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We love a Caribbean getaway, especially one that takes the stress out of travel and gets us into full-on vacation mode that much sooner. Puerto Rico is an awesome option. It’s brimming with sandy beaches, lush rainforests and mountains.

Old San Juan is a hub of history and culture. There are livelier areas like Condado with high-rise hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos. Resorts of all shapes sizes and service levels dot the north shore. Craving some peace and quiet? Ponder a less-trammeled part of Puerto Rico such as Guanica or steal away to the low-key island of Vieques.

Since it’s a U.S. territory, a trip to this sun-drenched island is considered domestic travel. Yep, that means no passport or having to deal with the Covid re-entry protocols to get back into the country. Just toss a few swimsuits and some SPF in your suitcase and go.

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1. OLD SAN JUAN

Best for History

Getting There: 20 minutes from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: Hotel El Convento, Palacio Provincial, Villa Herencia Hotel
Rentals: Explore top-rated rentals in Old San Juan

A history lover's dream, Old San Juan oozes charm and is packed with dazzling sights. Your first stop? The San Juan National Historic Site to see Castillo de San Cristobal and San Felipe del Morro. Catedral de San Juan Bautista houses the tomb of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León (yes, he’s a problematic figure but Puerto Rico's grandest religious building is still very much worth visiting). Cobblestone streets and brightly colored facades also make Old San Juan an incredibly enchanting place to stroll around. Cool down after a long day of sightseeing with a refreshing cocktail at one of the many outdoor bars.

Explore Old San Juan

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2. CONDADO

Best for Nightlife

Getting There: 15 minutes from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: Condado Ocean Club, Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, Olive Boutique Hotel
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Condado

Condado is the lively, centrally located strip of San Juan that’s an epicenter of nightlife and entertainment. The many restaurants and swanky lounges as well as Casino del Mar welcome throngs of P.M. patrons. Looking to blow through some of your winnings? Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and Ferragamo all have storefronts in Condado. There are upscale hotels situated directly on the beach, too. Just a note that the surf tends to be pretty rough, so it’s more of lazing on a cabana and ordering food and drinks than a swimming situation. Don’t worry, you’re never too far from an ocean-view infinity pool.

Explore Condado

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel

3. ISLA VERDE

Best for Families

Getting There: 10 minutes from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, Royal Sonesta San Juan, San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Isla Verde

For a family vacation that centers around the beach and still gives you easy access to everything in San Juan, Isla Verde is your best bet. This holiday-centric part of the island has a bunch of great oceanfront hotels. Whether your kids are still in the banana boat age bracket or have graduated to jet skiing and parasailing, the water sports alone are sure to earn you the title of the coolest parent of the year. There's also a popular waterpark at Balneario de Carolina. Once the kiddos are snoozing soundly, mom and dad can hit the casinos and nightclubs.

Explore Isla Verde

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4. RINCON

Best for Beaches

Getting There: 35 minutes from Rafael Hernández Marín
Best Hotels: Tres Sirenas Beach Inn
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Rincon

Puerto Rico certainly isn’t lacking in beautiful beaches, but Rincon lays claim to some of the best on the island. Because this beloved vacation destination sits where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet, the seaside offerings are even more unique than other places. Visitors can go surfing at Domes Beach. If you’d rather just watch from a safe distance, Faro de Punta Higüera is a great spot to see all the action. Calmer waters, a thriving coral reef and abundant marine life, such as parrotfish and hawksbill turtles, all add up to Steps Beach being incredible for snorkeling.

Explore Rincon

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

5. RIO GRANDE

Best for Resort Lovers

Getting There: 25 minutes from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort, Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Rio Grande

Situated in northeastern Puerto Rico, Rio Grande is the gateway to El Yunque National Forest. That means witnessing tropical flora and waterfalls, hiking to spellbinding observation towers, swimming in the crystal-clear water and zip-lining at JungleQui Zipline Park. Keen to kick back on the pretty-as-a-picture beaches, float in a huge pool or play 18 holes after all that adventure? You’re in luck! Rio Grande boasts many sprawling resorts with ample amenities, including The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort and Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort.

Explore Rio Grande

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6. PONCE

Best for Culture

Getting There: 15 minutes from Mercedita International Airport
Best Hotels: Ponce Plaza Hotel And Casino, Melia Century Hotel, Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Ponce

Like a sunny city break with lots of heritage? It’s time you consider Ponce. This sizable city on Puerto Rico’s southern coast has a lot of cool cultural stuff. Its historical zone flaunts all these gorgeous Ponce Creole-style houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Centro Cultural de Ponce Carmen Solá de Pereira hosts exhibits showcasing the work of local artists. Museo de Arte de Ponce is widely regarded as one of the best art museums on the island. Whether or not you believe tossing a coin in a fountain brings luck, there’s no denying Fuente de Los Leones in Plaza Las Delicias is quite lovely.

Explore Ponce

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

7. DORADO

Best for Luxury

Getting There: 30 minutes from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Hyatt Residence Club Dorado, Hacienda del Mar
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Dorado

Luxury travelers know Dorado. Well, perhaps, not so much the town on the northern coast of Puerto Rico itself as the lavish, totally splurge-worthy Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which is constantly ranked among the best resorts in the world. Because golf always feels like such a posh pastime, it makes sense that there are three Robert Trent Jones-designed courses. Of course, you don’t need to stay at one of the most expensive places on the island to catch some rays on the golden-sand beaches, take a dip in the Caribbean Sea or hit the links.

Explore Dorado

Hix Island House

8. VIEQUES

Best for Couples

Getting There: 25-minute commuter flight from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: Hix Island House, Finca Victoria, El Blok
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Vieques

A little more time in transit, a lot more peace and quiet once you arrive. Vieques is a true escape, an idyllic and romantic spot to chill out that’s just seven miles off Puerto Rico's eastern coast. It offers unspoiled beaches, really beautifully designed boutique hotels and off-the-beaten-path appeal. People don’t go here for giant resorts with kids running wild or inebriated college coeds. That’s so not the vibe. Vieques is all about keeping things breezy and enjoying simple pleasures like sipping a fruity daiquiri on a sandy crescent, watching wild horses run free and seeing a bioluminescent bay IRL.

Explore Vieques

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9. GUANICA

Best for Relaxation

Getting There: 35 minutes from Mercedita International Airport
Best Hotels: Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa, Parador Guanica 1929
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Guanica

A coastal town on the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, Guánica is a warm and welcoming paradise of natural beauty that’s surprisingly not overrun with tourists. The pace is laid-back and leisurely but there’s also plenty of stuff to do (if you want). So it’s really just about structuring your vacation to carve out ample time for hiking and birdwatching in Guánica State Forest, kayaking to the peaceful mangrove island of Cayo Aurora (locals call it Gilligan's Island) and also blocking off a few hours to just relax on the uncrowded beaches.

Explore Guanica

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10. FAJARDO

Before for Adventure

Getting There: 45 minutes from San Juan Airport
Best Hotels: El Conquistador Resort
Rentals: Explore top rentals in Fajardo

On the easternmost tip of Puerto Rico exists a little gem of a place to just post up and not be bothered for a week or use as a home base to discover hidden coves and little cays just offshore (you might even spy dolphins) or hit the trails in El Yunque National Forest. Fajardo is also home to one of the largest marinas in the Caribbean as well as some smaller moorings. Sailing, parasailing and catamaraning are all popular pastimes. At Reserva Natural Cabezas de San Juan, adventurers can go kayaking in a bioluminescent lagoon and hiking through the forests.

Explore Fajardo

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