Mouth of Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Exploring Las Cavernas del Río Camuy

Puerto Rico is home to one of the largest underground river-cave systems in the world, and the easiest way to explore the island’s subterranean world is at Las Cavernas del Río Camuy. The park is a well-maintained, tightly run ship, and it’s a good thing; this place draws major crowds.

Picture-perfect beach in Piñones. Photo © Angel Xavier Viera-Vargas, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Fun in Bosque Estatal de Piñones, Puerto Rico

There’s no other place in Puerto Rico like the spectacular Bosque Estatal de Piñones. Stretching from the eastern tip of Isla Verde, San Juan, to the town of Loíza, this pristine reserve is a natural wonderland of deserted beaches; mangrove, pine, and palm forests; sand dunes; coral reefs; bays; salt flats; and lagoons.

Monumento al Indio. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Sights in Isabela, Puerto Rico

The area known today as Isabela was once ruled by Cacique Mabodamaca, one of the island’s most powerful Taíno chiefs. The town of Isabela features a charming little plaza anchored by a church, as are all town plazas, impressive cultural sights, ruins, and one of the most hair-raising mountain drives.

Caribbean coastline at Guanica Dry Forest Reserve. Photo © Jason Ross/123rf.

Bosque Estatal de Guánica, Puerto Rico

Guánica is so completely different from the rest of Puerto Rico that you’d think you were on a whole other island. Called Bosque Estatal de Guánica, the 10,000-acre reserve contains hiking trails, caves, beaches, and the ruins of a Spanish fort, among other sights. The coast offers great snorkeling and diving.

Playa Zoni in Culebra. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Culebra’s Beaches: Diving, Snorkeling, and Kayaking

Once you see Culebra’s craggy coastline of hidden coves, private beaches, coral outcroppings, and cays, it’s easy to imagine why pirates liked to hide out here. Playa Flamenco is the island’s most celebrated beach, and rightly so. But there are many less populated and more remote beaches to be found for those willing to hike in.

Sun Bay Beach in Vieques. Photo © Mark Franco/123rf.

Best Vieques Beaches

Aside from Mosquito Bay, the main reason to come to Vieques is to enjoy the staggering beauty of its miles of remote, pristine beaches and clear, turquoise waters. Each beach has its own unique characteristics—some are calm and shallow, others have big crashing waves, and still others offer spectacular snorkeling. Several are accessible only from dirt trails, off road or by foot, so bring sturdy shoes. And don’t forget the bug spray.

Playa Zoni in Culebra. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Discover the Islands of Vieques and Culebra

Referred to as the Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra are often described as “the way Puerto Rico used to be.” There are no fast-food restaurants or high-rise hotels, no golf courses or casinos, virtually no nightlife, and few tourist sights. What they do have are stunning beaches, world-class water sports, and lots of opportunity for R&R.

Re-created Taíno bohio dwellings at Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

The Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes, Puerto Rico

In 1975, the remains of two native civilizations were discovered a couple of miles north of Ponce on what is now called the Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes. Excavation of the site is still under way, but several ball fields and plazas have been unearthed, along with artifacts, tools, and remains.

Cordillera Central. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time in Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central

It’s hard for some visitors to wrap their heads around the idea of spending their time in Puerto Rico not in the water but in the mountains. That’s what makes the Cordillera Central, Puerto Rico’s central mountain region, one of the island’s greatest hidden gems. One of the great things about the Cordillera Central is that it’s possible to get a taste of its charms on a day trip from just about anywhere on the island.