Puerto Rico, an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, consists of a main island, four small islands, and hundreds of cays and islets. Its tropical climate, gorgeous beaches, lush rainforest, waterfalls, and natural beauty have attracted visitors for hundreds of years. As a tourist destination, Puerto Rico offers delicious seafood, history, nightlife, friendly people, water sports, golf, and a range of hotels and resorts.
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, so no passport is required for American travelers, and the currency is the U.S. dollar. Getting there is convenient, with flights from most major cities on a variety of airlines. As with many vacation spots, a tour is a great way to get acquainted, especially for first-time visitors, but even frequent travelers can deepen their appreciation by learning more about a destination. Here are a few tours that will interest both new and experienced visitors to Puerto Rico.
Old San Juan Walking Tour
David Rodriguez explores historic Old San Juan beginning at Fort El Morro, built to protect the island from pirates and European powers who valued Puerto Rico (“rich port”) for its strategic location. Strolling along cobblestone streets, Rodriguez explains that the stones were used as ballast for arriving ships before becoming the early roads. He points out Old San Juan’s colorful architecture and locations that were used in films like “Pirates of the Caribbean.” In addition to historical locations, Rodriquez takes his guests to Calle San Sebastian for nightlife and bars, and he stops at the spot where the piña colada was invented in 1963. Along the way, the walking tour takes in stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay.
To book: tripadvisor.com
San Juan Food Tours
On the 3-hour, small-group Classic Old San Juan Food Tour, guests stop for tastings at four or five restaurants while walking through the walled city. An experienced bilingual guide stops at the best places to dine in Old San Juan, with dishes that include ceviche, mofongos, seafood, flan, and pastries. There’s a stop for Puerto Rico’s legendary rum cocktail, the Piña Colada, as well as premium coffee, gelato, paletas, and chocolate. While strolling along the cobblestone streets of the Spanish colonial city, guests will hear about its unique architecture and see the second oldest church in the Americas and other historic landmarks. By the end of the tour, the well-fed guests will be familiar with the contemporary and traditional cuisine of Puerto Rico.
To book: sanjuanfoodtours.com
El Yunque Rainforest and Bio Bay Tour
The Island Journeys El Yunque Rainforest and Bio Bay Tour is a unique opportunity to experience two of Puerto Rico’s greatest natural attractions: the biologically diverse tropical El Yunque rainforest and the Bioluminescent Lagoon, where tiny organisms make the water glow at night. The full-day tour begins with a sightseeing drive and a stop at a fruit stand for fritters or a fresh fruit smoothie. In El Yunque, guests can take a guided hike along natural trails, wade in a river, swim in natural pools and waterfalls, or play on a waterslide and a rope swing — or simply relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Dinner is next and then the trip to Fajardo Bio Bay for sunset and a kayak tour. Guides point out the mangrove forest before guests arrive at Laguna Grande and the bay, where every paddle stroke lights the water with sparkles, and the fish glow in the dark water under starry skies. Note that the tour is considered “Moderate to Strenuous,” and moderate fitness level is suggested.
To book: islandjourneys.com
East Island Powerboat Excursions
On East Island Excursions’ San Juan Mini Boats Adventures tour, guests operate their own powerboat, cruising across the San Juan Bay for sightseeing along the coast. The 13-foot rigid inflatable mini boats accommodate four people, and they depart near the cruise terminal in Old San Juan after a short safety briefing. The guided group will pass Condado and the Puerto Rico Convention Center before a brief stop to see points of interest in the area. Next, guests will cruise towards the historic district of Old San Juan and Fort San Cristobal, passing cruise ship ports, mountains, and rainforest. Other landmarks along the way are The San Juan Wall, Governor’s Mansion, and Fort San Felipe Del Morro.
On the way back, boats will pass the commercial piers and a mangrove area, home to iguanas, birds, and local fauna. The 90-minute tour includes beverages and returns to the San Juan Bay marina.
To book: eastislandpr.com
Tropical Trail Rides
Located on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico in the town of Isabella, Tropical Trail Rides offers two rides every day: a morning ride at 9 a.m. and an afternoon ride at 3:30 p.m., each ride lasting about two hours. The guided tour begins along the beach, riding through soft sand next to the sea. Then riders take a trail through an almond tree forest amid a tropical landscape. Beginners and intermediate riders as well as advanced horseback riders can enjoy the terrain and scenery on one of the Barker family’s 30 well cared for horses. The tour includes an opportunity for a brief hike up a cliff to a panoramic view, a swim, or time to explore cliffside caves — and plenty of photo ops.
To book: tropicaltrailrides.com