Adventure-, history-, and beach-lovers alike turn to Puerto Rico for an epic vacation; it is not your typical Caribbean Island! You might be thinking of making the “Island of Enchantment” your next destination. First off, good choice, but you are probably wondering where to begin. Because this U.S. territory has so much to offer, it can be difficult to decide how to spend your time. I created this list of must-see things to do in Puerto Rico to ensure an unforgettable trip!

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How to Get to Puerto Rico

View of Puerto Rico from the plane.

Puerto Rico is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Many cruises stop in the capital city of San Juan, but I recommend arriving via air travel and staying over a few nights so you can experience all the island has to offer. Puerto Rico has numerous airports, but the largest and most accessible is the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in Carolina. It is located approximately 15-20 minutes from the city of San Juan.

When it comes to planning transportation, I recommend the website Rome2rio. It is an excellent resource for researching your options. It also provides estimated price ranges so that you can tailor a budget-friendly trip. No, this is not a paid advertisement; I just love this website!

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Stay up to date on the frequently changing COVID-19 guidance.
  • Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the currency is the U.S. Dollar.
  • Spanish is the first official language of Puerto Rico, but most people speak English. I only had to speak Spanish once during my 6-day trip; however, I think it is important to familiarize yourself with the language and download a translation app.

Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan

The historic colonial district of the city of San Juan should be at the very top of your must-see list. Old San Juan is known for its five-century-old forts, authentic cuisine, colorful buildings, military architecture, and festive ambiance. It is the second oldest European-founded city in the Americas and the first oldest in the United States.

Old San Juan is the birthplace of the piña colada (Barrachina Restaurant), one of the filming locations of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Fort San Cristobal), and home to one of the world’s most famous bars (La Factoría). This just brushes the surface; there is so much to experience in Old San Juan. I loved visiting “the walled city,” and I cannot wait to return.

If you want to take the same walking tour of the city I took, click here.

El Yunque National Forest

The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system, El Yunque, is located on the island of Puerto Rico. During my visit, I did some moderate hiking, swam in a lake, and slid down a natural waterslide (pictured above). I did all of these activities in the parts of the rainforest that are free to visit, but other parts do require a ticket. One highlight of the ticketed part of the forest is viewing the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. I recommend taking a tour to make the most of your visit; you’ll likely depart from San Juan. This was one of my favorite things to do in Puerto Rico, and I think it should be at the top of your list.

If you want to take the same tour of El Yunque that I took, click here.

Luquillo Beach

Luquillo beach is one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico, not so much for its beauty but for its atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong; Luquillo beach is far from ugly, but it is more famous for its “life-of-the-party” vibe. During my trip, many beachgoers were blasting Puerto Rican music and drinking. The beach is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. I highly recommend Mojito Lab; they have great flavored mojitos and pork skewers.

As for the beach itself, the water was comfortable and calm. It was rather crowded, but we had no problem finding a spot to chill on the sand.

If you want to take the same tour to Luquillo beach that I took, click here.

Glass Bottom and Night Kayaking

Picture of glass bottom kayaking in Condado Lagoon.

Both glass bottom and night kayaking are wildly popular things to do in Puerto Rico due to the abundance of water and wildlife. Let’s start by discussing glass bottom kayaking. This activity is as it sounds: a kayak with a glass (or plastic) bottom. This allows you to see the marine life below you; I only saw a jellyfish, but others have seen starfish, manatees, and sea turtles. I went glass bottom kayaking in Condado Lagoon, which is located near San Juan.

Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande, and La Parguera are popular locations for night kayaking because the water appears to glow; this bioluminescence is due to the presence of certain microorganisms. I, unfortunately, did not go night kayaking in one of these locations. The pictures I found online either did not show bioluminescence or looked extremely edited; however, I found out after my trip that bioluminescence does not photograph well. I cannot personally recommend this experience, but I wish I had done it.

If you want to take the same kayaking tour I took, click here.


If Culebra is not in your Puerto Rico itinerary, you are doing it all wrong! This gorgeous, tiny island is located off the east coast of Puerto Rico and is accessible via boat or plane. I took a speedboat, but I would advise against this if you’re prone to seasickness; the ride is 1 hour and 30 minutes long, and it is BUMPY.

Flamenco beach, which has turquoise waters and white sand, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The good news is that it is located on Culebra! Surprisingly, this beach was once used by the U.S. military for target practice. Don’t believe me? Take a walk down the shoreline and check out the World War II-era tanks for yourself!

Snorkeling is a popular thing to do on Culebra. Although you may have some luck seeing marine life off the coast, your best bet is to launch from a boat over the reef; I saw a sea turtle, a sea biscuit, a few sting rays, and a ton of tropical fish. Many snorkeling tours of Culebra depart from the mainland, so don’t worry about having to locate these reefs yourself.

Vieques is another island off the east coast of Puerto Rico that offers a similar experience.

If you want to take the same tour to Culebra that I took, click here.

If you want to learn more about my experience in Puerto Rico and the activities discussed above, check out Episode 3 of the Runways and Byways travel podcast! It is currently available on Spotify, YouTube, and Anchor. If you’d like to find out more about my podcast in general, click here.

Are you still evaluating your tropical island vacation options? Check out my blog post on the best things to do on the island of Oahu, Hawaii!

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What do you plan on doing in Puerto Rico? Contact me or let me know in the comments below.

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