Whether you believe its name Puerto Rico (Rich Port) or its nickname La Isla del Encanto (the Enchanted Island), you are right. Puerto Rico certainly lives up to both names. Rich in culture and history, Puerto Rico surprises and delights with its rainforests, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches. Recently, I spent a jam-packed week in Puerto Rico in search of the best of Puerto Rico’s adventures. Get ready to fly, surf, swim, hike, zip, rappel, scale waterfalls, and see monkeys with five adventure travel musts in Puerto Rico!
Jetbooting in Luquillo Puerto Rico
Jetbooting or flyboarding is an incredible adventure. If you haven’t heard of it before, don’t worry. Let me explain. From the picture, it may be difficult to understand how you jetboot. So, here it goes. You attach the jetboots to your feet, which are part of a board similar to a snowboard or wakeboard. The board is connected to a long hose which attaches to the jetski. The jetski engine powers the altitude of your experience, but the direction and speed are up to your navigation. The tricky part of jetbooting is two-fold: 1) getting up and 2) staying up while steering. Unlike most navigation, while jetbooting, directional control is all about your feet and small maneuvers. Don’t try to steer with your arms. It will cause you to crash. While speaking about crashing, be prepared to fall multiple times. It’s not natural at first. However, this is an adventure for all activity levels from kids to young at heart. The jetbooting/flyboarding is offered at Luquillo Flyboard on Luquillo Beach, which is within 20-30 minute drive of San Juan. Rates vary but on average about $60 for the experience. Afterward, there are lovely kioscos (foodstands) along the beach with great mofongo (traditional plantain dish with pork, chicken, beef or fish), seafood, empanadas, and nice cold beers, (Medalla is the choice of locals).
Surfing or SUP at Jobos Beach Puerto Rico
If you are looking for a relaxed, small-town beach that’s perfect for paddle boarding, swimming, or even catching a wave all-year round, Jobos beach is your spot. Located about a little over two hours outside of San Juan near a very ritzy town of Isabela, Jobos Beach is nestled behind a point providing a secluded cove for a surf break and a range of watersports. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy pre or post. If you don’t have a board or want lessons, there are various rental operations on the beach. If you only want to catch a bite and maybe a sunset, I highly suggest Uma’s which has free parking for patrons and great cocktails and criollo fare (real Puerto Rican food).
Swimming at Gozalandia Waterfalls
Gozalandia is a bit off the beaten path outside of San Sebastian. However, don’t think you’ll have this natural swimming spot all to yourself. The locals love the two waterfalls and pools for only $5 per car. If you want to bring a cooler with a picnic and drinks, you are more than welcome. Most locals brought a cooler with Medalla and bags of chips. However, on-site, near the parking lot, there is a restaurant for cocktails, beers, soda, and criollo meals. I would highly suggest going early to beat the crowds as well as good water shoes. Be prepared for waterfall climbing, rope swings, and even an underwater cave.
Explore National Forest El Yunque - Two Ways
El Yunque, named after a Taino chief, is one of the smallest national forests but is the only one that is a rainforest. Measuring 29,000 acres, El Yunque is filled with lush vegetation, waterfalls, hiking trails, scenic overlooks, towers, and more. However, Mother Nature didn’t leave El Yunque unharmed from Maria’s landfall in 2017. Many of the beautiful trails, waterfalls, and roads are still under repair and closed.
At the time of publishing, the Juan Diego Creek waterfall trail and the Mt Britton to El Yunque Peak trails were open. However, the Mina and Big Tree Trails that lead to La Mina Falls were closed. Also, be prepared for parking issues and crowds everywhere in El Yunque. I would suggest being at the gates when they open at 7 am. If you come mid-late morning, there will be a line of cars trying to get in and very limited parking. If you are looking for a more authentic and less crowded option for exploring El Yunque and Puerto Rico’s rainforest, the south side of El Yunque does have a second entrance. As with the other side of the forest, many of the trails are under repair or closed.
The other way to do El Yunque is with Montaña Explora, who provides an authentic taste of the area. All of Montaña Explora’s adventures are small groups led by local experts in canyoning. Ricky Lopez, owner and lead guide of Montaña Explora, has been creating unforgettable experiences outside of Naguabo for the last ten years. His outings range for half to full day but are not for everyone. You must be able to hike uphill, rock hop, swim, and leave your anxiety at home. See my full-day adventure with Montaña Explora.
Kayak to Monkey Island in Puerto Rico
On the west side of Puerto Rico, close to Humacao, is a small key called Cayo Santiago or Monkey Island. The small island measures in size at roughly thirty-eight acres with nearly one thousand Rhesus monkeys. Although the colony of monkeys serves for research purposes only, you can still catch a glimpse of the monkeys via kayak. Barefoot Travelers Rooms runs two-hour kayak trips from the Punta Santiago Beach to off the shores of Monkey Island. Our small group circumnavigated the island spotting hundreds of monkeys.
Be aware that you must maintain a safe distance away from the shore as to not disturb the colony. Also, the island sustained a lot of damage in hurricane Maria. It, like the rest of Puerto Rico, is slowly growing back. Regardless, this adventure is a YOLO. When do you have the opportunity to view monkeys and kayak at the same time? You will need to make sure you pack sensibly if you intend to go on an adventure like this during your trip. Comfortable clothing and prescription sunglasses are a must. No one wants to try kayaking with the sun in their eyes!
Time to Adventure to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an island with many surprises. Although San Juan is a logical starting and ending point, please venture out of the city to reap the benefits of the Enchanted Island.
If you have questions about Puerto Rico or comments, please leave them below in the comments section.
As always, until our paths cross on an adventure, here’s to looking up!