Get the inside story on San Juan ahead of your next stay at Caribe Hilton. We’ve worked with our Concierge Team — born and bred locals — to bring you a list of experiences you can’t afford to miss.
1. Check out El Yunque Rainforest
If you’re looking for an out-of-town excursion, take a trip to El Yunque Rainforest. Home to more than 240 species of plants and wildlife, waterfalls, streams, native towns and hiking trails, it’s truly breathtaking. A half-day tour will take you to some of the most beautiful sites – so bring your camera.
2. Discover San Juan’s Secret Museum
Most visitors to San Juan will spot the iconic, 11-story art deco Banco Popular skyscraper in Old San Juan. But few know it boasts a fascinating museum on its third floor. The Sala de Exhibiciones Rafael Carrión Pacheco presents some of the island’s most captivating cultural, musical and sport heritage exhibits. Free Entry, Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.
3. Try Puerto Rico’s Favorite Dessert
In summer, there’s nothing like cooling off with a delicious piragua, a shaved-ice cone flavored with your choice of syrup. Find them served from pushcarts around Old San Juan. We recommend a visit to Caleta de las Monjas, where Eddie the owner offers a choice of colorful flavors, right from his apartment – just as he has for over 40 years.
4. Get a Hand-Woven, Custom-Fit Panama Hat
Feeling flush? How about spending $3,000 on a hat? Olé Curiosidades in Old San Juan creates bespoke hand-woven Panama hats using traditional methods. If you can’t afford the price tag, the shop is still worth a visit – ask nicely and the owner will let you handle one of his world-famous creations.
5. Discover the Best Beach Getaway
San Juan’s spectacular beaches understandably get a little busy, so if you fancy something more idyllic, a visit to Piñones is a must. Just 20 minutes east of Old San Juan, this charming, mostly undiscovered town offers a rustic feel with a palm-lined boardwalk that links several sandy beaches and tidal pools. Look out for huts selling a local favorite, pinchos – tasty skewers of grilled meat and fish.
6. Take the Jukebox Walk
Puerto Rico is famous for its music and dance. Explore San Juan’s circuit of bars where the vellonera — a jukebox filled with salsa and mambo music—takes center stage. A bar named the Nuyorican is the most popular, and well worth a visit, but its smaller neighbors, such as the closet-size Café Celeste, are also worth exploring.
7. Enjoy the Best Views from El Morro Fort
A stop at El Morro Fort should be on everyone’s list. Constructed in 1539, it has survived attack from Sir Francis Drake, the Duke of Cumberland, the Dutch, British and US armies. From the upper level, enjoy some of San Juan’s most breathtaking sea views.
8. Experience San Juan Coffee Culture
Some of the world’s best coffee has been grown in Puerto Rico since the early 1700s. In San Juan, there has been a surge in independent specialty coffee shops—some of which actually grow their own coffee beans—delivering an authentic ‘farm to cup’ experience and flavor.
9. Go Kite Surfing
Puerto Rico offers some of the best conditions for Kitesurfing you’ll find anywhere. San Juan’s metro area features several kitesurfing beaches within easy reach of the capital, including Isla Verde, Caballos and Punta Las Marias. July – September is “flat-water sailing season”, which offers the perfect conditions for beginners.
10. Catch a Festival.
In San Juan, festivals are a huge part of local culture. Ahead of your trip, be sure to check for any taking place while you’re here. Highlights include Noches de San Juan Bautista, a celebration of the island’s patron saint with processions, music and dance (at midnight everyone walks backwards into the ocean three times to ward off evil spirits!) and Festival de Call de San Sebastian – a three-day long celebration of folk dancing, parades, music, food and crafts, held every January.