Visiting an island in the Caribbean is the experience of a lifetime, and even more so with Puerto Rico. It is a fantastic destination, filled with stunning mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, and a fascinating culture worth seeing.
Taking the time to visit San Juan, Puerto Rico will be a great addition to your trip, as there are a plethora of things to do, see, and experience in the capital city. If you are planning a visit to La Isla Del Encanto (the Island of Enchantment), you are in for a real treat.
There are so many unusual, unique and cool things to do in Puerto Rico, as well as some awesome places to see. Choosing just a few can be tough. Luckily, we have put together a hotlist of the must-see places in Puerto Rico, along with a list of must-do activities when planning a trip to this gorgeous island/town. Your island vacation starts here.
Hidden Gems in Puerto Rico
Table of Contents
Now, if we talk about Puerto Rico’s hidden gems, you might be thinking of unique local places or activities. But when it comes to interesting facts about Puerto Rico, these hidden gems almost seem to be the norm. They are wondrous places, hidden away from the general comings and goings of the public.
Puerto Rico is filled with these wonders, each of them a unique experience on its own, possessing an almost magical quality. According to the locals, going off the beaten path in Puerto Rico is almost recommended!
Mona Island Escape
A thrilling getaway with a variety of unusual activities is the best way to describe Mona Island. This is one for the adrenaline-seekers, a natural wonderland of scuba diving, caves for spelunking, and amazing flora and ecosystems to see.
It is a protected island only allowing 100 visitors at a time, adding to its serene and secluded charm. There are some cool limestone cliffs and coral reefs that will take your breath away, while beach camping is perfect for a weekend of chill, especially if you are recovering from jet lag.
Forward March: The Tanks of Flamenco
You’d never think to find ancient, rusted tanks from the World War II era, but here they are. While Flamenco Beach was not used as a formal military base, they did use the grounds for test landings and bombing practice, starting from 1936.
These fascinating tanks are a leftover, a reminder of sorts, of the action that used to take place along this beach. Eventually, the sea air worked its magic, and the tanks rusted and decayed, leaving behind some massive relics, which then turned into an attraction by the locals.
Since this is a public beach, there are no costs involved to come to view these metal monsters.
Fun Fact: They’ve started covering the tanks in paint and graffiti to give them a new life of sorts. New art gets added on top of the old, creating a beautifully layered effect.
Spiritual Healing at Capilla Del Santo Cristo de la Salud
Located in Viejo San Juan, this stunning chapel is tucked away in the old walled city. It was built in 1753 upon the ancient stone walls that served to protect the Puerto Rican capital.
While there is some history embedded in these walls, it is known as a site of healing and restoration, tended to by a group of volunteers. The stunning structure, built in the Spanish Baroque style, is quite famous for its now-iconic facade and makes for amazing photos for the gram.
These hallowed walls signify a protected space and should be included in any trip to San Juan. There are many guided tours of Old San Juan that include a visit to the chapel. It is a wonderful sightseeing opportunity that will only set you back €40 (about $50) for two people.
Tip: The chapel is only open to the public on Sundays, so that is the recommended day to visit.
Cool Places in Puerto Rico
There are hidden gems, and then there are the cool things in Puerto Rico that are a must-see and you should not miss out on. These are not things you can experience anywhere else, as they are wholly unique or extraordinary in their own right.
Monkey Island Sightseeing
Animal and nature enthusiasts will love this one: a stunning island habitat (Cayo Santiago) filled with Rhesus Macaque monkeys. The island is mostly undisturbed and inhabited solely by these wide-eyed primates. The island is one of the best places in Puerto Rico for experiencing nature in its most true and raw form.
Cayo Santiago is a quaint little island covered in trees, about half a mile off the coast of the main island. The monkeys were brought here by Clarence Carpenter in 1938 to study their behaviour and living conditions in a natural setting, removed from humankind.
Tip: You can visit the island and view the monkeys from a distance (by kayak), as no one is allowed to step onto the habitat. Renting a kayak will only set you back about €40 ($45).
El Cemi Museum
This unique museum, in the shape of a three-pointed stone (or cemi), is an integral part of the local spirituality. The Taíno people revere these shapes, as each one represents a deity or ancestral spirit.
The three points each have different meanings.
- The central point refers to a mountain peak (which is linked to Yaya the Creator)
- The mouth-like shape is a representation of Coabey (Land of the Dead)
- Lastly, the final point signifies the Land of the Living
Visiting the museum is a fascinating experience filled with culture and definitely a must for anyone interested in history and indigenous people. Their way of life, culture, and community is definitely worth your time and admiration.
Mosquito Bay Lighting the Way
While the name may cause you to run the other way, don’t leave before you experience this amazing natural beauty. Located on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, this awesome beach is known for its signature natural “decoration”: bioluminescence.
At night, a stunning display of bright blue colours dance like an underwater aurora borealis. Thousands of tiny organisms called dinoflagellates are the cause, which has found a perfect home in Mosquito Bay. Experiencing this stunning natural phenomenon should definitely be on your bucket list of tourist attractions in Puerto Rico.
Unique Places in Puerto Rico
Fun things to do in Puerto Rico: Check! With these incredible places to visit and experience, you better start packing for your next island vacation.
If you have some concerns regarding your budget, have no fear, as Puerto Rico is included in a list of inexpensive tropical vacations. It is a unique experience, so take lots of photos, but also remember to just bask in the Puerto Rican culture and adventure.