Territory

Wonders of Puerto Rico

Cueva del Indio near Arecibo
Cueva del Indio near Arecibo. / Carlos Rios, Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States.

This large island (with several adjoining smaller islands) is rich both with interesting natural and man-made landmarks. The most amazing wonders of Puerto Rico are:

  • Old San Juan and buildings in it – one of the oldest European cities in the Americas. There are few cities even in Europe that rich with amazing Renaissance and Baroque architecture, with charming cobblestone streets and – none have the blue Caribbean Sea as a backdrop.
  • Taíno heritage – in Puerto Rico are located some of the most impressive landmarks left by Taíno people, including the impressive Caguana and Tibes ceremonial centers and numerous petroglyph sites.
  • Ecosystems – on Puerto Rico are found several unique ecosystems, with multiple endemic species of plants and animals. Amazing are the bioluminescent bays – secluded sea bays with clean water, suitable for specific species of dynoflagellates which emit blue light when disturbed.

Map with the described wonders of Puerto Rico

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Puerto Rico

Geological wonders

Camuy cave system

Camuy, Hatillo and Lares

Giant cave system with 17 entrances, not mapped yet. Not all caves are connected – currently system consists of some 220 caves with total length in excess of 15 km. Clara Cave contains 212 m long and up to 65 m high chamber. Rio Camuy is one of the largest underground rivers in the world.

One of entrances in Camuy cave system, Puerto Rico
Rio Encantado Cave system

Ciales

21 km long and up to 344 m deep cave system with underground river – Rio Encantado.

San Cristobal Canyon

Barranquitas

Beautiful, some 200 m deep canyon, approximately 9 km long. Several waterfalls, including the magnificent Salto Neblina.

Tres Pueblos Sinkhole (Tri-Towns Sinkhole, Sumidero Tres Pueblos)

Camuy, Hatillo and Lares

An interesting sinkhole, some 120 m deep and 195 m wide. Camuy River flows through it, the sinkhole is part of the Camuy cave system.

Tres Pueblos Sinkhole
Tanama River Cave

Lares

Natural arch – 300 m long and 40 m wide tunnel with Tanama river flowing through it.

Tanama River Cave
Cueva Ventana

Arecibo

Cave with a picturesque sight from its entrance.

Cueva Ventana

Biological wonders

El Yunque National Forest

The only tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico. Beautiful area, where mountains raise up to 1,065 m. Rich with species of plants and animals, contains 23 species that are not found anywhere else in the world. Contains a unique dwarf forest.

El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
Bioluminescent Bay (Mosquito Bay)

Vieques island

One of the most spectacular bioluminescence sites in the world. The bluish glow is caused by dynoflagellates that feed on the leaves of red mangrove trees.

Swimmers in the Bioluminescent Bay
Mona Island ecosystem

Mona island

A small, isolated island that is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs. A well-preserved ecosystem with endemic species of animals and plants including the 1.2 m long Mona Ground Iguana (Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri) and six other species of reptiles. Sometimes this island is named “Galapagos of Caribbean”.

The endemic Harrisia portoricensis in Mona Island
Guánica State Forest

peninsula in south-west of Puerto Rico

The best-preserved subtropical dry forest in the Caribbean. Although species diversity here is comparatively low, there are many rare species of plants. 16 species of plants are met only in this forest, also Puerto Rican Nightjar is found only here.

Guánica State Forest
Villalba ceiba tree

Villalba

Little known, enormous Ceiba pentandra with a girth of 19.8 m. It is possible that there are larger ceiba trees than this.

Archaeological wonders

Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center

Ponce

A unique archaeological monument – a ceremonial complex, sports center, and cemetery of Taíno and Igneri people. It was inhabited sometimes around 400 – 1000 AD and it is possible that this place served as an astronomical observatory. Contains large stone constructions, alignments, ballparks, burials.

Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center
Cueva del Indio, Arecibo

Arecibo

This cave contains numerous Taíno petroglyphs – it was used for tribal meetings. Natural arches.

Cueva del Indio near Arecibo, petroglyphs
Cuevas de la Mora

Comerio

Cave system, former ceremonial center of local people. Adorned with numerous petroglyphs – owls, heads, monkeys, turtles.

Cueva del Indio in Las Piedras

Las Piedras

In this area niches between the stones and their surroundings contain more than 200 Taíno petroglyphs. Here is also an enclosure that is flanked with standing stones that are adorned with petroglyphs as well.

El Hombre de Puerto Ferro

Vieques island

Site of prehistoric burial from sometimes around 1900 BC, belonging to Ortoiroid culture. Skeleton has been buried among a setting of large boulders with rows of smaller boulders radiating outwards.

Architecture wonders

Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo

Site with the world’s largest single-aperture telescope, visually very impressive structure – now collapsed. The diameter of the main collecting dish is 305 m – it is constructed, using a natural depression – sinkhole. Constructed in 1960 – 1963.

Arecibo Observatory
San José Church

San Juan

Church in Late Gothic style, built in 1532 – 1735 by Dominicans. One of the oldest European built structures in Puerto Rico, one of the few structures in New World with distinct details of Gothic architecture.

San José Church in San Juan
Castillo San Felipe del Morro

San Juan

Impressive fort. Construction was started by the Spanish in 1539 and lasted for some 400 years. Outer walls are up to 6 m thick and up to 44 m high.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Parque de Bombas

Ponce

Amazing firehouse building, a landmark structure in Ponce city. This ornate wooden house was built in 1882 and painted in red and black.

Parque de Bombas
San Germán Historic District

San Germán

Historical quarters of the second oldest city in Puerto Rico, established in the early 16th century. Contains more than 100 historical buildings.

San Germán Historic District
Old San Juan

San Juan

Oldest European settlement in Puerto Rico, the historical quarter of San Juan. Cobblestone streets here are lined with historical buildings, many from the 16th and 17th centuries. City walls preserved.

Street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Castillo de San Cristóbal

San Juan

The largest Spanish built fortification in Americas, built in 1625 – 1783.

View from Castillo de San Cristóbal
Capitol of Puerto Rico

San Juan

An ornate, large building that houses the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico. Built in 1929 in Neo-Classicism style.

Capitol of Puerto Rico
Ponce Historic Zone

Ponce

A beautiful historical city quarters with ornate architecture from the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.

Ponce Historic Zone

WorldYellow Recommended books

Fodor’s Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico is one of the Caribbean’s most exciting destinations, and with many nonstop flights from major East Coast cities, it’s one of the easiest islands to reach. From vibrant San Juan to laid-back Vieques, all the energy and color of Puerto Rico come to life in this guide.

Insight Guides Puerto Rico


Blessed with glorious beaches, spectacular mountain ranges, and lush, green rainforest, Puerto Rico offers fantastic outdoor activities, cultural sights, plus great food and music. Be inspired to visit by the new edition of Insight Guide Puerto Rico, a comprehensive full-color guide to this delightful island.


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