Beautiful beaches line the shores of Puerto Rico. While some are bustling resort areas, others are tranquil spots where you’ll have the place to yourself. The island’s a surfing and snorkelling paradise, surrounded by coral reefs inhabited by tropical fish. Puerto Rico even has three bioluminescent bays, where the water glows a brilliant blue after dark. Inland you’ll discover coffee and sugar plantations, and idyllic forested hills.

Puerto Rico has a fascinating history. The island was inhabited by the Taíno people before being colonised by European settlers, and continually beset by pirates and smugglers. Experience bygone eras for yourself as you explore Taíno ruins and timeworn colonial cities. Discover contemporary Puerto Rican culture in the beats of salsa and Latin pop that echo through the streets, or by tucking into the island’s most popular dish, lechón – barbecued suckling pig.

puerto ricaPopular Ports in Puerto Rico

San Juan

The island’s capital is the main port of call on a Puerto Rico cruise. It’s an atmospheric walled city of cobbled streets lined with colourful houses, imposing forts and picturesque plazas. Castillo San Cristóbal is the largest fort in the New World, offering spectacular ocean views from its ramparts.

But San Juan has a more modern side, too. It’s packed with upbeat bars, cool clubs and hip art galleries. If you want to be in the centre of the action head down to Condado, an oceanfront promenade where you’ll find the best of the city’s wining and dining scene, as well as a white-sand beach.

sloth puerta ricaPonce

Puerto Rico’s second city has an elegant side, with a regal historic centre of grand neoclassical buildings and marble fountains. The heart of the area is Plaza Las Delicias, an elegant square surrounded by the city’s most iconic buildings. This includes Parque de Bombas, decked out in striking black-and-red stripes, with an Arabian-style facade.

Head to La Guancha neighbourhood to stroll along a seafront boardwalk lined with kiosks and bars. This is a family-friendly area, with quiet streets, playgrounds, and even pelicans and fish to feed. There’s also a beach where you can swim and relax.

Esperanza

This pretty resort town is located on the small island of Vieques, which lies just offshore from Puerto Rico. The most happening area of Esperanza is its upmarket Malecòn, a seafront promenade where you’ll find boutiques, local craft studios, restaurants and bars. Running alongside it is a sandy beach, lapped by calm turquoise waters.

puerto ricaVieques also boasts Puerto Rico’s best bioluminescent bay. Take a night-time boat trip across these luminous, shimmering blue waters for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What are the best cruise ships for a Puerto Rico cruise?

Make the most of your Puerto Rico cruise by choosing your ship carefully. These two luxurious liners come highly recommended.

Marella Discovery

As soon as you set foot inside Marella Discovery’s lavish five-storey atrium, you’ll be captivated by your surroundings. The ship boasts some extravagant features, including an outdoor cinema, a spa, a mini golf course and even an outdoor climbing wall. You can relax in indoor and outdoor pools. There’s a kids’ club and even a stage school, where budding actors and singers can learn the tricks of the trade. There are seven restaurants to choose from, including the unique Chef’s Table, where food is prepared in front of you.

Celebrity Summit

Recently refurbished Celebrity Summit is an elegant cruise liner, boasting excellent facilities. There’s a spa with a long list of treatments, from couple’s massages to facials, and also a relaxing steam room and sauna spot, Persian Garden. The adults-only Solarium is a tranquil area with a gorgeous indoor pool, waterfalls and comfortable loungers. There are lots of activities for children, too, including the largest Xbox console station at sea. There are both casual and formal dining options available – the most unique is Qsine, which offers unique twists on classic dishes – think sushi lollipops and popcorn fish and chips.

Shore Excursion Ideas

This intriguing island offers equally interesting shore excursions. Here are three highly recommended picks from San Juan.

Bacardi rum distillery visit

This is the tour for rum lovers, as you’ll visit Casa Bacardi, the world’s largest rum distillery. You’ll travel by coach to the distillery, where you’ll be welcomed with a cocktail made from the iconic white rum.

This is followed by a tour of the Bacardi family home, where you’ll learn all about the family’s history (and the origins of the iconic bat logo). After this, you’ll catch glimpses of the factory, and learn how the rum is made. You can try rum samples in the gift shop, too, as long as you’re over 21.

Marine Park Snorkelling

Explore San Juan’s underwater world on this snorkelling excursion in protected waters. Your guide will teach you all about the marine life in this national park tour.

You’ll swim under the surface of the water, exploring reefs and corals teeming with bright yellowtail snappers, electric blue damselfish and turtles. Afterwards, you’ll visit an historic Spanish fort.

El Yunque Rainforest Drive

Leave the city for El Yunque National Rainforest, a 45-minute drive from San Juan. You’ll drive through this luscious mountainous terrain, catching sight of the winding rivers and gushing waterfalls that characterise this tropical environment.

You’ll stop several times to get out and stretch your legs. As you take a short walk along the rainforest trails, you’ll be able to experience the sights and sounds of this unique place for yourself.

Top ports of call in this destination