Free Things To Do in Puerto Rico
- #2View all PhotosfreeOld San Juan#2 in Puerto RicoSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Viejo San Juan is home to a variety of top attractions, including El Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal and Calle del Cristo. It's here you'll find Calle de la Fortaleza, which once held the city's famous umbrella installation but is now adorned with a massive Puerto Rican flag. While most people do take advantage of seeing the historic and iconic sights, many also visit Old San Juan just to experience the area. Many of the best tours in Puerto Rico include strolls through this area. Numerous travelers encourage others to walk the cobblestone streets to view the historic, colorful architecture and experience the vibrant culture. No need to leave for lunch, this section of town is bursting with street vendors and restaurants ready to satiate your appetite. At night, the city comes alive and is filled with a bustling nightlife known for its drinks and dancing.
For optimal strolling, past visitors recommended seeing the area early in the morning before tourists wake up and vacationers disembark from their cruise ships (the cruise port is at the base of Old San Juan). Should your feet get tired, you can hop on the free trolley that operates throughout this part of town; however, know that it can run infrequently. You can visit Viejo San Juan 24 hours a day, but know that individual bars, shops and restaurants operate their own hours.
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On the island of Culebra, which sits about 20 miles east of Puerto Rico, visitors will find a beach perfect for families, snorkelers and those looking for a remote spot that boasts a delightful aesthetic from nearly every angle. Flamenco Beach's 1 1/2-mile strip of sand is the most popular on Culebra and is often recognized by travelers and experts as the most beautiful in all of Puerto Rico.
Facilities like bathrooms and showers can be found on-site, and the beach's white sand is peppered with kiosks selling refreshments or offering chairs and umbrellas for rent (about $5 to $10 each). Amenities and tranquility are among the many allures of this favorite spot but above all else, travelers simply can't stop raving about the beach's beauty. Some travelers do complain that Flamenco Beach's popularity means it can get a bit crowded on the weekends (despite a lack of upscale resorts or restaurants). And your company won't just be of the human variety; fish tend to swim right up to the shallow water's edge.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Puerto RicoBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Mosquito Bay is popular in the evenings, but the island of Vieques' daytime beachcombers like the chalky sands and serene vantage point of southwestern Sun Bay. It's also the only beach on Vieques with public facilities: The approximately 2-mile beach has lifeguards, showers, bathrooms and a small area to purchase food. Plus, the town of Esperanza (and its restaurants and bars) is just a short walk away.
While San Juan's beaches have a distinctly urban vibe, travelers appreciate Sun Bay's seclusion. Reviewers said there's plenty of room to spread out along the beach and that it is relatively uncrowded, save for a herd of wild horses. The on-site amenities were also a bonus. In addition, beachgoers say Sun Bay a great family beach as the waves are calm. If you're an avid snorkeler, however, you may want to skip these waters as there's not much marine life to see here.
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The El Yunque National Rainforest, or simply El Yunque, is the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System. It's also a particular favorite for vacationers who like to hike, but even if nature really isn't your thing, travelers urge you to make the trip about 30 miles east of San Juan.
Remember to wear layers that can get wet (the highest elevations can receive up to 200 inches of rainfall annually) and pack a water-resistant camera to capture some of the area's splendor. Keep your ears peeled in the evenings, when Puerto Rico's tiny coquí tree frogs begin their serenade.
- #8View all PhotosfreeCalle del Cristo#8 in Puerto RicoShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Outlet shoppers should come to Old San Juan prepared to let go of a few dollars. The city's Calle del Cristo is a haven of restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. In addition to popular stores, those walking the street can discover local crafts and artisan shops.
If you're looking to skip shopping altogether, Calle del Cristo is still a worthwhile spot to get a feel for the beauty of Old San Juan. Past travelers routinely praised the old churches and unique architecture that line the cobblestone streets.
- #10View all PhotosfreeCondado Beach#10 in Puerto RicoBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're staying in San Juan and want to stretch on the sands, you won't need to venture farther than Condado Beach. For many sun-lovers, that's just fine. Condado is framed by a string of high-rise hotels and resort complexes, plus it's ground zero for water sports and beach bars. Families, however, sometimes forego these sands for one of the government-run beaches, or balnearios, because Condado beach's tide is often too strong for young swimmers.
According to past travelers, you won't be disappointed with Condado, as long as you recognize it's not a remote strip of sand, but rather a beach that sits alongside a bustling city. But its proximity to so many hotels and resorts makes it all the more tourist-friendly.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Puerto RicoBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Located near the Isla Verde resort district in the metro area, lengthy Carolina Beach is a popular public beach among both visitors and locals. Families especially love its white sand, warm water, the on-duty lifeguard and on-site paramedics. What they're not so thrilled with are the crowds. The beach tends to get busy during the weekends, but you can avoid some beachgoers by visiting during the week.
There are plenty of vendors nearby selling food and renting water sports equipment. The beach has a volleyball court and a playground for children. It also has a team dedicated to helping wheelchair users, though this service is available Monday through Friday only and must be requested in advance. Another minor drawback is that Carolina Beach's proximity to the airport means you may hear a bit of loud noise from airplanes overhead.
- #12View all PhotosfreeCrash Boat Beach#12 in Puerto RicoBeaches, Natural Wonders, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Despite its name, you won't need to worry about sinking ships at this beach in Aguadilla. Snorkelers regularly trek to Crash Boat for its clear waters and multitude of fish. The beach and its pier are also beloved by sunbathers, fishermen, volleyball players, scuba divers and daredevils who love to jump into the water from the pier. After a day in the sun, stop by one of the area's many kiosks to refuel or take a short drive to one of Aguadilla's restaurants. It's no wonder this western beach is often one of Aguadilla's most popular spots for travelers of all ages.
Repeat travelers said the beach is smaller after Hurricane Maria, but noted that Crash Boat is well worth a visit. Tourists loved the beach's turquoise waters and ample activities. The near-constant crowds don't seem to bother many travelers, but if you're looking for a quiet environment this may not be the beach for you.
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The resort beaches along Condado or Isla Verde are beautiful, but if you tire of the same old scenery, take a 30-mile drive east along Route 3 to Luquillo Beach. Families flock to this shore for its reef-protected calm waves, and you'll also see a lot of daytrippers fresh from a jaunt in the nearby El Yunque National Rainforest.
Recent vacationers agreed that Luquillo wasn't crowded, but they offered differing reports on its cleanliness. Some travelers say that the beach is dirty, there's garbage strewn across the sand and the on-site changing rooms and bathrooms are not well kept. Others report that the beach is clean and one of the prettiest beaches they've ever visited.
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