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Top Things to Do in Puerto Rico & Why a Tour Guide is Essential

Colorful cityscapes of the old town of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, and for good reason. The island is home to many attractions, like El Yunque tropical rainforest and the capital city, San Juan. There are opportunities for both adventure and relaxation: visitors can indulge in local cuisine, scenic beaches, and embark on boat or kayak tours along Puerto Rico’s tropical coastline.

For those unfamiliar with the Caribbean island, it might seem overwhelming to plan your vacation entirely alone. Booking a tour with a reputable guide can help maximize your experience of Puerto Rico and aid in structuring your stay. Whether you want an active walking tour of Puerto Rico’s historical neighborhoods or a relaxing boat ride through protected waters and views of uninhabited islands, a tour guide provides valuable information to accompany any activity you choose. You might miss the opportunity to see the bioluminescent bay in La Parguera or skip past the best local street food in Old San Juan. With everything already planned for you, your only responsibility is to sit back and enjoy.

Here is a list of the top things to do and/or in Puerto Rico in 2024:

Puerto Rico’s Natural World

1. El Yunque National Rainforest

With beautiful trails throughout the forest and home to much of Puerto Rico’s distinctive wildlife, El Yunque National Rainforest is a must-go. A guide will help visitors navigate the hiking paths and aid in spotting unique biodiversity.

2. Bioluminescent Bays

Puerto Rico’s surrounding waters are full of bioluminescent plants, made most visible at night. In a kayak or boat tour, visitors will learn about the natural phenomenon and will be taken to the best areas for viewing such an unusual and beautiful event, which takes place frequently in Laguna Grande in Fajardo, Mosquito Bay in Vieques, and La Parguera bay.

San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Capital City

1. Old San Juan

San Juan is home to historic neighborhoods like Old San Juan, a good shopping and eating district surrounded by colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Some historic sites to see in this area include El Morro, an old military fort used in both World Wars and is now a museum; San Cristóbal, the largest fortress ever built in the Americas; and La Fortaleza, the home of the governor of Puerto Rico and one of the oldest buildings still in use by the government in the world. There are walking tours of Old San Juan available for visitors to gain a better understanding of the city’s history, as well as to make sure no one gets lost.

2. Condado and Isla Verde

These are both scenic beaches with opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing on the shore in the tropical Puerto Rican weather. Isla Verde boasts luxury resorts and casinos, while Condado in Santurce is known for its ocean-front restaurants and boutiques. With a tour guide for snorkeling on these beaches, visitors will become familiar with more of Puerto Rico’s vast diversity of marine life.

Cultural and Historical Insights

1. Ponce, the Pearl of the South

Ponce is an excursion in Puerto Rico for those interested in historical sites: Ponce is the origin of the Ponce Creole architectural style. The city is largely preserved and features excellent cuisine and opportunities for adventure in a historic setting surrounded by similarly beautiful coastlines. The Firehouse Museum, Ponce Cathedral, and Plaza Las Delicias are just a few examples of necessary activities to do once you visit. To explore a city entirely unguided can be overwhelming: with an educated and local tour guide, you’ll be sure to see much of Ponce you wouldn’t have otherwise and hear a local’s perspective of their own city.

2. Coffee Plantations in the Central Mountains

Visitors can head to local coffee plantations or haciendas, to taste Puerto Rico’s famous coffee and to experience a slow lifestyle in the mountains. Guided tours of plantations feature tastings, beautiful scenery, and learning how the coffee is made in Puerto Rico from plant to coffee cup.

Adventure and Off-the-Beaten-Path Experiences

1. Zip-lining and Hiking in Toro Verde

If you’re looking for more of an adventurous activity, then zip-lining and rope courses offered in Toro Verde Adventure Park is an excellent choice. With safety ensured by course instructors and guides, visitors will experience a thrilling ride through Puerto Rico’s tropical forests at high speeds and high altitudes. Hiking through Toro Verde is another great way to witness the natural wonders Puerto Rico has to offer.

2. Culebra and Flamenco Beach

Both of these beaches are great snorkeling spots and are accessible to all ages.
Puerto Rico has so many options for a vacation of any kind: whatever it is you decide to do, you won’t forget the time spent in nature, in a historical city, or on a kayak riding through glowing bioluminescent water.