Kayaking in the Virgin Islands National Park

Best Outdoor Activities in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

From snorkeling at beaches to hiking the national parks to kayaking, check out the best outdoor activities to experience in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rican culture is rich with outdoor adventure activities, from hiking in El Yunque National Forest to kayaking through the mangrove swamps.  The Virgin Islands offer plenty of opportunities for visitors looking to explore nature on a tropical island, including hikes up hillsides filled with palmetto trees or boat tours around St. John’s lush forests, coves and beaches. 

With so many diverse options available, it can be hard to choose where your next adventure should take you! This guide provides an overview of some of Puerto Rico’s and the Virgin Islands’ most popular outdoor adventures as well as some of the best places to visit.

1. Overview of the Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands archipelago is composed of three main islands: St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, all of which harbor natural beauty on a vast scale. The islands offer visitors the opportunity to explore a tropical landscape filled with sugarcane fields, mahogany trees and mountain peaks up to 1,600 meters. 

There are ample opportunities for outdoor adventure activities, from hiking at St John to spot seagulls circling above the tranquil waves below- ideal for someone looking to experience nature in all of its splendor and glory.

2. Overview of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a hidden gem of the Caribbean where you can enjoy adventures in fun, exotic locations. A tropical rainforest surrounds this US territory offering visitors countless outdoor adventure activities to choose from: recreation seekers will love exploring El Yunque National Forest; travelers looking for an adrenaline rush can try their hand at zip-lining above lush mountain peaks; nature lovers will revel in the view as they hike around a barely inhabited island just offshore of San Juan… The possibilities are endless!  

If you like ziplining in lush forests, why not consider experiencing it in Luang Prabang Laos.

3. Best Outdoor Adventures and Activities in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Hiking in Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge  

This archipelago, which is located about 90 miles east of Puerto Rico’s main island boasts some of the most incredible natural swimming pools on earth and is known for its excellent snorkeling opportunities. The refuge consists primarily of rocky cays and islets that are home to many native seabirds.

Kayaking in the Virgin Islands National Park  

The Virgin Islands National Park covers 64,000 acres of land on St. John’s east end including tropical forest, lowlands, mangroves , sea caves and coral reefs. For an incredible kayak experience, visitors can take a guided tour from Trunk Bay Beach to Cinnamon Bay Reef. 

To reach the reef, paddlers must paddle through a narrow channel lined with rocks that leads them into Chasm Bay; this is one of the best locations for snorkeling in the park. The trip will take approximately five hours and includes snacks and lunch. 

Snorkeling at Buck Island, Reef National Monument  

Buck Island is a tiny uninhabited island that sits about two miles off the coast of St. Croix; it has one of the best snorkeling locations in the Virgin Islands – Buck Island Reef National Monument. 

The monument was established in 1991 and protects 49 acres of coral reefs, lagoons and shipwrecks. To get to the reef, visitors can either swim or kayak out from shore; this area is home to colorful tropical fish, underwater caves and many interesting corals.

4. Reasons to visit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Stunning Beaches

The beaches in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are stunning; visitors can expect clear blue water, soft white sand, and plenty of opportunities to unwind onshore. The islands offer a wide array of beach activities from swimming with sea turtles to learning about underwater artifacts at the Park Service Natural Maritime Museum.  

Divers Paradise

A diver’s paradise lies beneath the waters of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; both locations boast an abundance of marine life including dolphins, whales, big game fish, endangered sea turtles and coral reefs. Visitors can immerse themselves in this aquatic world by taking one of many diving excursions offered throughout the area or they could explore shipwrecks that litter these crystal clear waters. So one need not go all the way to Malta or Brunei to see wrecks or marine life. You can get it right here in the oceans of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Great Shopping

Shopping is a popular pastime in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; many visitors make it part of their daily itinerary to shop at duty-free stores where they can find great deals on luxury items like fine jewelry, designer clothing, perfumes and electronics.  

Seamless entry for multiple passport holders

Virgin Island’s shopping district has been dubbed the “Duty-Free Zone”. Here you’ll find an array of shops offering products that have been imported tax-free from all over the world including watches, sunglasses, liquor, tobacco products and more! Whether you are a US citizen or a Chinese national, there are multiple visa-free or e-visa options to Puerto Rico to ensure you get here seamlessly. 

Dining out in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Dining out may still be quite challenging in recent years due to the pandemic. But with the dining out restrictions loosening, you should definitely try one of Puerto Rico’s best-known dishes – plantains made of rice and beans.

Puerto Rican cuisine also has its own unique twist on classic American foods including a sandwich known as “Mofongo con Camarones”. This meal is made with mashed green plantains filled with shrimp and cheese; it’s usually topped with a garlic sauce or tomato-based broth. The Virgin Islands are home to many different eateries that offer authentic Caribbean food like barbecued fish and fried plantain chips.  


Cruise ships operate year-round in San Juan; this port city offers plenty of lodging options for tourists that are looking to combine their cruise experience with attractions nearby. Travelers will find three major ports in the Virgin Islands: St Thomas, St John, and Tortola each of which has their own unique attractions and dining options.  

Great Fishing Locations in Puerto Rico 

The waters off of Puerto Rico are teeming with marine life including red snappers, king mackerels, groupers and sharks. Readers should be aware that some fishing locations only allow catch-and-release so they could enjoy the thrill of reeling one in without keeping it for dinner. Some popular fishing locations include Cocovida, Ocean World Marina and Muelle de las Boqueras.


Puerto Rico has a lot to offer anyone who loves the outdoors including many unique spots for camping, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and even rock climbing. Visitors that want to enjoy these activities can find them mainly at Lago Dos Bocas, Terrero Beach State Forest, Loiza Marine Park, Guanica Dry Forest Nature Reserve and El Verde Ecological Preserve.

Lydia Y

Lydia Y

Lydia is an avid outdoor lover and wildlife enthusiast. She loves all kinds of nature escapades and enjoys immersing in the mountains and landscapes, hence the name Lydiascapes was born from there. She embarks on outdoor adventures like camping, hiking to skiing and water sports. She has travelled to 49 over countries to date and is waiting to conquer Mongolia in 2023.

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