Things to do in Puerto Rico
You can easily fill a week in Puerto Rico by lounging on the beach or strolling through the streets of Old San Juan, but don’t stop there. You can hike (and swim) in El Yunque, the 28,000-acre national park home to hundreds of tropical plants, at least 50 different bird species, and hiking trails that lead to waterfalls and swimming holes. One of the top things to do in Puerto Rico, among locals and visitors alike, is to dress up and go out. The nightclub scene in San Juan holds its own against Miami, at spots such as Club Brava and Ultra Lounge. But for more classic Puerto Rico dancing, go to the Nuyorican, where you can brush up on your salsa skills alongside locals.
As an alternative night activity, you can paddle through Bioluminescent Bay. The waters off Vieques are filled with microorganisms that glow in the dark. Take a kayaking tour into these waters and you’ll have a surreal, unforgettable evening. What to do in Puerto Rico when you want a change of scenery from your own hotel beach? Go to the island’s most fabulous beach. A short ferry ride will take you to Culebra, where the white sands of Playa Flamenco are known for great surfing and snorkeling.
Acampa, a store specializing in outdoor gear, also offers guided nature adventures.
Deep-fried heaven—if you find alcapurrias being made fresh.
The Ruta Panorámica is 165 miles of scenic switchbacks running along the top of the island’s central spine, linking quaint hill towns, forest preserves, and historic paradors, or inns. The foliage arches over the roadway in a series of cool, dark tunnels
With its exquisite collection of oil paintings and furniture spanning a variety of periods, El Alcazar is one of the best sources for antiques in the Caribbean.
Head to this mile-long stretch of white sand on Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast—and keep your eyes peeled for the famed “green flash,” (caused by refracted light rays) right before the sun disappears below the horizon.
Explore the 10,000 acres of the Guánica Dry Forest. The desert-like ecosystem harbors such curiosities as the crested toad, the purple land crab, and a 700-year-old tree.
Housed in a Neoclassical former hospital in San Juan's Santurce neighborhood, this 130,000-square-foot space became the Caribbean's most extensive art museum when it opened in 2000. The 1,100-piece collection includes prominent Puerto Rican artists from the 17th century to the present day.
Every visitor hears about the must-see bioluminescent bay soon after arriving, but many don’t know that they can skip the touristy boat trips in favor of the more intimate option of kayaking through the eerily glowing waters.
Come late afternoon, in-the-know travelers wander right from the nearby ferry landing to the laid-back, open-air bungalow—to drink margaritas and watch the sunset while casting for silvery tarpon off the deck with locals.
Puerto Rican governors have resided in this structure (originally a fort) since 1543, though it wasn't named the governor's official residence until 1822. In fact, it's the Western Hemisphere's oldest executive mansion that's still in use.
Head to García Beach for a quiet escape with a palm tree–dotted island just a short swim away.
What to Expect: Not one but two deep, curved pale-pink-sand beaches, each a mile-and-a-half long, make up Isla Verde.
Stock up on the island's famed coffee at this colorful shop in Old Town, which carries eight Puerto Rican brands. You'll also find a vast selection of Caribbean-influenced spices, sauces, jams, and even bath gels, soaps, and perfumes.
Navío is known as the island’s finest, and that means it is also the most packed; the path to the sand is lined with haphazardly parked Jeeps and scooters.
Salsa is a national pastime in Puerto Rico; though it didn't originate on the island, it might as well have. For a sultry night of dancing, head to this tiny yet frenetic nightspot, tucked down an alleyway off an Old Town street.