The east region of Puerto Rico offers extraordinary natural attractions both inland and on the turquoise-colored sea. The east coast topography is very diverse with a magical tropical rainforest, beach coves, dramatic cliffs, calm bays, mangrove forests, wetlands, offshore cays, and nature reserves. The east region houses the largest marina in the Caribbean, boat enthusiasts love this region for its nearby offshore islands and keys which are often featured in popular travel magazines and Hollywood movies.
On the east region, you can explore the tropical lush forest of El Yunque, the only rainforest under the United States flag, an awe-inspiring place that ought to be on every adventurer’s bucket list. Deep-sea fishing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking are popular activities in Porta Antillas, great tour operators and charters are available to give you unforgettable experiences. At night get ready to kayak over the magic of the bioluminescent bay at Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve.
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The east coast offers beaches for swimming, surfing, great snorkeling, and some very quiet and secluded for relaxation. The eastern coast is very diverse, the coastline comprises of scenic cliffs, calm bays, mangrove channels, coastal forests, wetlands, and nature reserves. Hop on the ferry and go for a fun day adventure or divide up your vacation to explore the offshore islands of Vieques and Culebra and get a glimpse of Puerto Rico the way it used to be 60 years ago with uncrowded virgin beaches where there are no traffic lights. Puerto Rico’s east coast has many offshore cays and tiny postcard islands featured on Hollywood scenes.
Top Attractions & Things to DoEast Coast Region of Puerto Rico
We’ll start with a very special place in Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Rainforest, one of the finalists of Seven World Wonders, the only rainforest under the USA flag. Hike through lush verdant hiking trails leading to romantic waterfalls and scenic overlooks. El Yunque is reason enough to visit Puerto Rico…to have an extraordinary experience where you’ll leave completely enamored with this island. Most tours will give you a tour that takes a few hours, to really experience it, you could easily spend days exploring the hiking trails with endless hidden natural treasures.
Top Rated Tours to El Yunque National Rainforest
Laguna Grande – One of Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays
This will be one of the most memorable and magical experiences. Puerto Rico was blessed with the most bioluminescent bays in the world, Laguna Grande is one of the most accessible bays and undeniably one of the top attractions in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The best way to experience it is by kayak, if you’re not comfortable with kayaking, there are boat tours available leaving from Las Croabas in Fajardo.
Top Rated Bioluminescent Bay Tours
Go Scuba Diving / Take Lessons
The east coast of Puerto Rico is surrounded by offshore keys, protected nature reserves inviting scuba divers to explore their walls and coral reefs gardens underneath. The best scuba diving sites are on the offshore islands of Vieques, Culebra, and just off Fajardo the Reserva Natural Arrecifes de la Cordillera (Cordillera Nature Reserve), a group of small islands, keys and cays, Cayo Diablo and Palomino are popular stops. If you always wanted to learn how to scuba dive, there are a few tours perfect for beginners that offer lessons (see below).
Top Rated Scuba Diving on the East Coast of Puerto Rico
Icacos Cay – Fajardo, Puerto Rico
One of the treasures of the east coast is La Cordillera Nature Reserve, a group of islands, islets, and cays that capture tropical dreams. You may have seen the dreamy white-sand cay of Palominito island on Pirates of the Caribbean. If you love snorkeling, you’ll feel as if you’re in a gigantic natural fish tank with an abundance of colorful tropical fish. There are various charters that will take you on a great adventure, the most popular tour/catamaran goes to Icacos Cay (Island). Many charters offer trips from San Juan, many include transportation to and from your hotel, just ask at the concierge desk. For visitors staying on the east coast, most charters leave from Fajardo, just a few minutes from popular resort communities.
Top Rated Tours to Cayo Icacos
Beautiful private island with white sand right across from Palominitos, where a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Palomino Island is a great day trip offered by smaller more private boat charters giving guests a more exclusive feel. Once in Palomino you can enjoy the island pleasures on the Caribbean sea by swimming on turquoise waters, and exploring the coral reefs underneath.
Top Rated Tours to Palomino Island
Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
Las Cabezas de San Juan is a wonderful place to observe a number of ecosystems. The nature reserve is comprised of 434 acres preserved by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico; it is made up of mangroves, the bioluminescent lagoon of Laguna Grande, the historic lighthouse Faro De Las Cabezas De San Juan, a dry forest, and Playa Lirios, a beautiful rocky beach lined by a reef. At the top of the lighthouse, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico. Reserve the thematic tour in advance by calling the Conservation Trust at 787-722-5834 / weekends 787-860-2560. A suggested itinerary is to tour the reserve in the afternoon, have dinner, and then head to a tour of Laguna Grande in the evening.
Balneario La Monserrate (Luquillo Beach)
Luquillo Beach formally named Balneario La Monserrate, is a gorgeous mile-long crescent bay in the municipality of Luquillo. Balneario Monserrate has been for years a rival to Balneario of Boqueron in Cabo Rojo. Luquillo beach is loved by families for its facilities but be prepared to face crowds in the summers, weekends, and holidays. Hundreds of palm trees and the mountains of El Yunque serves as a background. The beach is a crescent shape with calm waters perfect for swimming. This beach is managed and maintained by Parques Nacionales offering lifeguards, picnic tables and gazebos, restrooms, parking, and wheelchair access. Some of the best tours offer a combination of El Yunque National Rainforest all morning and to Luquillo Beach in the afternoon.
More Interesting Places to Visit & Things to Doon the East Coast Region of Puerto Rico
For those staying in the San Juan / Isla Verde tourist area, Las Positas aka La Posita Beach is one of the best beaches near the city for those wishing to have a more secluded beach experience, just minutes away. Also known as Playa Rocosa (rocky beach), for its natural rock wall running along the length of the beach creating a long wide natural pool. The waters are clear and shallow, perfect for swimming, and small children. We prefer to enjoy this beach on weekdays from September – mid-March when it’s practically empty. Las Positas gets pretty full during summer days, this beach is loved by locals with small children. Parking is free and convenient across the street. You can also get here by bike, and keep riding along the wood boardwalk along the coast, along the way. Be sure to stop at food kiosks for inexpensive traditional Puerto Rican food.
Top Rated Tours to Piñones, Loiza
Balneario Seven Seas – Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Seven Seas is the best and most popular swimming beach in Fajardo, but bring everything you will need, drinks, food, etc. Nearby there are kiosks along the road selling traditional Puerto Rican fritters where you can take a break to eat or take it with you to the beach. This beach is managed by the Parques Nacionales offering lifeguards, gazebos, camping, wheelchair access, and parking, however, management has been very poor and it is not in the best conditions, the beach however is beautiful and quiet during the week, weekends it gets busier with a local crowd.
Punta Tuna Beach, Maunabo
A dreamy place, one of the quietest beaches on the island. Punta Tuna is a great beach for long walks on holding hands with your loved one. Punta Tuna Beach is a protected nature reserve where you won’t see any buildings along the shore. You can feel the embrace of nature’s beauty as you walk along a lush line of tall palm trees and listen to the Caribbean Sea waves…
Towns to Visit in the East Region of Puerto Rico
Travel to East Coast Region of Puerto Rico
Flying Here – The best and most convenient option is flying to the San Juan Airport, offering the most daily flight and choice of airlines (about 45 minutes away).
Driving from San Juan – Driving to the east coast hotels and attractions is easy. There are major highways from San Juan to the east. Google Maps App on your phone has pretty good directions. During traffic, we suggest you give yourself at least 30 minutes extra to get to places.