Things to Do on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

You come to Vieques to explore its many pristine beaches, but there are a growing number of things to do away from the beach on this quaint little Puerto Rican island, from remote hikes and wildlife watching to art shows and fine dining.

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Zip Line Canopy Eco-Adventure

Zip Line Canopy Eco-Adventure

After resting up in your San Juan hotel, rise bright and early for a Puerto Rico zip-lining adventure. Popular areas for zip lining are the rainforest territory near the city of Caguas and the Julio Enrique Monagas Park in the town of Bayamón. 960 1280

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Paseo de la Princesa

Paseo de la Princesa

Bask in the nighttime glow of historic San Juan. Old San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico, established in 1508 by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon. The star attraction is Paseo de la Princesa, a 19th-century walkway just outside the city walls that’s home to antique streetlamps, street vendors … and plenty of inspiration for hand-holding.
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Sean Pavone Photo/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque National Forest

Less than an hour’s drive from San Juan is El Yunque National Forest, the only rainforest that belongs to the US Forest Service. Set foot in this exotic 28,000-acre wonderland, where a tropical monsoon climate thrives, then take a 45-minute hike up Mt. Britton -- at more than 3,000 feet high, this lookout will leave you feeling like you’re on top of the world. 960 1280

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Rio Camuy Cave Park

Rio Camuy Cave Park

Keep the outdoor exploration going with a visit to Rio Camuy Cave Park. This intricate cave system, about a 1.5-hour drive from San Juan, is definitely worth the trek. Discovered in 1958, the cave park is home to underground waterways carved out by the third-largest underground river in the world. Just make sure you call before going; the park closes if it gets too rainy. 960 1280
Plaza Las Americas

Plaza Las Americas

Shop till you drop at Plaza Las Americas, the largest shopping center in the entire Caribbean. This premier San Juan shopping mall, which also happens to be the first indoor mall ever built in Puerto Rico, spans 1.8 million square feet, with plenty of room for big designer labels, a booming movie theater and generous dining options, including the world’s largest Romano's Macaroni Grill. 960 1280

Plaza Las Americas  

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

Enjoy a stroll through Plaza de Armas (“Arms Square”), one of the main squares in San Juan. The big picture-taking attraction here is the plaza’s round fountain. The structure has 4 statues, more than a century old, each depicting one of the 4 seasons. 960 1280

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Bacardi Rum Tour

Bacardi Rum Tour

You can’t travel to Puerto Rico's capital without trying Bacardi rum. Sample the very best at the Bacardi Rum Factory. Head for Highway 22 West, then get off at the exit for Catano Road -- you’ll spot a little brown Bacardi sign, and the Bacardi factory just beyond.
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Ben Alman, flickr  

Cafe Carli Concierto

Cafe Carli Concierto

Chill out with smooth jazz sounds at Cafe Carli Concierto in Old San Juan. The really cool thing about this stylish bistro and bar is that it’s owned and run by Carli Muñoz, a pianist for the Beach Boys back in the day. Today, Muñoz entertains guests with his own live piano accompaniments, while you dine on entrees such as rosemary jus lamb chops and blackened ahi tuna with Cajun spices.
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Cellula Immunity, flickr   

San Juan Food Tour

San Juan Food Tour

Lace up for a taste of San Juan on a culinary walking tour. Stops along the way include eateries with savory item like this -- the Mallorca, a ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with powdery deliciousness. Find it at the San Juan bakery Cafeteria Mallorca. 960 1280

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Catamaran Tour of Puerto Rico

Catamaran Tour of Puerto Rico

To truly savor this Isle of Enchantment, take a Puerto Rico catamaran tour, enjoying views of the El Yunque mountains and the eastern coastline. Upon anchoring, plunge into crystal-clear waters for snorkeling ops along popular diving spots like Cayo Lobo. You’ll also want to get in some kayaking time along the bioluminescent Laguna Grande bay. 960 1280

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El Morro Castle

El Morro Castle

Get in a little San Juan history at the towering El Morro Castle. This 16th-century citadel lies in the northwestern-most point of Old San Juan, beckoning with its iconic garitas and intriguing military history spanning 400 years. Be prepared to climb steps and steep slopes; it’ll be worth it for the scenic views of the Atlantic that await.
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La Fortaleza

La Fortaleza

Another must-see site is La Fortaleza, the official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico; it also happens to be the oldest executive mansion in continuous use anywhere in the world. Built between 1533 and 1540, La Fortaleza began as a military fortification for San Juan, to withstand potential attacks from Carib Indians and marauding European powers of the day. 960 1280

Devyn Caldwell, flickr  

Ritz-Carlton Casino

Ritz-Carlton Casino

Try your luck at the Ritz-Carlton Casino, the largest casino in Puerto Rico. Open 24 hours a day, this high-stakes casino, tucked inside the grand Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Juan, offers traditional games like blackjack and 3-card poker, along with more than 329 slot machines. 960 1280

Christopher Cypert/Ritz-Carlton  

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Puerto Rican Day Parades

Puerto Rican Day Parades

Locals celebrate during the National Puerto Rican Day Parade along 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Held on the second Sunday in June, it has become one of the largest parades in New York City with nearly 2 million spectators each year. Annual parades are also head in downtown Chicago and Philadelphia. 960 1280

Oquendo, Creative Commons License  

Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Colors of the rainbow brighten the downtown streets of San Juan. The capital is one of Puerto Rico’s most important seaports and one of the busiest in the Caribbean. 960 1280

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San Juan

San Juan

San Juan is known for its beautiful beaches -- but did you know that it’s also the second-oldest European city established in the Americas, second only to Santo Domingo? 960 1280

Image by Oquendo through Creative Commons License  

El Morro Coast

El Morro Coast

A gorgeous view of San Juan Bay from El Morro. Also known as San Felipe Fort, El Morro Castle is a 16th-century, 6-level fortress that rises 140 feet above sea level. 960 1280

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Tostones

Tostones

Tostones, or twice-fried green (unripe) plantains, are a popular Puerto Rican dish. They’re served as an appetizer or side dish much like potato chips or French fries. 960 1280

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Capitol of Puerto Rico

Capitol of Puerto Rico

The Capitol of Puerto Rico, also referred to as Palacio de las Leyes (the Palace of the Laws) is located just outside the walls of Old San Juan. It was built in 1907, when Puerto Rico was still a colony of the United States. 960 1280

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Empanadas

Empanadas

Empanadas, made of of steak, chicken or fish breaded in flour and fried, are a delicious favorite dish in Puerto Rico and throughout South America. Just don’t confuse them with empanadillas, crescent-shaped turnovers filled with lobster, crab, conch or beef. 960 1280

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San Felipe Fort

San Felipe Fort

Behind the 18-foot-thick wall, El Morro is a maze of tunnels, dungeons and small, circular sentry boxes called garitas that have come to symbolize Puerto Rico. 960 1280

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Combate Beach

Combate Beach

In the south western tip of Puerto Rico known as Cabo Rojo, Combate Beach is a great escape from busy San Juan. 960 1280

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Bacalaito

Bacalaito

A favorite Puerto Rican dish is bacalaito, a codfish fritter. Bacalao (salted, dried codfish) is also the main ingredient in traditional Puerto Rican fish stew. 960 1280

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Casa de España

Casa de España

The Casa de España, a beautiful home in San Juan that’s not open to the public, hosts many events and is a photographers' dream. This estate was designed in 1932 by Puerto Rican architect Pedro de Castro. 960 1280

  

Taro Root

Taro Root

Several traditional Puerto Rican dishes are made with taro root. A similar root known as yautía is interchangeable with taro, and both are used in dishes such as sopón de pollo con arroz (chicken soup with rice). 960 1280

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We love the beautiful floral in Puerto Rico, including its state flower, the hibiscus. 960 1280

  

Casa de Espana, designed by Puerto Rican architect Pedro de Castro, is a popular tourist attraction because of its old Spanish Moorish architecture. Built in 1932, it now houses different social organizations whose members are of Spanish descent. 960 1280

  

We enjoy eating tasty tamales filled with garbanzo beans with your choice of other filler ingredients, including chicken, shellfish, raisins, capers, spices, olives and sofrito. These tasty treats are usually wrapped in a banana or plantain leaf and boiled. 960 1280

  

We love watching the Puerto Rico national baseball team in action, including Ivan Rodriquez trying to steal a base from shortstop Derek Jeter. Baseball is the most popular sport in Puerto Rico. 960 1280

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Nos encanta bailar! The Puerto Rico Salsa Congress is an annual event held in San Juan that showcases hot salsa bands, instructors and performers from around the world, including Cano and Dominguez from Spain. 960 1280

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Puerto Ricans love fried plantains, and we enjoy sampling popular dishes made with the fruit, such as mofongo and alcapurria. 960 1280

  

We enjoy watching popular Puerto Rican performers and entertainers, including Jennifer Lopez (pictured) and Ricky Martin. 960 1280

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Take a stroll along Puerto Rico's beautiful coast, and soak in the atmosphere of a relaxing, carefree culture. 960 1280

Darryl Brooks  

We love sampling authentic Puerto Rican food, such as this hearty soup made of chicken, plantains and rice. 960 1280

  

Puerto Ricans know how to whip up some delicious food in the kitchen. We can't turn down tasty empanadas, empanadillas and pastelillos -- pastries filled with ingredients such as chorizo, turkey, chicken, spinach, coconut and mozzarella. 960 1280

  

We enjoy listening to traditional Puerto Rican music and their influence on many music genres, including Afro-Rican jazz, merengue, reggaeton, guaracha, salsa romantica, danza and bomba. 960 1280

  

Puerto Ricans know how to party. We love the San Sebastian Festival, a 4-day Mardi Gras-like celebration in honor of the island's rich culture and history. The festival draws thousands of spectators and visitors each year. 960 1280

Betty Tsang  

Yellow rice with pigeon peas, pieces of salami and red pimiento is a traditional Puerto Rican dish. 960 1280

  

We enjoy taking a relaxing trip to commune with nature at the Puerto Rico's Caribbean National Forest. Make sure you check out the Cascada Juan Diego's falls and pool, located in the El Yunque rainforest. 960 1280

Colin D. Young  

We celebrate special Puerto Rican holidays, including the annual Three Kings Day Parade in Spanish Harlem. The parade celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the day the 3 kings brought gifts to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. 960 1280

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Boxing is a major sport in Puerto Rico. It has produced more amateur and professional world champions than any other sport in history. On June 6, 2010, Miguel Cotto (pictured, left) won the World Boxing Association's Super Welterweight title. 960 1280

Reuters  

We love visiting Puerto Rico's historic sites, including El Morro. Every year, 2 million visitors explore the old fort, located on the island's northernmost tip. 960 1280

  

We love taking a guided tour and dip in the bioluminescent bay, located off the coast of Vieques Island. It's beautiful during the day, but at night, microorganisms cause the bay to glow whenever the water is disturbed, leaving a trail of neon blue. 960 1280

  

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