11 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico – Hand Luggage Only

11 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico – Hand Luggage Only


Nestled within the heart of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a totally stunning island. With an iconic coastline, centuries of history and a heap of waterfalls – you’ll be spoilt for choice with all the epic and best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Now, if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to explore as much of the island as you can. This sometimes leads to us getting pretty stressed when trying to cram it all in – which, we quickly realised isn’t fun for anyone. You end up leaving being so exhausted as you’ve tried to cram in too much. 

So, to help you along your way, I’ve popped a few firm favourites that you really shouldn’t miss in Puerto Rico. It’s a stunning island.

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Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Puerto Rico. Have the best trip! 

1.) Explore San Juan

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Exploring San Juan is easily one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico once you arrive on the island. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that you can’t miss it! 

After spending some time at the Museum of Art, touring Casa Bacardi (with a tipple of rum in hand) and exploring the vibrant area of La Placita (with all the live bands, bars and foodie spots) be sure to explore the historical spots in San Juan.

This means that you should pop over to Old San Juan, too.

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Old San Juan is Puerto Rico’s oldest settlement and is listed on America’s National Register of Historic Places where you can easily spend half a day wandering around.

Yes, there’s an easy trolley bus around the museum, but it’s even more fascinating just to lose yourself in its historic streets on foot; well, as long as it’s not in the glaring heat of midday. 

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Also, be sure to visit the San Juan National Historic Site, too.

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Located in Old San Juan, this National Park Service-protected site houses a number of spots such as; the forts of San Felipe del Morro (El Morro), San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz. Gorgeous!

After all that exploring, head over to Verde Mesa for the yummiest of dinners -their seared tuna is so good.

Finally, finish off your night on the rooftops at AC Rooftop Bar and Eter Rooftop Lounge in Condado.

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Both have some epic cocktails. 

Read more: Fun cities in the USA to visit 

2.) See El Rio Camuy Caves

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Around an hour’s drive from San Juan is the world’s third-largest underground cave system. It’s totally awesome (in the literal sense of the world).

Now, you probably won’t have time to view the full 10-miles of caverns or every one of the 220 caves, but a guided tour is a must and well worth a good gander around. Plus, you’ll be able to try your hand at zip-lining, going for a dip and river-jumping.

It’s so much fun.

3.) Explore El Yunque National Rainforest

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Perched on the east coast of Puerto Rico, you’ll find one of the natural wonders of the island, just a 45-minute drive from the centre of San Juan.

Through beautiful scenery of El Yunque National Rainforest, you can take a trail from the Visitor Centre down to the waterfalls. Honestly, the Rio Espiritu Santo Waterfall or Juan Diego Falls are both stunning.

Yes, the roads can be a little on the rough side when travelling here but it’s totally worth the trip. 

Alternatively, follow the Mount Britton Trail or explore Torre Britton if you fancy giving your legs a rest. 

4.) Unwind on Culebra Island

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As far as beaches go, visiting Flamenco Beach is one of its most loved and easily one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico if you love a bit of sun, sea and sand! 

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With its sands stretching for a mile and a half around the edge of the island of Culebra (only around 20 minutes off the coast of Puerto Rico), this beach feels both remote but also lots of services; meaning you’re never too far from snacks or bathroom breaks. Both essential at the beach!

To get here, it’s easiest to hop on a chartered boat tour or head over to Ceiba Ferry Terminal to grab a boat to Culebra itself. 

Plus, the island is home to the ruins of Faro Isla de Culebritas, a lighthouse which operated from 1886 to 1975, and is now on the US National Register of Historic Places which can be seen. 

Before leaving the island, stop off at Zaco’s Tacos that serves up some of Culebra’s best seafood tacos. Trust me on this. 

5.) Trek Cueva Clara

Perched in the northwest of the island, exploring Cueva Clara is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico if you want to explore the island’s natural history. 

With guided tours available, you’ll get to explore inside the cavern, see the views across the island and explore the beautiful part of Puerto Rico.

Tours take place on the hour, so arrive well before your booking (30-minutes is best).

6.) Stroll through Vega Alta 

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Nestled, just west of San Juan, Vega Alta is a region that’s easy to visit, especially for Cerro Gordo National Park which hugs the shoreline. 

For an easy to access beach, head over to Balneario Cerro Gordo and Cerro Gordo Beach West which is totally easy to visit for a long afternoon. Plus, nearby Playa Tocones is great if you fancy testing your skills at surfing! 

Alternatively, for a busier beach (with lots of little foodie spots etc), head over to Playa Puerto Nuevo which is great for families, too. 

Read more: Fun cities in the USA to visit 

7.) Visit Ponce

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Situated on the south of Puerto Rico, Ponce is one of the large cities on the island that’s well worth a little visit whilst on the south coast. 

Once here, be sure to explore Cruceta del Vigía (The Watchman Cross) with its 10-storey high viewing platform with views across the Caribbean Sea.

Oh, and stop off at Castillo Serrallés Museum which showcases the history of Puerto Rico and its sugar plantations and rum. Plus, stop by the Museum of Art to explore the Carribeans largest art museums which is great if you fancy seeing some of Puerto Rico’s works of art. 

For some of the best ice cream, head over to King’s Cream. Their treats are all homemade and totally delicious. 

8.) Stroll by Los Morrillos Lighthouse

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Perched at the very tip of South-West Puerto Rico, Los Morrillos Lighthouse is totally easy to visit and well worth a gander. It’s a stunning place to wander for a stroll across the coast.

It’s a totally easy hike and doesn’t take much effort at all – totally great for a relaxing afternoon. Plus, it has a gorgeous beach for an afternoon dip at Playuela, Cabo Rojo, too. 

9.) Explore Chorro de Doña Juana (waterfall)

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Right in the heart of the island, visiting Chorro de Doña Juana is easily one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico if you fancy escaping the city for a few hours to explore more inland spots.

Again, the roads here can be a little winding and quite narrow at times, so pay attention., That being said, if you’re used to European roads you won’t have much trouble at all. 

Easy to stop and just off the road itself. This is a spot everyone can enjoy. 

10.) visit Isla de Mona (Mona Island)

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Halfway between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Isla de Mona is a 22 square mile uninhabited ecological reserve that’s for the adventurers amongst us. It’s not the kind of spot you visit for a quick day trip and is certainly a spot for that’s not for everyone. It requires weeks of planning. 

Though, if you’re well prepared and up for a long adventure, you’ll easily find Mona Island as one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico. Yes, you will need to extensively plan, especially for harsh environments which can be very dangerous. 

Oh, and just be aware, there is a limited number of permits for visitors each day and you will need to organise transportation to visit. 

To add a twist of history and culture to your exploration of this beautiful island, go on a search for the carvings left in some of the many caves by the Taíno Indians.

If you’re something of a survivalist, want a huge adventure and willing to go without hotels, potable water and cell service, this might be the kind of trip for you? If not, stay well clear! 

11.) See the watefall at Gozalandia 

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Around a 100-minute drive from San Juan, Gozalandia Waterfall is easy to visit whilst pairing up other northeastern gems to see on the island. 

You might need to pay a small-ish charge to park up (around $10) but it’s well worth it for the trails and waterfalls.

It’s easily one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico whilst exploring the islands in more rural areas. Just be sure to tread carefully in wetter conditions – this area gets super slippy. 

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