The “Island of Enchantment” might as well be called the “Island of Adventures.” Here, tropical forest meets the sea, water splashes against limestone caves and cliffs, and when the moon rises, the sea glows a bright blue-green.
From the Embassy Suites by Hilton Dorado del Mar Beach Resort in Dorado, multiple Puerto Rico adventures are a short drive away. Here are just five of the incredible outdoor experiences that should top any thrill seeker’s list.
Zipline Puerto Rico: Toro Verde
Within Puerto Rico’s rugged interior, Toro Verde Adventure Park features 10 long, long cables suspended hundreds of feet above the Central Mountains–where riders can zip along at speeds ranging from 50 to nearly 100 miles per hour. The longest and fastest zipline, appropriately named The Monster, covers 1.57 miles and is the second-longest zip cable in the entire world! If you’re looking to zipline Puerto Rico, you’ve come to the right place.
Between zips, you’ll go on short hikes through the forest, cross suspension bridges, and rappel down short but-steep rock faces. If this sounds like too much for anyone in your party, know that these activities can be done individually or together as The Monster and The Beast are separate attractions from the eight-cable zipline course. But whatever you choose, remember to bring those closed-toed shoes!
Get there: From San Juan, the trip to Orocovis takes about an hour and a half via Highways 22, 137, and 155. From Dorado, it’s just over an hour.
Hiking in El Yunque
El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. Its 24 miles of hiking trails—of varying length and difficulty—wind through the lush, mountainous landscape, bringing 600,000 annual visitors up close and personal with the most biodiverse forest in the U.S. Expect a bit of history, too, as Taíno petroglyphs can be found on boulders and small cliff faces.
Word of advice: get there early. El Yunque is a popular spot, and you’ll want to beat the buses that arrive by mid-morning. Stop into the El Portal Visitor Center by 8am if you can, grab a map, and hop back in the car for the two-minute drive into the forest. From there, it’s up to you. Will you hike to a scenic waterfall, or make the climb to one of the two observation towers? El Yunque provides tourists with a unique opportunity to experience a tropical rainforest without having to travel to the Amazon or another faraway location. Whichever trail you choose, you won’t regret it.
Get there: About an hour east of Dorado, El Yunque can be reached via Highways 22, 26, and 3.
Exploring Cueva Ventana
With its window-like opening in the rock, high on a limestone cliff overlooking the majestic Rio Grande de Arecibo Valley, Cueva Ventana provides one of Puerto Rico’s most memorable views. An hour-long hike gets you to the cave, where trained biologists offer tours and talks.
Apart from the amazing view, Cueva Ventana is known for its impressive collection of petroglyphs left behind over the centuries by the Taíno–the island’s indigenous inhabitants. These carvings reveal much about the social, spiritual, and environmental interests of this ancient culture, making the cave a window into the past as well.
Get there: Cueva Ventana and the town of Arecibo are located just 40 miles west of Dorado via Highways 22 and 10. Arecibo has many excellent restaurants and is also home to the Arecibo Observatory, a gigantic radio telescope installation that’s open to visitors.
Paddling the Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay in Vieques
Bioluminescent bays glow a bright blue-green at night, thanks to the frenetic activity of billions of microorganisms called dinoflagellates. The bioluminescent Mosquito Bay off the island of Vieques, in Puerto Rican waters eight miles off the mainland, is one of only five such bays in the world (three are in Puerto Rico)–and it offers the most vibrant and spectacular display of them all as it takes on a haunting yet beautiful glow. There is literally nothing like Mosquito Bay anywhere in the world.
The best way to tour the bay at night is in a clear-bottomed kayak, and there are several companies on Vieques that can get you on the water. An overnight stay on the island will be necessary if you choose to have this experience, but small hotels and bed-and-breakfast facilities are widely available.
Get there: The quickest way to get to Vieques is to catch a flight from Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, where they’re inexpensive and frequent. The alternative is to make the drive to Ceiba and catch the 45-minute ferry. It’s about 90 minutes from Dorado to Ceiba via Highway 3.
Hitting the Beaches of the North
Dorado means “golden,” but the beaches here are more like crushed diamonds. This is especially true at Balneario Manuel Morales, also referred to as Playa Sardinera, one of the most popular beaches on this side of the island. The waters are a bright aquamarine, and palm trees line the sand with shade. Weekends here can be quite lively; come during the week for a quieter experience.
For some epic—and identifiable—photos, check out El Ojo del Buey Beach, or Eye of the Ox. Walk out to the iconic ox-head rock formation with your camera (wear sturdy shoes), and then chill on the sand or in the calm, clear water. You could even hunt for the legendary treasure supposedly left here by pirate Roberto Cofresí.
Get there: Balneario Manuel Morales is a 10-minute jaunt northwest from Dorado up Highway 693; El Ojo del Buey Beach is a 10-minute jaunt northeast up Highway 698. The two are roughly 15 minutes apart.
More Fun and Adventure at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Dorado del Mar Beach Resort
If you’re planning to vacation in the San Juan area but want to get away from the hustle and bustle, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Dorado del Mar Beach Resort in nearby Dorado is just what the doctor ordered. Dozens of enthralling tourist attractions will be at your doorstep or just a quick drive away. The all-suite resort offers unmatched comfort and luxury and convenient access to nearby beaches, perfect for relaxation when you return from your Puerto Rico adventures.