When you’re planning out your itinerary for your trip to Puerto Rico, there are some places that you need to see and some things that you definitely need to do while you’re there. We’ve put together a collection of 10 things to do in Puerto Rico for first time visitors, so you’ll have no regrets when you hear about fantastic opportunities that you may have missed out on. Whether you’re the kind of traveler who enjoys partying hard, or if you prefer historical or scenic tours, there is so much to do in Puerto Rico for people of all tastes and preferences.
1. Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay
This is a free attraction that is rated as the number one thing for first time visitors to Puerto Rico. In the light hours off the day, this area looks like a Caribbean retreat, but when the sun goes down and the stars come out at night, the waters appear to light up with a breathtaking glow. This is a natural phenomenon that is caused by the microorganisms inhabiting the waters. They are half animal and half plant, and they put off a bluish colored glow in the darkness. You should plan on spending at least an hour or two and bring your video cam or phone along so you can capture this rare phenomenon.
2. Sun Bay
While you’re waiting for the night to come to visit Mosquito Bay, try waiting it out on the island of Vieques and do some beach cocmbing on the chalky sands of Sun Bay. The southwestern side is the best because it is fully equipped with bathrooms, showers, and lifeguards which make it an excellent choice for swimming an a fun day in the sun. There are even small venues to purchasing food on the beach. If you prefer to venture into the town of Esperanza, you’ll find a great selection of bars and restaurants within walking distance.
3. Castillo de San Cristóbal
Fort San Cristobal is a 27 acre area that was originally created to protect the city of Old San Juan from attacks by land. This is a somewhat pristine area because not many visitors are aware of its existence. The site is brimming with significant history and as a tourist, you can spend several hours roaming about the ramparts of the fort, exploring and learning about its history.
4. El Morro (Fuerte San Felipe del Morro)
El Morrow presents a spectacular view as it juts out from San Juan harbor. It also has great historical significance as it was previously used as a deterrent for sea attacks. The fortress looms six stories into the air and it has a rich history that dates back to 1539. The fort had held firm throughout the sieges from two major World Wars and other assorted conflicts. The fortress at El Morrow, unlike Castillo de San Cristobal is a well known tourist attraction, and the depths of the fortress include a maze of tunnels, prison cells and barracks for you to explore.
5. El Yunque National Rainforest
This scenic area is also known as the Caribbean National Forest. It is a rain forest that offers an expansive lush area of tropical forest that is organized to accommodate hikers, backpackers and people who are simply curious abut what interesting plants and animals exist within the rain forest. This location is about 35 miles east of San Juan, but it is well worth the side excursion to see.
6. Flamenco Beach
You won’t need to pay to get into Flamenco Beach because access is absolutely free. It is located on the island of Culebra, which is approximately 20 miles east of Puerto Rico. This is an ideal location for snorkelers and families with a mile and a half of sandy beach and breathtaking surroundings.
7. Carolina Beach (Balneario de Carolina)
Carolina Beach is a must see for firsts timers in Puerto Rico. It’s also free to get into the beach which is located near the Isla Verde resort near San Juan. This long beach is popular with tourists as well as with the locals. It’s a great place to take the family for sand, sun and water sports. The sand is white and the water is warm. A lifeguard is on duty during the daytime. It’s a hot spot for sunbathers.
8. Luquillo Beach (Balneario de Luquillo)
The Luquillo Beach is another area that you need to visit. It offers a refreshing change from the beach resorts that are nearby. To get to this location, all you need to do is take route 3 to Luquillo Beach and take the 30 minute drive east. You’ll find a reef protected area with calm waves for better enjoyment of the water. There are visitors who come to this area just to get away from the crowds and relax.
9. Calle del Cristo
When you’re in Old San Juan, you’re in the heart of a world class shopping area. The Calle del Cristo off the city is a harbor off boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Shop for a while, take in the scenery of the art galleries, then take your pick of amazing restaurants and lounges to have a refreshing beverage or a hearty meal.
10. Museo de Arte de Ponce
This amazing museum was totally renovated and reopened in 2010 with a large collection of art, featuring more than 4,500 pieces from Africa, the Americans and Europe. The museum is located in the Puerto Rican city of Ponce. Some of the art work dates back to as far as the 14th century. If you’re a fan of Puerto Rican folk art, Victorian paintings or European baroque art, then you absolutely must visit Museo de Arte de Ponce.