right by the beach. You can also have a similar local experience by driving from San Juan along Route 3 until you come to a long line of roadside eateries, usually packed with people. Eating at both places is a very authentic experience.

10 of 10

Ponce Carnival, Ponce

Wearing Masks at Carnival
Bob Krist / Getty Images
Ponce, Puerto Rico

There's no better way to see the full pageantry of Puerto Rican culture than at the Ponce Carnival. The carnival takes place in February, right before Ash Wednesday, just like the Carnival in Rio and Mardi Gras. But this is a purely Puerto Rican tradition that has been celebrated for more than a century and stars a folkloric costumed demon called The Vejigante. If you want to see the island at its brightest, most vibrant, and most festive, come and join the hordes of revelers for this special event.

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The Best Places to Go in Puerto Rico