5 Great Things to do in Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, sits on the island’s Atlantic coast. It’s known as the Island of Enchantment. From beautiful beaches to fascinating history, from eclectic shopping to flavorful local cuisine, San Juan has it all. Puerto Rico is made up of Spanish, African and Taino (one of the largest indigenous people of the Caribbean).
You don’t need a Passport or Visa if you are a US Citizen. All you need to bring with you is your drivers licence or government I.D.
Where to Stay
We stayed at El San Juan Hotel. It’s a beautiful place! The resort has 9 diverse restaurants, 15 bars, lounges and nightclubs, a Royal Casino plus nightly live music in the Lobby Bar. Also they boasts a gym, spa and salon. My boyfriend and I stayed here in May for 5 nights. We got the Garden lanai room. It was very quiet and with a spacious room with walk-in closet. Everything about the resort was very clean. Among other things there, I love the hammocks, banyan trees and wildlife such as lizards, birds etc.
There are 3 pool areas and several jacuzzis. The resort is located directly on the beach and it’s first come first serve on the day beds and lounges. The staff working there can set up an umbrella for $10 a day on the beach and serve you food and drinks. They had good DJ spinning great electronic/house top music.
We had food at Encanto beach grill and bar and dinner at Yamato and it was a great experience, and delicious food but expensive. Also we had dinner at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. It was a really fun rooftop atmosphere and the BBQ was very good. The location is great, the street that it’s on has lots of shopping, and restaurants, bars, etc.
1) Explore Castillo de San Felipe
It is one of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s main attractions and it is worth visiting while you are there. Travel back in time and see this 16th century Fortress built by the Spanish. The architecture and history are very interesting.
The entrance Fee is $5.00 valid for entrance to Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal. Senior, Access and Military pass holders enter for free. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, clothes and bring water. You only need one ticket to enter all the forts which is great. It is pretty much all self guided. The view of the city and ocean are breathtaking.
By the way, this is a national park so your park pass gets you in. Get there as early as possible because there is a lot walking and it gets hot most of the time.
Safety isn’t a concern at all. There was heavy police presence and they are all very helpful.
2) Visit Castillo San Cristóbal also known as Fort San Cristóbal was built by Spain to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is also part of San Juan National Historic Site. It’s about 225 years old.
Admission is $5 and the National Park Service supplies you with a map when you pay your entrance fee. You can then use that map, and the descriptions of the different parts of the fort, and do a self-guided tour.
There is a lot to see and explore at the fort so wear comfy shoes. There is an optional short movie about the battles and construction of the forts.
You can also attend a free 20-30 minute Daily Orientation Talk every hour in English and then on the 1/2 hour in Spanish. These are led by park rangers. They are very informative and interesting. The structure/architecture are beautiful and the views of the city and ocean are amazing.
3) Swim and snorkel at One of the Most Beautiful Beaches in the World. Culebra is an island 20 miles off the north-east coast of Puerto. Although it has no luxury resorts, shopping, casinos, elegant restaurants, theaters, or night nife, it is one of those “picture postcard” beaches – it is very pretty, with soft white sand, beautiful views, and crystal clear turquoise water. There are a few small changing rooms, and the showers are available in the afternoon. It is open from 6am until 6pm. You can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas at the beach for $10.
Flamenco beach is a 1 1/2 mile long crescent on the north side of Culebra. It is a protected cove, so there are usually hardly any waves. I love the turquoise blue water and the soft white sand that is so fine.
You can either fly there or take a day tour. We went on a catamaran tour with “East Island Excursions” through Elegant Steering. Elegant Steering which is a one stop shop for Transportation Services & Tour Operations was the Snorkeling tour we took. We first booked the horseback riding tour but we changes our mind and they were nice to switch it to snorkeling tour.
Upon departing marina Puerto Del Rey, we headed straight out to Culebra Island along the Cordillera Islands. After about 45 minutes or so on a high-speed catamaran we arrive at one of Culebra’s beautiful reefs and anchor for about an hour and a half of snorkeling.
This whole area is very healthy, and full of all sorts of sea life. I got sea sick on my way there. The crews were accomodating and friendly. Throughout the day, the bar on board the catamaran is open for all guests, tour includes Piña Coladas, Rum Punch, sodas, iced teas, and juices. Lunch is also served on board, including fresh fruit, freshly baked bread, sliced meats, sliced cheeses, salads, chips, and cookies.
Another 10 minutes ride and we arrived at Flamenco Beach. Here we found beautiful reefs and perfect waters for snorkeling. You can also spend the afternoon swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, or relaxing on the roof deck of the boat. Make sure to use or take sunscreen.
4) Eat Puerto Rican Food
We were excited to try local Puerto Rican cuisine. Puerto Ricans call their home the ‘Dining Capital of the Caribbean.’ Must try dishes are Mofongo (mashed plantain), Arroz con gandules y lechón (rice with pigeon peas and pork) and Arroz con dulche (sweet sticky rice).
5) Explore Old town of San Juan. It’s a beautiful, colourful streets with a great laid-back atmosphere. With its abundance of shops, museums, historic places, open air cafes, and restaurants, you will find plenty of things to see and do.
Other Great Things to do
As a Rum Capital of the world, visit a Rum distillery, Eat Puerto Rican food.
What are your favorite things to do in Puerto Rico?