The Best Outdoor Activities in Puerto Rico
Explore and embrace the natural beauty of the island’s great outdoors. There is something for everyone!
Traveling to Puerto Rico or thinking of making the island your home? Then, here is your chance to explore and embrace the natural beauty of the island’s great outdoors. You can find gorgeous beaches, an all-year tropical climate, and a mountainous region in Puerto Rico. There is something for everyone! Keep reading for ideas on outdoor activities that you, your family, and your friends can enjoy.
Baseball, basketball, and boxing are the most popular sports in Puerto Rico, thanks to the island’s relationship with the United States. Cockfighting and horse racing remain popular due to the island’s Spanish roots.
Golfing, running, cycling, tennis, and volleyball are also activities locals enjoy on the island. Sports facilities are available to partake in these sports, including baseball fields, PGA-caliber golf courses, swimming facilities, and more. You can also bike and skate around the island and in various parks, such as Parque Central, in Santurce, San Juan.
Another great attraction is the Albergue Olímpico, an athletic and recreational facility in Salinas of 1500 acres with mini-golf, rock-climbing walls, and a ropes course. There is also an Olympic Museum of Puerto Rico and The Puerto Rico International Speedway. It is also home to Olimpia Water Park, with water slides, pools, and a play pool for the smaller kids.
Due to Puerto Rico being an island with crystal-blue waters, people here like to participate in water-based sports, such as fishing, sailing, scuba, surfing, snorkeling, swimming, and windsurfing.
Here are our favorite beaches at Piloto 151:
🏖️ La Playuela in Cabo Rojo: perfect beach for sunbathing or exploring its surroundings.
🏖️ Combate Beach in Cabo Rojo: a beautiful beach part of the Boquerón National State Forest, great for diving, jumping off the pier, and sunset-watching.
🏖️ Jobos in Isabela: this beach has calm waters, perfect for families with children, but also rough water, perfect for surfers. You can also for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, and canoeing.
🏖️ Flamenco Beach in Culebra: ideal for swimming, unwinding, and simply beach-bumming.
🏖️ Crash Boat in Aguadilla: suitable for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and surfing (during the “winter”). You can also dive from El Natural, a famous diving spot with a large reef.
🏖️ Cayo Icacos in Fajardo: perfect for snorkeling, taking a stroll, swimming, or paddle boarding under the sun.
🏖️ Domes in Rincón: an excellent beach if you like surfing, whale-watching during the “winter,” and relaxing in the sun…not the best beach for swimming, though!
🏖️ Cayo Aurora (aka Gilligan’s Island) in Guánica: a small mangrove key is surrounded by crystal-clear, shallow waters that are ideal for a day on a boat. You can only get there by boat or kayak.
🏖️ Sun Bay in Vieques: this beach has bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, barbecue grills, food vendors, lifeguards, and security personnel. You can camp there with a permit arranged beforehand.
🏖️ Mar Chiquita in Manatí: a beach with a half-moon opening. It is ideal for swimming and sunbathing. There isn’t much shade, but umbrellas and chairs are available for rent.
You can also be part of a unique and eco-friendly experience when you visit a bioluminescent bay. This rare ecosystem occurs when microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates (a type of plankton) produce a “glow-in-the-dark” effect when stimulated by movement. When you move the water, these organisms light up in a neon blue-green color. There are only five ecosystems in the world with these bioluminescent bays, and Puerto Rico is home to three of them:
🌊 Mosquito Bay in Vieques: recognized in 2006 by Guinness World Records as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.
🌊 Laguna Grande in Fajardo: not technically a bay, but a lagoon. It is the most visited bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico because it is closer to San Juan.
🌊 La Parguera in Lajas: technically, this one is two bioluminescent bays: Bahía la Parguera and Bahía Monsio Jose. Due to overdevelopment and pollution, the bioluminescent bays here are not as bright as the other two in Puerto Rico. On a positive note, it is cheaper and has fewer visitors. You can also enjoy swimming, diving, and snorkeling here.
Regardless of which bioluminescent bay you choose, always try to schedule your tour on a cloudy, moonless night to enjoy the “glow-in-the-dark” effect.
Camping and Hiking
Camping and hiking are the way to go if you are a nature seeker. Take in the views, enjoy the breezy weather, and disconnect while hearing the coquis sing around you.
If you are interested in camping, you can find government and privately-run campgrounds around the island. Some nature preserves also allow camping, but you would need a permit to stay there.
In the central mountains of the island, you can camp at the Toro Negro State Forest Camping Site. This forest has lakes, rivers, natural swimming pools, and waterfalls and is just a few minutes from La Confesora, a tranquil pond where you can swim. To hike and camp there, visit the ranger station on Route 143 KM 32.4 in the town of Villalba. You can camp with up to 6 people for a small fee, with a tent included. The campgrounds have running water, bathrooms with showers, barbecues, picnic tables, gazebos, and an area for campfires, perfect for campers. There is no fee for hiking, and it takes about 1-2 hours to hike to the observation tower. Call the Department of Natural Resources for more information and reservations.
Río Abajo State Forest is another spot to enjoy hiking and camping. You can even explore caves and partake in bird watching. It is located along the Tanamá River and Dos Bocas Lake in the towns of Utuado and Arecibo. For a small fee, you can stay at the campgrounds. Make sure to reserve on time and get a permit to camp there with the Department of Natural Resources. In the Tanamá River, local tour operators offer tours along the river that include cave tubing, swimming, hiking, and more.
There are plenty of other places around the island ideal for hiking, such as the Commonwealth Forest Reserves scattered around the island. For example, the Guánica Dry Forest, located on the island’s south side, has numerous trails. Don’t worry about getting lost, as the ranger at the entrance can provide you with a map of these trails.
In the town of Isabela, the Guajataca Forest has 27 miles of trails, but the two most popular are the Interpretative Trail and the trail that takes you to Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind). You can hike both trails in one day and even explore the cave. The area also has gazebos, bathrooms, parking, and recreational areas. Camping spaces are available, which must be reserved through the Department of Natural Resources.
In Arecibo, the Cambalache State Forest is perfect for a leisurely hike or even mountain biking. In Salinas, you can find el Arbol Solitario (Solitary Tree), where the “official” trailhead is off PR-1. It takes 90 minutes to complete the steep hike up the Cerro de los Cielos, and at the top, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea.
You can also go hiking and biking in the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge, a subtropical dry forest, where you can visit the lighthouse, Faro Los Morrillos. On your way to the lighthouse, you can also stop at the Salt Flats in Cabo Rojo, a 1,249-acre area with two natural lagoons that have been altered to mine salt. The Salt Flats Interpretative Center is open from Thursday to Sunday for guided tours and walks and is run by Caborrojenos Pro Salud y Ambiente, Inc. (contact them in advance to reserve a tour).
Another great outdoor destination is El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Here you can enjoy bathing in natural pools beneath waterfalls or taking in the gorgeous scenery from its many hiking trails. Entry tickets for the main recreation area in El Yunque along Rd 191 are available by reservation at www.recreation.gov. However, there are other trails you can enjoy without reservation. You can also check out the El Yunque website for the latest information about weather, park closures, and health and safety protocols.
Castillo San Felipe de El Morro (better known as El Morro): When you come to Puerto Rico, you must visit this top attraction. You can take a tour to learn about the history behind one of Spain’s engineering marvels. It is open every day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The cost is $10 per adult. Children under 15 enter for free. There are days that the National Park Service offers free entry to all visitors, such as Veteran’s Day in November. When you are done with your tour, make sure to fly a kite on the outside grounds and quench your thirst with a delicious piragua (a yummy shaved iced dessert!).
Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park in Orocovis: This park boasts one of the longest ziplines in the world for the ultimate outdoor adventure destination. It even has its own dedicated Team-Building Center.
Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park in Luquillo: an action-packed hacienda and a favorite adventure destination in Puerto Rico. Located between the foothills of the El Yunque National Rainforest and the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can enjoy ATV/UTV rides, horseback riding, driving go-karts, and hayrides.
Before you go…protect the outdoors!
It is essential to take care of these locations for others to enjoy, so be sure to leave the area as you found it or even better!
Looking for where to eat during your outdoor adventures? Head to our blog for ideas on Healthy Eats in Puerto Rico.
About Piloto 151
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