Each year, travellers are drawn to Puerto Rico for its glistening turquoise waters, pristine white-sand beaches, year-round sunshine and the island’s capital city, San Juan to stroll amongst the colourful architecture and learn about the city’s fascinating history.
Away from the popular hotspots, Puerto Rico offers an astounding level of geographical diversity and off-the-beaten-path experiences. From hiking in the mountains to camping on a deserted island, Discover Puerto Rico rounds up five lesser-known ways for travellers to immerse themselves in the undiscovered side of the island.
- Explore coral reefs in Culebra
Just a short boat ride from the mainland, the island of Culebra is one of Puerto Rico’s best-kept secrets. With more than 20% of the island preserved by the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, the coastline is framed by thriving coral reefs and vibrant marine life – making it the perfect spot for underwater adventures. Sheltered from strong, gusty winds, the calm topaz waters of Flamenco Beach gift visitors with one of the best spots for snorkelling or scuba diving in Puerto Rico, with the chance of spotting sea turtles, remoras, bluetail fishes, angelfish, stingrays, and more.
- Surfing and sunsets in Rincón
Arriving at Rincón, guests are guaranteed to immediately relax as they tune into the rhythm of this chilled leisure town, renowned for its surfing and sunsets. Known as the “corner” of Puerto Rico, where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, the town is one of the best surf spots in the whole of the Caribbean, boasting eight miles of beautiful coastlines. Both experienced and beginner surfers congregate to catch a wave on the town’s array of beaches, such as Domes, María, Sandy and Tres Palmas, with Domes beach is famed for hosting international surfing competitions and beach festivals throughout the year. As the sun sets, Rincón lives up to its reputation, as visitors witness the most breathtaking twilight on the island.
- A mountain hike in Las Piedras del Collado
For travellers looking to get off the beaten path and reconnect with nature, Puerto Rico’s lush mountainous landscapes provide peaceful seclusion and views just as magnificent as the coastline. Found between the municipalities of Salinas and Cayey, Las Piedras del Collado is a mountain peak at nearly 2,800 feet above sea level, soaring above a picturesque forest below filled with endemic flora and fauna. To be rewarded with such a view, adventure seekers can hike to the top either by themselves or with the guidance of local tour companies. Away from the crowds, travellers will be accompanied by the noise of chirping native coqui frogs and the tunes from wild birds such as the stunning Adelaide’s Warbles.
- Camp on the uninhabited Isla de Mona
Puerto Rico’s most remote and pristine wildlife sanctuary is a small island known as Isla de Mona. Once referred to as the Galapagos of the Caribbean, this breathtaking uninhabited island is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and soaring limestone cliffs, acting as a sanctuary for sea turtles and many seabird species. With the protection of local habitats being the number one priority, visitors must coordinate a camping trip using a local tour operator. Enjoy guided excursions with the opportunity to explore caves, photograph the island’s hypnotising landscape and admire the centuries-old lighthouse and shipwreck sites. As night falls, guests can set up in one of the two camping sites and drift to sleep blissfully under the unfiltered stars and to the sounds of unspoiled nature.
- An underground adventure in Utuado
Covering an area of around 115 square miles, Utuado is a stretch of land planted among dense vegetation in the most mountainous area of Puerto Rico. Within the dramatic landscapes comes the opportunity for an unexpected underground adventure, due to the fast-flowing powers of the Tanamá river. Over millions of years, its flowing waters have carved a network of caverns, canyons, and tunnels in the limestone cliffs, which has gifted daring explorers the opportunity to partake in a variety of exhilarating activities. Alongside a trusted local tour company such as Tanamá River Adventures, choose from caving, cave tubing, rappelling, hiking, and rock-climbing for a thrilling experience on this stunning Caribbean island.