Discover the Most Beautiful Places in Puerto Rico

What to do in Puerto Rico

Visiting this amazing place in the Caribbean and wondering where the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico are? Discover the most stunning beaches and a rich culture in this list of our favorites.

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Puerto Rico several times and have fallen in love with these islands. We’ve loved exploring it a little bit more each time we visit. The natural and cultural beauty of the islands draws us back in each time we come.

The archipelago of Puerto Rico, consisting of 143 islands, cays, and islets is one ot the most beautiful areas we’ve visited in our travels. It offers not only beautiful beaches, a lush tropical rain forest, and great snorkeling, but it also offers a beautiful cultural heritage with a complicated history. You can learn more about the incredible things to do in Puerto Rico, but I wanted to also share with you what I think are the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico.

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1. El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque National Rainforest is one of the most beautiful places on the island and the only tropical rainforest in the United States! This lush tropical rainforest offers an opportunity to see diverse plant and animal species and also to participate some pretty awesome adventure sports!

You can hike to La Mina Falls, a beautiful waterfall where you can cool off in its refreshing pools. El Yunque’s tallest peak, El Yunque Peak, will reward you with panoramic views of the forest and the ocean.

Nature enthusiasts can explore various ecosystems within the El Yunque National Forest, from dwarf forests to cloud forests, showcasing a wide range of unique flora and fauna. El Yunque is home to exotic plant species like the Puerto Rican parrot and Coquí tree frog. You can even take a guided walk with a naturalist to learn all about the rainforest that is teeming with life.

If you want something a little more fast-paced, zip-lining through the canopy offers an exhilarating perspective of the forest and is so much fun. I took my 10-year-old ziplining and he loved it. We used this company for ziplining in El Yunque National Forest.

To delve into the forest’s history and learn more about its ecological significance, you can explore the El Portal Rainforest Center. Here, interactive exhibits and educational programs will teach you about the forest’s conservation efforts and cultural heritage.

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2. Playa Flamenco on Culebra Island

Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island in Puerto Rico is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico and has some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll see. This hidden gem in the Caribbean offers a nice escape from the busier main island of Puerto Rico. Playa Flamenco has been rated one of the best beaches in the world according to TripAdvisor.

The main attraction at Flamenco Beach is its mesmerizing stretch of sand that seems to go on forever and is one of the prettiest places in Puerto Rico. The water is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, or riding the gentle waves.

One of the unique features of Flamenco Beach is the old military tanks scattered along the shoreline, remnants of the island’s military history. These tanks now serve as quirky photo opportunities, adding a touch of character to this gorgeous beach.

Playa Flamenco has some incredible snorkeling, especially on calmer days. We saw tons of fish, including a huge fish that I couldn’t identify and a spotted snake eel, which terrified me in the moment, but was so neat to see.

There are stalls outside of the entrance to the beach where you can buy food, popsicles, rent chairs and umbrellas or snorkel gear. The sand is really nice and soft, but beware, we did get bitten by sand fleas while there! They seemed to be near the tanks. We moved back toward the entrance and didn’t see or feel any there. So I recommend checking the sand for a few minutes before you set up camp.

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You can do Culebra Island as a day trip or you can spend the night and explore more of the island. There are several amazing beaches explore, so the more time you have, the better. We flew to Culebra from San Juan and stayed for 2 nights, but you can also take a ferry. You can read more about what to do on Culebra Island here.

3. Culebritas Island

If you’re wondering where to go in Puerto Rico for a private island experience, definitely consider Culebritas. This tiny island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Puerto Rico. It has incredible beaches and was one of my favorite Puerto Rico destinations that we visited.

We took a private boat to the tiny island of Culebritas where we saw sea turtles, a sting ray, and about a thousand hermit crabs. This uninhabited small island is surrounded by stunning coral reefs and has some great hikes. You can hike up to an old lighthouse (Faro de Culebritas) or hike from Playa Tortuga, where we docked, to the other side of the island for some amazing snorkeling! There are also natural tidepools on the island. It’s perfect for nature lovers and snorkelers.

Keep in mind, if you’re visiting Culebritas, there are no facilities! So be prepared to bring your own food and water if you’re planning to stay all day. Our boat brought us chairs and umbrellas and we got sandwiches to go from a shop by the ferry called Tortuga Cafe.

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4. Mosquito Bay on Vieques

Looking to explore one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world? Mosquito Bay, located on the island of Vieques, is renowned as one of the most bioluminescent bays in the world and is one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico to see bioluminescence. This natural wonder, also known as Bio Bay, is an amazing phenomenon where the waters come alive with a mesmerizing glow created by microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates.

You can visit Mosquito Bay to see the bioluminescence, but you’ll have to stay the night in Vieques. It’s a great spot to see this since not many people stay on Vieques. If you decide to stay and see is, you can book this Bio Bay boat tour to take you to the best spots or you can try and see it from the shore. It’s considered the brightest bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico.

5. Sun Bay Beach on Vieques

Possibly the most beautiful place in Puerto Rico, Sun Bay is the dreamiest beach! We took a day trip to the beautiful Caribbean island of Vieques and I was blown away by several of the beaches there, but my absolute favorite was Sun Bay. If you’re looking for a long white sand beach to walk along with gentle waves to play in, this is it.

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Another thing I loved about Sun Bay was the wild horses meandering along the shoreline. Our guide told us that these horses aren’t technically wild, but belong to the islanders. They will cut their manes or tails to make them identifiable. You can learn more about what to do on Vieques island here.

6. Esperanza on Vieques Island

Esperanza is a cute little town on the southern shore of the island of Vieques. Another shout out to this island for having not only beautiful beaches but also beautiful towns. The views from here are incredible and there are some great restaurants. Since the island is so small and doesn’t get too many tourists, the restaurants here take turns opening. We ate at Duffy’s which was the only open restaurant that day and it was delicious!

You can see the two islands behind me in this photo.

You can walk along the boardwalk in Esperanza and see two little islands, Cayo Real and Cayo de Tierra. During low tide you can walk across to Cayo de Tierra, and if you’re feeling ambitious you can kayak to Cayo Real.

7. Laguna Grande

Laguna Grande, also known as the Bio Bay, is one of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, located in the town of Fajardo. This natural wonder is famous for its stunning bioluminescent phenomenon, where the waters glow intensely when disturbed by microorganisms called dinoflagellates.

Part of the beauty of Laguna Grande is that you get to kayak through an amazing stream of mangroves at sunset or in the dark. It’s really a magical experience where you’ll also see and hear click beetles, one of the most bioluminescent animals in the world. Once you kayak through the mangroves (which feels like a scene straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean) the stream will open up to the bioluminescent bay where you can see the glowing organisms.

This Puerto Rico nature reserve is highly protected. Laguna Grande isn’t somewhere that you can travel to on your own. The tours and access are regulated, so you’ll need to book a kayak tour ahead of time.

8. Luquillo Beach

When you visit Puerto Rico, make time to relax on the beach. Known as one of the best vacation spots in Puerto Rico, Luquillo Beach is a great little beach town located on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico and is a stunning tropical paradise known as the “Sun Capital” of the island. Luquillo Beach offers a combination of natural beauty with palm trees, soft sand, and a range of amenities that make it a beloved destination for beach lovers.

The beach stretches for over a mile, providing lots of space to relax, play, and soak up the sun. Next to the beach, you’ll find kiosks that offer a variety of food and drinks, ranging from local delicacies like alcapurrias and pinchos to refreshing coconut water. These kiosks are a great place to find authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and experience the vibrant local culture. Luquillo beach is a great place for families.

Here are some more great family beaches in Puerto Rico.

You can see Luquillo as a day trip from Old San Juan, but I recommend splitting your time in Puerto Rico between the East and West coast of the island.

9. Old San Juan

Visiting Puerto Rico wouldn’t be possible without exploring one of its oldest cities and its largest city. It’s one of the best places in Puerto Rico to experience the culture of the islands.

One of the most vibrant parts of the island, Old San Juan offers some great shopping, cultural activities, historic value, and amazing local cuisine. The whole city is a UNESCO world heritage site. This is the best place to visit in Puerto Rico if you love history.

During the Spanish Colonial era, San Juan was the main city and defense position for the island. The district is home to beautifully preserved 16th and 17th-century Spanish colonial architecture, with their characteristic balconies, wrought-iron adornments, and vibrant facades.

Years ago, there was a push to tear down old buildings in Old San Juan and rebuild. Luckily, there was a movement to save the old city and revitalize it instead. You can still see work being done on many houses around the city.

To make the town more vibrant, it was decided that each house would be painted from a selection of tropical colors. To this day, if you want to paint your house in Old San Juan, you must go to the government office and select from a specific color pallet. There are also no repeating colors on any given street. It’s truly a town of rainbows and so lovely to explore.

You’ll also notice the blue cobblestones in the streets. A note about the cobblestones- If you see blue stones, those were made by the English in the 1800s and the blue hugh is from the iron that was mixed with the stones.. The City of San Juan has been slowly replacing damaged cobbles, but there has been a recent push to preserve some of these stones.

In Old San Juan you’ll also be able to visit beautiful Puerto Rico tourist attractions like Castillo San Felipe del Morro, commonly referred to as “El Morro.” This important military fortress is a huge area that represents Puerto Rico’s colonial heritage. The views from El Morro are beautiful and it’s one of the best places to watch the sun set in Puerto Rico.

Fort San Cristóbal is another, smaller, fortification that you can visit in Old San Juan that is also lovely, but not as vast as El Morro.

Puerto Ricans love their nightlife, and the bars in Old San Juan are plentiful and seemingly always busy! So if you love to bar hop, this is the place to go.

If you’re planning on doing a photo shoot in Puerto Rico, San Juan, with its colorful backdrop of rainbow buildings, is a great place to do it. We loved our photographer Karlotta!

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10. Luxurious Resorts in Puerto Rico

Along with beautiful places in Puerto Rico, there are also some beautiful and luxurious resorts in Puerto Rico that are worth checking out. Here are some of our favorites:

Obviously, I didn’t hit every beautiful place in Puerto Rico in this article. I definitely need to make another trip back and explore more of Puerto Rico’s west coast and the southern shore. When I do, I’ll expand on my list, but this list is a great start if you’re visiting Puerto Rico for the first time.

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