Playa Sardinera in Hatillo. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s North Coast

The north coast of Puerto Rico is a wild expanse of rocky coastline and gorgeous ocean views, hilly karst country, and green farmland. It’s also thick with industrial plants, shopping centers, fast-food restaurants, road construction, and traffic. Despite the urban sprawl, though, the north coast has a lot going for it.

Plaza de Recreo Cristóbal Colón, Guayama's central plaza. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Sights in Guayama, Puerto Rico

Guayama features a lovely central plaza distinguished by rows of unique umbrella-shaped trees and examples of some truly beautiful architecture. Time your visit for one of the town’s yearly festivals and events or simply stop by any time to see these incredible architectural designs and tour the museums.

Vieques features miles of deserted beaches and bright blue water. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Vieques, Puerto Rico

In a world where change is constant, it’s nice to be reminded that some things stay the same. That is a big part of the charm of Vieques; a sleepy little island where life moves at a snail’s pace, cats and horses wander the island freely, and the only alarm clock you need is the crow of the roosters that run the place. Put these general planning tips into play for your visit, but know that the secret to enjoying Vieques is to chill out and let things unfold in their own way and time.

Gourds produced by the calabash tree were used for storage by the Taíno. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

All About Puerto Rican Trees

The official tree of Puerto Rico is the ceiba, an incredibly useful plant to island’s indigenous Taínos along with the unique calabash tree. Learn about their historical use, plus other remarkable trees of Puerto Rico, from ubiquitous palms and important mangroves to vibrant flamboyans and lovely mameys.

La Muralla, a nearly 400-year-old wall that surrounds Old San Juan. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Puerto Rico’s Iconic City Wall: La Muralla

The most enduring symbol of Puerto Rico is La Muralla. Nearly 400 years old, the city wall is composed of rock, rubble, and mortar that wraps around Old San Juan from the cruise-ship piers on San Juan Harbor to the capitol on the Atlantic Ocean. Its iconic sentry boxes serve as a symbol of the island’s Spanish heritage and resilience in an ever-changing world.

Hacienda Buena Vista. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Visit the Restored Hacienda Buena Vista

Hacienda Buena Vista is a carefully restored 19th-century coffee plantation just north of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Left to rot and rust after the land was expropriated by the Puerto Rican government, in 1984 an extensive restoration project brought the hacienda back to life and now offers guided tours by reservation and an exclusive harvest of coffee beans.

The brand new waterfront of Paseo Tablado La Guancha. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s South Coast

Instead of lush, rocky coastlines, rough Atlantic waters, mountainous karst country, and a dense population, Puerto Rico’s south coast features a flat, dry topography, and considerably less commercial development. It’s a great place to go if you want to escape the traffic and American influence found elsewhere on the island. And there are many great historic and cultural sights to explore.

Street facade of the Castillo Serralles. Photo © Mtmelendez (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Explore Historic Castillo Serrallés in Puerto Rico

Set high on a hill overlooking Ponce is a startling reminder of the height of the city’s flourishing sugar industry, when its port was the busiest on the island. Castillo Serrallés, built in 1934, is an impressive feat of architecture housing an astonishing array of antiques. Visit for its history and its beautiful surrounding gardens, including a butterfly garden.

Porta Coéli Chapel and Museum of Religious Art. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Things to Do in San Germán, Puerto Rico

San Germán is the second-oldest colonial city in Puerto Rico, a lovely town to explore the streets and plazas while admiring the 18th- and 19th-century architecture and, thanks to an expanding restaurant scene, to treat yourself with a few remarkable meals. Here are the sights, events, and how to get there.

Parque Recreativo Cristóbal Colón. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s West Coast

Embrace the slow-paced, nature-loving vibe of Puerto Rico’s west coast, a long-time favorite of surfers and divers but with so much going on–from salt flats and subtropical dry forests to colonial cities and fishing villages–that it’s worthy of an extended stay. Here are tips and advice on planning your time exploring all the best of the west coast.