Top 15 Vacation Resorts in Puerto Rico

2023-04-09 01:37:21 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, 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.

Travel to Puerto Rico: Top Attractions and Hotels

Making people happy while they're on vacation is why we love making guides. Choosing the right destination in Puerto Rico is crucial to having a wonderful vacation before deciding on a hotel.  

Puerto Rico has something for everyone, whether you're looking for a lively seaside city, a luxurious, exclusive retreat, a destination rich in ecotourism, or a laid-back beach town.

Take a seat, kick back, and let us show you the best of Puerto Rico's top 15 tourist destinations. You'll find everything you need to know to make an informed decision and plan an unforgettable vacation in this comprehensive guide, which features detailed information on each destination's best attractions, transportation options, advantages and disadvantages, and recommended lodgings suitable for travelers of all budgets.  

We've been in your shoes, and we know how important it is to take a well-deserved break. This guide is not based on hotel bookings or corporate sponsorships like many others you'll find online. We are proud to offer guides that are both objective and based on our own personal experiences. We will not cover a hotel, restaurant, or attraction in exchange for money. Since we foot the bill for our own meals, sightseeing excursions, and lodgings, we can review services and establishments with an unbiased perspective and no bias. Our island explorations are extensive. With the exception of hotels, we always take our own pictures while traveling. This is both to save money and to respect other people's right to privacy. Our work is driven by a passion to introduce others to Puerto Rico and assist tourists in creating memorable trips.

In order to keep bringing you useful information, we do offer links and information about popular tours and places to stay from reliable booking engines for your convenience. Our advice is not based on making a profit; rather, it is our sincere guides that continue to attract satisfied customers and reputable tour operators.  

When planning a trip to Puerto Rico, most people head to San Juan, as it is home to many of the island's must-see landmarks, attractions, and beaches. It's convenient to travel around the city on foot, by bicycle, or by taxi. To help you decide which of the four distinct tourist areas within the city's center will best suit your needs, we've included some information below. We have compiled a list of the best hotels in San Juan organized by area, from luxurious oceanfront resorts to inexpensive hotels and quaint bed-and-breakfasts in the city's Old San Juan neighborhood.

  • Historic UNESCO sites, beaches, museums, scenic promenades, a thriving nightlife, snorkeling, scuba diving, a variety of watersports, some of the best restaurants on the island, and much more can all be found in San Juan. San Juan National Historic Site, Escambron Beach, and Old San Juan Historic District are some of the city's most popular destinations.
  • The Luis Muoz Marin (SJU) airport is only fifteen minutes away from the center of San Juan, which is a major perk. Some of Puerto Rico's most popular sights can be reached by car in just 45 minutes, and visitors can easily spend several days exploring the island's many attractions, activities, and beaches.
  • The city of San Juan is more expensive to eat in than nearby beach resorts. There are more people at these beaches than at others on the island, but you can still find a quiet corner to call your own. Since San Juan is on the Atlantic Ocean, the water is more choppy. The beaches of Escambron, Playita del Condado, Isla Verde's Pinegrove Beach, and Loiza's La Posita are all great places to go swimming because of their calm waters and lack of strong currents.
  • Transportation: You can get around on foot, with a rented bike, or by taxi; a car is not necessary. Travel agencies typically pick up at hotels or depart from San Juan.

Historic Center of Old San Juan

Historic Area of Old San Juan is the island's most popular tourist destination and center of culture. We advise giving yourself at least two full days to take in the city's many incredible sights, shops, and restaurants.  

Walking is a great way to see Old San Juan, and taxis are readily available to take you to the beaches in the area, where you can engage in water sports like swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.  

Since many of the hotels and inns are located in former homes or other notable buildings, guests can expect a truly memorable stay. Check out the best lodging options below.

Old San Juan's Best and Most Enjoyable Tours

Tourist Area of Condado in San Juan

The Condado Recreation and Hotel Zone is San Juan's second-most visited neighborhood Condado is home to three distinct beaches: Condado Beach, La Playita del Condado, and the world-famous Laguna del Condado (Condado Lagoon).

The majority of hotels, restaurants, and shops can be found along Ashford Drive; from there, you can walk or ride a bike to Escambron Beach and, further on, to Old San Juan.

Condado is home to some of San Juan's most luxurious and well-known beachfront hotels. Many budget-friendly hotels with easy access to the beach can be found in close proximity to the strip. Browse recommended Condado accommodations here.

Location of the Convention Center in the Tourist Area

Tourist Area Around the Convention Center was established in 2005 when the Puerto Rico Convention Center, the island's primary venue for such events, first opened to the public. The Convention Center District is conveniently located just a 10-minute drive from Old San Juan and is within walking distance of Condado. Accommodations here are ideal for cruise passengers because of their proximity to the port. Distrito T-Mobile, a cutting-edge entertainment complex with a movie theater, restaurants, and a park with a zip line, opened in the area in August 2021.

Playa del Condado, La Laguna del Condado, and Escambron Beach are all within walking distance of one another. A taxi ride to Old San Juan only takes about 10 minutes.

There are four hotels to choose from in the Convention Center District; the Sheraton has a great pool with panoramic views of the city, the Hyatt House and Hyatt Place have a pool and large suites that are suitable for families, and the newest hotel, ALOFT San Juan, has a modern aesthetic.

Relax, rejuvenate, and play at some of Puerto Rico's finest beachfront, golf, and family-friendly resorts by staying in Rio Grande. El Yunque National Rainforest and Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay can be found close to Rio Grande on Puerto Rico's east coast, which is only 30 minutes from San Juan Airport. Read on for a rundown of Rio Grande's best attractions and accommodations.  

The Best Rio de Janeiro Tours

Carolina, Puerto Rico (Green Island)

Isla Verde, a municipality in Carolina, is a hotspot for tourists because of its proximity to San Juan Airport, Puerto Rico's main international airport. Isla Verde Beach is actually the collective name for three distinct beaches, each with its own character and set of amenities. Water sports, such as swimming, surfing, and more, are readily available. Isla Verde is a popular tourist destination due to its abundance of casinos, nightlife options, and delicious food.

Lodgings: There are a few beachfront resorts, family-friendly hotels, and boutique small inns along Avenida Isla Verde. Casinos, plush bars, and late-night hotspots where you can practice your salsa steps are all within easy walking distance. Check out the best hotels and resorts in the area.

  • Isla Verde attractions include the colorful historic district of Old San Juan, which can be reached in 15 minutes by taxi, as well as other beaches and El Yunque National Park, which can be reached in 30 minutes.
  • Isla Verde has many positives as a vacation destination, including its proximity to the airport, its wide variety of beachfront hotels and resorts, and the abundance of nearby restaurants.
  • The city of San Juan is more expensive to eat in than nearby beach resorts. There are more people at these beaches than at others on the island, but you can still find a quiet corner to call your own. Since the Atlantic Ocean fronts San Juan, the water has more swells. Calm, risk-free swimming can be found in the vicinity of to Loiza's Escambron and Playita del Condado and Pinegrove and La Posita beaches
  • The most popular hotels on Isla Verde are located within easy walking distance of the island's beach, restaurants, and casinos. The neighboring city of San Juan is accessible by bicycle, but we suggest taking a taxi or renting a car. Remember to factor in the cost of parking when deciding whether or not to rent a car in the city; you might save money by taking a taxi instead. Transportation to and from your hotel is typically included in the price of tours to popular attractions.

Isla Verde Beach and Its Surrounding Attractions

Dorado, on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, is an excellent choice for those in search of a private and luxurious tropical getaway just 40 minutes from San Juan. Dorado's most famous attraction is the Ritz-Carlton Reserve at Dorado Beach. This resort is consistently ranked as one of the top three in all of Puerto Rico. Dorado has long been regarded as one of Puerto Rico's tidiest and best-preserved communities. We recommend that guests take an afternoon to stroll through town, stopping at the historic plaza and various museums.

  • Dorado's charming plaza (square) is the last of its kind to be built in the traditional Spanish style; nearby, you'll find a number of small but interesting museums. Several historic sites, shops, and excellent eateries can be found in Old San Juan, which is only a 20-minute drive from Dorado. Tours with convenient pick-ups are available to nearby attractions like El Yunque National Park, the bioluminescent bay, and the caves of the karst region. Balneario El Escambron in San Juan and the beaches all along the north coast are some of the best in the area.
  • Dorado's advantages include its proximity to the Luis Muoz Marin (SJU) airport (a ride of 30–45 minutes). An attractive place to stroll around in
  • If you want to see more of the island's beaches and sights, renting a car is necessary, but there are plenty of tours that will take you there and back again.
  • Getting Around: If you want to see the sights all over Puerto Rico at your own pace, a rental car for a few days is a must. A tour company can take care of all the details for you.

You might be surprised to learn that we recommend Manati as a place to stay if you want to visit the Mar Chiquita and the beaches in the north, but we've gotten a lot of questions from tourists about where to stay. If you're looking for a place to stay in the northern part of the island that isn't overrun with tourists and where you can rent a car and get around easily, consider Manati. The town serves as a convenient jumping-off point for excursions to the region's other northerly highlights, including its three stunning beaches. North and central karst region caves are some of the best you'll ever see. There are plenty of places to eat, including local restaurants, bakeries, and locations of well-known American chain restaurants.

  • Playa Las Mujeres, Playa Cueva Las Golondrinas, and Mar Chiquita Beach are some of the best beaches in Manati.
  • The town of Manati is conveniently located on the island's northern coast, making it close to a number of popular beaches and tourist spots. Hyatt Place is a more cost-effective option than a city hotel.
  • Aside from the beaches, there is not much to do in Manati; however, with a rental car, there are countless interesting places to visit.
  • To get around Manati, you should rent a car because taxis are prohibitively expensive and not convenient for extended stays.

Luxury Hotels in Puerto Rico's Manati

Ponce Puerto Rico - Best Places to Stay Guide

The west coast is ideal for beachgoers and vacationers looking for a genuine, relaxed, and tourist-friendly island experience. From exciting surfing beaches to quiet coves, offshore keys to exploring, historic landmarks to learn about, lush forests to discover, pretty in pink salt flats, waterfalls, and more can all be found in the west. Western towns are warm and welcoming, full of character and color. San German is another historic district in Puerto Rico that is worth a visit thanks to its elegant European architecture, museums, and historical landmarks. Isabela (to the northwest) has a luxurious golf resort, and Guanica (to the south) has a lovely, small beachfront hotel, in addition to many other small inns and vacation rentals.

The following are the finest resorts and hotels on Puerto Rico's western coast.

Just ask any Cabo Rojo resident about the town's adoration and you'll hear the same thing: This extraordinary community on the island's southwestern tip is home to the beaches that locals frequent the most during the summer. Consider a trip to Cabo Rojo if you are interested in activities such as hiking, stargazing, nature walks, and relaxing on beaches that are free of the typical tourist crowds. Captivating vistas, the island's most frequented lighthouse, and the "pink beach," Salinas, can all be found in Cabo Rojo, so don't forget your camera. Access to State Route (Route) The bioluminescent bay of La Parguera and other attractions in the southwest region are easily accessible from Cabo Rojo, making it an ideal home base.

Locals and visitors alike are welcomed at the island's small inns and affordable vacation rentals. The only luxury camping options are in Cabo Rojo, and they're in a fantastic location for stargazing.

  • Visit the Los Morrillos Lighthouse, La Playuela Beach, Balneario de Boqueron (Boqueron Beach), and Buye Beach while in Cabo Rojo. The bioluminescent bay of Lajas, the old town of San German in Guanica, and the metropolitan area of Mayaguez can all be reached after a pleasant drive through the countryside.
  • Cabo Rojo's calm, uncrowded beaches are a major selling point for visitors. Low-priced hotels, restaurants, and bakeries in comparison to tourist hotspots   
  • Cabo Rojo is not a tourist destination, which is both a pro and a con for visitors. There aren't many places in town to get a hearty breakfast, but there are plenty of American fast food restaurants that serve it. You can get a delicious egg, ham, and cheese sandwich at a local bakery for less than you would pay at a fast food restaurant, and the bread is always fresh.
  • To get around the Cabo Rojo, you'll need to rent a car.  

Our love for Isabela inspired us to include extensive coverage of the island in our guidebook. There are both serene and exciting beaches along the coast's dramatic landscape. By Jobos Beach, there is a thriving restaurant scene.   You can also go on tranquil hikes through the forest and eventually reach a cave.   Near the Aguadilla airport, Isabela provides convenient access to both the island's northwesternmost regions and its finest caves.  

  • Isabela's beaches, golfing, surfing, scuba diving, horseback riding, and hiking are just a few of the activities available in Isabela.
  • The Aguadilla Airport is only a ten-minute drive from Isabela, which is a major plus. Vacation rentals that won't break the bank, tourist-free beaches, and authentic local cuisine at reasonable prices
  • The main road can get congested during rush hour in Isabela, which is a con for those who plan to live there.
  • To fully experience all that Isabela and the west coast of Puerto Rico have to offer, a rental car is a must.

Favorite Places to Stay in Isabela, Puerto Rico

One of the Caribbean's most beloved surfing spots is Rincon. In addition to being one of the friendliest and most relaxed communities on the whole island, the sunsets in Rincon are unparalleled. Although the best waves are in the winter, surfers frequent the area year-round. The beaches are peaceful and the water is calm enough for snorkeling and scuba diving in the summer.  

There is a casual and lively nightlife here, and the food is cheaper than in the city, so it's a great place to meet locals and is also great for families. A large number of people keep coming back to Rincon year after year. Over the past decade, Rincon has become increasingly popular as a second home destination.  

  • Activities in Rincon include: surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sunset-watching.
  • Located close to Aguadilla Airport, Rincon's downtown is full of shops, cafes, and cultural events on Sundays in the town square. Most local restaurants have bilingual staff.
  • The beaches in Rincon aren't great for swimming, but you can find some spots with less waves in the summertime. The beaches of Cabo Rojo and Crash Boat Beach are to the south, while the beaches of Isabela are to the north.
  • To get around Rincon and the surrounding communities, you will need a car.

Top-Rated Rincon, Puerto Rico Sightseeing Tours

Mayaguez is the most important city on the island's western coast. Mayaguez has many hotels and small inns conveniently located near the city's many restaurants and shops. The historic district is home to one of the most beautiful and culturally significant plazas in all of Puerto Rico. If you're in Puerto Rico for the holidays, you can't miss the best Christmas lights, decorations, and celebrations in Mayaguez. There are a wide variety of dining options, including one of the best bakeries in all of Puerto Rico, where you can get freshly baked bread and delicious sandwiches every day. Rincon and Cabo Rojo beaches, the Gozalandia waterfalls, and the historical landmarks of San German are just a short drive from the city center.   Don’t miss the bioluminescent bay in Lajas, about a 45-minute drive from Mayaguez

  • Mayaguez attractions include the historic Plaza de Colon and the Tropical Agricultural Research Center.
  • Mayaguez's convenient location means that visitors can easily reach the neighboring cities of Cabo Rojo, Rincon, Lajas, and San German.
  • Mayaguez's heavy traffic during rush hour is a major drawback, adding an extra 15-20 minutes to your daily commute.
  • You'll need a rental car to get around Mayaguez. Taxis will become too pricey to be practical for a comfortable stay.

Both Guanica and Cabo Rojo are excellent places to go hiking in Puerto Rico. The one hotel in Guanica is a favorite of both locals and visitors looking for seclusion, peace, and quiet. Guanica is home to a few serene beaches, as well as the incredible mangrove key made famous by Gilligan's Island. There are many hiking trails to be discovered in the Guanica State Forest, a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Lajas, the neighboring town, has a bioluminescent bay, numerous eateries, and additional offshore keys. The city of Ponce, on the island's western coast, and its surrounding natural landscape, are worth the hour-long trip. Look for cheap hotel options in Puerto Rico's Guanica.

  • Activities in Guanica include exploring the Guanica State Forest (Bosque Estatal de Guánica), lounging on the Guanica beaches, and watching Gilligan's Island. The Best Places to Go Scuba Diving West coast cities offer a plethora of additional attractions.
  • Pros of staying in Guanica include its low crime rate, peaceful beaches and hiking trails, and lack of precipitation.
  • Cons of staying in Guanica: Copamarina is the place to go for high-end dining. To expand your dining options, you'll need to travel to Mayaguez, Lajas, or Cabo Rojo. American fast food franchises are represented here.
  • Getting Around: Renting a Car Is a Must

Puerto Rico; La Parguera, Lajas

The town of Lajas, on the island's southwestern coast, contains the picturesque fishing village of La Parguera. The beautiful offshore keys of Caracoles and Mata La Gata make up for the lack of beaches in Lajas. Restaurants in the village open up for business after dark, serving authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and fresh seafood at affordable prices. Nighttime visits to the bioluminescent bay, the only one in Puerto Rico where swimming is permitted, are an unforgettable experience. Almost every Saturday and Sunday, you can find live music in the village square, where you can dance and meet the locals.

Small hotels and vacation rentals on the island are inexpensive and provide just the basics, so you can spend more of your vacation money experiencing the island's many attractions.

  • The bioluminescent bays, the Mata La Gata offshore keys, and Caracoles are all great options for things to do in La Parguera. The diving at La Pared is world-class.
  • La Parguera's small, inexpensive hotels are a major selling point.
  • Cons of staying in La Parguera: Lajas is not at all touristy, and it provides the kind of low-key, party atmosphere that island natives adore. The west coast and Ponce are easily accessible by car from Lajas. In just under two hours, you can be in San Juan.
  • A car rental is essential for getting around Lajas.

Lajas, Puerto Rico's Best Tours

The tranquil islands of Culebra and Vieques are easily accessible from Ceiba via plane or ferry. Most of the coasts on these islands have been left untouched, making them a paradise for beachgoers. Most tourists are content with the lack of attractions beyond the beaches. Snorkeling is at its finest all through the year off the coasts of Vieques and Culebra.

Flamenco Beach, located on Culebra, is widely regarded as one of the world's most stunning beaches. Mosquito Bay on Vieques is the world's most bioluminescent bay.

As a reminder, The unfortunate reality that islanders of Vieques and Culebra face every day is that there is no high-quality medical care available to them if they get sick while on vacation. If you need medical attention fast, you'll have to take a plane to Puerto Rico's main island.

You have probably heard of Vieques by now, as it is consistently ranked among the "best island destinations in the Caribbean" and features the world's brightest bioluminescent bay. Indulge in a week of nonstop beach hopping to discover secluded, picture-perfect coves with prime snorkeling just offshore.

Vieques may not have any resorts, but it does have some of the most beautiful B&Bs and vacation rentals in all of Puerto Rico. Check out the best hotels down below.

  • Vieques attractions include Bioluminescent Bay, numerous beaches, and some truly spectacular beaches.  
  • Vieques's peaceful coastline is perfect for a relaxing vacation away from the madding crowds.  
  • Those who have preexisting medical conditions or who anticipate needing medical attention while on vacation should know that Vieques does not have adequate medical facilities. Flights to the main island of Puerto Rico are necessary for most serious medical situations.
  • The best beaches on Vieques are located in the southern part of the island and can be reached by renting a jeep.

Even if you're not familiar with Culebra, you've probably heard of Flamenco, one of the world's most stunning beaches. Culebra offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, thanks to its thriving coral reefs and abundance of nearby trails and offshore islands. You have the option of staying in bed and breakfasts, guest houses, villas, or rented apartments.

  • Culebra has many attractions, including beaches, snorkeling, the El Polvorin Museum, and Culebrita Island.
  • Culebra has beautiful, secluded beaches with few visitors and excellent snorkeling.
  • Cons of a stay in Culebra: Getting there requires more preparation, but those who have been say it's well worth it. If you can afford it, flying is the best option. We advise against staying on Culebra for an extended period of time if you or a family member has a medical condition that could necessitate medical attention.
  • If you're only there for a short time, renting a golf cart is the best way to see all the best beaches. Staying longer than two days will allow you to rent a jeep and explore the more rugged roads along the coast.

One of Puerto Rico's Finest Lodging Options in Culebra

Considerations for a Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Places to Go & Vacation

Especially during the busy travel seasons (described further below), it's best to reserve your desired hotel well in advance. For more information, read our article about the ideal times to visit Puerto Rico.

Travel to Puerto Rico: Top Resorts and Hotels

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