Combining comforts of home and lots of all-ages outdoor adventures, Puerto Rico is an excellent destination for travelers with children. The options for family activities on the island are extensive and happen mostly outdoors. Snorkeling, cave exploring, rainforest adventures and just plain beach fun are some of the highlights.
Best Regions for Kids
Young travelers will be thrilled by San Juan’s vibrant culture, wide beaches and kid-friendly museums. San Juan’s historic sights have a lot of diversions for kids and the tunnels and turrets of El Morro and Fuerte San Cristóbal capture young imaginations with stories of pirates and seafaring adventure.
Snorkeling and swimming in the clear, calm waters is excellent for kids and the islands boast holiday home and apartment rentals, which can be an affordable option for families.
Rainforests and frogs, drippy palms and mountain lookouts – the easy hikes of El Yunque rainforest are thrilling. The bioluminescent waters of Fajardo are also magical.
The west coast has excellent surfing and boogie boarding, with waves big enough or small enough to match all abilities. And it's fun to get off the beaten path.
Families will have the most fun on Puerto Rico if they plunge into its beloved outdoor charms: playing on sandy beaches, swimming in warm water and exploring the island’s wildlife. However if it rains, many of the island’s museums have programs for kids and there’s a small kids’ museum in San Juan.
Families will also find a number of more adventurous activities in parts of the island further afield, though the winding hairpin turns of the central mountains are not recommended. Following the coast, there’s lots to keep a family busy: you can ride a horse along the beach in Isabela, explore the mysterious subterranean caves at the Río Camuy or hit the pirate-themed historical amusement park in Faro y Parque Histórico de Arecibo.
- Condado San Juan's most famous beach is also a family winner. Beautiful sand, gentle surf and lots of nearby places for treats.
- Isla Verde San Juan's other main beach can be a little quieter than Condado, which makes for more sandcastle-building solitude.
- Sun Bay The original public beach on Vieques has the facilities some of the wilder beaches around the island lack: changing rooms, bathrooms and picnic benches.
- Playa Flamenco Culebra's famous beach is also famously fun for families. The gentle surf offers a relaxing frolic, while there are many vendors selling beach toys, snacks and other treats.
- Playa Luquillo Visiting families can join scores of local families at this beach popular with young and old. There's plenty of shade and the famous stalls sell every treat imaginable.
- Playa Jobos Watch surfers offshore beyond the reef, while enjoying protected waters close to shore. There are some good cafes for lunch.
- Playa Shacks Older kids will enjoy the underwater caves here for snorkeling at this somewhat secluded beach.
The best hikes for the whole family are in the rainforest of El Yunque. Unlike virtually every other forest on the island, these trails are well marked, easy to follow and easy enough for shorter legs. A favorite is the popular Big Tree Trail, which ends at a waterfall where kids who are brave enough can take an icy dip. The rainforest also has informative ranger-led walks.
Remember that the trails in El Yunque can get pretty crowded after 11am, so it’s good to start early. Also, it’s essential to bring water on your hike, as there are no facilities on the trails. The Las Cabezas de San Juan nature reserve is another great natural area for families, with minitours through a diverse coastal environment, a tram and lots of skeletons of marine animals.
Mind-blowing Sights for Children
Bioluminescent Bays Near Fajardo in the east and on Vieques, the waters glow on dark nights, which produces many a delighted shriek as you float along by kayak or small electric boat.
Observatorio de Arecibo This mountain-top radio telescope is like a giant ear listening to the heavens.
Marine life in Culebra Coral, tropical fish and clear waters make for excellent snorkeling and the island is fun and relaxed.
Rainforest flora in El Yunque The soggy trails of North America’s only rainforest, El Yunque, lead past fascinating flora and fauna, often with fun information posted en route.
Although fast-food chains and strip malls can be a bit off-putting for more adventuresome adults, the familiar sights make Puerto Rico more comfortable for kids. That said, there are several things parents can do to ensure a delightful visit.
- Call ahead Puerto Rican attractions can be notoriously unpredictable with their hours of operation – particularly in state-operated parks – so confirm opening hours before you go.
- Know your accommodations Look carefully at your hotel options to see what offerings they have for kids. Even though many of the hotels have swimming pools, some are tiny and not kid-friendly; others splash out with mini water parks. Check if resorts have evening programs designed to occupy younger travelers, which can give parents time for a moonlit stroll down the beach. Many major resorts offer 'kids clubs' during the day with myriad activities.
- Consider an apartment Holiday rental apartments are common and often quite affordable. Besides a lot more space than a hotel room, they offer cooking facilities for the vagaries of young appetites. Many have pools and are close to a beach.
- Find a sitter Getting someone to mind the kids is not always easy. Resorts and large hotels usually have agencies they recommend; elsewhere, finding a sitter you trust can be haphazard.
Puerto Rico for Kids
Puerto Rico is a safe and fun destination for kids, with perhaps the best services for families in the Caribbean. Facilities are comfortable and you’ll receive fewer icy stares from curmudgeonly yachters than you might do elsewhere. Families will find it easy to fill their agendas.