Where my family is from.
The place I spent the summers of my childhood making unforgettable memories.
It has been a while since I have visited Puerto Rico but that changed this summer as we decided to go for our family vacation. I was so excited to bring my daughters. Not only was I able to show them the beautiful island and part of their culture, I was able to show them a part of who I am and where I spent a good part of my childhood. But traveling with kids can be difficult (click here to read some car travel tips) and it was important to me that we found activities that they would enjoy and remember, in addition to showing them part of their family history.
While visiting the island, it is important to note that it is still undergoing the recovery process from Hurricane Maria which hit the island in September of 2017. However, this should not be a reason to deter you from visiting the island. If anything, it should encourage you to visit as tourism helps the economy and recovery efforts. With that said, here are 5 family friendly activities that you can do while in Puerto Rico.
Beach / Pool / Water Activities
Spend at least one day at the beach! The crystal blue waters of the ocean that surround the island provide an endless amount of family entertainment. From playing in the sand and building a sandcastle to swimming, snorkeling jet skiing, fishing, parasailing and more… there is something for everyone.
During our trip, we stayed in an AirBnb in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico called The Yellow House. The house was absolutely gorgeous and provided water toys which included kayaks and paddle boards. This gave us the opportunity to try these activities for the first time and we had a blast (even with the falls…lol). As an adult, I admit that I do not like the beach or the ocean. Why? Because I do not like that sand gets everywhere and I am scared of fish. Yup… I said scared of fish (with good reason). But, I had to put my fears and dislikes aside to give my girls the opportunity to experience new things and form their own opinions about what they like. Let me tell you… it was worth every moment!
El Yunque National Rain Forest
El Yunque National Rain Forest is another memorable adventure to go on in Puerto Rico as it is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. The rain forest is located in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico which is actually where we stood (and we didn’t even plan it). I really wanted to take my girls so they can see what a rain forest looked like and they could say they have been to a rain forest. We decided to go spur of the moment which worked in our favor.
Some important things to note about El Yunque:
- Some parts are still closed as a result of hurricane Maria (which happened in 2017).
- Certain areas are not kid friendly as it may require a long and intense hike.
- When you enter the rainforest, there are guides that pass out maps which indicate what areas are open and closed. The maps also indicate certain trails and how long it takes (on average) to hike them.
We decided to visit two areas of the rain forest. The first area we visited required a 5 minute hike along the Juan Diego Creek to reach a small natural pool / waterfall. The hike was a little more intense than I expected (but to put it in perspective, I am out of shape)… but very short. The final destination was a beautiful, small waterfall which you could go in. My girls were so excited to see a waterfall and wanted to go in the natural pool but not all members of our family wanted to go in (one downfall of traveling in a bigger group).
After the hike back to the road, we got in the car and drove to Yokahú Tower (less than 1km away from Juan Diego Creek). Yokahú Tower is an observation tower located at an elevation of 1,575 ft with a parking lot right next to it (so there’s no extra hiking). We climbed to the top of the tower (note there are no elevators) and saw 360 degree breathtaking views of the island. The girls were so excited because it looked like a princess castle and they could see the world from the top. It’s definitely a place they will never forget.
Yaucromatic is an urban art and mural initiative located in Yauco, Puerto Rico. The goal of this initiative is to increase the number of visitors to Yauco which in turn helps with the recovery efforts and town’s economy. The bright colors of the wall, the beautiful murals, the sound of music and the opportunity to try Puerto Rican cuisine is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. You can also be assured that you will take some family album and social media worthy photos.
Walk Around Old San Juan
No trip to Puerto Rico will be complete without a trip to Old San Juan. Whether you walk or drive around, the art, architecture and history jump off of the walls. During our trip we did a combination of walking and driving. Some noteworthy sites to visit / activities to do include:
- El Morro (and fly a kite on the lawn in front of it)
- The colorful Umbrellas on Calle Fortaleza (which also has some great shops)
- El Castillo de San Cristóbal
- “La Puerta de la Bandera” on Calle San José (A giant colonial door bearing an image of the Puerto Rican flag)
Go on a Coqui Hunt
One of the most vivid memories from my childhood summers in Puerto Rico include the sound of the coqui. The coqui is a small, nocturnal frog native to Puerto Rico. At night, it makes a loud “Ko-Kee” sound. My daughters were so intrigued my the sound and wanted to find the frog.
Now… finding a coqui is not easy to do as they are they are very tiny (a little smaller than a penny). But who am I to tell them no? With a camera and flashlight, we followed the sounds of the coqui until we came to a bush where the sound was right in front of us. We spent quite some time looking for the frog but just couldn’t see it. In an attempt to see the elusive coqui, we snapped a few pictures. Our hopes was that if we zoomed in we just might see it…. And we did!!! I just might have some future scientists on my hands!
Visit Puerto Rico!
I hope these activities inspire you to get on a plane and visit Puerto Rico. My daughters have already asked to go to Puerto Rico for their birthday. They think they can have a birthday party and take a trip…lol).
Have you been to Puerto Rico? If Yes, what was your favorite activity? If No, where should we travel next?
My name is Michelle and I am the wife of the hardest working man I know, the Mami of 4 beautiful and AMAZING kids (3 girls and 1 boy) and a Pathologists’ Assistant turned Stay at Home Mami turned Owner and Creative Director of Mami Works Design Studio, LLC. I am super excited to share my experiences and learn from you. As women/moms/entrepreneurs, we must stick together and support each other!