Puerto Rico is a collection of islands between the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands in the heart of the Caribbean. With lovely beaches and great weather year-round, it’s a haven for those looking for a tropical escape. The unincorporated territory of the USA since 1898, when the Spanish relinquished it after losing the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico has been a haven for both Americans and international travellers, with plenty of interesting Puerto Rico landmarks to see.
From beaches and islands to markets and museums, Puerto Rico also offers a rich Caribbean cultural experience. This corner of the world will transport you to a place where time has stood still and where the waves lap up its white sandy beaches all day long. Here are 20 amazing landmarks in Puerto Rico to tick off your to-see list.
- 20 Puerto Rico Landmarks
- Natural Landmarks in Puerto Rico
- Historic Landmarks in Puerto Rico
20 Puerto Rico Landmarks
Natural Landmarks in Puerto Rico
1- La Mina Falls
The La Mina Falls, or Cascada La Mina as it’s called in Spanish, is a 35 foot (11 m) tall waterfall situated in Puerto Rico’s iconic and picturesque El Yunque National Forest.
One of El Yunque’s many incredible attractions and landmarks, La Mina Falls and its surroundings astonishes visitors with over 200 species of flora and fauna native to Puerto Rico.
You can reach the waterfall via two hiking trails, the shorter 0.7-mile (1.1 km) long La Mina Trail and the more leisurely 1 mile (1.6 km) long Big Tree Trail.
Both will take hikers past gorgeous landscapes and scenery, and both bring hikers to the falls where they can cool of in La Mina’s ice-cold natural pools.
There are plenty of guided tours of La Mina Falls and other waterfalls in El Yunque available for those wishing to learn a little more about the region’s different species.
No visit to Puerto Rico is complete without stopping at El Yunque National Forest and hiking to La Mina Falls.
Entry is free, making it even more attractive to add to your itinerary.
La Mina Falls is at 865J+2V3, Río Grande 00745, Puerto Rico.
2- Mosquito Bay
Located on the southern coast of one of Puerto Rico’s smaller islands, Vieques, sits Mosquito Bay, home to one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena anywhere in the world.
Thanks to the large amounts of plankton living in the bay, the water in this bioluminescent bay shimmers and glows brightly at night and draws thousands of visitors every year to gawk at the spectacle.
The bioluminescent glow of Mosquito Bay is best-experienced on water, with many operators offering great tours with kayaks and other crafts to bring visitors up close to the sparkling waters of the bay.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s reason enough to make anyone want to visit Puerto Rico, a trip to Mosquito Bay is a highlight.
Mosquito Bay is at Puerto Mosquito on Vieques Island.
3- Cueva Ventana
If gorgeous panoramic vistas from high above sound exciting to you, then make sure to check out Cueva Ventana, one of Puerto Rico’s most-famous landmarks located near the city of Arecibo.
Forming part of a natural limestone formation called karst, the cave serves as a lookout point. It contains valuable petroglyphs and carvings dating back to the pre-Columbian era that visitors can experience.
The cave’s window-like opening that looks out onto the verdant mountains and rivers below steals the show and is the main reason why this cave is such a popular destination for travellers and locals alike.
On clear days it’s even possible to spot Cerro Punta peak, the highest point in Puerto Rico.
Many tours are available with knowledgeable guides on hand to explain the unique plant and animal species living in the region, or you can choose to explore the cave at your own pace.
Widely regarded as Puerto Rico’s most Instagrammable location, Cueva Ventana is one of the best places to visit and explore.
Cueva Ventana is at PR 10 Km. 75, 00612, Puerto Rico.
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4- Black Sand Beach
Famed for its world-class beaches, Puerto Rico has no shortage of extraordinary beaches to visit, meaning that for a beach to stand out from the rest, it needs to be something incredible.
Luckily Black Sand Beach is exactly that, with its striking black volcanic sand coupled with pristine blue waters.
Located on the island of Vieques and close to the island’s famous Mosquito Bay, Black Sand Beach is easily reachable from the town of Esperanza.
It’s an excellent place to spend some time before wandering off to watch the spectacle that is Mosquito Bay after the sun has set.
Black Sand Beach is in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Perhaps one of the most popular beaches throughout the Caribbean region is Rincón, Puerto Rico’s quintessential surfing paradise.
As it’s on the west coast of Puerto Rico, Rincón is not as crowded and urbanised as Puerto Rico’s other main attractions, making it the ideal location to relax and enjoy whimsical Puerto Rican paradise.
Apart from being a surfing hotspot, hosting the 1968 World Surfing Championship, Rincón is also Puerto Rico’s best place to spot humpback whales migrating here every year.
The best time to spot humpbacks is between January and March, when they pass by several of Puerto Rico’s islands on their way through the Caribbean region.
The drive from San Juan to Rincón is approximately 148 kilometres (92 mi) long, making it the perfect day trip to escape the busy streets of Puerto Rico’s capital during your stay.
Rincón Beach is at 8PRV+6Q8, Rincon, Rincón 00677, Puerto Rico.
6- Rio Camuy Caves
Situated within a 268 acre (108 ha) park lies the Rio Camuy Caves, one of the world’s largest underground cave systems despite only 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of it being explored.
The system is named after the Camuy River, the third-largest underground river in the world and a body of water that carved out the limestone rock to form the gigantic cave system over one million years ago.
With many trails and guided tours available, taking visitors throughout portions of the cave system, it’s little wonder why the Rio Camuy Caves are a popular attraction in Puerto Rico.
Large arrays of stalactites and stalagmites are displayed within the cathedral-like caves, and guests can even spot some bats flying around.
With food stalls, picnic areas and an exhibition hall within the park, there’s no shortage of activities to participate in while visiting this spectacular Puerto Rican landmark.
Rio Camuy Caves is at Carr. 129 K. 18.9, Quebrada, 00669, Puerto Rico.
7- Isla Culebrita
Lying just off the eastern coast of Isla De Culebra is Isla Culebrita, one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful islands.
Uninhabited, the island is a polar opposite to the lively hubs of Puerto Rico’s tourist centres.
Accessible only by ferry or water taxi, this mile-long island is often overlooked by most visitors to Puerto Rico, only adding to its majesty.
Pristine beaches, incredible coral reef snorkelling and relaxing in tide pools away from the hustle and bustle makes Isla Culebrita stand out amongst Puerto Rico’s many islands and enclaves.
Visitors to the island during the summer and spring months will be mesmerised by the turtle population’s egg-hatching spectacle, which takes place yearly.
There’s even an old lighthouse to visit if you’re all beached out from the island’s many untouched beaches, making it the perfect place to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life.
8- Rio Abajo State Forest
Discover leafy ravines, rainforests, caves and sinkholes at Puerto Rico’s Rio Abajo State Forest, a ‘National Natural Landmark’ in the country.
Situated within the Arecibo and Utuado Municipalities, the forest offers incredible hiking trails and wide arrays of plant and animal species to observe.
While exploring the forest alone is safe, hiring a guide who knows the area well is best. The forest’s continuously changing conditions make some areas unnavigable during certain times of the year.
Even if conditions in the forest are perfect, hiring a guide is still recommended as parrots, hawks, boa constrictors and many other exotic species inhabit the forest.
An experienced guide will be much more adept at spotting them before they spot you.
Rio Abajo State Forest is at 87MJ+CFJ, Utuado, 00641, Puerto Rico.
9- Playa Flamenco
Venture to Puerto Rico’s Isla De Culebra to visit one of Puerto Rico’s most-famous beaches, Playa Flamenco, known as Flamenco Beach in English.
Often voted as one of the world’s best beaches, it’s a great spot to snorkel and swim due to the lack of big waves.
Breathtakingly beautiful turquoise water and a white sandy strip of beach create the ultimate setting for a day filled with nothing but lounging around and enjoying the sun.
The beach is best-known for the wreckages of two old US Navy tanks.
These graffiti-covered tanks are a popular spot to take amazing photos to post on social media, with the gorgeous horseshoe-bay beach as a backdrop.
With lifeguards, volleyball nets, bars and food stalls all on-site, there’s no reason not to visit one of the Caribbean’s top tourist destinations.
Playa Flamenco is at Flamenco, Culebra, Puerto Rico, Culebra 00775, Puerto Rico.
10- Paseo De La Princesa
One of Puerto Rico’s prettiest stretches to walk along, the gorgeous Paseo De La Princesa in San Juan offers an exciting yet relaxed way of soaking up the island’s natural beauty.
You can begin or end your stroll at the historic Puerta de San Juan, the official gate used to guard and protect the old city during colonial times.
Paseo De La Princesa is lined with ornately decorated lampposts, fountains and street vendors selling all sorts of knickknacks.
It has fabulous views of San Juan Bay, is easily accessible, is not too long to walk and is completely free.
Paseo De La Princesa is at San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico.
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Historic Landmarks in Puerto Rico
11- El Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro or ‘El Morro’, as it’s usually called, is the most recognisable historically significant landmark in Puerto Rico.
Perched atop the islet of Old San Juan, this commanding citadel has stood the test of time, facing bombardment from attacking forces ever since construction first began in 1539.
Completed 250 years later in 1790, the fortress defended San Juan from Sir Francis Drake’s 1595 assault and the US Navy’s 1898 bombardment of San Juan.
Steeped in history, today, the fortress is open to the public seven days a week with a vibrant atmosphere around the grounds of El Morro.
It’s an imposing sight in San Juan and shouldn’t be missed on any itinerary when visiting Puerto Rico.
El Morro is at 501 Bulevar del Valle, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico.
12- Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
This mouthful of a name belongs to the cemetery where many of Puerto Rico’s famous residents are buried.
Situated close to El Morro, the cemetery and the fortress can both be visited on the same day.
Built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean for symbolic reasons, the cemetery enjoys some of Puerto Rico’s best views, making it an excellent spot to visit for a stroll.
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis is at C. Cementerio, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico.
13- La Placita de Santurce
La Placita de Santurce is one of Puerto Rico’s most important historical landmarks.
The two-storey, 100-year-old food market is a stop that all visitors to San Juan should make.
During the week, the market is home to numerous fantastic eateries serving up delectable local food.
On weekends, though, La Placita de Santurce comes to life with people dining, drinking and salsa dancing.
It’s the ideal spot for eating delicious food and people-watching late into the night.
La Placita de Santurce is at 300 C. dos Hermanos, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico.
14- Puerto Rico Capitol
Puerto Rico’s most important building is one of its most impressive architecturally.
The stunning, Neoclassical Revival-style structure, designed by Rafael Carmoega, is home to the island’s senate meetings and native Puerto Rican artwork.
Guided tours are available Monday through Friday taking visitors through the many halls and chambers of the Capitol, offering rare glimpses of the structure’s masterful interior.
Listed on the US Register of Historic Places since 1977, this waterfront building is possibly one of the most stunning government buildings anywhere in the world and is undoubtedly worth a visit the next time you’re in San Juan.
Puerto Rico Capitol is at 1 Democracy Square, Old San Juan, San Juan, PR, 00902, Puerto Rico.
15- Serrallés Castle
The Castillo Serrallés Museum is a 1930s Spanish Revival-style mansion built by the Serrallés family of the DonQ rum company.
Its features include a butterfly nursery, the Viga Cross and a Japanese garden with pagodas and koi ponds.
A favourite destination for fancy parties, social events, and wedding receptions, Serrallés Castle is a rum and sugarcane museum that showcases these industries’ impact on Puerto Rico’s history and economy.
The museum is regularly featured on TV shows and is extremely popular with both locals and tourists, making it one of Puerto Rico’s cultural treasures.
Museo Castillo Serrallés is at Sector El Vigia, P.º De La Cruceta, Ponce, 00730, Puerto Rico.
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16- Museo de Las Americas
With many artefacts, textiles and artwork of indigenous Latin American tribes on display at the Museo de La Americas, the museum is one of the region’s richest and most culturally significant institutions.
Walking through the complex is like stepping back in time to the pre-colonial days of the Americas.
Housed in former army barracks that used to be a jail, now there are art galleries and rooms for visitors to tour.
The museum also has several interactive displays and educational films to entertain the whole family, making the museum fit for all ages.
Museo de Las Americas C. Beneficencia, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico.
17- San Juan Viejo
San Juan Viejo, or Old San Juan, as it’s more commonly called, is the second-oldest city in the entire Americas region.
It’s a mix of Spanish colonial history and modern-day Puerto Rican life.
The entire neighbourhood is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site with hundreds of restored 16th and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings.
Today these buildings are open for visitors to dine, shop, and even stay in, thanks to the many great restaurants and hotels that operate in San Juan Viejo.
Other landmarks in or near Old San Juan include El Morro, Castillo de San Cristóbal and the San Juan Cathedral, making it an unmissable area to explore in San Juan.
18- Arecibo Observatory
Home to the world’s largest radio telescope and arguably Puerto Rico’s most famous landmark, the Arecibo Observatory has been the setting of films such as James Bond’s GoldenEye, including many other notable films shot at the observatory or surrounding areas.
The observatory had a setback in December 2020, when its radio dish was irreplaceably damaged, leading to its closure.
It’s still unclear whether the observatory will be rebuilt or if authorities will construct a new observatory somewhere else.
Visitors hoping to spot the Arecibo Observatory can still manage to catch a glimpse of it from afar before it’s possibly torn down forever, but can unfortunately no longer venture on guided tours of the facility.
Arecibo Observatory is at PR-625, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico.
19- Casa Bacardi
The distillery of the world-famous Bacardi brand of rum is known as Casa Bacardi and is in the town of Cataño, near San Juan.
It hosts tours, tastings, mixology lessons and many other special events to share their love and passion for everything related to alcohol.
From learning how to craft the perfect daiquiri to sampling free liquor, there are all sorts of fun experiences at this iconic distillery.
Stop by Casa Bacardi to discover one of Puerto Rico’s most well-known exports to the rest of the world.
Casa Bacardi is at PR-165, Cataño, 00949, Puerto Rico
20- Los Morrillos Lighthouse
Located within Puerto Rico’s Cabo Rojo Municipality, Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, or Los Morrillos Lighthouse, surprises most visitors with its laid-back feel for such a historically significant landmark.
Located on an isolated peninsula with pale limestone cliffs surrounded by lagoons and marshes, Los Morrillos Lighthouse, constructed in 1882, marks the southeast entrance from the Caribbean Sea through the Mona Passage into the Atlantic Ocean.
Given its geographical location, it’s a significant beacon to aid passing ships, which it has been doing since it first opened.
There are hiking trails around the lighthouse and beaches nearby to soak up the incredible vistas and watch the lighthouse when it’s in operation.
Los Morrillos Lighthouse is at WRM5+F4C, Rojo Cabo, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
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