Puerto Rico is an island in the northeastern Caribbean Sea and “part” of the United States. It is nicknamed La Isla del Encanto, which means “The Island of Enchantment.”. It is also a great place to visit on a budget, so let’s discover some of the best hostels in Puerto Rico, but before….
Puerto Rico is best known for:
- Gorgeous nature, with white sand beaches and tropical weather. You can snorkel with sea turtles on warm beaches or hike through forests with exotic plants and animals or explore stalagmites-filled caves. Zip-line over the rainforest canopy or horseback ride through a mountain trail.
- Festivals are held throughout the year, including the Carnaval de Aguadilla (February or March), Carnaval de Ponce (March or April), and Carnaval de Arecibo (April or May).
- Old San Juan, a city dated back to 1521 when Ponce de Leon landed on Puerto Rico and named it La Isla Española (Spanish Island). It’s a walled city with narrow cobblestone streets and colorful buildings painted in pastel colors.
And here is the best part:
Visiting Puerto Rico does not have to be expensive.
In this article, you will discover the best attractions of the island on a budget in Puerto Rico, as well as the best hostels in Puerto Rico and even how to have some underwater fun! It is a friendly guide for enjoying one of the most visited Islands in the Caribbean!
Do You Need a Passport to Go to Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico draws US tourists year-round. Why? This Caribbean destination is exotic, and US entry requirements are minimal.
If you are an American, visiting Puerto Rico is as easy as visiting your neighboring state, since the Island does not require a passport.
For other nationalities, the visa requirements are the same of the USA.
Puerto Rico is also easily accessible from major American cities, like Miami. To Miami, if you are coming from Europe, there are multiple flights departing from major airports such as Frankfurt in Germany, Rome in Italy, or Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Famous Landmarks in Puerto Rico
Visiting these landmarks will make your trip to Puerto Rico memorable. I didn’t include Old San Juan because it is not just a single landmark, but an entire area that should be on your list to visit.
El Morro Fort
El Morro Fort (Fuerte San Felipe del Morro) is the major attraction in Old San Juan. Set magnificently on a peninsula, this 1539 fort is a remarkable journey back in history.
Explore the well-kept grounds of this national park and imagine what life would have been like here approximately 500 years ago. Explore eighteenth-century dungeons, walkways, ramps, and tunnels. Climb the walls and visit one of the guard towers for great views of the ocean and Old San Juan, the city behind it.
Plus, El Morro’s night illumination allows for interesting photographs.
El Yunque National Forest
One of Puerto Rico’s best-known natural attractions is the El Yunque National Forest. The Yokah Tower, Bao Grande, Bao de Oro, La Coca Falls, and Yokah Falls are among El Yunque National Forest’s principal attractions.
The first significant landmark visitors will encounter at El Yunque is La Coca Falls, which is positioned alongside the roadway and includes an 85-foot cascade into boulder formations.
Visitors looking for local knowledge might stop by the El Portal Tropical Forest Center. Yokah Tower, a nearby tower built in the 1930s and accessible to the public for climbing, has good views of the surrounding jungle.
The weather is substantially cooler and wetter here than it is at the shore and lower elevations. There are some incredible tours to visit El Yunque National Forest for less than $60.
Castillo de San Cristóbal
Castillo de San Cristobal is fascinating. Five defensive sections on 27 acres are joined by moats and tunnels. The occupants could quickly shift to another unit if one was breached.
Between 1634 to 1790, the fort guarded San Juan’s eastern gate. Unlike El Morro, which was built to oppose a sea invasion, Castillo of San Cristobal was built to repel a land attack.
Castillo de San Cristobal is designated as a national park. This weeklong pass also takes you into El Morro.
Rio Camuy Caves
Thought to be the third biggest cave system in the world, the Rio Camuy Cave Park is a vast cave system that spans 268 acres. A trolley bus takes visitors to Cueva Clara Empalme, a 200-foot-deep cave or sinkhole that has been protected.
The caverns have several different rooms, some of which have very high ceilings, stalagmites, stalactites, and rivers pouring at the base. The Cueva Clara Empalme is accessible only by guided tour. In addition to the natural beauties the cave system offers, it’s noteworthy to remember that the native inhabitants exploited the caverns in the past.
Culebra is 17 miles east of Puerto Rico and 12 miles west of Saint Thomas, with 23 offshore islands. The Caribbean’s greatest coral reefs are here.
Playa Flamenco is the island’s most popular and gorgeous beach. The clean, no-surf water is wonderful for swimming and diving, and the white sand is fringed by palms.
Isla de Culebra National Wildlife Refuge encompasses Culebra’s shoreline and 20 offshore cays. Cayo Luis Pea, a tiny island west of Culebra, is part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. Coves and steep terrain make for tough trekking.
There are reliable tours taking you from San Juan to Culebra for less than $90.
Best Places to Snorkel in Puerto Rico
The island’s name means “rich port” in Spanish and was probably derived from the abundant marine life surrounding the island as well as its location.
Puerto Rico’s climate may remind travelers of Bangkok due to the hot weather, humidity, and palm trees, although the Caribbean island is located at a slightly more northern latitude. Like Thailand, it is also a great place to explore marine life.
Snorkel Spots close to San Juan
In San Juan, Escambrón Beach is a well-liked snorkeling location. This beach is shielded from the powerful Atlantic Ocean waves by several rock formations. Additionally, because snorkelers and divers frequently visit the beach, you can get close to the fish that live there.
Other places to Snorkel in Puerto Rico:
Snorkel Spots in Culebra
The island of Culebra has some of the best snorkeling locations in the Caribbean. The island, which is around 17 miles from the capital, is home to a diverse coral underwater ecosystem.
Carlos Rosario, Tamarindo Beach, Melones Beach, Punta Soldado, Flamenco Beach, and off-shore locations like Culebrita are the best locations. In addition to Puerto Rico’s top beaches for snorkeling, there are several offshore locations you may visit on a boat excursion. Tours taking you from San Juan to Culebra cost below $90, snorkel with turtles is included!
Snorkel Spots in Vieques
Vieques, a different island off the coast of Puerto Rico, boasts also some of the island’s best snorkeling beaches.
Vieques is home to a diversity of marine life, including bright corals, in its very translucent waters. Green sea turtles and spotted eagle ray sightings are very common in the vicinity. Additionally, the 20,000 acres of Vieques National Wildlife Refuge on the island are dedicated to conservation, preserving its rich biodiversity.
What Are the Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico?
San Juan (including Old San Juan)
Puerto Rico has a wide variety of lodging options, although the Old San Juan district and the capital city of San Juan are the most well-liked. If you want to be close to the excitement, it is a terrific area to stay.
It is the location of the old town of San Juan, one of the oldest in North America (established in 1521) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are numerous restaurants and bars in this area. In addition, the city is home to numerous historical sites, including El Morro Fort and Castillo San Cristobal. This neighborhood is ideal if you want to learn about local history while also enjoying a ton of options and historical landmarks.
Culebra is a great spot for a day trip or a weekend vacation for leisurely holidays. But remember that this tiny island is all about the beach and resting. In the evenings, not much happens. In Dewey, the island’s principal harbor, one store’s sign reads, “Open some days, closed others.”
For those who wish to relax or go surfing, Rincon is renowned for having the best surfing beaches in Puerto Rico and the entire Caribbean. Even if you’re not a surfer, this city on Puerto Rico’s west coast, has other fantastic things to offer.
Rio Grande in Puerto Rico is the ideal choice for adventure seekers. Outdoor pursuits abound, including ziplining, hiking, and plenty of impressive waterfalls. El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the whole United States and one of Puerto Rico’s best-known tourist destinations, is located in Rio Grande.
Best Hostels in Puerto Rico
In these hostels, you can expect friendly staff, free city maps, luggage storage, common areas to relax, and free wifi. Some even have an onsite bar or rooftop terrace! Most of them also offer private rooms and are within walking distance from major attractions, so you can save money on transport.
This is our 1st among the Best Hostels in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Villa Eshta is a highly rated and welcoming hostel designed by travelers, for travelers. It is in the exciting city of San Juan and in the lovely Calle Loiza neighborhood. Eshta is a term that means “Cool” in Egyptian colloquial Arabic.
Calle Loiza is known for its cultural aspects and is teeming with places to shop, dine, drink, dance, and hang out. The iconic Kasalta bakery and the well-known pizzeria Pirilo are all located nearby. You can reach Ocean Park Beach’s soft sand and sparkling waves after a 2-minute walk. You can also relax and mingle with other visitors on the terrace in the evenings.
They provide private rooms or dorms.
Best Party Hostel in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Although San Juan is the largest city in Puerto Rico, there aren’t as many hostels there that organize in-house parties as we see, for example, in Europe, But…
There are some good hostels literally in the middle of the nightlife districts, like the Conturce Hostel.
It is a funky-styled hostel in the center of Santurce that welcomes visitors from all over the world who want to join their fantastic community. It is also close to the nightlife and just a short walk to the famous La Placita de Santurce historic district.
They are the ideal choice for your holiday experience due to their proximity to the beach and Urban Puerto Rico’s bustling food scene.
Other Puerto Rican hostels that are worth checking
These are some of the best hostels in Puerto Rico that deserve a mention too.
- Nomada Urban Beach Hostel
- Lazy Guesthouse, in Vieques.
- Casa Coral, in Luquillo (it is more of a guesthouse than a hostel).
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Levi Borba is the creator of the channel Small Business Hacks and the channel The Expat, and a best-selling author. Some of the links in the article may be affiliate links, which means the author receives a commission on any purchases made by readers.