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Puerto Rico is one of the best Caribbean destinations for families. With culture and adventure, the US territory is perfect for those looking for a quick, tropical getaway from the continental United States or Canada. If visiting Puerto Rico with kids, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Puerto Rico for families. From beaches to rainforests; colorful colonial buildings to bioluminescent bays; Puerto Rico boasts some of the most incredible and unique activities for families.
This guide to the best things to do in Puerto Rico with kids includes kid-friendly activities, excursions and attractions, plus tips for when to visit and where to stay in Puerto Rico for families.
Best time to Visit Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a great place to visit any time of year. With a tropical climate, the Caribbean island stays warm year round. However, if deciding when to visit Puerto Rico on a family vacation, keep in mind the months of August and September are hurricane season.
High season for tourism is typically November through January, as it is less rainy and great for those looking for a tropical escape during the winter months.
If looking to plan a summer trip to Puerto Rico with kids after school lets out, aim for early June to avoid crowds, get the best prices, and have the best chance for enjoyable weather.
How many days do you need in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is a great, family friendly place to visit for a long weekend, a full week, or even a couple of weeks. Unlike many islands that only offer beach activities, Puerto Rico has mountains, rainforests and caves, as well. There are lots of fun things to do in Puerto Rico with kids that can entertain you for weeks, if you desire.
Give yourself no less than 4 days in Puerto Rico with kids, but if you want to explore the entire main island as well as travel to the other islands of Vieques and Culebra, you’ll want to be sure to have at least one week in Puerto Rico.
Where to stay in Puerto Rico with kids
If you are spending most of your time in San Juan, there are two main areas to stay in Puerto Rico with kids.
Old San Juan
Staying in Old San Juan puts you within walking distance to the forts, restaurants, shops, and the general atmosphere of this beautiful, historic area. Be sure to select a hotel with a rooftop pool, as it will be a great place to relax during the heat of the afternoon. We stayed at Hotel El Convento, a former convent built in 1646 that has been renovated into a beautiful hotel. Guests also get access to the beach resort at El Convento’s sister property, where you can enjoy a day splashing in the ocean and access to bathrooms, lounge chairs, and a beach bar and restaurant.
Isla Verde is another popular option, particularly for families visiting Puerto Rico with kids seeking a beach vacation. Isla Verde is lined with large hotels, resorts and beach clubs that offer a relaxing beach holiday for those who want to play in the waves or put their toes in the sand.
While a day at the beach is still an option even if you stay in one of the boutique hotels in Old San Juan, if you are primarily looking for a beach holiday in Puerto Rico, Isla Verde is a great way to go.
Getting around Puerto Rico with Kids
Although taxis and Ubers are readily available in Puerto Rico, if you plan to do a Puerto Rico road trip or even a self-guided day trip to some of the fun places outside of San Juan, you will likely need to rent a car.
You can get around San Juan using Ubers or taxis, but to get to the El Yunque rainforest, other cities in Puerto Rico, or one of the bioluminescent bays, you will either need to book a guided tour or rent a car.
FIND THE BEST DAY TRIPS AND GUIDED TOURS IN PUERTO RICO HERE.
Things to do in Puerto Rico with Kids
While Puerto Rico is a diverse island with lots of unique activities there are certainly some that are more suited for those visiting Puerto Rico with children.
Wander the streets of Old San Juan
With blue cobblestone streets, colorful facades, and colonial architecture, wandering through the streets of Old San Juan is a memorable and cultural experience. Similar to Old Town Cartagena, Colombia, there are lots of centuries-old buildings, beautiful doors and historical churches that the whole family will love exploring. You’ll also find lots of colorful murals tucked away down narrow alleys and streets. It is a great place to hire a local photographer and take professional family photos or simply wander and take your own pictures.
Stop in local shops, eat traditional Puerto Rican food at one of the locally owned restaurants, or enjoy a pina colada (without alcohol for the kids) at the birthplace of the sweet drink.
Your kids will also love finding, and sometimes petting all of the stray cats that roam the streets.
Don’t worry, they are all vaccinated, and many of them are friendly and even adoptable through Save a Gato Cat Sanctuary, a wonderful nonprofit organization that feeds, vaccinates, and spays or neuters the stray cats.
To learn more about the history of San Juan and the settlement of Puerto Rico, you can join a guided walking tour through the town, which is a great way for older kids to combine vacation and education!
Explore the fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal
All kids love fortresses and castles, and luckily San Juan, Puerto Rico has two of them! The old defensive forts of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal are impressive fortresses originally built to protect the island from invaders. Nowadays, they are historical sites and museums that are fascinating to visit.
With lots of kid-sized nooks and crannies to explore, kids can squeeze through small tunnels and gaze out at the ocean through small windows in the fortress. The fortresses are in full sun and can get very hot, so be sure to bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, a hat, breathable clothing, and sunglasses to keep you cool while you explore.
Enjoy a Day at the Beach
No island trip would be complete without at least one day spent at the beach. Puerto Rico has some beautiful beaches, including those near Rincon, on the island’s west side and those near Fajardo on the east side. But even within the capital city of San Juan, there are several beaches where kids can swim and play in the waves or sand.
Along Isla Verde, hotels and family-friendly resorts line long, clean stretches of soft sandy beaches. All beaches in Puerto Rico are public, so even if you are not staying at one of the hotels, you can visit and enjoy the beaches in front of them. Just make sure you bring your beach essentials with you!
One of the best things about visiting Puerto Rico with kids is the diversity in the types of activities on the island. Puerto Rico boasts the third largest cave system in the world, Rio Camuy Cave. Tours of the cave are kid-friendly and take you along a well-defined path through stalagmites and beneath stalactites. But that isn’t the only cave on the island.
A day trip to the northern coast of Puerto Rico, near the town of Arecibo, allows you to explore Cueva del Indio, an inexpensive hidden cave along the coast, and the picturesque Cueva Ventana or Window Cave. Visiting Cueva Ventana requires a guided hiking tour. You can book a guided day trip from San Juan that will take you to both Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio, if you prefer to let someone else make the arrangements and do the driving.
Hike in the El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque Rainforest is the only rainforest in the US National Forest System. It is a great place to experience the diversity of a tropical climate and teach kids about the environment.
There are several popular hikes in El Yunque that are easy and kid-friendly, including la Mina Trail, which was damaged in Hurricane Maria but is expected to reopen in late 2022. The trail follows a river and then ends at a picturesque waterfall that cascades into a small natural pool that is gentle and shallow enough for a family swim.
For families visiting Puerto Rico with kids over the age of five, you can book an excursion that takes you to the El Yunque National Forest and to an area with natural waterslides. You’ll get to enjoy the natural pools with a rope swing, small cliffs to jump from and natural rock waterslides that dump you into the river. It’s better than any water park you can take them to!
Kayak through a Bioluminescent Bay
One of the most unique experiences in Puerto Rico for kids and adults alike is the bioluminescent bays. While this natural phenomenon is not common in many places on earth, Puerto Rico has three bays where you can experience the bioluminescent glow in the water! While its brightest bioluminescent bay, Mosquito Bay, is located on the island of Vieques, there are two others located on Puerto Rico’s main island.
Having visited both of the bioluminescent bays on the main island, La Parguera, located in southwest Puerto Rico, is the best bioluminescent bay for families, and the only one that allows you to swim in the glowing water. However, the other one at Bio Bay Laguna Grande near Fajardo, is closer to San Juan.
Bioluminescence is caused by microorganisms in the water that emit a short burst of light when disturbed, so with every movement of your hand as you tread water, a greenish-blue glow is created in the water. In the words of our daughter when she experienced it, “it’s the coolest thing ever!”
Final Thoughts on Visiting Puerto Rico with Kids
While there are some romantic Caribbean islands that are more suited for couples, Puerto Rico is an island that has a lot of activities geared for family travel. Families with children of all ages will love all of the things to do in Puerto Rico for kids. Plus, it is a great place to practice your Spanish, one of the best languages for travel! Although it is a US territory and most people speak both English and Spanish in Puerto Rico, the latter is the official language. And with so many different areas in Puerto Rico to visit and so many great reasons to visit, it is an island you will definitely want to come back and explore!
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