The Ultimate Puerto Rico Bucket List for Nature Lovers
If you love nature and being outdoors, Puerto Rico is a must on your travel bucket list. Being an island in the Caribbean, the first things that probably come to mind when you think of Puerto Rico are turquoise-colored waters and soft white sand.
With that said, though, Puerto Rico’s got a lot more than just beaches! Home to mountains, rainforests, deserts, and an array of natural wonders, the Island of Enchantments has a ton of amazing things to do for nature lovers seeking exciting adventures.
Whether you’re on the lookout for a mix of beach and outdoor adventures on your itinerary or you simply want to get to know Puerto Rico beyond its beaches, these are the ultimate Puerto Rico adventures every nature lover needs on their bucket list!
The Ultimate Puerto Rico Bucket List for Nature Lovers
Located in Lajas, on the southwestern part of Puerto Rico’s main island, La Parguera is a haven for water adventures. The star here is diving to explore “La Pared”, a long stretch of wall that is covered with reef sea plants, set one hundred feet below the ocean’s surface!
This popular diving spot teems with fabulous marine life, including manta rays, turtles, barracudas, large crabs, and other sea creatures. If you get lucky, you might even spot some dolphins, so make sure you take along an underwater camera! The low currents make this dive suitable for all levels of divers.
If you’re not too big on deep-diving, there’s snorkeling available around the shallow reefs or you can simply explore the mangroves on a kayak and take a hike along the beach for wonderful views.
The most exciting time at Parguera comes at night, as you’ll be able to witness one of the coolest phenomena ever: bioluminescence. Put another way, you’ll see the water glowing in the dark!
This is the only bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico you can swim in, but you can also opt to witness this natural wonder from a kayak or glass-bottomed boat.
Rio Camuy Caves Park
Caverns and caves to explore? Yes, please! Rio Camuy Caves Park has plenty of those, all surrounded by lush nature and hiking trails on the surface.
Rio Camuy is an awesome destination for nature lovers. Located in the northwestern part of Puerto Rico, this park houses a cavern system more than 10 miles long, with over 220 caves waiting to be explored.
These limestone caverns and caves are part of a huge network of underground ways which were carved out over time by the Rio Camuy, the third-largest underground river in the world.
Even though the cave system was discovered by archeologists in 1958, there is evidence that the caves were explored hundreds of years ago!
El Yunque National Forest
Can you imagine exploring an enchanting rainforest on an island in the Caribbean? Well, it’s not a far-fetched thought at all! A 45-minute drive from San Juan will take you to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the United States.
Sprawling over 29,000 acres, it is not too large compared to other rainforests, but it is one of the most diverse in the world.
Hiking the verdant green trails to one of the many natural pools is a favorite here. While hiking, keep your eyes open to catch some spectacular views while you explore the natural goodness of the place. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly encounter some mango trees, or spot some woodpeckers and Cahí frogs!
You’ll find Piñones Forest east of San Juan. Like most of Puerto Rico’s coastal forests, it is made up primarily of mangroves that are the home of all kinds of marine and shoreline organisms.
The cool thing about this one is that it has a boardwalk where you can walk through the mangroves and observe reefs, islets, dunes, seagrass meadows, and salt flats.
Additionally, you’ll get to have close encounters with sea turtles, crabs, and tons of birds along with a diversity of trees and fabulous vistas.
Vieques Island and Mosquito Bay
Six miles off PR’s main island is Vieques Island, a tropical haven and one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
Spectacular beaches with sand so soft it feels like talcum powder, breathtaking vistas, and the laid-back atmosphere typical of a Caribbean island make Vielques a must on your Puerto Rico bucket list.
Here you will also find Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world! This wonder can only be described as magical, so do consider staying overnight to see it.
Trust me, you won’t forget this experience anytime soon, if ever. Swimming is not allowed here during bioluminescence, but you can kayak or ride a boat instead.
Next morning, you can hop over to Culebra, a nearby paradisiac island with awesome views and an active reef.
Jobos Bay National Estuarine Reserve
If you love nature and like to visit off-the-beaten-track locations, Jobos Bay Reserve is for you. At this gem of a place, you can see different ecosystems and come close to mangrove forests, seagrass beds, wetlands, upland dry forests, and lagoons.
Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a one-of-its-kind natural shelter that protects nearly 3,000 acres along Puerto Rico’s southern coast, making it a real oasis for endangered brown pelicans, hawksbill turtles, peregrine falcons, Yellow-shouldered blackbirds, and the West Indian manatee.
Because of the nature of their protection activities, be sure to check out their official web page for the exact dates they are open to the public so you can plan accordingly.
Have you ever visited Puerto Rico? Which are some of your favorite natural locations that didn’t make it to this list? Let me know in the comment section below!