These photos are just a small representation of what Puerto Rico has to offer. From the food to the landscapes to the sunsets and hidden beaches, Puerto Rico is an extraordinary place to visit!
After spending a full year back in the United States, after a lengthy 3.5 years of non-stop travel, I was really itching to get out of dodge for a while. It had been tough transitioning back into America, and since New York was becoming increasingly colder in the month of December, I couldn’t help but crave the warm sun and the hot sand of some tropical beaches.
On a whim, I bought a ticket to San Juan, Puerto Rico (who knew they were so cheap?), and before long, I had exactly what I was looking for. With my trusty camera in hand, I set out to photograph the best that Puerto Rico has to offer. These are my twenty best photos of Puerto Rico.
1) Ocean Views on Culebra
It took two hours by boat to get to the small island of Culebra, and upon arrival, we rented a golf cart for the day. It toted us around the island, barely making its way over hills or through the deep trenches we weren’t supposed to be driving through.
In our mission to drive aimlessly and hop from beach to beach, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves overlooking a vast blue sea and lush green forests.
2) Northern Coastline of Old San Juan
Old San Juan is home to two 16th century citadels which were built to prevent sea attackers from taking over the harbor and the island. They are now connected by city walls, which were built 200 years after their original construction. This is a shot of the northern coastline of the the old city, from the Castillo San Cristóbal in the east to El Morro on the western headland.
3) Sun Bay Beach, Vieques
After getting lost while searching for the most easily accessible waterfront on the island (typical), I found myself at the far end of the beach. It took at least ten more minutes of walking through thick seaweed until I reached my destination: the pure white sand of Sun Bay Beach.
4) Windows in Ponce
I had spent the day on a small mangrove island in the south of Puerto Rico with Norbert from GloboTreks. When we had finished swimming and drinking rum for the day, we took off to explore the art nouveau town of Ponce. The architecture here is uniquely distinct, and the colors, like everywhere in Puerto Rico, were beautiful to photograph.
5) Palm Tree on the Island of Culebra
It just looks like paradise, doesn’t it?
6) Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, Old San Juan
My favorite view in all of the city. This cemetery is located just outside the walls of El Morro, up against the Atlantic Ocean, and is the final resting place of some of Puerto Rico’s most prominent residents.
7) Pastelillos (Puerto Rican Empanadas)
This fried little piece of heaven is essentially a Puerto Rican empanada. While the chicken filling in the rightmost pastelillo was delicious, the pastelón (left) was the real highlight that day. Generally cooked as a Caribbean casserole, pastelón is a sweet and salty combination of mashed plantains, beef, cheese and sauce.
Fry it all up into a little pocket, and THAT’S lunch.
8) Sunset on Vieques
I almost didn’t capture this beauty of a sunset, but I’m glad I made it, in the nick of time. This bay is famously always filled with boats and the cloud structure that came through that evening was simply magnificent.
9) Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Once a highly militarized zone, the island of Culebra was left mostly untouched by the general public. In 1975, the island was opened to the general public and in 2014, Flamenco Beach was voted as the third best beach in the world.
10) La Perla: The Slums of Old San Juan
A bizarre contradiction, La Perla are the slums of Old San Juan. While the rest of the city seems to bustle with relative affluence, the historical community of La Perla remains in stark contrast.
The DEA has estimated that the drug trade inside this tiny village is a twenty million dollar enterprise.
11) Ocean Views on the Island of Vieques
Just one of those tropical photos that I love!
12) Familia, Ponce
Cruising the streets of Ponce as the sun came down, we stumbled upon this small ruin. Perched atop a small plateau, the cross in the background marks the location where, from the 17th to 19th centuries, a guard watched for merchant and enemy ships. Just behind the ruin, to the right of the cross, is El Museo Castillo Serralles, the home of one of Puerto Rico’s rum lords.
13) Cloudy in Fajardo
Unusual cloud formations from the aboard the ferry just outside of Fajardo. Do you see the tiny rainbow?
14) Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Perhaps one of my favorite shots of the Old City, I took this from atop the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. In view are the city walls, the Santa María Magdalena Cemetary, the slums of La Perla and Castillo San Cristóbal.
15) Beached Boat, Vieques
A very typical Puerto Rican scene. It seems like, almost everywhere, when the locals didn’t need a boat anymore, they just…left it there.
16) Fresh Mahi Mahi, Arroz con Frijoles y Café Helado
One of the best meals I had in Puerto Rico was at a small coffee shop in downtown Ponce. Having eaten enough mofongos for one trip, I ordered a delicious Puerto Rican coffee, traditional rice and beans and a lightly herbed mahi mahi that dissolved in your mouth.
17) Puerto Rican Iguana
These dudes were everywhere, and they were certainly not small! Most were at least two feet long, and I generally found them sunbathing on the hot, dry cement of the castles and city walls in Old San Juan.
18) Secret Beach (I can’t tell you where!)
We had been given directions to a hidden beach on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Not knowing what to expect, we wore swimsuits and flip-flops and left the mosquito repellent behind. Against all expectations, we ended up walking through the dense Puerto Rican jungle, accompanied by swamp creatures and mammoth mosquitos which left their marks for days.
The view was worth it, though!
19) Plaza Colón, Old San Juan
The view from the balcony of Old San Juan’s best budget accommodation, Posada San Francisco. There are very few reasonably priced accommodation options in this area and, since Puerto Rico is not the cheapest place to travel, I was thrilled to find such a central and well-kept dwelling. Located in the heart of the Old City, and only 20 minutes from the airport, this has got to be the best place to stay in the area.
And they’ve got a hell of a view!
20) Sunset on the Beach, Vieques
After a long day in the sun, my travel partner and I moseyed down the beach towards the boardwalk for some Caribbean cuisine and piña coladas. As the horizon began to beam with light, we stopped to dip our toes in the water. The air was mild and the ocean was enchanting, and this very moment marked the culmination of a very perfect day in Puerto Rico.
READ NEXT: Best Travel Tips
WELL, ONE THING FIRST, YES THERE ARE IGUANAS NATIVES OF PUERTO RICO, AS WELL AS IGUANAS INTRODUCED BY PEOPLE AS PETS, BUT DEFINITELY, WE GOT IGUANAS THERE, AND YES THE CAN REACH OVER SIX FEET LONG!!!!
NOW JEREMY, I DO ENCOURAGE YOU TO GO BACK. THIS TIME TRY NOT TO BE A TOURIST, FEEL AS IF YOU WERE ONE PUERTO RICAN IN HIS OWN TERRITORY AND EXPLORE THE WHOLE ISLAND, AND I MEAN THE WHOLE ISLAND, WHICH IT IS ROUGHLY 100 MILES BY 35 MILES (NOT EXACT MEASUREMENTS, BUT THE BEST WAY WE LIKE IT). THIS TIME GO FROM NORTH TO SOUTH, FROM EAST TO WEST, AND DO NOT FORGET THE CENTER. YOU LEFT EL YUNQUE, A BEAUTIFUL PINTORESTIC NATURAL SITE, ACTUALLY, ONE OF THE FEW RAINFOREST LEFT IN THE PLANET AND THE BARRIER THAT KEEPS THE ISLAND SAVE WHEN HURRACAINES COMES!!!! ALSO, THE GREAT CITY OF MAYAGUEZ, KNOW AS THE PLACE WHERE COLOMBUS ENTER WHEN HE INVADED THE ISLAND, ALSO THE WEST COAST OF THE ISLAND WHERE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN AND THE CARIBBEAN SEA MEETS, NEVER THE LESS, IT IS ALSO ONE OF THE ANGLES OF THE BERMUDAS TRIANGLE!!!!! SO MUCH TO SEE AND SO MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT MY LITTLE GIANT PIECE OF HEAVEN!!!!! LOVE AND DIE FOR PUERTO RICO!!!!!!
Puerto Rico is absolutely amazing! I am fairly well traveled and PR exceeded expectations. Thank you for this! Like you said, the food, scenery and options make it great. However, I love to mention the people as well because they are so warm and welcoming. My husband put it aptly, “Hawaii always professes the spirit of Aloha but in PR, they truly have it.”
The “spirit of ALOHA” is an ancient cultural teaching that the Hawaiians past down from generation to generation and is distinctly unique to them. It goes much deeper than being friendly or kind. Understand before insulting.
To Eileen: thank you for the clarification to picture #7. Just a small grammar correction if I may, Habichuelas” with letter H will be best.
At Jeremy: Thank you for the lovely pictures. Great feeling seeing your home through others eyes, just one thing love, no pictures from the Central Mountains? You just got to go back and enjoy our rainforest! You’ll love it! There are more to Puerto Rico than its lovely beaches,trust me; and while you are at it, enjoy some “lechon asado” if you can.
Love, love the photos. I am going back after 15 years this spring, this time with a group of teens from the school where I teach.. My family is from this beautiful enchanted island. I have been there only a few times but loved every minute there.
Will you suggest some great places that both kids and teachers of different ages would love to experience? And if you could also share other places to stay, and to eat; it will be greatly appreciated.
I won’t have time to visit my family and eat their great food, which was a great part of my wonderful memory of my vacations to my Isla del Encanto. I also plan to take some great photos, hopefully as nice as yours, since I would like to paint them.
I am an artist which is another reason I had to respond to your beautiful photos. Thank you so much!!!!
I miss home…
I absolutely loved strolling by Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery and Castillo San Felipe del Morro during my brief visit to Puerto Rico years ago. However, I was unaware of La Perla’s existence at the time. How did you manage to get so close to take a photo? Are there walking tours available similar to the Favela tours of Rio de Janerio?
It’s beautiful, eh? La Perla is a small community that is technically open for anyone to walk into, though I probably wouldn’t recommend it. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s highly protected by the locals. The last thing they want there is tourists. But you can look down onto La Perla from the coastal walk above it.
I saw your Photos on Instagram and I like your Blog. I like the Photos ans the way you write. It seems, that you celebrate a great life.
Best regards from Cologne
Thanks, Joana! I try to 🙂
Beautiful Pics of my Mother Land PUERTO RICO!!!! Did you hear the nighttime sounds of the Coqui (frog)? Priceless! 🙂
Puerto Ricans do not call beans Frijoles. Do not. They call their beans, Abichuelas. Latinos call them frijoles. Puerto Ricans are Hispanics from the Caribbean. frijoles are a foreign terminology to them. please . it’s a geographical thing. try to get it right.
Puerto Ricans are NOT Hispanics. Puerto Ricans are Latinos from the Caribbean. The word Hispanic was introduced and named by the US Gov’t in 1970 for their Census. So many Spanish speaking people from South America and other areas of Europe were coming into the States that the Gov’t needed a name to place them in a culture/origin group. So, commonly Eastern use Hispanic while Western use Latino. Spanish speaking people from the Caribbean have so much Culture that trying to place their origin/race in a group is Priceless! One Love-Peace-Happiness!
Eileen, is habichuelas with an H.
Mexicans call them frijoles, Latinos call them habichuelas. You have it backwards!
En Puerto Rico es habichuelas, no es frijoles. Frijoles es Mexican!!! Por favor educate en la diferencias.
A fantastic set of photos and a nice blast of colour after a NYC winter.
Loving these, especially the beach shots!
Was the café that you went to in Ponce called Café Café? I believe I recognize the table. My friends and I were there in 2012 and I took a picture of them and their coffees at the table we were sitting at, I believe that one. That place was amazing! The food was delicious, the service was great, the atmosphere was lovely, and the coffee was the bomb. 🙂
Thanks for this post. We’re leaving for Puerto Rico tomorrow. We’ve been there twice now, but this time, we’re going back to Culebra and staying there the entire time for a relaxing beach/snorkeling trip. We’re staying at the Villas on Flamenco beach. I’m very much looking forward to it. Did you get any night time shots on Culebra or Vieques by chance? I’ve seen some amazing pictures online of the Milky Way from Flamenco beach. I intend on attempting some nighttime photography while I’m there. Wish me luck 🙂
Sorry I’m getting back to you so late, but YES, that’s the one! So funny that you recognize it. I hope you had a great trip. Did you get some nice shots?
Has anyone been to Luquillo beach northwest of SanJuan? It’s beautiful as well as El Dorado beach northeast if SanJuan. Beautiful beaches both. Another one is in the South Mar Negro. Awesome sights.
Hi, Jeremy, this post is amazing, love the pictures of Puerto Rico, I felt in love in them. Congrats mate!
Greetings from Spain
The sunsets and the beaches would lure us back to Puerto Rico (and strolling about Old San Juan). But we don’t envy you trekking to that “secret” beach and getting bitten by mosquitoes :-).
It was all worth it! I promise 😉
Just take mosquito repellent.
Sigh…missed all that when I was there. Instead I was stuck in the mountains with family. And the goddamn roosters.
OH I remember the roosters…those damn roosters…
It looks as if you had the place to yourself! These are just delicious.
Actually there are puertorican iguanas. My grandmother was 95 when she passed away. She was from Ponce and she told us that there has always been iguanas in Puerto Rico, so yes there are puertorican iguanas. She died 15 years ago, when in my teens I went to PR and saw them everywhere. I am 72 now, so I beg to disagree with you, there are puertorican iguanas!
Great pictures Jeremy! After living in PR for 6 years, it’s still one of my favorite places to relax in the world. Just FYI, there’s no such thing as a Puerto Rican Iguana hehe ^_^ They’re called Green Iguanas and they’re exotic species brought in from Central America as pets that have since over bred and are now pests on the island. Not fun…
That palm tree on Culebra just does it for me Jeremy! So beautiful and yep it’s paradise indeed. Reminds me of snapshots I took in Savusavu, Fiji. We lived across the street from the bay and I had so many opportunities to photograph the combo of palms, sand, blue skies, mountains and crystal clear, pristine water. Thanks for the trip to paradise!
Oh wow! I haven’t been to Fiji, but it sounds like I need to go! I’ve heard incredible things about Savusavu.
Congrats to you and Kelli! Hope you have an amazing honeymoon!
Really gorgeous shots! Those food pics brought back nice memories. I lived in Hell’s Kitchen for a few years and loved the Puerto Rican joints. Isn’t great how important food is to the culture?
Where is your favorite Puerto Rican joint? I’m in NYC now and will try to make it there before I go!
los pinas in Gavate Cayey best la chon in the island
The windows in Ponce look stunning, and as for that iguana – it’s amazing!
Suze | LuxuryColumnist
Wow, some great photos. The green iguana cool looking.
Spanky’s parents are from Puerto Rico but has never been (although we’ve been to the Dominican Republic a bunch of times). Looks beautiful and we’ll have to make it some time.
Oh, you must go, then! I took so many photos of that iguana! He was a great model.
Beautiful photos! I especially love the sunset and the cloudy sky (I have a real weakness for clouds!). Mission accomplished, you’ve made me want to travel to Puerto Rico!
I hope you make it there soon! It’s beautiful!
We haven’t been to Puerto Rico yet. This definitely makes me want to go. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Deb! I hope you can make it there soon! It’s really not so far from Canada, you know 😉
Great photos, makes me miss my time in PR. I loved Old San Juan, I could sit there for hours just taking photos of all the interesting architecture and beautiful ocean views, I miss it a lot, I should go back soon
You should! 🙂
You’re right, they are 20 killer photos of Puerto Rico. My favorite photo is of the Fresh Mahi Mahi, Arroz con Frijoles y Café Helado.
And it was so good, too!
Unas fotografías hermosas de mi Puerto Rico! Gracias!
Cool photos Jeremy!!! Really nice!
Beautiful pictures! I now feel like going to Puerto Rico. My best photo would be Windows in Ponce, so stunning!
Thank you, Agness! I love that one too!
Loved it! and loved all the descriptions. Glad you enjoyed your stay in my paradise. 😀
I loved it, and Culebra is so beautiful!
We stayed at Posada San Francisco on OSJ as well! The location was phenomenal and we got to watch an easter show going on in the plaza below. And in Vieques our B&B was kind of behind where you took the picture of of the old boat. Brings back awesome memories! Ah, I could really go for some mofongo now…
Haha sounds like we stayed in some similar places! I’d kill for a mofongo con camarones right now! 😉
En Puerto Rico es habichuelas, no es frijoles. Frijoles es Mexican!!! Por favor educate en la diferencias.
Food photo is still my favorite! 🙂