Best Family-Friendly Activities in Puerto Rico
With magical landscapes, wide open spaces to roam and endearing wildlife, Puerto Rico is a wonderland for families.
San Juan’s museums, landmarks and beaches will captivate young children for several days at least. Within just a couple of hours of the capital, mystical rainforests, deserted beaches and soaring mountains provide the backdrop for exhilarating activities on land and sea. From mega-resorts and large villas to beachfront condos and whimsical treehouses, there’s no shortage of great accommodation choices for families. Wherever you go, children are warmly welcomed and fondly catered to.
Plundering pirates, indigenous mystics and blood thirsty conquistadors, Puerto Rico is steeped in lore and legend. Old San Juan is a great place to let kids’ imagination run riot. The ramparts, tunnels and dungeons of Castillo de San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal are picture-book adventures brought to life. On weekends, the grassy fields surrounding the forts are popular with kite flyers, dog walkers and picnickers. The fantastic Museo de Niño has a wealth of interactive exhibits with a STEM-centric focus—the most popular attractions are the broadcast studio, go karts and a mini zoo. San Juan’s beaches are a highlight for families. Condado, Ocean Park and Isla Verde are the most popular with plenty of beachfront accommodation options, easy access and lots of amenities.
With its impossible shades of green, photogenic waterfalls and colorful creatures, El Yunque introduces children to the wonders of the rainforest—the only one on U.S. soil. There are 25 miles of well-marked hiking trails for all ages and levels—even just a drive through provides a worthy snapshot of the vast range of native flora and fauna. For families, there are several memorable hikes. The short hike to Juan Diego Falls (less than 1km/0.6 miles) culminates in a beautiful 15-foot waterfall with a picturesque wading pool. The trail continues to Upper Juan Diego Falls with a 40-foot waterfall—note that this part is not kid friendly; it’s narrow and muddy with a steep drop off. The Angelito trail is another short and sweet trail that descends through lower montane forest before reaching the 8-foot-deep Damas pool which has a rope swing.
A great side trip from El Yunque, Luquillo Beach is one of Puerto Rico’s best balnearios (public beaches). Part of a protected bay, the mile-long arc of sugary sand, shaded by a coconut grove, has clear, shallow water that’s perfect for toddlers. As an official public beach, it comes with an array of facilities—there’s a vast car park, bathrooms and changing facilities.
East of Luquillo, Playa La Pared (The Wall) is popular for its consistent left beach-break from fall through winter. For teens keen to try surfing or boogie boarding, there are a handful of surf shops offering lessons and boards for rent. Running parallel to the beach, don’t miss the legendary Luquillo kiosks or cocina en kiosco, a local pit-stop for Puerto Rican delicacies as well as Latin American and international fare.
Guánica Biosphere Reserve
In the southwest corner of the island, Guánica Dry Forest Reserve is a mesmerizing day trip for budding naturalists. A fascinating contrast to El Yunque’s lush forests, Guánica is one of the planet’s largest dry coastal forests. Reminiscent of a stunted forest, this haunting land is practically devoid of rainfall all year long. There’s an array of wildlife, including over 100 rare bird species, as well as reptiles, amphibians and non-native mongoose. Within the preserve, there are 11 trails, several of which are flat, out-and-back trails, suitable for active kids (less than 4km/2.5 miles): Cueva; Ballena; La Hoja; and Gutierrez.
Gilligan’s Island (Cayo Aurora)
From Guánica, it’s a scenic 15-minute ferry ride to Gilligan’s Island (part of the Biosphere Reserve), an idyllic, uninhabited mangrove island. During the week, when there are few visitors, children will love playing castaway, wading in the clear shallow water and meandering the saltwater canals that lace the island. A healthy coral reef supports rich marine life, providing a tranquil setting for children to develop a passion for snorkeling. With calm waters and no currents, teenagers can swim the perimeter of the island. Kayaking around the two nearby cays is another memorable family activity.
North Coast: Aguadilla & Isabela
With an international airport, a diversity of hotels and restaurants and plenty of kid-friendly attractions, Aguadilla is one of the best all-around destinations in Puerto Rico for families. Picture-perfect Crash Boat Beach is one of the island’s best loved beaches with azure waters, excellent snorkeling, tasty food kiosks, a pier and a fun-loving vibe.
In Isabela, Shacks Beach is a magnet for kite boarding and windsurfing. The snorkeling here is accessible and rewarding for kids with healthy coral and schools of tropical fish. Isabela is an important horse breeding center and trail riding is popular among visitors and locals. Tropical Trail Rides is one of the region’s leading tour operators offering 2-hour horseback riding tours ($70) along deserted beaches and through lush forests.
Río Camuy Caves
In the heart of Karst Country, Parque de Las Cavernas de Río Camuy is one of Puerto Rico’s most enthralling family destinations. A short hike through dense jungle followed by a child-pleasing trolley ride leads to this spellbinding subterranean world. The main attractions are Cueva Clara, a colossal amphitheater decorated with surreal formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and the unforgettable Sumidero de Empalme, a 400-foot sinkhole encroached by jungle and pierced by rays of sunshine. Children will enjoy close encounters with the creatures that populate this rare ecosystem: bats, coquí (frogs), crabs, and the blind fish in the Camuy River.
Fun fact for kids: The sound effects used in the Batman movie were recorded here at the Río Camuy Caves.
Use this map to find all the spots mentioned here. Enjoy your stay!