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We love creating guides with the goal of making people happy during their vacations. One of the most important decisions when planning a great vacation in Puerto Rico is choosing the right destination before selecting the hotel.
Puerto Rico has a place for you from a vibrant city by the sea to luxurious exclusive places, ecotourism vacation spots to cool laid-back towns for beach hopping.
Sit back, relax, and allow us to introduce you to the top 15 places to go in Puerto Rico, the very best vacation spots around the island. This guide is packed with all the information you need to decide and plan a great vacation; it includes highlights of each place with top attractions, getting around facts, pros and cons of each place, and top-rated accommodations for every budget.
Integrity of our guide
We are travelers just like you, and we understand the value of a hard-earned and needed vacation. Unlike other guides you’ll find online, this guide is not driven by hotel sales or sponsorships. We take pride in writing honest, unbiased guides, based on real experiences. We do not accept payments for reviews or coverage of a destination, service, or hotel. We pay for our food, tours, and hotel stays – keeping us objective and without obligation to write a favorable review for a service given or a specific place. We travel around the island extensively. We take our own photos with the exception of hotels and to protect the privacy of travelers in the places we visit. Our work is fueled by our desire to share Puerto Rico and help travelers plan a vacation filled with extraordinary experiences.
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Best Tourist Destinations & Vacation Spots on this Guide…
San Juan is the most popular tourist destination in Puerto Rico offering visitors impressive landmarks and attractive beaches. Getting around is easy, you can walk to many places, ride a bike or hop on a taxi. Within the capital city, there are four tourist districts each with its own vibe and unique reasons to stay, we encourage you to read below so you can pick the best place to satisfy your travel preferences. We have included top-rated places to stay listed by the tourist districts in San Juan.
+ Highlights of San Juan , Puerto Rico
- Things to do in San Juan: San Juan offers historic UNESCO sites, beaches, museums, scenic promenades, vibrant nightlife, snorkeling, scuba diving, various watersports, some of the best restaurants on the island, and much more. Top attractions are: San Juan National Historic Site, Escambron Beach, Old San Juan Historic District
- Pros of staying in San Juan: The Luis Muñoz Marin (SJU) airport is located just 15 minutes from San Juan. There are plenty of attractions, activities, and beaches to explore for a few days, some of the major attractions in Puerto Rico are 45 minutes away.
- Cons of staying in San Juan: Dining is pricier in the city when compared to other beach towns. Beaches have more crowds in comparison to others around the island but are still nice and relaxed with plenty of room on the sand to call your own. The water has more waves since San Juan is on the Atlantic Ocean side. For calm water and safe swimming head to Escambron, Playita del Condado, Pinegrove Beach in Isla Verde, and La Posita in the nearby town of Loiza.
- Getting Around: No car is needed, you can get around walking, by renting a bike or taking a taxi. Most tour operators depart from San Juan or offer pick-up at hotel areas.
Old San Juan Tourist District is the cultural hub of Puerto Rico and the most visited place on the island by travelers. We recommend you spend at least two days exploring the most impressive landmarks and walking around the colorful streets with shops, and great dining experiences.
Getting Around: Old San Juan can be explored by foot and there are plenty of taxis to take you to nearby beaches such as Escambron where you can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive.
Accommodations are a unique experience since historical buildings have been turned into charming and elegant small inns and hotels. See top rated accommodations below.
Top Rated Hotels in Old Juan, Puerto Rico
Top Tours in Old San Juan
The Condado Tourist District is the second most popular tourist district in San Juan. Right in Condado you can enjoy the beaches of Condado Beach, La Playita del Condado, and the famous Laguna del Condado (Condado Lagoon) where you can enjoy a number of activities on its calm waters.
Getting Around: Ashford Drive is the main street where most hotels, restaurants, and shops are located, from there you can walk or take a bike ride across the Dos Hermanos Bridge to Escambron Beach and a little farther to Old San Juan.
Accommodations: Condado is home to some of the most popular and luxurious beachfront and waterfront resorts in San Juan. For travelers wishing to spend less on hotels, there are various family-friendly hotels within walking distance of the beach. See the top-rated hotels in Condado below.
Top Rated Hotels in Condado - San Juan, PR
The Convention Center Tourist District
The Convention Center Tourist District was born in 2005 with the opening of the Puerto Rico Convention Center, the premier place for meetings and conventions on the island. The Convention Center District is within walking distance of Condado and a 10-minute drive from Old San Juan. The location is perfect for cruisers who need accommodations near the cruise terminals. In August 2021, Distrito T-Mobile was the new addition to the district offering one-of-a-kind entertainment, a state-of-the-art movie theatre, many dining options, and an urban park featuring a zip line.
Getting Around: You can walk to Playita del Condado, La Laguna del Condado, and Escambron Beach. Old San Juan is a short 10-minute taxi ride away.
Accommodations: In the Convention Center District you can choose four hotels, the Sheraton features a fantastic pool with sweeping views of the city, Hyatt House & Hyatt Place offer a kid-friendly pool and spacious suites, and ALOFT San Juan is the newest addition with a contemporary design.
Top Rated Hotels at Convention District - San Juan, PR
Rio Grande is among the best places to stay in Puerto Rico, where you relax, rejuvenate, and play among some of the best beachfront, golf, and family-friendly resorts on the island. Rio Grande is located on the east coast of Puerto Rico, 30 minutes from the San Juan Airport, home to El Yunque National Rainforest, and near Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay. See below for highlights of Rio Grande and top-rated resorts and hotels.
+ Highlights of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Rio Grande: El Yunque National Rainforest. Best places to visit nearby are Icacos Cay, the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo, San Juan National Historic Site, Old San Juan, Escambron Beach, Las Cabezas de San Juan.
- Pros of staying in Rio Grande: The Luis Muñoz Marin (SJU) airport is just 30 minutes from Rio Grande. Great hotel options.
- Cons of staying in Rio Grande: We can’t think of any.
- Getting Around: There are many tours offering pick-up/drop-off services. Rent a car for a few days to explore the east coast of the island.
Top Rated Resorts & Hotels in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Top Rated Tours in Rio Grande
Isla Verde is a popular tourist district in the municipality of Carolina, home to the main international airport of Puerto Rico commonly known as San Juan Airport. Isla Verde is an exciting city beach destination, often placed on top travel lists. The main attraction is the beaches, commonly known as Isla Verde Beach, which are actually three separate beaches each with its own vibe where. You can swim, learn to surf, and enjoy a variety of watersports. If you enjoy casinos, dancing, and a lively restaurant/bar scene, you’ll be happy staying in Isla Verde.
Accommodations: Along Avenida Isla Verde, you can choose from a few beachfront resorts, family-friendly hotels, and boutique small inns. Within walking distance, you can visit casinos, elegant lounges, and nightclubs where you’ll get a chance to practice your salsa moves. See top-rated hotels and resorts below.
+ Highlights of Isla Verde - Carolina, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Isla Verde: The colorful historic district of Old San Juan is a quick 15-minute taxi ride, with more nearby beaches to explore, El Yunque is 30 minutes away.
- Pros of staying in Isla Verde: Proximity to the airport, many choices of hotels and beachfront resorts for every budget, and many dining choices within walking distance of beaches and hotels.
- Cons of staying in San Juan: Dining is pricier in the city when compared to other beach towns. Beaches have more crowds in comparison to others around the island but are still nice and relaxed with plenty of room on the sand to call your own. The water has more waves since San Juan is on the Atlantic Ocean side. For calm water and safe for swimming head. to Escambron, Playita del Condado, Pinegrove Beach, and La Posita in the nearby town of Loiza.
- Getting Around: While in Isla Verde, you can walk to the beach, restaurants, and casinos from popular hotels. You can take a bike ride to the neighboring city of San Juan, however, we recommend you take a taxi or rent a car. If renting a car, be mindful of parking fees in the city, it may be worth it to take a taxi depending on your budget. You can book tours to main attractions which usually offer transportation to and from hotel areas.
Top Rated Hotels in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico
Travelers seeking a tropical escape, with the ultimate luxury and privacy, ought to consider the town of Dorado, situated along the northern coast of Puerto Rico about 40 minutes from the capital city of San Juan. Dorado is well known for Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, one of the top three best resorts in Puerto Rico, offering numerous world-class golf courses, spas, and luxurious accommodations. Dorado has always been recognized as one of the best-preserved and clean towns in Puerto Rico. We encourage visitors to head into town for an afternoon walk to visit the historic plaza (square), and small museums.
+ Highlights of Dorado, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Dorado: Please visit the charming plaza (square) of Dorado, the last remaining plaza with the traditional Spanish design, you may also visit the small but interesting museums within walking distance of the plaza. Old San Juan is just a 20-minute drive from Dorado with a number of historic sites, shops, and great restaurants. You can book tours that offer pick-up service to visit El Yunque, the bioluminescent bay, and caves in the karst region are among the top attractions nearby. The best beaches nearby are Balneario El Escambron in San Juan and there are a number of great beaches to explore along the north coast.
- Pros of staying in Dorado: The Luis Muñoz Marin (SJU) airport is 30-45 minutes from the resort area in Dorado. Nice charming town to explore.
- Cons of staying in Dorado: You’ll need a car rental to explore more beaches and attractions around the island, however, there are plenty of tours that provide transportation to and from major attractions.
- Getting Around: You’ll need a car rental for a few days if you wish to explore interesting places around Puerto Rico at your own pace. You may wish to book a tour that handles all the logistics.
Top Rated Resorts in Dorado, Puerto Rico
It may come as a surprise that we list Manati as a place to stay, but we are including it because we’ve heard of many visitors asking for recommendations on where to stay in order to enjoy the Mar Chiquita and the beaches of the north. Manati is not touristy, if you are the type of traveler that basically needs a clean comfortable hotel, you’re renting a car in order to explore the island, Manati is a great choice in the north. The town is on the central north side with three beautiful beaches, and a good starting point to explore more of the north. Be sure not to miss the amazing caves of Puerto Rico along the north and central karst region. You can dine at local restaurants, and bakeries and there are plenty of American chain restaurants you will recognize.
+ Highlights of Manati, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Manati: Mar Chiquita Beach, Playa Cueva Las Golondrinas, Playa Las Mujeres,
- Pros of staying in Manati: Central location on the north coast of the island offers travelers easier access to many beaches and attractions. Hyatt Place offers more affordable rates in comparison to the city.
- Cons of staying in Manati: Besides the beaches in Manati, there is not much to do, but with a car rental you’ll have endless sights to see and explore.
- Getting Around Manati: You’ll need a car rental to get around, taxis can get quite expensive and they’re not suitable for stays in Manati.
Top Rated Hotels in Manati, Puerto Rico
Top Rated Places to Stay in Ponce, Puerto Rico
The west coast is the best for beach lovers and visitors wishing to experience an authentic and laid-back island atmosphere yet tourist-friendly. You’ll have a long list of beautiful beaches and interesting attractions in the west region from fun surfing beaches to calm water beach coves, and offshore keys, elegant lighthouses, historical landmarks, forests to explore, the pretty in pink salt flats, waterfalls and so much more. The towns of the west are charming, colorful, with lively squares, and very friendly. If you’re not visiting Old San Juan, be sure to visit the historic district of San German with elegant European architecture, museums, and historical landmarks. The west coast offers one elegant golf resort in Isabela (northwest), one nice intimate beachfront hotel in Guanica, and many small inns, and vacation rentals to choose from.
Following are the best vacation destinations and top-rated hotels on the west coast of Puerto Rico.
Rincon, Puerto Rico
The beloved Rincon is among the most popular surfing destinations in the Caribbean. Rincon is super laid back and one of the most tourist-friendly towns on the island. If you love sunsets, Rincon is a wonderful choice. The surfing season is during the winter months, but surfers come here all year round. During the summer, the beaches are nice and quiet and the water is calmer allowing beachgoers to snorkel and scuba dive.
Nightlife is casual and lively and food prices are less when compared to the cities, this is a great place to mingle with locals and is also very family-friendly. A great number of visitors to Rincon, continue to visit year after year. For the past decade, Rincon is one of the most sought-after locations to buy a second home.
+ Highlights of Rincon, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Rincon: Surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, watching the sunset.
- Pros of staying in Rincon: Near Aguadilla Airport, the center town of Rincon is lively with shops, and cafes and the square has cultural events on Sundays. Most employees at local restaurants are bilingual.
- Cons of staying in Rincon: Beaches are not the best for swimming, but there are a few with calmer waters, especially during the summer months. You can drive north to Crash Boat Beach, the beaches of Isabela, and south to the beaches of Cabo Rojo.
- Getting Around Rincon: A car is necessary to get around Rincon and nearby towns.
Top Rated Accommodations in Rincon
We cover Isabela in detail in our travel guide, because we simply love it. The coastline has a dramatic landscape, offering tranquil scenic beaches and fun ones too. The food scene is lively by Jobos Beach. There’s also a forest to take peaceful hikes leading to a cave. Isabela’s location is great, near the Aguadilla airport, with easy access to the northwest and the top caves in the north region of Puerto Rico.
+ Highlights of Isabela, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Isabela: The beaches of Isabela, golfing, surfing, scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking.
- Pros of staying in Isabela: Just 10 minutes from the Aguadilla Airport. Uncrowded beaches, traditional food at non-touristy prices, budget-friendly vacation rentals.
- Cons of staying in Isabela: Traffic can be heavy on the main road during work traffic.
- Getting Around: A rental car is essential to get around and enjoy what Isabela and the west coast of Puerto Rico offer.
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Cabo Rojo, ask any local and they’ll tell you how much this town is loved. Local’s favorite summer beaches are in this very special town located on the southwest tip of the island. If you love hiking, star gazing, taking nature walks, and long for uncrowded beaches without the touristy feel, consider staying in Cabo Rojo. Bring your camera, in Cabo Rojo you’ll find the most breathtaking views in all of Puerto Rico, the most visited lighthouse and the famous Salinas often called “pink beach” by travelers. The location and easy access to Rt. 2 makes Cabo Rojo a great home base to visit the bioluminescent bay of La Parguera, and a lot of interesting places in the southwest region.
Small Inns, and budget-friendly vacation rentals welcome locals from around the island and travelers. In Cabo Rojo, you’ll find the only glamping accommodations, located in a great spot for star gazing.
+ Highlights of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
- Things to do & Places to Visit in Cabo Rojo: Los Morrillos Lighthouse, La Playuela Beach, Balneario de Boqueron (Boqueron Beach), Buye Beach. A scenic drive through the country road leads to Lajas bioluminescent bay, the historic district of San German, Guanica, and just 15 minutes away, the city of Mayaguez.
- Pros of staying in Cabo Rojo: Tranquil, uncrowded beaches. Budget-friendly accommodations, and many restaurants and various bakeries at lower prices than touristy places.
- Cons of staying in Cabo Rojo: Not a touristy place, but that’s one of the reasons travelers love Cabo Rojo. If you’re into big breakfasts, there aren’t many local restaurants that serve it, however, there are all types of American fast food chains with breakfast. We recommend you get an egg, ham, and cheese sandwich at a local bakery made with fresh bread, delicious and for less than a fast food chain.
- Getting Around the Cabo Rojo: You’ll need a car rental to get around.
Top Rated Accommodations in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Top Rated Hotels in Isabela, Puerto Rico
The city of Mayaguez is considered the capital of the west coast. If you’re looking for a central place to stay, Mayaguez offers various hotels and small inns near many restaurants and shops. The historic district boasts one of the most active and elegant squares in Puerto Rico with cultural events throughout the year. If you’re visiting Puerto Rico during Christmas, you don’t want to miss visiting Mayaguez for the most impressive lights, decorations, and festivities on the island. There are many restaurants in town, and one of the best bakeries in Puerto Rico for daily treats, fresh bread, and great sandwiches. A short drive from the center of town you can enjoy the beaches and attractions of Rincon, Cabo Rojo, Gozalandia waterfalls, and historical landmarks of San German a short drive away. Don’t miss the bioluminescent bay in Lajas, about a 45-minute drive from Mayaguez.
+ Highlights of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Mayaguez: Plaza de Colon – the historic town square, Tropical Agricultural Research Center.
- Pros of staying in Mayaguez: Central location to explore nearby towns of Cabo Rojo and Rincon, Lajas, and San German.
- Cons of staying in Mayaguez: Heavy traffic during commute time adding 15 -20 minutes in traffic.
- Getting Around Mayaguez: You will need a car rental to get around. The use of taxis will get expensive and not feasible for an enjoyable stay.
Top Rated Hotels in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Guanica, Puerto Rico
Guanica is one of the best hiking destinations in Puerto Rico as well as Cabo Rojo. There is one hotel in Guanica, very much loved by locals and international travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path feel, privacy, and quiet. There are a handful of quiet beaches in Guanica to explore and the amazing mangrove key of Gilligan’s Island. Explore the Guanica State Forest, a United Nations Biosphere Reserve where can be numerous hiking trails to explore. The neighboring town of Lajas offers the bioluminescent bay, many restaurants, and more offshore keys. There’s much more to see on the west coast and the city of Ponce, which is a 40-minute drive. Search for hotel deals in Guanica, Puerto Rico.
+ Highlights of Guanica, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Guanica: Bosque Estatal de Guánica (Guanica State Forest), the beaches of Guanica, and Gilligan’s Island. Some of the best scuba diving sites. Much more to do in nearby towns of the west coast.
- Pros of staying in Guanica: Quiet and uncrowded beaches, tranquil hiking paths, very little rain.
- Cons of staying in Guanica: For those seeking fine dining, Copamarina is the best choice. You’ll have to drive to Mayaguez, Lajas or Cabo Rojo for more dining choices. There are American chain fast-food restaurants in town.
- Getting Around: A car rental is necessary.
Top Rated Places to Stay in Guanica, Puerto Rico
La Parguera – Lajas, Puerto Rico
La Parguera is a quaint fishing village in the town of Lajas on the southwest coast of the island. There are no beaches in Lajas, however, the beauty of the offshore keys of Caracoles and Mata La Gata, certainly make up for it. After sunset, the village comes to life with a variety of restaurants serving traditional Puerto Rican food and fresh seafood at local prices. When the skies go dark you can take a tour of the bioluminescent bay, the only one in Puerto Rico where you can swim, an experience you won’t forget. Just about every weekend there’s live music at the square of the village where you can dance and mingle with locals.
You can stay at small inns and vacation rentals, they’re simple but offer what you need and you can spend more vacation dollars exploring the island.
+ Highlights of La Parguera - Lajas, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in La Parguera: The bioluminescent bays, the offshore keys of Mata La Gata, and Caracoles. La Pared, is a superb scuba diving site.
- Pros of staying in La Parguera: Budget-friendly small inns.
- Cons of staying in La Parguera: Keep in mind that Lajas is not touristy at all, it caters to the simplicity and festive environment of island life that locals love. From Lajas, you can drive around the west coast and Ponce. You can get to San Juan in two hours.
- Getting Around Lajas: A car rental is necessary to get around.
Top Rated Small Inns in Lajas & Nearby
Just a short flight or ferry ride from Ceiba, you can enjoy the sleepy islands of Culebra and Vieques. These islands are truly a beach lover’s haven, most of the coastline is undeveloped and landscaped as nature intended. Besides the beaches, there’s not much to do and that’s how most visitors like it. The beaches of Vieques and Culebra are the best for snorkeling every month of the year.
Culebra boasts Flamenco Beach, consistently named of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Vieques boast Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.
Please be advised: If you have a medical condition that may require medical assistance while on vacation, be advised that there is no good medical care on the islands of Vieques and Culebra, that’s the sad truth that residents face every day. Most emergencies and surgeries will require an air taxi to the main island of Puerto Rico.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
By now you’ve probably heard about Vieques, constantly included in the “best island destinations in the Caribbean”, home to the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Beach lovers can beach hop all week long exploring quiet picture-perfect coves with excellent snorkeling spots right off the beach.
There are no resorts on the island, but Vieques boasts some of the best small inns and most stunning vacation rentals in Puerto Rico. See top-rated accommodations below.
+ Highlights of Vieques, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Vieques: Bioluminescent Bay, Beaches, beaches and really amazing beaches !
- Pros of staying in Vieques: Tranquil coastline to explore without crowds.
- Cons of staying in Vieques: As previously mentioned in this guide… If you have a medical condition that may require medical assistance while on vacation, be advised that there is no good medical care on the island, most emergencies and surgeries will require an air taxi to the main island of Puerto Rico.
- Getting Around: A jeep rental is recommended to explore the best beaches in Vieques which are on the south side of the island.
Top Rated Places to Stay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
Culebra, Puerto Rico
You may not have heard of Culebra, but most likely you’ve heard the name Flamenco, one of the most gorgeous beaches on the planet. Snorkeling in Culebra is excellent with colorful healthy coral reefs, there are various hiking trails and secluded offshore islands for an even more natural Caribbean experience. You can stay at small inns, guest houses, villas, and apartment rentals.
+ Highlights of Culebra, Puerto Rico
- Things to do in Culebra: Beaches, Snorkeling, El Polvorin Museum, and Culebrita Island.
- Pros of staying in Culebra: Idyllic beaches without crowds, great snorkeling.
- Cons of staying in Culebra: It takes additional planning to get to Culebra, but those that have been there will tell you is well worth the effort. We recommend you fly if it is within your budget. If you have a health condition that could potentially require medical attention, we do not recommend you stay for long in Culebra since the medical and emergency care is poor.
- Getting Around: If you’re only staying for a few days, you can get around by renting a golf cart to visit the best beaches. If you’re staying for more than two days, we highly recommend you rent a jeep to explore the rest of the coastline with more rugged roads.
Top Rated Hotel in Culebra, Puerto Rico
Things to consider when planning a vacation to Puerto Rico
Best times to vacation in Puerto Rico
We recommend that you book your hotel of preference in advance, especially during the high season (see below). See our Best times to Visit Puerto Rico article for more detailed information.
- The high travel season is from mid-November through Easter holiday week in the main tourist destinations of San Juan, Isla Verde, Rio Grande, Dorado, and Rincon.
- The high travel season for the west coast is during the summer months since Puerto Rico residents head to the towns of Cabo Rojo, Lajas, Guanica, and Rincon to vacation.