Touristy Things Worth Doing in Puerto Rico - Pt 2

From discovering the island’s fascinating biodiversity to its rich cultural history, these places and activities have to be on your Puerto Rico bucket list.

When exploring Puerto Rico, finding secluded spots and hidden gems is always a rewarding experience. However, some of the island’s most popular places and activities are equally enjoyable. We’ve compiled a selection of Puerto Rico’s tourist attractions worth the hype. From discovering the island’s fascinating biodiversity to its rich cultural history, these places and activities have to be on your Puerto Rico bucket list.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal

Situated about a 20-minute walk apart, these Spanish forts are classic attractions in Puerto Rico. Castillo San Felipe del Morro (also known as El Morro Fort) dates back to 1539 but has played a quintessential role in multiple historical conflicts such as World War II. Larger in size than El Morro, Castillo de San Cristóbal was designed to protect San Juan from land attacks. You can admire the impressive ruins and vistas of the coastline from the viewing points and explore both forts’ labyrinths of tunnels, walkways and moats underneath.

Both forts can be visited with a $10 entrance fee to the San Juan National Historic Site from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Further details can be found here

Río Camuy Cave Park

This 268-acre-wide cave system spans across the Puerto Rican towns of Camuy, Hatillo and Lares at the island’s north coast. With around 220 caverns and the Rio Camuy river running through it, the park is a dazzling natural wonder. A highlight of your trip is the Sumidero de Empalme (Empalme Sinkhole) where you can gaze at the sun shining from high above through a gap in the caves’ roof. Although a transport service is available, this experience is best for people who are moderately mobile because there is a lot of walking involved. You are welcome to independently navigate the area of the cave system open to the public. However, tours are also available if you desire an expert trip.

The main entrance is at Camuy and can be visited Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. without a reservation

Catedral de San Juan Bautista

Nestled in the Old San Juan district, this is the oldest cathedral in the United States dating back to 1540. Marvel at the architecture which combines Gothic and Renaissance motifs with a mesmerizing stained glass depiction of St. John the Baptist. The cathedral plays a role in Puerto Rican history such as holding the tomb of Juan Ponce de León; a Spanish explorer who was believed to be searching for the Fountain of Youth in local cultural mythology. Visiting the cathedral will not take too long but is definitely worth a detour as you stroll through Old San Juan.

Bioluminescent Waters at Laguna Grande

Laguna Grande is situated in Fajardo and is best visited once the sun sets; the lake becomes bioluminescent which means that, due to a specific breed of plankton that glows when agitated, the water transforms into a vivid azure lagoon.  One of the best ways to experience this wonder is on a kayaking tour which brings you right next to the fascinating sight. Witness a rare natural beauty that is impossible to bring justice to through photographs.

Festivals

Our final suggestion for a cliche attraction that deserves its popularity is a visit to one of Puerto Rico’s selections of festivals. The island is a melting pot of cultures that is best experienced through one of these events. Though the pandemic has put some of these on pause, we hope to see them all return in the coming year. Some of the best are:

Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián

In mid-January, the streets of Old San Juan are flooded with melodious Latin American music and parades to celebrate the end of the holiday season.

La Campechada 

There is no better way to delve into authentic Puerto Rican culture than this festival which pays tribute to a different local artist each year through poetry, dance, art and more.

Festival de Santiago Apóstol

For the last weekend of July each year, the town of Loiza hosts a festival dedicated to Saint James during which local people deck themselves out with technicolor costumes from Indigenous, Spanish and African traditions.

Festival de la Piña Paradisíaca

Between May 27th and 29th, the area of La Parguera celebrates its harvest of pineapples. If you love the tropical fruit, make your way over to the region and watch, or even participate in, the 5K race to celebrate.

Aibonito Flower Festival

If partying isn’t your thing, then head to the mountain town of Aibonito. During June and July, the town is adorned with eye-catching floral displays amidst a range of live music and food kiosks.

These top attractions are the ideal choices if you’re searching for the crème de la crème of Puerto Rico’s events, natural beauties, historical architecture and more. Although they may appear to be conventional tourist options, they definitely live up to the hype.

Missed Part 1? Check it out here!

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