Perfect Beaches

If you’ve come to laze on the beach, there’s only one decision to make: where to spread your towel.

Balneario Escambrón Nice sand, good snorkeling and a nearby fort make this San Juan's most evocative beach.

Playa Flamenco Often shortlisted among the world’s best beaches, this pristine strip on Culebra is largely undeveloped.

Playa Santa This southwest-coast cove stands in the shadow of a majestic 19th-century lighthouse and is perfect for swimming.

Playa Survival A solitary sea-bashed swathe of sand around Isabela devoid of any tourist manicuring.

Playa Caracas Just one of the amazing buffet of beaches on the south coast of Vieques.

Live Music

Catching live music is a surprisingly difficult task in Puerto Rico, where many of the clubs prefer raging reggaetón to live salsa. There are some options, though.

Nuyorican Café The best place for live music; the musicians carry the torch of Puerto Rican’s musical legacy.

Carli's Café Fine Bistro & Piano For resonant live jazz in an atmospheric art deco setting, this San Juan spot cannot be beaten.

El Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A Ferré Sparkling venue in San Juan where you can hear bombastic international acts, or the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra.

Museo de la Música Puertorriqueña With hands-on displays of instruments and occasional live performances, this museum in Ponce looks into Puerto Rico’s groove history.

Romantic Escapes

With swaying palms, brilliant red sunsets and highland forest hideaways, Puerto Rico suffers no lack of romance.

Casa Flamboyant A sophisticated, adult-only retreat in El Yunque with its own private selection of trails for guest use.

Horned Dorset Primavera For very special occasions, this secluded west-coast boutique resort is as romantic as they get.

Mary Lee’s by the Sea These exceedingly fashionable independently owned cliffside apartments are made for couples who want no interruptions.

Blue Horizon Boutique Resort On a quiet beach in Vieques, the bungalows here make for a delightful escape.

Hacienda Pomarrosa Near remote Reserva Forestal Toro Negro, this tucked-away coffee hacienda has three secluded casitas at which you can stay.

Colonial Architecture

The grand edifices of Puerto Rico’s past are strewn around the island and are still singing hymns of bygone colonial dignity.

Old San Juan This historic port town has a wealth of lovingly restored buildings.

Plaza Las Delicias Ponce’s historical core surrounds this grand public plaza, which boasts the magnificent Fuente de los Leones.

San Germán One of the oldest established cities, where beautifully restored historic homes stand beside the crumbling remains of the neglected ones.

Palacete Los Moreau Isabela offers visitors a break from its beach scene with this graceful former coffee hacienda with landscaped grounds.

Wildlife-Watching

Under sea and overhead, Puerto Rico’s colorful wildlife is ever present.

El Yunque This rainforest is crawling with lizards and exotic birds; look for the exceptionally rare Puerto Rican parrot.

Bosque Estatal de Guánica This amazingly arid patch of dry forest is teeming with birds that nest in the cacti and scrub-covered hills.

Isla Mona The so-called Galápagos of the Caribbean; snorkel clear waters with colorful fish and sharks, and hike past giant iguanas..

Bahía de Jobos Kayakers and hikers navigate the elaborate mangrove channels and coves to spot pelicans, herons and manatee here.

Bosque Estatal de Guajataca Keep your eyes in the canopy of this karst-country forest and you might spot the rare Puerto Rican boa.

Diving & Snorkeling

Due to big swells on the north coast, most of the best diving and snorkeling lies away from San Juan.

La Parguera Just offshore here is ‘The Wall,’ which drops to over 1500ft and offers the chance to see rare black coral.

Fajardo Enormous coral heads and a great assortment of reef fish make this a great destination in the east.

Playa Humacao Excellent for advanced divers, this region has caves and jagged walls, and a mile-long reef frequented by dolphins.

Culebra & Vieques These two islands have charter trips to tiny, off-lying cays and snorkeling beaches within walking distance of each other.

Isla Desecheo This island hosts great dives when the sea is calm, with reliable visibility over 100ft.

Pirates & History

Puerto Rico’s strategic importance in the Atlantic channel made it a strong destination for the peg-leg and plundering set.

Faro y Parque Histórico de Arecibo Kids go crazy for the pirate-themed rides at Aguadilla’s family-oriented amusement park.

El Morro This fortress defended the gold of the Spanish crown from one group of pirates after the next; scanning the horizon for ships from its ramparts still captures the imagination.

Cabo Rojo Birthplace of Puerto Rico’s most famous pirate, this remote corner of the island has diverse terrain for hiking and hunting for treasure.

Isla Mona The wildness of the beaches and coves here can easily have you believing you've stumbled into a scene from Treasure Island.

Unique Cuisine

The dining is mighty fine across Puerto Rico, but there are a few one-of-a-kind eating experiences.

Mayagüez This often overlooked west coast city is the home of the island-wide delicacy brazo gitano.

Guavate Chow down at one of Guavate's legendary lechoneras (roadside pork roast stands) alongside exuberant weekending Puerto Ricans.

Vieques Guzzle back a glass of bilí, a unique drink made with the island's queñapa fruit – and of course liberal amounts of rum.

Arecibo Honor a time-tested classic: empanadas de ceti, fish empanadas made with the tiny, tasty ceti fish.

Jayuya Coffee haciendas in Puerto Rico produce cracking coffee and Jayuya sits amidst a hotbed of pretty plantations.

Hiking

Don’t expect much by way of well-marked trails, but Puerto Rico’s hikes offer excellent DIY adventures.

El Yunque Short, easy hikes through this soaking rainforest should top every outdoors agenda, whilst more arduous traipses await for the intrepid.

Bosque Estatal de Guánica With amazing views and a bizarre landscape of cacti and scrub, the blazing hot hikes here are among Puerto Rico's weirdest.

Refugio Nacional Cabo Rojo Eerie salt flats, remote headlands, beautiful beaches and an absence of cars make for wanders where nature still rules.

Bosque Estatal de Guajataca Navigate deep limestone sinkholes, karst-country terrain and sudden cliffs in this untouched state forest.

Reserva Forestal Toro Negro The island's highest peak, Cerro la Punta, plus a network of virtually untrammeled forest trails.

Doing Nothing But Relaxing

Puerto Ricans love it and you will too: unadulterated, shameless relaxation – and why not, when it's so abundantly available?

Baños de Coamo Puerto Rico's historic spa destination has thermal baths conducive to a good long soak.

Isabela Offers the longest, loneliest stretches of beach, fanning off from Playa Jobos all the wondrous way along to Playa Survival.

Culebra Without big resorts and chain stores, Culebra compels you to chill on its much-lauded sandy coastline.

Luquillo The best real city-to-surf escape, where San Juan folks rush to at weekends for silver sands and plush spa sessions.

Pre-Colombian Culture

Much of Puerto Rico's pre-colonial past is no longer in evidence, but these noteworthy exceptions are mesmerizing detours.

Cueva del Indio A curious cave near Arecibo with early Taíno inscriptions on the walls.

Museo de las Américas An evocative journey through time showing the influences on the development of Puerto Rico from Taíno to Spanish.

Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes Extensive ruins near Ponce bring indigenous Puerto Rico to life.

Parque Ceremonial Indígena Caguana A small but poignant site preserving Taíno ball courts, evidence of the game of batey which held huge cultural significance.

Interesting Art

Puerto Rico boasts brilliant museum spaces dedicated to showing the island's propensity for highlighting plights, fights and fortunes in captivating art.

Santurce San Juan's new hub of counter-culture shot to hipster prominence mainly thanks to its riveting street art murals.

Museo de Arte de Ponce For a small city, Ponce's art scene packs a punch, and it's here that you'll find the finest collection of art in all the Caribbean.

Caguas The biggest town in the Central Mountains has become an artistic powerhouse, particularly well known for its exquisite retablos (three-dimensional miniature scenes).

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico A truly bombastic collection of art from the mid-20th century onwards at this San Juan museum.

Rincón Art Walk Every Thursday night, artisans from across the west gather in Rincón's plaza to exhibit.

Adventure Sports

Swooping forests and dramatic canyons with dangling wires enabling you to zipline over the lot: welcome to Puerto Rico's particular brand of adventure.

Kalichi Adventures Vertiginous leaps of waterfalls, rappelling and tough jungle hikes in El Yunque.

Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park The main allure is the planet's longest zipline, but the mountain-biking circuit is phenomenal too.

Cañon de San Cristóbal The place to try canyoning and climbing in the Central Mountains.

Tanamá River Adventures River tubing, kayaking and other blood-quickening escapades in the karst country south of Arecibo.