Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island that has gorgeous colonial towns, pristine white-sand beaches, a lush rainforest, beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking mountains and a variety of incredible wildlife. For those who want to experience the best hidden gems of Puerto Rico, we have put together this blog to help you plan your trip to the “Island of Enchantment”.
In it you will hear about our experiences living the island life in Puerto Rico, our favorite spots on the island, where to find the best hidden gems, what the culture of Puerto Rico is like and a few final recommendations to make the most of your trip. Before we get started on all of the above, let us tell you a little bit about ourselves and how we ended up living in Puerto Rico.
Our Love Story: How we First Met
We are Jared and Courtney: known on Instagram as @letsbebythesea. Courtney grew up in the town of Murrieta located in Southern California, while Jared grew up in the northern part of California in a town called Lakeport. Growing up, Courtney was a very active person and was always involved in some type of sport, activity or family travel adventure.
After high school, she went to Bible College in Kauai for a semester and fell in love with the island. After coming home, Courtney started to crave that island life again. So after less than two years, she went back to Kauai for a few months. She ended up coming back to California in September, 2019.
Jared grew up playing sports and played college baseball and basketball at Mendocino College. In August 2019, he transferred to a college in Southern California called the University of Saint Katherine, playing basketball.
On the 26th of September, 2019 there was a farmers market in Oceanside. Courtney went to the market to see her friend/sister who worked there and Jared had gone for the first time with his friends. While there, we caught each other’s eye and Jared came up to Courtney to ask for her number. The next day we hung out and have been inseparable ever since!
Inspiration to Move to Puerto Rico
We are adventurous people who have always had the desire to explore the world, which is one thing that made us so good for each other! Right before COVID hit at the start of 2020, we were able to take a two week trip to Kauai. We did as many hikes and adventures as possible, and fell in love with the adventure and beauty this world has to offer.
After our trip to Kauai, we talked so much about one day moving and living that island lifestyle and traveling the world. During the pandemic we moved in together and were lucky enough to have the opportunity to work.
Jared started up a pool servicing business and Courtney was training and working as a coach at a Muay Thai gym. We would always talk about our dreams to travel and live somewhere brand new with that island feel.
We went back and forth on a lot of different places to achieve this goal – but after looking at expenses and what the pros and cons of each place were, we decided on going to Puerto Rico. Neither of us had ever been and from what we heard it reminded people of Hawaii or Costa Rica – and we knew we loved those places, so how could we not love Puerto Rico?!
With the island being a US Territory, it would make the move easy as we wouldn’t have to deal with visas. This dream was a few years in the future for us, we thought. Jared was doing well with his business and Courtney was loving working at the gym and had just had her first Muay Thai fight.
The opportunity arose for us to move to Puerto Rico sooner than expected and we knew if we didn’t take it we would regret it! We originally stayed in Isabela and then we moved to the other side of the island. We spent almost three months living the dream together on the island and stayed at a variety of places, discovering the best hidden gems of Puerto Rico.
Why Puerto Rico is a True Paradise
For those who have never visited Puerto Rico we would describe the island as a tropical paradise. It has beaches and jungles that remind us of a mix of Hawaii and Mexico – but with its own unique cultural twist. Puerto Rico also has an endless amount of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
We believe this island should be on everyone’s travel list due to the many adventures and crystal clear waters on offer. The diverse culture is also another reason to add Puerto Rico to your bucket list: from the music and dancing, to the colorful houses and street art – the island is full of life.
Our favorite spot in Puerto Rico is a waterfall in Utuado called Charco Los Morones. The drive to this waterfall is amazing – the landscapes and mountains you enter as you make your way to the center of the island are breathtaking. When we got to the waterfall, we instantly fell in love with the tall rock features and natural pools above each waterfall. It was magic!
After taking in the views, we got in the water and realized how deep it was allowing us to then cliff jump (which we love to do)! Not to mention, we spent two hours there just the two of us before any other people arrived, which made our experience even more special. Just us two and nature.
Best Hidden Gems of Puerto Rico
There is so much beauty to explore in Puerto Rico and there are so many places we didn’t get the chance to see, but from our time on the island we can suggest the following places as the best hidden gems of Puerto Rico:
- Charco Los Morones, Utado: This is the cascading waterfall we were talking about earlier. One of the best hidden gems of Puerto Rico!
- Isla Mata La Gata, La Parguera: Either rent a boat or a kayak and take them out to these amazing mangroves with beautiful blue waters.
- El Saltillo, San Sebastian: This hike through the river leads to a secluded waterfall with a tall rope swing and lovely clear waters.
- Crash Boat Beach, Aguadilla: Despite the crowded beach, the water is calm this time of year creating clear waters perfect for paddle boarding.
- Charco El Pilon Trail, San German: A jungle hike to a swimming hole and waterfall. If you are adventurous, you can continue further and reach more swimming holes with waterfalls along with rock formations.
- Guajataca Tunnel, Isabela: Make a stop at this location for the artwork when you first arrive, along with a tunnel that leads to hidden beaches.
- Shacks Beach, Bajura: The perfect place for calm water snorkeling.
- Las Salinas de Cabo Rojo: Salt flats known for their bright pink water.
- Playa La Cueva Las Golondrinas, Manati: This little beach comes with easy access to an incredible cave filled with pink and purple rocks.
- Old San Juan Town: Despite not being a hidden gem, you simply have to visit to get a feel for the colorful buildings, shopping and history.
Culture & Food of Puerto Rico
Throughout our stay in Puerto Rico we have had many great interactions with the people of the island. We have made a few friends that have brought us to local spots and introduced us to amazing places.
Everyone on the island from what we noticed is definitely on island time, it’s very laid back! There was so much culture that we couldn’t immerse ourselves in but we constantly learnt new things everyday.
When it comes to food, you will find a local dish called Mofongo. This is basically smashed plantains. They have this prepared in multiple different ways for multiple different meals. Most of the dishes here are full of meat or fried, which for us wasn’t what we normally go for. Before we came here we ate a vegetarian diet. That isn’t to say we didn’t try the local dishes though!
Best Memory from our Time in Puerto Rico
One of our favorite memories from our time in Puerto Rico was when we went paddle boarding with one of our local friends and snorkeled in the crystal clear waters of Crash Boat Beach. While snorkeling we saw many fish along with our favorite sighting, eagle rays! If you have never seen an eagle ray, they are like sting rays but smaller with white spots on their tops.
Need to Know Before you Go
Our main tip for Puerto Rico is to go out and explore! There is so much beauty: from the jungles, to the beaches, to the city. See as much as you can and uncover the hidden gems of Puerto Rico. When we had places we wanted to go that were a little bit of a drive, we would make a few stops at multiple spots along the way to see all we could in the most efficient way.