Puerto rico holiday destination: 15 Puerto Rico Best Places to Vacation & Stay

Where to Stay in Puerto Rico in 2022, by an Area Local

If you’re planning a visit and wondering where to stay in Puerto Rico, then you’ve come to the right place. Choosing the right place to stay in Puerto Rico could very well make the difference between a great vacation and a forgettable one.

Never worry, though, because I’m a Puerto Rico local who is here to help you map out your trip!

Because I know it’s hard to decide between staying in the capital city of San Juan and other municipalities around the island, I’ve put together this complete guide on where to stay in Puerto Rico to help you choose the perfect stay for your vacation.

Table of Contents

  • Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico
  • 11 Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico
    • Old San Juan
    • Rio Grande
    • Condado
    • Isla Verde
    • Fajardo
    • Ponce
    • Isabela
    • Cabo Rojo
    • Rincón
    • Culebra Island
    • Vieques Island
  • Tips for Staying in Puerto Rico
    • Choose the Right Location
    • Research Local Health Requirements
    • Rent a Car
    • Go Outside the Touristic Zone
    • Travel Off-Season
  • FAQs About Staying in Puerto Rico
    • What is the best area of Puerto Rico to stay in?
    • Where should you not stay in Puerto Rico?
    • What side of the Island is best in Puerto Rico?
    • What is the most beautiful part of Puerto Rico?
    • Which is better, Condado or Isla Verde?
    • Is it better to stay in Old San Juan or Condado?

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico

O:Live Boutique Hotel and Condado Vanderbilt from the Condado lagoon

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Puerto Rico? Here are my top picks: 

  • 🏆 Best Overall Hotel –  Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf & Beach Resort 
  • ✨ Best Luxury Hotel – St. Regis Bahia Resort
  • 👪 Best for Families – La Concha Renaissance
  • 👔 Best for Business – Sheraton Hotel & Casino
  • 🛎️ Best Boutique – O:live Boutique Hotel
  • 📍 Best Near Old San Juan – Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel
  • 💵 Best Budget Hotel – Boutique Hotel Belgica

Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Puerto Rico: 

11 Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an archipelago divided into 78 municipalities with San Juan as the capital city as you can see on this map. San Juan sports many  Puerto Rico hotels and accommodation options but it isn’t the best place to stay if you’re looking for breath-taking beaches or colorful sunsets. Let’s look into the best spots to stay around the island.

Old San Juan

San Cristobal Castle in Old San Juan

👉 Best Area For Sightseeing  | ✨ Best Old San Juan Hotels: El Convento • Sheraton Old San Juan • CasaBlanca Hotel

Old San Juan is the most popular destination in Puerto Rico and the perfect place to stay in the city of San Juan if you want to enjoy historical landmarks, good food, and Puerto Rico’s local culture all within a short walk.

San Juan is home to famous attractions like El Morro, Paseo de la Princesa, and the door of San Juan. The capital city also has plenty of bars and nightclubs that invite visitors to party until sunrise.

Pros of Staying in Old San Juan:

  • Attractions within walking distance
  • Lots of fun restaurants and bars
  • Great nightlife

Cons of Staying in Old San Juan:

  • Gets crowded
  • Things can be pricey

📚 Old San Juan Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for On-foot Sightseeing
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEl ConventoSheraton Old San Juan Hotel  • CasaBlanca Hotel
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Old San Juan
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Ladi’s Restaurant ($$), Marmalade ($$), The Mezzanine ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – La O, La Factoria
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Fort San Felipe del Morro, Paseo de la Princesa

Rio Grande

El Yunque National Rainforest

👉 Best Area For Adventure Lovers | ✨ Best Rio Grande Hotels: Wyndham Grand Rio • St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort • Margaritaville Vacation Club

Rio Grande is home to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the entire United States and one of the most popular attractions in Puerto Rico

Rio Grande is the perfect place to stay in Puerto Rico for adventure travelers. There are many outdoor activities like hiking difficult trails, sliding down natural waterfalls, and ziplining. 

This city also sports the most luxurious hotel in Puerto Rico, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, and is close to Luquillo and Fajardo, two great cities with beautiful beaches.

Pros of Staying in Rio Grande:

  • Close to El Yunque
  • Outdoor activities
  • Close the Luquillo Beach

Cons of Staying in Rio Grande:

  • Far from San Juan’s main attractions
  • Rains frequently

📚 Rio Grande Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Adventure Lovers
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsWyndham Grand Rio Mar • St. Regis Bahia Beach • Margaritaville Vacation Club
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Rio Grande
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Dos Panzas Taqueria ($$), El Rey del Mofongo ($$), Carabali Bar & Grill ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Ekelekua, Pikaytos
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – El Yunque, Hacienda Carabalí

Condado

👉 Best Area For Families | ✨ Best Condado Hotels: Condado Vanderbilt • La Concha Renaissance Resort • Condado Ocean Club

Condado is a central area with beachfront resorts, fine dining restaurants, and a lagoon. This district is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico for families, and has some fabulous Puerto Rico resorts. 

Condado sports multiple accommodation options with an outdoor terrace, swimming pool, dining area, comfy beds, outdoor pool, an in-house casino, and is home to Ford’s four-star hotel, Condado Vanderbilt.  

Pros of Staying in Condado:

  • Family entertainment
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Close to Old San Juan

Cons of Staying in Condado:

  • Restaurants and hotels can be pricey
  • Bad traffic

📚 Condado Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Families
Google Map

  • ✨ Best Hotels –  Condado Vanderbilt • La Concha Renaissance Resort • Condado Ocean Club
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Condado
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – 1919 ($$$$), Raya by Mario Pagan ($$$), Jose Enrique ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – ARYA Rooftop, Chloe
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Condado Beach, Condado Lagoon

Isla Verde

👉 Best Area For Couples and Honeymooners | ✨ Best Isla Verde Hotels: Hampton Inn & Suites • Embassy Suites by Hilton • TRYP by Windham

Isla Verde is a luxurious resort area that offers visitors a taste of the Caribbean while staying close to San Juan Airport and Old San Juan’s attractions. Isla Verde is a great location to stay in Puerto Rico for honeymooners and couples. The area sports many restaurants serving up authentic Puerto Rican dishes, and bars where you’ll find vibrant nightlife. Isla Verde is also next to Piñones, where you can enjoy the best Puerto Rican delicacies.

Pros of Staying in Isla Verde:

  • Close to airport
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Thriving nightlife

Cons of Staying in Isla Verde:

  • Gets crowded
  • Hotels and restaurants can be pricey

📚 Isla Verde Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Couples and Honeymooners
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsHampton Inn & Suites • Embassy Suites by Hilton • TRYP by Windham
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Isla Verde
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Caña by Juliana Gonzalez ($$),Sirena Oceanfront ($$), Bistro Café($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Patio de las Flores, Alambique Beach Lounge
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Isla Verde Beach, Calle Loíza

Fajardo

👉 Best Area For Clear Beaches | ✨ Best Fajardo Hotel: El Conquistador Resort

If you want to stay close to some of the clearest waters of Puerto Rico, book your stay in Fajardo. Fajardo is located on the east side of the island and it sports one of the best hotels in Puerto Rico, El Conquistador Beach Resort, with a breath-taking view of the coast and a new waterpark for kids.

Some of the best things to do in Fajardo include the bioluminescent lagoon and Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. You’ll also find plenty of excellent beaches in Fajardo and the surrounding area.

Pros of Staying in Fajardo:

  • Clearwater and sandy beaches
  • Good location to visit Vieques and Culebra
  • Lots of restaurants

Cons of Staying in Fajardo:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Few attractions

👉 Local Tip: If you stay in Fajardo, make sure to make a day trip to Icacos cay, where you’ll find the clearest waters of Puerto Rico. For more San Juan day trips, see my complete guide to the 15 top day trips near San Juan.

📚 Fajardo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Clear Beaches
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEl Conquistador Resort 
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Fajardo
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – La Estación ($$), Ahumado a Leña ($$), Sal y Pimienta ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – El Chinchorro de J, Bar Dos Marinas
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Seven Seas Beach, Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
  • 📚 Get Planning: How to Go from San Juan to Fajardo

Ponce

👉 Best Area For History Lovers | ✨ Best Ponce Hotels: Hilton Ponce Golf and Casino Resort • Aloft Ponce • Boutique Hotel Bélgica

Ponce, located on the south coast facing the Caribbean Sea, is a great place to stay in Puerto Rico for people looking for a similar place to Old San Juan. Ponce has multiple buildings and landmarks with a rich history dating back to the Spanish colonial era that will transport every visitor to the island’s past lifestyle.

Pros of Staying in Ponce:

  • Lots of restaurants
  • Central location to visit cities in the south
  • Many interesting things to do in Ponce for history lovers

Cons of Staying in Ponce:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Food can be pricey

📚 Ponce Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for History Lovers
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsHilton Ponce Golf and Casino Resort • Aloft Ponce • Boutique Hotel Bélgica
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Ponce
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – El Rastro ($$$), Vistas Restaurant ($$), Campioni Pizza, Birra & Tapas ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Asturias Lounge Bar, Birriola
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Parque de Bombas, Museo de Arte de Ponce

Isabela

Montones Beach in Isabela

👉 Best Area For Experiencing Local Culture | ✨ Best Isabela Hotels: Parador Villas del Mar Hau • Royal Isabela • Villa Montaña Beach Resort

If you want to stay in a city that’s tourist-friendly but not touristy enough to ruin the local culture experience, then head over to Isabela. Isabela is a coastal city with a prime location between the north and northwest attractions.

Besides the beautiful Jobos Beach, Isabela is home to the Guajataca Forest, Cueva de las Golondrinas, Montones Beach, and some of the best restaurants to eat seafood in Puerto Rico. Isabela is close to other nearby Puerto Rican cities like Camuy, Aguadilla and Arecibo.

If staying here, be sure to bookmark my guide to the best things to do in Isabela.

Pros of Staying in Isabela:

  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Prime location 
  • Great beaches

Cons of Staying in Isabela:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Beaches can be dangerous

📚 Isabela Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Experiencing Local Culture
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsParador Villas del Mar Hau • Royal Isabela • Villa Montaña Beach Resort
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Isabela
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Jobos Mojito Beach Bar & Restaurant ($$), Sonido del Mar ($$$), Uma’s ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Kai Beach  Ola Lola’s Tiki Bar
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Playa Jobos, Bosque Guajataca

Cabo Rojo

👉 Best Area For Youngsters | ✨ Best Cabo Rojo Hotels: Combate Beach Resort • Douglas Highway Inn Hotel • BOHO Beach Club

Cabo Rojo is home to beautiful sunsets, paradisiacal beaches, and landmarks filled with natural beauty. Located in the west of Puerto Rico, Cabo Rojo is the ideal getaway for couples or backpackers traveling in groups who want to experience the culture and beauty of Puerto Rico. 

Cabo Rojo offers a few of the best landmarks in Puerto Rico, like Los Morrillos Lighthouse in Cabo Rojo’s National Wildlife Refuge, Boqueron Beach, the Pink Salt Likes, and Joyuda.

Pros of Staying in Cabo Rojo:

  • Access to some of the top beaches of Puerto Rico
  • Lots of free things to do in Cabo Rojo
  • Budget-friendly

Cons of Staying in Cabo Rojo:

  • Far from the metro area
  • Gets crowded

📚 Cabo Rojo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Youngsters
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsCombate Beach Resort • Douglas Highway Inn Hotel • BOHO Beach Club
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Cabo Rojo
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Boho Kitchen ($$), El Bohio ($$), Downtown Boqueron ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Buena Vibra, Los Presidentes
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Pink Salt Lakes, Playuela

Rincón

👉 Best Area For Surfers and Beach Bummers | ✨ Best Rincon Hotels: Villa Cofresi • Casa Verde Hotel • Rincon Beach Resort

Rincón is a beach town on the west coast that is home to the best beaches in Puerto Rico for surfers. It’s the ideal place to stay in Puerto Rico for people who want a vacation full of gorgeous beaches, surfing, and small-town peaceful vibes. It makes for an affordable base if you’re doing Puerto Rico as a budget traveler.

Rincon’s town center sports restaurants, souvenirs shops, bakeries, and art galleries, plus small colorful houses that make for a great photo background. Rincon is also the best town in Puerto Rico for whale watching during the winter and spring.

Read my full guide to where to stay in Rincon for more info.

Pros of Staying in Rincon:

  • Beaches for surfing
  • Experience local culture
  • Budget-friendly hotels
  • There are lots of fun things to do in Rincon

Cons of Staying in Rincon:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Hard to move around without a car

📚 Rincon Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Surfers and Beach Bummers
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsVilla Cofresi • Casa Verde Hotel • Rincon Beach Resort
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Rincon
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Rincon Smoke Shack ($$), The Beach House ($$), Red Flamboyan ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – The H. U.B., La Barca Snack Bar
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Domes Beach, Rincon Beach

Culebra Island

👉 Best Area for Relaxation | ✨ Best Culebra Hotels: Club Seabourne Hotel • Palmetto Guest House • El Navegante de Culebra

Culebra is one of the smaller islands that belong to Puerto Rico, and it’s the perfect destination to relax and disconnect from the daily rush. The island’s main attractions are its paradisiacal blue turquoise beaches like Flamenco Beach and Tamarindo Beach (bookmark my full article on the best beaches in Culebra).

Culebra Island is also one of the places in Puerto Rico where you can swim with sea turtles while scuba diving or find their nests on the sandy beach.

Pros of Staying in Culebra:

  • Uncrowded beaches
  • Relaxing getaway
  • Easy access to Culebrita and Vieques

Con of Staying in Culebra:

  • Difficult to get there
  • Mostly natural attractions

👉 Local Tip: While Flamenco is probably the most famous beach of Puerto Rico, the island sports many beautiful beaches with easier accessibility.

📚 Culebra Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Relaxation
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsClub Seabourne Hotel • Palmetto Guest House • El Navegante de Culebra
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Culebra
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Dinghy Dock American Restaurant ($$), Lechonera La Criolla ($$), Sunset Grill ($)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – La Lobina, Happy Landing
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Playa Tamarindo, Playa Flamenco

Vieques Island

👉 Best Area For Nature Lovers | ✨ Best Vieques Hotels: Bravo Beach Hotel • El Blok • Blue Horizon Boutique Resort

Nature-lovers should definitely include Vieques in their list of where to stay in Puerto Rico. Vieques island is a small island located to the east of Puerto Rico. You’ll find many fun things to do in Vieques. It’s an Eden where you can walk along with wild horses on a black sand beach or kayak in Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.

If you’re staying in Vieques, be sure to bookmark my full guide to where to stay in Vieques.

Pros of Staying in Vieques Island :

  • Close to Culebra
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Natural breathtaking landscapes

Cons of Staying in Vieques Island:

  • Need to exit the main island
  • Ferry gets canceled frequently

📚 Vieques Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nature Lovers
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsBravo Beach Hotel • El Blok • Blue Horizon Boutique Resort
  • 🏠 Apartments Browse Top Rentals in Vieques
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Biekes Bistro ($$), Coqui Fire Cafe ($$), El Resuelve de Carmen ($)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Saint Voodoo’s, El Sombrero Viejo
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Mosquito Bay, Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Tips for Staying in Puerto Rico

Choose the Right Location

To get the most out of your trip to Puerto Rico, you must choose where to stay according to your goal vacation. While Old San Juan is central (and the ideal base if you only have 3 days in Puerto Rico), it won’t fit every traveler’s taste.

Puerto Rico offers different accommodation options for surfers, history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and beach bummers so visitors can find the ideal place to stay.

Research Local Health Requirements

The COVID vaccine is no longer required to enter Puerto Rico, but as everyone is aware by now, the situation is constantly updating and evolving. US Citizens may have different travel guidelines than international visitors, so be sure to research the latest guidelines and rules before you travel.

Rent a Car

Old San Juan is a great city for walking on foot without the need to rent a car or take a taxi. But travelers who are thinking about visiting other parts of the island should rent a vehicle in Puerto Rico since public transportation is mostly limited to Puerto Rico’s metro area.

Be sure to read up on Puerto Rico’s driving rules, and use Discover Cars to find the best prices for car rentals.

Go Outside the Touristic Zone

While Old San Juan, Isla Verde, and Condado are great places to stay in Puerto Rico, they don’t do justice to Puerto Rico’s culture and beauty. Some of the island’s greatest destinations are in non-touristy municipalities like Utuado, Arecibo, Isabela, and Orocovis.

If you don’t dare to go on your own, hire a local guide that takes you to Puerto Rico’s best-hidden gems.

Travel Off-Season

Puerto Rico can be an expensive destination, especially during the high season. Visiting the island off-season can save you money on hotels, tours, rental cars, and even restaurants. Puerto Rico sports nice weather all year round and you can visit the beaches in other seasons besides summer.

FAQs About Staying in Puerto Rico

What is the best area of Puerto Rico to stay in?

The best areas to stay in Puerto Rico include Old San Juan for sightseeing, Rio Grande for adventure lovers, Rincon and Cabo Rojo to surf and find the best sunsets, Vieques to see the bioluminescent bay, and Culebra to relax on the beach.

Where should you not stay in Puerto Rico?

In Puerto Rico, visitors shouldn’t stay in any caserio or La Perla, as they aren’t areas for tourists. People who want to stay close to the beach or who don’t drive well on curvy roads shouldn’t stay in the central area of Puerto Rico.

What side of the Island is best in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico’s west coast is best for beach bummers, surfers, and nature lovers. Puerto Rico’s north coast is best for people who like the buzz of the metro area but also natural escapes. The east side is best to find luxurious hotels and clear beaches.

What is the most beautiful part of Puerto Rico?

The most beautiful parts of Puerto Rico include Old San Juan, Ponce, and Arecibo for history lovers. Cities like Manatí, Isabela, Aguadilla, Rincón, Cabo Rojo, Vieques, and Culebra sport the most beautiful natural landscapes and beaches.

Which is better, Condado or Isla Verde?

Isla Verde is better for visitors who want to stay close to the airport, but they still want to enjoy the beach and the local cuisine. Condado is better for people who want to stay away from the crowd of Isla  Verde, but still want to be close to the landmarks of Old San Juan and the beach. Condado is also a more family-friendly destination.

Is it better to stay in Old San Juan or Condado?

Old San Juan is a better location for visitors that want to be close to Puerto Rico’s top landmarks within walking distance. Condado is better for families that want to enjoy the beach,  but still want to be close enough to Old San Juan’s landmarks.

***

That’s the complete guide to the best neighborhoods and cities where to stay in Puerto Rico. I hope this helps you find the best place to stay for your Puerto Rico vacation. While you’re here, don’t miss my complete guide to the 49 best things to do in Puerto Rico.

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The 9 Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico (Local Recs)

ViaHero

Updated January 20, 2022

Wondering where to stay in Puerto Rico? According to island locals, these are 9 of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico. See what locals say about the charms of classic Old San Juan and the strikingly beautiful Vieques Island. 

For everything from safety tips to restaurant recommendations, work with a local to plan your trip. They’ll introduce you to a side of Puerto Rico that most tourists miss. Learn more.

(PS-Looking for specific accommodations? Check out our articles on Puerto Rico hostels and boutique hotels.)

«Linelly helped us beyond anything we could’ve planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local’s guidance.»

—Kate, Recent Traveler

Table Of Contents

  • Old San Juan
  • Rincon
  • Santurce
  • Vieques
  • Ponce
  • Culebra Island
  • Cabo Rojo
  • Isla Verde
  • Isabela

#1.

Old San Juan: Rich in color and history

Greater San Juan is beautiful, safe, vibrant, and in our opinion, one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico. The neighborhood of Old San Juan, on the northmost tip of the city, is full of history: ancient forts, monuments, museums, and colorful historic houses.

Take advantage of local advice. Locals tell us that Old San Juan can be «hit or miss» when it comes to restaurant options—lots of stuff in this area is geared at tourists. Still, they say it’s easy to find «diamonds in the rough.» One of our locals raved about Punto de Vista, where you can get great Puerto Rican food and enjoy a stellar sunset from the restaurant’s rooftop. 

Love travel? Love history? Check out Yesterday in Travel, a podcast sponsored by ViaHero. One recent episode covered the «Great Migration» of Puerto Ricans to NYC:

Be sure to follow Yesterday in Travel on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

#2. Rincon: A paradise for surfers and beach lovers

Just near the northwest tip of Puerto Rico lays Rincon, a top destination for surfers. The town’s two nicknames—Pueblo del Surfing (surfing town) and El Pueblo de los Bellos Atardeceres (the town of beautiful sunsets)—are only two of reasons why Rincon is an excellent (and beautiful) place to stay. 

Local Tip:

Fuel up at Rincon’s Sunday market before hitting the beach. Locals tell us you’ll find tons of great, locally sourced food here. 

What kind of traveler are you?

Let’s face it. People want different things when they travel. Rather than spending hours sifting through blogs and top 10 lists written by people who may have totally different interests than you, why not start by sharing a little about what’s important to you when exploring a new destination?

Select your travel preferences below and let a local take it from there. Your personalized guidebook to Puerto Rico is just a few clicks away.

#3. Santurce: San Juan’s hipster haven

The neighborhood of Santurce, just outside of Old San Juan, bursts with art and culture. Locals tell us that Santurce’s photo-worthy street murals and electric nightlife make it one of the coolest places to go in Puerto Rico—and Santurce easily one of the top options for places to stay. Once the sun goes down, night owls gather at La Placita de Santurce (the neighborhood’s public square) for cheap drinks, good music, and plenty of outdoor grooves. Locals recommend bringing cash! 

Local Tip:

If you’re looking for a more low-key nightlife experience in Santurce, get tips from locals.  One of our Puerto Rico trip planners recommends El Almacén, a La Placita speakeasy that posts their password on Instagram.

#4. Vieques: A beautiful island destination

A quick ferry ride from Puerto Rico is the exquisite island of Vieques. This is an awesome place to stay if you want to hang out with friendly wild horses, explore black-sand beaches, and enjoy all the benefits of island life—and, conveniently, Vieques has some great hostel options. (If you’re looking for something more luxurious, locals recommend Hix Island House, pictured above.) Locals recommend grabbing a meal in the foodie Esperanza neighborhood and definitely checking out the wonder of Bahia Bioluminiscente (Mosquito Bay) to see its famous blue bioluminescence. 

Local Tip:

Local advice is valuable when it comes to the ferry, which costs $2. Our trip planners tell us that the line to get on the ferry can take a while, although it’s a good way to access the island. You can also opt to take a plane—a quicker, but more expensive option.

#5. Ponce: Puerto Rico’s incredible «Jewel of the South»

Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-largest city, is packed with incredible things to do—which makes it a pretty stellar place to stay. Ponce offers amazing history (you’ll want to take a photo in front of the bright red Parque de Bombas, Ponce’s historic fire station) and fun activities like sipping pina coladas along La Guancha boardwalk. Less-visited than San Juan, it’s also a great place to stay if you want to avoid crowds. 

Work with a local to plan your trip.

See a side most people miss.

#6. Culebra Island: (Another) nearby island paradise

Speaking of great island destinations…if you’re looking for beachy things to do in Puerto Rico Culebra is a great place to stay. Just off the coast of Puerto Rico proper, Culebra is home to Playa Flamenco (Flamenco Beach), which is known for its warm turquoise waters and white sands. It’s a great place to go in Puerto Rico if you dream of sunning yourself near the ocean. 

Getting suggestions from locals is a great way to enjoy Culebra’s excellent, healthy options for meals. One of our trip planners recommends Vibra Verde, a locally-owned brunch spot that bakes their own bread! 

Local Tip:

You can believe those TripAdvisor Puerto Rico reviews—Playa Flamenco is gorgeous and classic. It would make Bachelor contestants envious.  

#7. Cabo Rojo: Serene nature and jaw-dropping hikes

If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, this remote southwest locale is a great place to stay for something different than San Juan. Home to some of Puerto Rico’s most scenic sights and best hikes, our Puerto Rico locals recommend exploring the wildlife refuge and Las Salinas (gorgeous pink salt flats). They tell us that the hike from Cabo Rojo’s iconic lighthouse to Punta Jaguey is especially lovely. Basically, if you love being outdoors then Cabo Rojo is a good place to stay! 

#8. Isla Verde: Luxurious resorts and stunning seasides

No trip to Puerto Rico is complete without a visit to San Juan’s beautiful beach-and-resort area: Isla Verde. Technically in the neighboring town of Carolina, Isla Verde is just a short ride from the airport. Its coastline is home to three of the beaches in Puerto Rico that we adore (and come highly recommended by locals): Condado Beach, Balneario de Carolina, and Isla Verde Beach.  

Local Tip:

It’s easy to visit Old San Juan from Isla Verde. Locals recommend waving down the A5 bus (they say you have to wave, or it may not stop). Bring exact change—a ride costs between $.50 and $.75. 

#9. Isabela: Where the locals love to vacation

Isabela, in the northwest part of Puerto Rico, is famous for its wealth of natural beauty. Underground rivers, mangrove forests, mountains, lakes, and wildflowers pack this town—which is a traditional vacation spot for Puerto Rican locals.

Benefit from local knowledge in this locally-beloved town, where our locals recommend ordering a classic Puerto Rican dish at Restaurant El Platanal—the mofongo gets rave reviews. 

Still have questions about travel to Puerto Rico?

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Country of wet sun / Travel.Ru / Countries and regions

The Caribbean region is a rapidly developing center of the global tourism industry. Every year, millions of travelers flock to these fertile lands. As a rule, such routes include acquaintance with Puerto Rico.

History

The island, discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, during his second trip to the New World, has been inhabited by Indians since ancient times. In the 15th century it was captured by the conquistadors, who destroyed most of the indigenous population. From the 16th century, slaves from Africa began to be brought here, who today, together with the descendants of the Spanish colonists who mixed with the Carib Indians, make up the main population of the country. In the revolutionary XIX century, Puerto Ricans begin the struggle for national independence. As a result of the Spanish American War 1898 years the island came under the control of the United States.

Since 1952, Puerto Rico has had the status of a «state freely affiliated with the United States» with the rights of self-government. The supreme legislative power belongs to the US Congress. Executive power is exercised by the governor, elected by the population: for four years. :

Capital

Today the metropolitan area has 1.5 million inhabitants. In 1508, the Spaniards founded the settlement of Caparra on the territory of present-day San Juan, which in 1521 was moved to a new place and called it Puerto Rico — «a rich port.» Over time, this name passed to the whole island, and the former — in an abbreviated form — to the city.

The Americans have made Puerto Rico a kind of «hub» of communication with other Caribbean destinations, as well as a link between North and South America.

Tourist routes

The Tourist Taxi program launched in Puerto Rico divided the capital into seven zones. Among them, the old San Juan is a protected part of the city with a 500-year history (it is under UN protection). Here you can see colonial architecture, exotic for Europeans, museums, galleries, cathedrals and ancient forts, which offer a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean.

The old town is a low white house with openwork lattice balconies and narrow streets paved with blue cobblestone, which was brought by the Spaniards and was originally used as ship ballast, familiar to southern countries.

Castle Felipe del Morro (1533-1783) — an outstanding monument of fortress architecture in Latin America. Its six-level defensive structure has reliably protected the townspeople for centuries.

Even the most sophisticated tourist will involuntarily slow down in front of the magnificent Cathedral of St. John (1540). One cannot ignore the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico — La Fortaleza mansion. Built in 1540, it is the oldest active building in Central and North America.

The landmark of Puerto Rico is the local Capitol. It houses the offices of senators and members of the House of Representatives. Here, under a special glass cap, you can see the original Puerto Rican Constitution of 1952, which secures the country’s accession to the United States. Not far from the Capitol is the national theater Tapia (1832). Today in Tapia you can listen to opera and jazz, watch ballet and drama performances.

Massive walls separate old San Juan from the modern part of the city, the construction of which was completed in 1641. (Two parallel walls were built of stone blocks held together with lime mortar, and the gap between them was filled with sand to protect against enemies as best as possible.)

Festivals

Puerto Ricans are a calm and hospitable people. They are very musical and, as a result, dance wonderfully, easily performing the most difficult Latin American dances, which include elements of Indian, African and Spanish folklore. Therefore, it is not surprising that almost all year round different cities and towns of the country are literally flooded with festivals. They are dedicated to the beginning and end of the coffee harvest, the festival of flowers and harvest… Some fiestas last up to ten days, attracting numerous guests. Every year in May — June, San Juan hosts the famous Heineken Jazz Feist, which is considered the «number one» event in the Caribbean and gathers the most famous jazzmen. At this time, the city «walks» in full! It should be noted that Puerto Rico is quite safe, and therefore you can safely visit entertainment establishments and fearlessly roam the streets at any time of the day.

Nature

The virgin nature of this fabulous island makes the most irresistible impression on a person. According to statistics, 70% of tourists come to Puerto Rico to get in touch with the pristine beauty of the surrounding world. Puerto Rico is a blessed land. Here you can bask in the sun all year round (in winter the average temperature is 22.7 C, in summer — 29.4 C). In addition, a breeze constantly blows — a healing sea wind. The peak of the rainy season falls on August. This time is short, but violent tropical downpours, which are replaced, in the figurative expression of the locals, by the «wet sun».0003

Numerous beaches attract those who crave warmth and fun. The most popular beach in San Juan is Isla Verde, where luxury hotels are located. With its white sand and picturesque coconut trees, it is ideal for beach festivals and sporting events.

Not far from the capital is one of the best holiday destinations in the Caribbean — LiquLLo Beach, pleasing the modern man with crystal clear blue water and bright blue sky. The beach has a special path for the disabled, which allows you to easily enter the water and easily get out of it with the help of equipment and qualified personnel. Fans of beach volleyball, surfing, jet skiing and other outdoor activities will love Ocean Park.

To the west of San Juan is the city of Arecibo (founded in 1556), in the vicinity of which the Rio Camuy Cave Park is located on an area of ​​300 acres. The caves were formed by the Kamuy River over a million years ago and are considered one of the most significant underwater systems. The central gallery-cave has a length of 120 m and a height of more than 20 m. It resembles a Gothic cathedral in shape, as evidenced by its name — the Cathedral Cave. You can get acquainted with this miracle of nature during a two-hour excursion. The park has picnic areas. In addition, tourists have a unique opportunity to look through the world’s largest location telescope, the size of which is equal to 13 football fields.

Puerto Rico is the blue dream of scuba divers. There is no better place to dive in the Caribbean. Visibility under water — 30 m (temperature does not fall below +25 C). The volcanic origin of the island, untouched reefs, mysterious caves, the vibrant world of underwater flora and fauna make every dive unforgettable, and the diver — a real explorer of the realm of Neptune.

Conquerors of the sea and ocean depths are offered various types of dives (including night dives), which, as a rule, are accompanied by experienced instructors. For scuba diving, the coast of Puerto Rico’s south coast is preferable, where the continental shelf forms a picturesque underwater wall, around which marine life boils. It is recognized by experts — along with a similar wall in the Cayman Islands — as the center of world diving. At the service of fans of deep-sea diving is one of the most modern in the world and unparalleled in Latin America pressure chamber, where you can undergo rehabilitation after such dizzying adventures.

Shopping

Puerto Rico is a great place to shop because, unlike the US, there is no sales tax on the island (except for jewelry). It is better to arrange a «hunt for things» in the business district of San Juan Hato Ray, where the most solid shopping center in the Caribbean, Plaza Las Americas, is located. There are 190 shops and boutiques of world famous brands here. Prices for goods are in most cases lower than in Europe and the USA. By the way, according to the American Tourism Industry Association, nine out of ten foreigners consider shopping to be the undoubted advantage of Puerto Rican tours.

We advise you to buy souvenirs and handicrafts in the shops and galleries of the Old Town (you can bargain there). Among the souvenirs, the most interesting are grotesque masks made of coconut and wooden, elegantly painted figurines of a religious nature — «santo». The island is also famous for its beautiful hammocks, macrame and ceramics.

Gastronomy

Many people associate Puerto Rico with rum, and this is easily explained, because rum is not only the national drink of Puerto Ricans, but also the main export product (approximately 83% of rum sold in the US is brought from here). BacarcH, Don 0 and Bamlito rums are ubiquitous and are especially good for making cocktails. Rum on the island is drunk everywhere, always and in any form.

Puerto Rico is often referred to as the gastronomic capital of the Caribbean. Spanish, African and Indian culinary traditions could not but affect the style and technology of cooking local dishes. surprising even worldly gourmets with an incredible amount of seafood. For a close acquaintance with this original cuisine, we recommend visiting restaurants that are members of the Mesones Gastronomicos program. Here you will be offered dishes prepared exclusively according to the recipes of Puerto Rican cuisine … They say that they are incomparable.

Anatoly Kovalev

01.01.2001

Source: Inflight review

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6 Puerto Rico Retirement & Leisure Cities

Puerto Rico is located in the heart of the Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and about 1,000 miles from Miami, Florida. Puerto Rico, as a territory of the United States, is a convenient and very attractive retirement destination for many Americans on the continent. While the island offers a unique culture and tropical climate unmatched on the mainland, it also feels right at home for most American visitors. Traveling between the mainland and Puerto Rico is no different than traveling between any two US states, as no passports or immigration papers are required. While Puerto Rico operates within its own legal system, the island is governed by the US Constitution and most federal laws, just like any other US state.

If you’re looking for a place to retire from the tropics without the hassle and expense that comes with emigrating to a foreign country, then Puerto Rico is well worth a look. While it’s important to visit Puerto Rico to judge yourself, several cities stand out as top retirement destinations.

1. San Juan

Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, is the island’s largest city, with 400,000 inhabitants as of the most recent 2011 census. It is located on the northeast coast of the island. While big-city life in San Juan isn’t for everyone, it should appeal to retirees looking for easy access to entertainment, great nightlife, great restaurants, shopping, and everything else the vibrant city has to offer. Although some areas of the city are less safe than others, there are plenty of good lodging options in downtown San Juan and outlying areas.

2. Rincón

Rincón, on the west coast of Puerto Rico, is well known as the island’s surfing destination. However, you don’t need to surf to enjoy the laid-back beach town vibe and tasteful beachfront houses by the shore. The city has excellent restaurants and other amenities designed to cater to the regular flow of tourists looking for the perfect wave.

3. Humacao

Humacao, on the east coast of Puerto Rico, is home to Palmas del Mar, the largest luxury resort on the island. Although villas in the resort are available for purchase, there are many other housing options in the larger Humacao area. The Palmas del Mar features two world-class golf courses, 20 tennis courts, a spa, marina, equestrian centre, casino and a wide range of restaurants.

4. Cayey

The Cayey sits in the mountains of central Puerto Rico at nearly 1,500 feet, making it a great choice for retirees looking for cool mountain air.

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