Puerto Rico Things to do Guide  ⎮  Puerto Rico North Coast  – Best Things to Do & Places to Visit 

Puerto Rico Things to Do - North Coast

Top Rated Camuy River Cave Park from San Juan

Welcome to the vibrant and exciting north coast of Puerto Rico, a region that effortlessly combines rich cultural experiences, pristine beaches, UNESCO sites, adventure, and European elegance.  San Juan, with its captivating blend of history and modernity, serves as the gateway to a plethora of exciting activities and stunning natural wonders.

Highlights of the North Coast & San Juan Region

The North Coast of Puerto Rico has it all; whether you’re into beach hopping, cave exploration, river caving, snorkeling, tarpon fishing, off-road adventures, horseback riding, or ziplining, there’s something for everyone.

The top excursions and tours conveniently offer transportation from San Juan and Isla Verde, ensuring a seamless and stress-free region exploration.  The convenience of the north region doesn’t stop there; many excursions extend beyond the north region, allowing you to effortlessly visit other top attractions like El Yunque, Icacos, Flamenco Beach, and the Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Lagoon without the need for a car rental.

Content – Best Places to Visit & Things to Do

+ Please read these planning tips

We have divided Puerto Rico Travel Guide into regions to simplify your vacation planning.  Puerto Rico is like a rectangle, a perfect destination for exploration without traveling too far, so when you choose to stay in a region, you have easy access to many beaches, attractions, and activities.

  • Step 1:  Get to know each region – See the best beaches, top attractions and things to do.  After you choose which region you’d love to explore, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2:  Get acquainted with the best towns to stay within the region – Our quick guide gives you all the information neatly organized to help make your planning easier.  Guide includes need to know facts, travel information and getting around tips and hotel recommendations.  Check out guide to best towns to stay in the north coast.
  • Step 3:  Choose excursions you wish to do and book them ahead; the best tours may sell out, especially in the high season.  You can reserve and pay later and cancel up to 24 hours before the day of your tour.

Explore Old San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Walking Tour of Old San Juan Puerto Rico - Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan is the best place to start your vacation, the cultural epicenter of Puerto Rico, an open living museum that houses over 500 historic buildings.   As you walk around Old San Juan you can tour five-century-old castles, churches, relaxed squares, restored buildings turned into interesting shops, excellent restaurants, and casual cafes.  Old San Juan is constantly changing, offering something new and interesting to repeat visitors.  

Top Rated Old San Juan Tours

Recommended Places to Visit in Old San Juan

Visit The UNESCO Sites at San Juan National Historic Site

San Juan Puerto Rico

San Juan National Historic Site - Best Places to Visit in Puerto Rico

Take a walk back into history by visiting the magnificent fortifications of Castillo San Cristobal & Castillo San Felipe del Morro, build over five centuries ago to defend Puerto Rico’s beautiful city.  The history is intriguing and the entire family will be engaged as they walk through tunnels, barracks, dungeons, and more.  The views from the forts are breathtaking with the Atlantic Ocean, and San Juan Bay in the background.  These historic landmarks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a must-visit while in Puerto Rico. 

Which fort is best to visit?  If you had to choose one fort, we love Castillo San Felipe del Morro, it is smaller, but mightly, the views are fantastic and the green law is part of the experience.  If you or someone in your group has mobility concerns, Castillo San San Cristobal is easier to navigate with fewer steps.

Exploring The Forts:  You can explore on your own, and inquire about guided tours when purchasing entry tickets.  If you wish to have a tour of Old San Juan that includes a fort visit, this tour is making visitors happy with a great itinerary.

Go Snorkeling with Sea Turtles at Escambron Beach

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Swim with Sea Turtles - Best Things to Do on the Water - Puerto Rico

Being on a beach is a great experience, but putting your head down where noise is canceled and your senses are introduced to a new world where sea turtles gracefully glide in tempered waters… are among the experiences that make Caribbean life so enviable.  You may think that you have to go to a secluded, out-of-the-way beach in order to swim with sea turtles, but you’ll be happy to know that right in San Juan you can have this unforgettable experience. 

Balneario El Escambron in San Juan – Yes!  Right in the city you can swim with sea turtles.  The beach is located a short drive from Condado and Old San Juan.

Enjoy the Vibrant City Beach Life & Go Beach Hopping on the Dramatic Northern Coast

Puerto Rico North Coast

Puerto Rico Beaches - Best Beaches in the North Coast

The beaches on the north coast are quite unique, the landscape is very different than the Caribbean side of the island.  The north coast region of Puerto Rico faces the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.  The landscape is dramatic with cliffs along the coastline framing beach coves and creating natural wading pools protected from the strong Atlantic surf.  Many of the beaches along the north coast are popular for surfers during the winter months, but there are plenty of beaches with calmer water for swimming and snorkeling.    If you dream of relaxing on a quiet beach, getting lost in the beauty of waves crashing, and being lulled by their melody, you’ll have plenty of beaches to enjoy on the north coast.

Book at Tour to Casa Bacardi – The Largest Premium Rum Distillery in the World

Cataño, Puerto Rico

Casa Bacardi Distillery - Puerto Rico - Best Places to Visit

Casa Bacardi is the largest premium rum distillery in the world.  We recommend a Rum Tasting Tour, after the experience, you’ll be sipping on rum neat, some of Bacardi’s finest rums are too delicious to mix.  A general tour includes the history of Casa Bacardi, the distillery process, and a welcome cocktail.  Casa Bacardi also offers a fun Mixology Tour.  For something really special to take home, only at Casa Bacardi Gift Shop, you can purchase Bacardi Casa Special Reserve, which you’ll be personally pouring into a bottle straight from the barrel.

Top Rated Bacardi Distillery Tours

Experience the Vibrant Culture of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Cultural Experiences - Best Things to Do

While you’re visiting Old San Juan, the epicenter of culture, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the vibrant culture of Puerto Rico.  From learning to dance salsa and plena, attending fun events, visiting a distillery, and tasting the best cuisine, San Juan is a great starting point to immerse yourself in the culture that is often called the happiest in the world.  If you’re short of time, we highly recommend a guided tour with the perfect combination of sightseeing, food, and culture with a knowledgeable and friendly guide.  See food and cultural tours in San Juan

Top Rated Cultural Tours in San Juan

Marvel at the Spectacular Camuy River Cave Park / Parque Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy 

Camuy, Puerto Rico

Camuy River Cave Park - Top Places to Visit / Attractions in Puerto Rico

Camuy River Cave Park is the most impressive natural wonder in the northern region of Puerto Rico.  This cave is very family-friendly and does not require hiking.  It is one of the world’s largest cave networks.   Take a peak at what awaits at Camuy River Cave Park… we promise you it has a wow factor not possible to capture in photos.

Top Rated Tours to Camuy River Cave Park

Cueva del Indio & Seven Arches

Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Cueva del Indio - Arecibo, Puerto Rico - Best Places to Visit

Cueva del Indio & The Seven Arches is spectacular and so scenic it was one of the filming locations of Pirates of the Caribbean.  If you want a place with a wow factor, this is a natural wonder you don’t want to miss.  Cueva del Indio (Indian’s Cave) is a very important archeological treasure of historical value in Puerto Rico.  The cave contains a large number of petroglyphs drawn by Taino aboriginals that date back to the 1400s or earlier.  At this location you can take a walk on the cliffs to observe the breathtaking Seven Arches, seven beautifully arches crafted by wind and the sea.  This tour made it to the coveted list of Top Adventure Experiences in the World – 2021 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice.  Cueva del Indio was also a filming location of scenes of Perfect Getaway, Runner Runner, and Treasure Island.

Top Rated Tours to Cueva del Indio - Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Sail the Romantic & Historic Bahia de San Juan (San Juan Bay)

Old San Juan

Sunset Sailing at San Juan Bay - Best things to do in San Juan Puerto Rico

A romantic way of seeing Old San Juan is aboard a sailboat, especially during sunset.  As the sailboat turns around the San Juan Bay, you’ll get to see the most spectacular views of the walled city, and sights of the most impressive UNESCO landmarks that protected the city; La Fortaleza, and Castillo San Felipe del Morro.  Enjoy the experience with complimentary drinks.  The cruise is by East Island Excursions, one of the most reputable tour companies in Puerto Rico.

Top Rated San Juan Bay Sailing Charters

Family Fun at Hacienda Campo Rico – ATV, Ziplining & Horseback Riding

Carolina, Puerto Rico

Hacienda Campo Rico - Carolina, Puerto Rico - ATV, Ziplining, Horseback Riding Tours

Whether you’re celebrating your honeymoon, traveling with the whole family, or entertaining a group of business travelers, Hacienda Campo Rico is a great spot to visit offering fun ATV / Can-Am Off-Road Experiences, horseback riding in Paso Fino Horses and ziplining in a 2,300-acre Hacienda.  For those staying in the San Juan / Metro area, you won’t have to spend much traveling, Hacienda Campo Rico is a short drive from Isla Verde in the town of Carolina.

Top Rated Tours at Hacienda Campo Rico

Go Kayaking on the Manatee Estuary of Laguna del Condado

Go Kayaking at Manatee Estuary in San Juan - Puerto Rico Best Things to Do

The Condado Lagoon is one of the most beloved places for residents and visitors with scenic views of the city yet surrounded by mangroves.  Laguna del Condado is the best place in San Juan to kayak, ride a water bicycle or paddleboard (SUP) over clear water where one may encounter a friendly manatee swimming by.  LED Night kayaking is one of the most popular activities at Laguna del Condado, resembling the bioluminescent bay.

The lagoon has become a popular spot for romantic couples to surprise their loved ones with a floating picnic, you may be witness to engagement proposals while on a tour.  The water of the Condado Lagoon is calm, making it a safe activity for families.  If you don’t wish to be on the water, take a walk along the Condado Lagoon, with scenic walking and bicycle path.

Top Rated Tours at Laguna del Condado (Condado Lagoon)

Go on an Off-Road 0r Oceanside ATV Adventure in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico ATV / Off Road Tours / Excursions

There are many experiences we don’t want you to miss… and off-roading is one of them, is part of the island life.  Go on an off-road jeep adventure on dirt roads only locals know… leading to secluded beaches, scenic overlooks, and natural treasures on the mountainside.  If you don’t want to get away from the Puerto Rican coastline… just minutes from San Juan and Isla Verde, there are fun Can-Am Off-Road tours available to rugged beaches without crowds.  Hacienda Campo Rico, just 10 minutes from San Juan and Isla Verde, is a great place offering ATV / Can-Am off-road tours, horseback riding, and ziplining.

Top Rated Off-Road Experiences on the North Coast

Learn to Snorkel & Scuba Dive in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Scuba Diving Certifications /  Lessons

While in Puerto Rico, we courage you to be adventurous and take lessons to discover the joys of snorkeling and scuba diving, a skill you can take and continue to perfect on every Caribbean vacation.  One of the most rewarding pleasures of being on an island is having the opportunity to go snorkeling and scuba diving all year round in warm turquoise waters teeming with fish, and for the more adventurous going deep into breathtaking colorful diving sites.

If you’re staying in San Juan, you’ll be happy to know that one of the best beaches to learn snorkeling and scuba diving is right in the city, the amazing Escambron.  

Top Rated Scuba Diving Charters in San Juan

Eat Pork, Shop & Dance at Guavate – “The Pork Highway of Puerto Rico”

Eat Pork at Guavate - Puerto Rico Best Food Cultural Experiences

Top Rated Tour to Guavate from San Juan

Puerto Ricans love pork, it is served in just about every major festivity, especially Christmas.  Up in the cool breezy mountainside town of Cayey, you’ll find a spot called Guavate, a famous place for delicious pig roasts.  You’ll be driving past many restaurants competing for the title of best pork on the island.  The best time to go is on the weekends, where you’ll find a lively crowd, live music, and dancing in some establishments.  A good indicator of the best places to eat pork is the crowds.  You can get there by renting a car or booking a tour with a knowledgeable guide, tours include more interesting places in the itinerary.

+ Map - Guavate

Visit an Art Museum

Following are museums in the north region of Puerto Rico you may enjoy.

  • Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico – This museum is located in the capital city of San Juan, it is among the best art museums on the island.  The museum features permanent artwork from the 17th century to changing exhibits featuring today’s contemporary artists.   Walk through 24 galleries, a romantic elegant garden, and the kids can enjoy a craft area.
  • Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico – This museum of contemporary art is also located in San Juan.
  • Museo de Las Americas – San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Casa Blanca Museum –  Mansion built for the family Ponce de Leon. 

Watch the Sunset in Puerto Rico in Old San Juan

Puerto Rico Sunsets - Watch the Sunset in Puerto Rico

In San Juan, sunsets at San Juan Bay are mesmerizing as the sun sets behind Isla de Cabras and gives the city walls a golden glow.  The best spot to watch is from the grounds of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Paseo de La Princesa and then there’s the ultimate experience of sailing at sunset.

Top Attractions Currently Closed

Cueva Ventana (Window Cave) – Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Cueva Ventana - Best caves to visit in Puerto Rico

Temporarily Closed – Hike through the forest, explore caves, and caverns, and end the adventure at the breathtaking Cueva Ventana “Cave Window” with gorgeous views of the green valley.   You can drive on your own and purchase tickets or book a tour that will take care of all the details.

Arecibo Observatory – Arecibo, PR

Arecibo Observatory - Top Attractions in Puerto Rico

Arecibo Observatory was the largest radio telescope in the world until a few years ago when a bigger one was built in China.   Sadly, the telescope collapsed on December 1, 2022.  The telescope was nestled in the gorgeous karst region in the town of Arecibo, you’ll drive up high into the mountains until you get to one of the most important scientific structures in the world.  In March of this year 2022, the Arecibo Observatory re-opened its doors to those who wish to visit the Museum & Visitor Center.

Fun Fact: If you’re a James Bond fan, you’ll be thrilled, a scene was filmed here.  Another Hollywood hit also filmed a scene from the movie Contact, see the clips on the attractions page.

Popular Tours on the North Coast of Puerto Rico 

Puerto Rico Things to do Guide  ⎮  Puerto Rico North Coast  – Best Things to Do & Places to Visit