Guide to Puerto Rico: A Caribbean Paradise

Advisor - Monika Ulcakova
Curated By

Monika Ulcakova

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  • Puerto Rico

  • San Juan

  • Luxury Travel

  • Honeymoons

  • Active Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Solo Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Island

  • Multi-City

  • Local Culture

a person sits on the edge of a high stone cliff looking out at the clear light blue ocean on a cloudless day
Curator’s statement

My preferred holiday spot is Puerto Rico since it offers me the opportunity to unwind while also exploring. The island has a lot to offer, from the vibrant streets of its historic cities to the turquoise waters and white sand beaches. From a day in the rainforest to a kayaking excursion at night to the world's brightest bioluminescent bay, according to the Guiness Book of Records. Unique cousine, warm bomba dancing on the streets, the world's capital of rum, and delicious piña coladas. You will fall in love with this island the same way I did.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Puerto Rico

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Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Puerto Rico’s most luxurious resort, where apartment-sized suites and private butlers come standard, and there’s no bad view along the two-mile stretch of beachfront.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel

Art Deco beauty with a mix of heritage and modern rooms, most with Atlantic Ocean views.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

O:LV Fifty Five

Sophisticated adults-only hotel set by San Juan's Condado Lagoon.

Fora Perks
  • $90 hotel / resort credit.

  • Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability at check-in.

  • Guaranteed 2pm late check-out.

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Advisor - Monika Ulcakova

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Things to do in Puerto Rico

view of a coastal city during the day with green hills and colorful buildings

Puerto Rico has so much to offer. There is history, water adventures and greenery, but also the feel of desert in the South areas. Puerto Rico has several ecosystems, so it can be whatever kind of vacation you desire!

Old City Viejo San Juan

  • Among colonial Spanish buildings from the 16th and 17th century, the UNESCO World Heritage site, El Moro Fort and Castillo San Cristobal, are a must visit while in Old San Juan. This is an amazing place to learn about Puerto Rico with spectacular views of the coast line.

  • Walking through Old Town takes you to different century, with colorful streets covered in flags, murals, historic architecture, galleries and authentic restaurants.

  • Enjoy the sunset in Old San Juan on the promenade along Paseo de la Princesa. This is a romantic, historic walk featuring the beautiful Raices Fountain. There are many local vendors, markets and bites.

  • Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud: A small chapel built in the 18th century. Bring food for the pigeons! It is a lot of fun to feed them and there are plenty. Right next to the chapel, there are stunning streets with many shopping and dining options, including Calle de la Fortaleza. Take a picture along the way of the famous hanging flags and umbrellas.

The East side

  • Condado: For more of a resort experience, try this oceanfront neighborhood in San Juan. Condado is a great location for nightlife, restaurants, chilling on beach and watching the sunrise. A short ride from Condado is a stunning boardwalk with food kiosks and bars, plus Terraplen La Posita de Pinones, another great beach location.

  • Luquillo Beach: One of my favorite beaches around the East part of Puerto Rico. An hour drive from San Juan, this is a popular spot for swimming, with local restaurants lining the streets.

  • Fajardo: Take a private charter to Palomino Island with a stop on the uninhabited Cayo Icacos island; both are great for water sports.

  • El Yunque National Forest: Escape from beach and city to this national rainforest. El Yunque offers great hiking, zip-lining, waterfalls and more.

The North side

Let’s go to the North side of Puerto Rico! I definitely recommend a car while in Puerto Rico to explore all this island has to offer (although there is no need for a car in Old San Juan as the traffic can be tough)!

  • Casa Bacardi: Rum distillery, tours, mixology classes and tasting area.

  • Dorado: The area where most celebrities stay. Stunning coastal views, with many resorts and beaches.

  • Mar Chiquita Beach: One of my favorite beaches on the north coast. The calm water is great for swimming.

  • Túnel de Guajataca: Walk through the historic tunnel to a stunning beach where you can relax under the palms. This is not beach for swimming, but it is worth to visit. From here you can take a short ride to Cara del Indio, the famous Taíno head statue.

  • Borinquen: Also known as Crash Boat Beach. This is a great spot to watch the sunset.

  • Casas de Colores Aguadilla: An area with mural painted houses, typical for real local vibes.

The West side

I love the West side of Puerto Rico for the stunning Caribbean beaches where you can swim and relax.

  • Mayagüez: Home of Cólon Plaza with its historic fountain.Try the kiosk, Friend's Cafe.

  • Buyé Beach: A very clean, family and pet-friendly beach with amazing warm water and a place to grab a drink and experience that Caribbean paradise.

  • Boqueron: A lovely little town filled with restaurants and great spots for pictures.

  • Tanga Beach: A long Caribbean white sand beach.

  • Cabo Rojo: Hike to Faro Los Morrillos lighthouse with amazing coastal views or take a short hike to the natural stone bridge, Puente de Piedra.

  • Las Salinas de Cabo Rojo: A must stop to see the otherworldly pink salt flats and salt dunas.

  • Ponce: A large city with the Museo de Arte de Ponce and famous Parque de Bombas, the first iconic firehouse (a museum since 1990).


Nightlife in Puerto Rico is something everyone should experience. Walk through Old San Juan streets with music and dancing or experience the Condado nightlife. Dance along the way with locals; they are friendly and will each you some steps!

Places to eat & drink in Puerto Rico

a fruity cocktail with sliced orange and sunglasses lay beside it on a colorful table

Cafeteria Mallorca: Must try the Pan de Mallorca, a sweet bread dusted with powdered sugar.

Café Cuatro Sombras: Amazing coffee place in old San Juan with delicious coffee from the Yauco mountains and sandwiches.

Kasalta: Local spot for great pastries and Cuban sandwiches.

Señor Paleta: Ice cream spot with popsicles, gelato, and other desserts.

Orujo, Taller De Gastronomia (Santurce area): A tasting menu for the best gastronomy. The food here is an art; a modern twist on Caribbean cuisine.

Santaella (Santurce area): Chic restaurant for the classic Puerto Rican dinning experience.

Vianda (Santurce area ): Farm-to-table restaurant where you can find healthy food from local ingredients with outstanding service.

The national Puerto Rican dish, Mofongo is a must. Try Cafe Manolin, Casita Miramar, and Restaurante El Campeón.

For the best crafted drinks, go to La Factoria, El Batey Bar, Bar La Unidad, and Jungle Bird (try the piña colada!).

There are many local food options that I enjoyed around the Piñones area, Luquillo beach and Condado. Enjoy Mofongo, sip piña coladas, try pasteles, tostones, arroz con gandules and get the fresh tamarindo juice to truly experience the paradise of Puerto Rico.

Advisor - Monika Ulcakova

Travel Advisor

Monika Ulcakova

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Puerto Rico.