8 Things To Do In Puerto Rico
We recently came back from Puerto Rico and, wow, I simply cannot believe it took me this long to visit the lovely island! This blog is titled, “8 Things To Do In Puerto Rico”, but there is more to see and do than these 8 things obviously.
The island that combines rich cultural heritage, natural wonders, and idyllic beaches to make it a perfect destination for tourists. The island is small in size but big on attractions, and it’s hard to know where to start. I have shared some thoughts and some areas that we went to during our 6 day trip.
We went during mid-February 2023 and it was the perfect weather.
Quick Tip before we start: Shop Local.
- Support the local economy: Shopping at local businesses helps to support the local economy, keeping money circulating within the community. When you shop at local stores, you are directly supporting local jobs and the local tax base, which helps to create a stronger, more resilient community.
- Preserve local culture: By supporting local businesses, you are helping to preserve Puerto Rico’s unique culture and heritage. Local businesses often feature products and services that reflect the local culture and traditions, providing a sense of identity and pride for the community.
- Environmental impact: Shopping locally can have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the carbon footprint associated with shipping and transporting goods. By buying products that are made or grown locally, you are helping to reduce the amount of energy required to transport goods long distances.
- Personalized service: Local businesses often provide a more personalized and attentive service than larger chain stores. By getting to know the owners and employees of local businesses, you can build relationships and trust that can enhance your shopping experience.
- Unique products: Local businesses often offer unique products and services that are not available at larger chain stores. By shopping locally, you can discover new and interesting products that you may not have found elsewhere.
In recent years, Puerto Rico has been hit by several devastating hurricanes, including Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Hurricane Irma in the same year. These hurricanes caused widespread damage to the island’s power grid, communication systems, and water supply, resulting in significant disruptions to daily life.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans suffered from prolonged power outages, which lasted for months in some areas, and many residents had limited access to clean drinking water. The hurricane also caused damage to hospitals, schools, and other critical infrastructure, which hindered recovery efforts. The damage caused by hurricanes have exacerbated economic inequality and lead to higher poverty rates. By shopping local, we can help support building Puerto Rican residents.
Old San Juan
Old San Juan is the historic heart of Puerto Rico’s capital city. It’s a city of brightly colored buildings, narrow streets, and stunning colonial architecture that has been well-preserved. Visitors can explore the fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal, both of which were built to protect the city from pirates and other invaders. The area is also home to the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which is one of the oldest churches in the Americas.
If you have a rental car, park in a garage and walk everywhere.
We were able to see “all of Old San Juan” within a half day of walking.
We revisited the area on our last day since there were some side streets that we weren’t able to see.
Most of the area is tourist based, but you will also find some great restaurants nearby!
I highly recommend going outside the Old San Juan area and exploring Miramar if you have the chance!
Campamento Piñones is a beach campsite located in the town of Loiza, on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico. The campsite is situated within the Piñones State Forest Reserve, which features sandy beaches, mangrove forests, and natural pools. Campamento Piñones is a popular destination for camping, swimming, surfing, and other outdoor activities.
The campsite offers tent and cabin rentals, as well as amenities such as showers, restrooms, and a communal kitchen. Visitors can also take part in organized activities such as hiking, bird watching, and cultural tours of the surrounding area. The nearby town of Loiza is known for its Afro-Caribbean culture, and visitors to Campamento Piñones can experience traditional music, dance, and cuisine in the local restaurants and cultural centers.
The beach (Playa Torrecillas Pinones) has some parking spots.
We Ubered from San Juan to that area easily, but finding a ride back was a bit tricky.
We had a late lunch at the Kioscos Municipales de Piñones.
There are a variety of street food there at reasonable prices.
Alcapurrias and Pina Coladas would be my recommendations!
Yunque National Forest
The Yunque National Forest is a tropical rainforest that is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Visitors can hike along the many trails that wind through the forest, with some leading to hidden waterfalls and swimming holes. The highlight of any visit is the climb up to the top of El Yunque peak, which offers stunning views over the surrounding landscape.
The National Park is essentially one road.
You still have to confirm ahead of time to get ticketed entrance.
We went about 2 hours into the opening and there were a lot of visitors.
When we were done with our hikes, all of the parking spots were filled.
Also, due to construction and renovations, some trails were closed or were detoured.
Be ready to hike and walk a bit longer!
Don’t forget a water bottle!
Guavate: Pork Highway “Lechon”
The Pork Highway (or “La Ruta del Lechón” in Spanish) is a popular culinary destination in Puerto Rico, known for its delicious roasted pork dishes. The highway stretches along Route 184 in the town of Guavate, located in the mountainous region of Cayey, about 45 minutes south of San Juan.
On weekends, local restaurants and food stands line the road, offering a variety of pork dishes, such as lechón asado (roast pork), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), and mofongo (mashed plantains with pork cracklings). The pork is often slow-roasted on a spit over an open flame, giving it a crispy exterior and juicy interior.
The Pork Highway has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and it is a great way to experience the unique culinary traditions of Puerto Rico.
Lechón, is a popular dish in many countries, particularly in Spain and its former colonies. It refers to a whole roasted pig that has been spit-roasted over a charcoal fire. The dish is typically prepared for special occasions and celebrations, such as weddings, birthdays, and religious holidays.
Lechon is a staple dish in many countries, including the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and several Latin American countries. In the Philippines, lechon is often served with a side of liver sauce and eaten with rice. In Puerto Rico, lechon is typically served with a side of rice and beans, and in Cuba, it is often served with yuca and plantains.
The preparation of lechon can be a lengthy and labor-intensive process, as the pig is typically roasted slowly over a charcoal fire for several hours, requiring constant attention and turning. However, the resulting dish is prized for its crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat.
This might be one of those niche things to do in Puerto Rico.
Note: It might not be vegan friendly.
8 Things to Do in Puerto Rico here could be titled “8 Things to Eat at a Lechonera” LOL.
Ponce is Puerto Rico’s second-largest city and is known for its unique architecture and art scene. The city’s historic center is full of colorful buildings that showcase the Spanish and Creole influence on the island’s culture. The Ponce Museum of Art is a must-see, with a collection that includes works by local artists and internationally recognized masters.
You must go try the ice cream at Kings Cream. They are open late as well!
I know this is titled “8 Things to Do in Puerto Rico”, but I think Kings Cream could be it’s own category.
Everyone raves about it!
Cabo Rojo is a town on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico that boasts some of the island’s most beautiful beaches. The white sands of Playa Sucia and Boqueron Beach are popular with visitors, as are the stunning salt flats that are home to a variety of bird species. The Cabo Rojo Lighthouse, which dates back to the 19th century, is also worth a visit for its commanding views over the coastline.
Go to Buyé Beach. This was a last minute recommendation by a friend and was not part of the pre-planning phase of “8 Things To Do In Puerto Rico”.
This is definitely one of the best beaches I’ve EVER been to.
Buyé Beach was exactly what we needed for a relaxing vacation day.
The water is beautiful and there weren’t as many tourists.
Music could be heard from the main restaurant area, but once you walk a bit you have more privacy.
The strip of beach is small, so get there early.
I believe parking was $5 from 10am-6pm and it’s worth it!
Also, visit the lighthouse in Cabo Rojo for a beautiful sunset.
Due to some damage of the area from hurricanes and storms, you may have to park a bit outside of the park and walk to get to the lighthouse.
Gozalandia Falls is a hidden gem that is worth seeking out. Located in the municipality of San Sebastian, the falls are tucked away in the jungle and require a short hike to reach. Visitors are rewarded with crystal-clear waters that cascade into a series of natural pools that are perfect for swimming.
I initially didn’t have Gozalandia Falls in the pre-planning phase of “8 Things To Do In Puerto Rico”, but we had a recovery day that we decided to make the visit. Totally worth it.
Driving through the area was a lot more local roads than expected.
Take your time getting there.
Also, if it rains, take your time driving and walking as it could be slippery.
Parking, from what I recall, is $10 in a big lot.
There are restaurants in the same area as well as a restroom.
The walk from the parking lot to the waterfall is about 3-5 minutes.
We got lucky at a time when many weren’t visiting.
We stayed there for about 2-3 hours and enjoyed some food before leaving.
Rincon is a popular surf town on the western coast of Puerto Rico. It’s known for its laid-back vibe, beautiful beaches, and world-class surfing. Visitors can hit the waves themselves or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun. The town is also home to the Rincon Lighthouse, which was built in 1892 and offers stunning views over the coastline.
Build more time here if you aren’t on a time crunch.
There are a lot of restaurants in the area and is surfer haven.
We drove from Gozalandia Falls to Rincon in the rain and traffic to catch sunset here.
I would highly recommend watching sunset near the lighthouse.
Contact me for more information or plan to travel to Puerto Rico anytime soon!
I am ready to go back!
See more place to visit on blog!