Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

2023-08-16 01:06:18 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

When it comes to planning a vacation in Puerto Rico, there is no shortage of amazing destinations to explore. From the vibrant Convention Center Tourist District in Isla Verde to the enchanting town of La Parguera in Lajas, and the picturesque Fajardo, this Caribbean gem offers a plethora of choices for all types of travelers. Whether you're seeking breathtaking beaches, vibrant nightlife, or natural wonders, Puerto Rico has something to offer every visitor. Join us on a journey as we unveil some of the best places to travel in this tropical paradise and discover unforgettable experiences that await you.


The Convention Center Tourist District


Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

The Convention Center Tourist District was established in 2005 with the opening of the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which is widely regarded as the premier venue for meetings and conventions on the island. This district is conveniently located within walking distance of Condado and just a 10-minute drive from Old San Juan. Its strategic position is ideal for cruisers who require nearby accommodations close to the cruise terminals. In August 2021, the district added a new attraction called Distrito T-Mobile, which offers unique entertainment options, a state-of-the-art movie theater, numerous dining choices, and an urban park with a thrilling zip line experience.

Getting Around: Visitors to the Convention Center District can easily reach attractions such as Playita del Condado, La Laguna del Condado, and Escambron Beach by foot. Additionally, the historic district of Old San Juan is just a short 10-minute taxi ride away.

Accommodations: The Convention Center District offers a selection of four hotels. The Sheraton features a fantastic pool area with breathtaking views of the city, while the Hyatt House and Hyatt Place provide spacious suites and a kid-friendly pool. The newest addition to the district is the ALOFT San Juan with its contemporary design.

Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

Rio Grande is undoubtedly one of the finest destinations to stay in Puerto Rico, offering an enchanting blend of relaxation, rejuvenation, and excitement amidst some of the island's most stunning beachfront locations, top-notch golf courses, and family-friendly resorts. Situated on the east coast of Puerto Rico, Rio Grande is conveniently located just 30 minutes away from the San Juan Airport. It is home to the renowned El Yunque National Rainforest and in close proximity to the captivating Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay. Below, you will find the highlights of Rio Grande and a selection of highly rated resorts and hotels.


Top Rated Tours in Rio Grande



Isla Verde - Carolina, Puerto Rico


Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

Isla Verde is a highly popular tourist district located in the municipality of Carolina, Puerto Rico. It is home to the main international airport of Puerto Rico, commonly referred to as San Juan Airport. Isla Verde is an exciting and vibrant city beach destination that consistently ranks high on travel lists. The main attraction of Isla Verde is its picturesque beaches, also known as Isla Verde Beach. Surprisingly, the beach is actually a collection of three separate beaches, each with its own unique atmosphere. Visitors to Isla Verde can enjoy swimming, surfing, and a variety of water sports. In addition to its natural beauty, Isla Verde is also famous for its casinos, vibrant nightlife, and a myriad of enticing restaurants and bars that cater to diverse tastes. It offers a perfect vacation spot for those seeking a lively and memorable experience.

Accommodation: Along Avenida Isla Verde, visitors have a range of options to choose from for their stay. There are beachfront resorts, family-friendly hotels, and boutique small inns. These accommodations offer easy access to the beaches and are within walking distance to casinos, elegant lounges, and nightclubs. We have provided a list of some of the top-rated hotels and resorts below.

  • Things to do in Isla Verde: To enhance your visit to Isla Verde, we recommend exploring the colorful historic district of Old San Juan, which is just a short 15-minute taxi ride away. Additionally, there are numerous nearby beaches worth visiting, and the famous El Yunque rainforest is only a 30-minute drive.
  • Pros of staying in Isla Verde: Isla Verde offers several advantages, including its proximity to the airport, a wide selection of hotels and resorts that cater to various budgets, and an abundance of dining options within walking distance of the beaches and accommodations.
  • Cons of staying in Isla Verde: Some drawbacks of staying in Isla Verde include higher dining prices compared to other beach towns, larger crowds on the beaches (although there is still plenty of space for everyone), and slightly rougher waves due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean. If you prefer calmer waters for swimming, we recommend visiting Escambron, Playita del Condado, Pinegrove Beach, or La Posita in the nearby town of Loiza.
  • Getting Around: While in Isla Verde, it is convenient to explore the beach, restaurants, and casinos on foot from popular hotels. Bicycles are also available for rent for a ride to the neighboring city of San Juan. However, it is recommended to take a taxi or rent a car for longer distances. Keep in mind that parking fees in the city can be costly, so taking a taxi may be more economical depending on your budget. Additionally, booking tours to the main attractions is a popular option as they often provide transportation to and from hotel areas.


Fun Experiences in Isla Verde Beach & Nearby


Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

If you're seeking a tropical escape with ultimate luxury and privacy, look no further than the town of Dorado. Situated along the northern coast of Puerto Rico, approximately 40 minutes from the capital city of San Juan, Dorado is renowned for its Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which is ranked among the top three best resorts in Puerto Rico. Here, you can indulge in world-class golf courses, rejuvenating spas, and luxurious accommodations. Dorado's reputation as one of the best-preserved and cleanest towns in Puerto Rico is well-deserved. Take a leisurely walk through town to visit the charming historic plaza and small museums.

  • Things to do in Dorado: The charming plaza of Dorado, with its traditional Spanish design, is a must-visit. You can also explore the intriguing museums located within walking distance of the plaza. Old San Juan, just a 20-minute drive away, offers a plethora of historic sites, shops, and excellent dining options. There are several tours available that provide pick-up service for visiting El Yunque rainforest, the bioluminescent bay, and the caves in the karst region, which are among the top attractions nearby. For beach lovers, Balneario El Escambron in San Juan and the many beautiful beaches along the north coast are worth exploring.
  • Pros of staying in Dorado: Dorado's proximity to Luis Muñoz Marin (SJU) Airport, along with its wide range of accommodations, makes it an excellent choice for travelers. Additionally, the town's charming atmosphere and pristine beaches are sure to delight.
  • Cons of staying in Dorado: To fully explore the island's beaches and attractions, a car rental is necessary. However, there are various tours available that provide transportation to and from major attractions, eliminating the need for a rental car.
  • Getting Around: To explore the fascinating attractions of Puerto Rico at your own pace, it is recommended to rent a car for a few days. Alternatively, you may choose to book a tour that takes care of all the logistical details.

Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

While you may find it surprising that Manati is included as a recommended place to stay, it is worth considering if you're looking to enjoy the stunning Mar Chiquita and the enchanting beaches of the north. Manati is not a typical tourist destination, but if you are a traveler seeking a clean and comfortable hotel while renting a car to explore the island, it is an excellent choice in the north. Located on the central north side, Manati boasts three beautiful beaches and serves as a convenient starting point for exploring more of the north. Don't miss the incredible caves in the north and central karst region. Manati also offers a variety of dining options, from local restaurants and bakeries to familiar American chain restaurants.

  • Things to do in Manati: Explore the stunning Mar Chiquita Beach, the fascinating Cueva Las Golondrinas Beach, and the serene Playa Las Mujeres.
  • Pros of staying in Manati: Manati's central location on the north coast provides easy access to numerous beaches and attractions. The Hyatt Place offers more affordable rates compared to the city.
  • Cons of staying in Manati: Apart from the beaches, there isn't much to do in Manati. However, with a car rental, you'll have endless sights and experiences to discover throughout the island.
  • Getting Around Manati: It is essential to have a car rental in order to explore Manati and its surrounding areas. Taxis can be expensive and are not suitable for extended stays in Manati.


Top Rated Hotels in Manati, Puerto Rico


Ponce Puerto Rico - Best Places to Stay Guide

The west coast of Puerto Rico is a haven for beach lovers and visitors seeking an authentic, laid-back island atmosphere that is also tourist-friendly. This region offers an extensive selection of beautiful beaches, interesting attractions, and picturesque locations, ranging from fun surfing beaches to tranquil beach coves and offshore keys. Elegant lighthouses, historical landmarks, forests, and the enchanting pink salt flats are just some of the many attractions to explore in the west. The towns along the west coast are known for their charming, colorful ambiance, lively squares, and welcoming locals. If you're planning to skip Old San Juan, be sure to visit the historic district of San German, which boasts elegant European architecture, museums, and historical landmarks. The west coast also offers one elegant golf resort in Isabela, a lovely beachfront hotel in Guanica, as well as several small inns and vacation rentals to suit every traveler's needs.

Following are the best places to stay and the top-rated hotels on the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

Cabo Rojo is a beloved town that locals hold dear. It is located on the southwest tip of the island and offers some of the most stunning summer beaches in Puerto Rico. If you love activities such as hiking, stargazing, and nature walks, and wish to enjoy uncrowded beaches without the typical touristy feel, Cabo Rojo is the perfect destination. Make sure to bring your camera, as Cabo Rojo is home to breathtaking views, the highly visited Los Morrillos Lighthouse, and the famous Salinas, often referred to as the "pink beach" by travelers. With its convenient location and easy access to Route 2, Cabo Rojo serves as an excellent home base for exploring attractions such as the bioluminescent bay of La Parguera and numerous interesting places in the southwest region.

Small inns and budget-friendly vacation rentals are readily available, making Cabo Rojo a welcoming destination for both locals from around the island and travelers. Additionally, Cabo Rojo offers the unique option of glamping accommodations for a memorable experience under the stars.

  • Things to do & Places to Visit in Cabo Rojo: Explore the iconic Los Morrillos Lighthouse, relax on the beautiful La Playuela Beach, visit Balneario de Boqueron (Boqueron Beach) and Buye Beach. Embark on a scenic drive along the country road to visit the mesmerizing Lajas bioluminescent bay, the historic district of San German, Guanica, and the city of Mayaguez, which is only 15 minutes away.
  • Pros of staying in Cabo Rojo: Cabo Rojo offers tranquil and uncrowded beaches, affordable accommodations, and a wide range of dining options, including local restaurants and various bakeries that offer lower prices compared to touristy places.
  • Cons of staying in Cabo Rojo: Cabo Rojo is not a touristy destination, but this is precisely why travelers love it. If you prefer big breakfasts, there may not be many local restaurants offering them. However, you can find all types of classic American fast food chains that serve breakfast. We highly recommend trying an egg, ham, and cheese sandwich from a local bakery, which is made with fresh bread and costs less than typical fast food chains.
  • Getting Around Cabo Rojo: A car rental is essential for getting around and fully enjoying everything that Cabo Rojo and the west coast of Puerto Rico have to offer.

Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

Our travel guide thoroughly covers Isabela because we simply adore it. Isabela's coastline boasts a dramatic landscape, offering both serene and exhilarating beaches. The food scene near Jobos Beach is lively and inviting. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the forested areas that offer peaceful hikes leading to hidden caves. Isabela's convenient location near Aguadilla Airport provides easy access to the northwest region and the top caves in the north of Puerto Rico.

  • Things to do in Isabela: Enjoy the diverse beaches of Isabela, indulge in golfing, surfing, scuba diving, horseback riding, and embark on scenic hikes.
  • Pros of staying in Isabela: Isabela is located only 10 minutes away from Aguadilla Airport. The town center is lively with shops and cafes, and on Sundays, the square hosts cultural events. Most employees at local restaurants are bilingual, making communication easier for visitors.
  • Cons of staying in Isabela: While some of the beaches in Isabela may not be ideal for swimming, as they have rougher waves, there are a few beaches with calmer waters, especially during the summer months. For calmer swimming conditions, you can drive north to Crash Boat Beach, explore the beautiful beaches of Isabela, or drive south to the beaches of Cabo Rojo.
  • Getting Around Isabela: To fully explore Isabela and its neighboring towns, it is necessary to have a car. This will allow you to experience all that the west coast of Puerto Rico has to offer.


Top Rated Hotels in Isabela, Puerto Rico


Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

Rincon is a highly popular surfing destination in the Caribbean, known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning sunsets. While the prime surfing season is during the winter months, surfers flock to Rincon all year round. During the summer, the beaches are tranquil, and the water is calm, making it perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Rincon offers a casual and lively nightlife scene, with prices that are more affordable compared to the city. It is a great place to interact with locals and is family-friendly. Many visitors return to Rincon year after year, and it has become a sought-after location for second homes.

  • Things to do in Rincon: Enjoy surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and witnessing breathtaking sunsets.
  • Pros of staying in Rincon: Rincon is conveniently located near Aguadilla Airport. The town center is vibrant, with a variety of shops and cafes. The central square hosts cultural events on Sundays. Most employees at local restaurants are bilingual, facilitating communication with visitors.
  • Cons of staying in Rincon: While Rincon's beaches may not be ideal for swimming, there are a few with calmer waters, particularly during the summer months. For swimmable beaches, you can drive north to Crash Boat Beach, explore the beaches of Isabela, or head south to the beaches of Cabo Rojo.
  • Getting Around Rincon: It is necessary to have a car in order to explore Rincon and the nearby towns.


Top Rated Tours in Rincon, Puerto Rico


Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway


La Parguera - Lajas, Puerto Rico


Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

The village of La Parguera is located in the town of Lajas on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. While there are no beaches in Lajas itself, the stunning offshore keys of Caracoles and Mata La Gata more than make up for it. In the evening, La Parguera comes alive with a variety of restaurants offering traditional Puerto Rican cuisine and fresh seafood at affordable prices. Once the sky darkens, visitors can take a tour of the bioluminescent bay, a unique attraction where swimming is allowed. Live music can be enjoyed at the village square almost every weekend, providing an opportunity to dance and mingle with the locals.

There are small inns and vacation rentals available for accommodation in La Parguera. Although they may be simple, they provide all the necessary amenities, allowing visitors to allocate more of their vacation budget towards exploring the rest of the island.

  • Things to do in La Parguera: Explore the bioluminescent bays, visit the offshore keys of Mata La Gata and Caracoles, and scuba dive at La Pared.
  • Pros of staying in La Parguera: Affordable small inns.
  • Cons of staying in La Parguera: Lajas is not heavily touristic and caters to the simplicity and festive environment of island life that locals love. It is a good base for exploring the west coast and Ponce, as well as being a two-hour drive from San Juan.
  • Getting Around Lajas: Renting a car is necessary to navigate the area.


Top Rated Tours - Lajas, Puerto Rico


Just a short flight or ferry ride from Ceiba, visitors can experience the serene islands of Culebra and Vieques. These islands are a paradise for beach lovers, with most of the coastline remaining undeveloped and in its natural state. Aside from the beautiful beaches, there isn't much to do on these islands, but that is precisely what attracts most visitors. Snorkeling can be enjoyed year-round at the beaches of Vieques and Culebra.

Culebra is home to Flamenco Beach, consistently regarded as one of the most stunning beaches in the world. Vieques is known for its Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.

Please be advised: It is important to note that if you have a medical condition that may require assistance while on vacation, Vieques and Culebra lack adequate medical care. In the case of emergencies or surgeries, air transportation to the main island of Puerto Rico may be necessary.

Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

By now, you have probably heard about Vieques, consistently recognized as one of the best island destinations in the Caribbean and home to the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Beach lovers can spend their days exploring the quiet and picturesque coves of Vieques, which offer excellent snorkeling opportunities.

While there are no resorts on the island, Vieques boasts some of the most remarkable small inns and vacation rentals in Puerto Rico. See the top-rated accommodations below.

  • Things to do in Vieques: Visit the Bioluminescent Bay, explore the island's stunning beaches.
  • Pros of staying in Vieques: Tranquil shoreline with fewer crowds.
  • Cons of staying in Vieques: As previously mentioned, the medical care on the island is inadequate for those with medical conditions requiring attention. The island is also limited in terms of attractions and emergencies may require transportation to the main island of Puerto Rico.
  • Getting Around: It is recommended to rent a jeep to explore the best beaches in Vieques, particularly those on the south side of the island.

Discover the Unrivaled Gems of Puerto Rico for an Unforgettable Getaway

You may not be familiar with Culebra, but you have likely heard of Flamenco, one of the most stunning beaches in the world. Snorkeling in Culebra is a treat, with colorful and healthy coral reefs. The island also offers various hiking trails and secluded offshore islands for a truly natural Caribbean experience. Visitors to Culebra can choose from small inns, guest houses, villas, and apartment rentals for their stay.

  • Things to do in Culebra: Explore the island's beaches, go snorkeling, visit El Polvorin Museum and Culebrita Island.
  • Pros of staying in Culebra: Enjoy idyllic beaches without large crowds and indulge in excellent snorkeling opportunities.
  • Cons of staying in Culebra: Good planning is required to reach Culebra, but those who have been there will attest that it is well worth the effort. It is recommended to fly to the island if it fits your budget. Furthermore, individuals with health conditions that may require medical attention should not stay on the island for an extended period since the medical and emergency care services are inadequate.
  • Getting Around: For a few days' stay, renting a golf cart is sufficient to visit the best beaches. However, for stays longer than two days, it is highly recommended to rent a jeep to explore the rest of the coastline, which includes rougher roads.


Top Rated Hotel in Culebra, Puerto Rico





View of the Seven Sea Beach in Fajardo and a clear blue sky

👉 Best Area For Clear Beaches | ✨ Best Fajardo Hotel: El Conquistador Resort

For those seeking the clearest waters in Puerto Rico, Fajardo is the ideal location. Situated on the east side of the island, Fajardo is home to one of the best hotels in Puerto Rico, El Conquistador Beach Resort. The resort offers breathtaking coastal views and features a new waterpark for children.

Some of the best things to do in Fajardo include visiting the bioluminescent lagoon and the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. The area also boasts numerous excellent beaches.

Pros of Staying in Fajardo:

  • Clearwater and sandy beaches
  • Convenient location for visiting Vieques and Culebra
  • Abundance of restaurants

Cons of Staying in Fajardo:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Limited attractions

📚 Fajardo Mini Guide 📚Best area to stay for clear beaches. Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEl Conquistador Resort
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Fajardo
  • 🍽?? Where to Eat – La Estación ($$), Ahumado a Leña ($$), Sal y Pimienta ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – El Chinchorro de J, Bar Dos Marinas
  • 🎟?? Top Attractions – Seven Seas Beach, Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
  • 📚 Get Planning: How to Go from San Juan to Fajardo
  • 👉 Local Tip: If you stay in Fajardo, make sure to make a day trip to Icacos cay, where you’ll find the clearest waters of Puerto Rico. For more San Juan day trips, see my complete guide to the 15 top day trips near San Juan.

These three destinations - The Convention Center Tourist District, Isla Verde - Carolina, Puerto Rico, La Parguera - Lajas, Puerto Rico, and Fajardo - offer an array of experiences that cater to a variety of travelers. Whether you're seeking vibrant city life, pristine beaches, or adventurous water activities, Puerto Rico has it all. So pack your bags, embrace the rich culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and create memories that will last a lifetime in these diverse and captivating corners of Puerto Rico. As you explore these best places to travel, you'll discover the true beauty and charm of this Caribbean paradise.

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