Puerto Rico is a gorgeous tropical island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. Surrounded by miles of beautiful beaches, it is home to the El Yunque rainforest, the caverns of Camuy, the bioluminescent bays at La Parguera and Vieques, and the Arecibo Observatory.
AWNHI holds no classes on Saturdays and Sundays allowing our students time to rest or to visit some of the local sights, beaches and farmers’ markets. Ask at the office to arrange transportation.
Arecibo Observatory – The world’s largest radio telescope is a one and a half hour drive from the Institute. The observatory has a museum and offers tours.
Rio Camuy Cave Park – The third largest underground cave system in the world is an hour and a half away from the Institute. Ride a trolley down to take in the spectacular sights. Call ahead to make sure they’re open: 787-898-3100. More adventurous travelers can book a private tour that involves rappelling.
El Yunque – The Caribbean National Forest, known as El Yunque, receives up to 240 inches of rain per year. This rain forest is home to the colorful Puerto Rican Parrot, one of the ten most endangered birds in the world. El Yunque is about 40 kilometers southeast of San Juan. The U.S. Forest Services gives tours seven days a week for a small fee. Call 787-888 5646 for more information.
Bahia La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay – Tiny single-celled organisms living in the water emit light when there is pressure against the cell walls. Trailing your hand in the water, you’ll see blue-green glowing lights. Bioluminescent bays are rare due to the delicate balance needed to maintain their fragile ecosystem. La Parguera is not the most spectacular of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays, but it is the closest to the Institute – about an hour’s drive. You can take a boat tour into the bay, surrounded by mangroves, in the evening. New moon nights offer the best viewing. Call 787-899-1660 for more information.
Vieques – This Island off the east coast of Puerto Rico used to be a U.S. Navy bombing practice site. The bombing stopped in 2003, and Vieques now has a booming tourism business. Vieques has a spectacular bioluminescent bay. To get to Vieques, you can fly from Fajardo or San Juan, or take a $2 ferry ride from Fajardo.
Culebra – Sometimes called “the last of the virgin islands,” Culebra is a small island of 7000 acres about 17 miles east of Puerto Rico, and nine miles north of Vieques. You can camp on Flamenco Beach for about $20 per night, or stay in charming nearby guesthouses. We can’t say enough about the beauty of Culebra, its fabulous snorkeling, clear waters, and perfect climate. To get to Culebra, you can fly from San Juan or Fajardo, or take a ferry from Fajardo.
Tibes ancient Ceremonial Site – After hurricane Eloisa passed over Puerto Rico in 1975, this ancient ceremonial site was discovered, and subsequently excavated. Learn about the pre-Tainos who lived here and were raw foodists.
Crashboat Beach – Located in nearby Aguadilla, off highway 107, Crashboat Beach has calm clear waters and is a great destination for sunbathing. Crashboat is about 30 minutes from the Institute.
San Sebastian Waterfall – After a ten-minute hike across red clay fields and rocks, you’ll arrive at the waterfall, a wonderful place to swim and sun. The waterfall is a 45-minute drive from the Institute. There are steps at the waterfall, but some paths to the waterfall pond take visitors through the woods. These hikes may be strenuous for some. Also, use caution after or during a rainfall as the surfaces around the pond will become very slippery.
Coamo Thermal Springs – Mineral-rich water, heated by a dormant volcano, rises up to the surface where it is guided into 2 shallow, outdoor, public soaking pools. People have been enjoying these natural hot springs for hundreds of years. Many believe this water is good for the skin and has healing properties. The facility has been recently remodeled, and offers restrooms, lockers, showers, and seating areas. It is a family-friendly site.
Steps Beach – Steps beach in nearby Rincon, named for the concrete stairs sitting alone on the shore, is a great place to snorkel and sunbathe. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Steps from the Institute.
Rincon Farmers’ Market, every Sunday morning – You’ll find local organic produce, handmade soaps, essential oils, local craft items, jewelry, and even some Living Food treats, and more.
Isabella Farmers’ Market, every Saturday morning – Local vendors with jewelry, herbs, fruits and vegetables, handmade bags and aprons, soaps, creams, and more.
San Sebastian Farmers’ Market, every Friday morning – Good place to shop for souvenirs, and find a good variety of tropical fruits, and more.
Art Walk, every Thursday night in Rincon – Local artists and artisans exhibit and sell their work in the town square.
For more information on tourism in Puerto Rico: