Puerto Rico is so much more than 500-year old fortresses and beach resorts. And while I'm all for those experiences, many couples want a local perspective on what I would consider worthwhile to do during your Puerto Rico honeymoon. Lucky for you, I'm both a local and a patialzá (Puerto Rican slang for someone who's always up and about). So I divided my suggestions into five categories based on activity types and a bonus one for your consideration.
As we wean off the COVID restrictions, many businesses have permanently closed or had changed their availability. So I felt this was a great moment to share an updated list for those who will be visiting us soon. Puerto Rico is US-territory, so please stay updated and follow the CDC guidelines and local State executive orders during your visit.
Although COVID mandates are over, Puerto Rico has a more strict anti-COVID culture than most of Continental USA, face masks aren't enforced but expected from locals when serving or interacting with you.
One last disclaimer: no one is paying me for being featured in this blog. These are all my genuine, best recommendations for your Puerto Rico honeymoon.
If You're Foodies: Restaurants for your Puerto Rico Honeymoon
Okay, I'm excited. If you're on a honeymoon, I bet you're thinking of trying something new, something fancy, casual dining with a view, and something that feels authentic Puerto Rican. I got you!
Restaurants at Calle Loiza Puerto Rico
Calle Loiza is where the hip and trendy stuff is happening. It's tough to keep up with the scene at Calle Loiza, as it is always booming with so many new bars and restaurants, but for you, I try my best.
Tapas and Drinks at Bottega. My boyfriend and I just adore this place. The menu is meant to share, but there are great main dishes as well. The cocktails are amazing, the tapas are out of this world, and if you're into wine, you're guaranteed to find a bottle you like. Finally, the scene is always vibrant on a weekend night, which is cool if you're a people-watcher like me.
Have Brunch at Tostado. Right next to Bottega, also with the cutest bright scene for the #gram, their brunch menu is excellent. I'm a french brunch girl, and my boyfriend is more like a burger brunch dude. We're all happy at Tostado. Extra points because they have private parking, so you don't have to worry about finding the perfect street spot.
Best Condado Restaurants in Puerto Rico
Full of boutiques and luxury hotels, the Condado district has a more upscale scene. There isn't much for me to do there, a 30-something who isn't the clubbing type, except for photographing weddings, and dining out, obviously.
Cocina Abierta. One of my favorite restaurants in Puerto Rico, this is where my boyfriend and I go when we want to dress cute and feel fancy during a special date night. There's nothing in the menu we don't like, and each plate's quality is top-notch. The scene is somewhat loud, fun, and not too formal.
Turkish Food at Ali Baba. I love everything on their menu. I know it isn't the kind of food one would visit Puerto Rico for. Still, Ali Baba is a great small restaurant with excellent service that will prove a great break from mofongos and burgers.
Sage Steak Loft. This is our most recent find. My boyfriend is very particular about his steaks, and most times prefers to make his own sous-vide, dry-aged, tomahawk, at home. There is one exception though, Sage Steak Loft, in the Olive Boutique Hotel has great dinner and cocktail menus, and has the coziest vibe.
Fine-Dining Restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Marmalade Restaurant: my favorite restaurant. Located in the heart of Old San Juan, I consider Marmalade the best fine-dining restaurant in Puerto Rico. Every single item on their tasting menu is delicious, they have great plant-based options, and the wine pairing is a must!
If you're looking for an elopement dinner, anniversary date, or a restaurant for a marriage proposal, look no further!
La Lanterna by Franco Secarelli. I had only visited this beautiful alfresco restaurant for photographing a wedding before, and had heard raging reviews on it, but finding a slot isn't easy. Finally, my boyfriend surprised me with a birthday dinner there, and it's probably the best place to have Italian food in Puerto Rico. I'm still dreaming about their fresh truffle pasta.
Close to Old San Juan, there is the Miramar district, full of fine-dining, casual, and fancy eateries.
Ariel. One of my favorite restaurants in Puerto Rico, this is a restaurant we go when we want delicious fine dining that's not an expensive tasting menu. There's nothing in the menu we don't like, and each plate's quality is top-notch.
Authentic Puerto Rican Restaurants
You'll find the best Puerto Rican food at the hole-in-the-wall kind of restaurants. But, since you're here for a honeymoon, I'd still want to recommend places where the experience feels complete. So, I'll suggest you drive out of the San Juan-Condado-Isla Verde area, and visit the beach town of Loiza, for the best authentic Puerto Rican food. The Kiosks at Piñones (the "ñ" is pronounced like the "gn" in lasagna) is where Puerto Ricans will flock on weekends to get their food fix. Every Puerto Rican has their favorite kiosk at Piñones, but my favorite are Donde Olga, and Kiosko El Boricua.
The best thing is all the kiosks I'm recommending are just across the road from some of the best beaches near to all the San Juan hotels.
Casual Eating in Old San Juan Puerto Rico
Although there are many restaurants in Old San Juan, I find it better for lunch, casual dining, or snacking. Here are my favorite recommendations for when you want to stay in the Old Town:
Puerto Rican food at La Cueva del Mar. This local chain offers fresh seafood and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. This is where I go when I want some fish tacos or a whole red snapper. But they have a big menu where even picky eaters who aren't that much into seafood will feel comfortable choosing.
Pirilo Pizza Rustica. Right in the heart of Old San Juan, Pirilo has an extensive menu of creative pizzas, and they're all quite tasty. My favorites are the Pirilo (which has sweet plantains, a Puerto Rican staple), and the Carbonara. I also love that they're open until late at night.
Boozy Ice Cream at Rare Candy Creations. Rare Candy is a local ice cream shop that also makes beer floats, ice cream cocktails, and well, let's say you can kill two birds with one stone: desserts + cocktails = win.
Have an Asian Caribbean Fusion dinner at Azalea. From the cocktails to the dessert, everything in Azalea is the perfect fusion between Caribbean and Asian flavors. It is also quite a trendy restaurant, fit for a datenight.
Date Night at La Placita de Santurce
Visit Santaella Restaurant (book in advance), and have great cocktails, tapas, and dinner. You don't have to go home early, as there's a lively scene with many bars, for all tastes and budgets until late at night.
Romantic things to do in a Puerto Rico Honeymoon
Sunset Sailing in Fajardo or the Old San Juan Bay
These tours will give you the experience of a lifetime. And you might also get lucky and see dolphins or manatees joining your sail. You can also book a sunset sail at the San Juan bay, if you'd like to stay close to the metro area.
Go out for Salsa & Drinks at La Factoría
Bartenders working at la Factoria hold the reputation of being award-winners. There's also live Salsa on most nights. So if you like cocktails, and want a sexy date night with drinks and dancing, I suggest you pay them a visit! If Latin dancing is not your thing, you can also keep walking from room to room, they all have different scenes so you'll be guaranteed to find one you like!
Have a Honeymoon Portrait Session in Puerto Rico
Okay, guys, it's #shamelessplug time! For the past 14 years of my photography business, I also photograph many couples during their honeymoon visit to Puerto Rico. I help you choose a location, and we do a sunset walking tour while we stop and take portraits for you to remember this adventure in your married life!
Time is precious during your Puerto Rico honeymoon. This is why I always recommend picking a location you won't be visiting during the rest of your trip. We can discover it together, instead of repeating the same place you were the day before. All the photos you'll watch in this article are couples that hired me to capture their Puerto Rico vacation memories.
If You're Adventurous: Things to Do During your Puerto Rico Honeymoon
Zipline at Toro Verde
You'll feel the adrenaline, but you'll also take a nice road trip through the less-touristy mountain areas of Puerto Rico. There's also a new urban zipline adventure at Distrito T-Mobile, a fun, new vibrant hangout spot.
Do a Kayak Bio Bay Tour at Vieques
Guys, I'm not joking, you must visit Vieques (stay overnight), and do a Bio Bay tour with Vieques Kayaks. I've done it four times already, and I'm anxiously waiting for the next one. Vieques has one of the consistently brightest Bio Bays in the world due to the privileged features of Mosquito Bay, where it's located. Book a clear-bottom Kayak tour (so you can get real close to the water), and enjoy one of nature's most beautiful things.
Pro-tips for your Bio Bay Tour
- Try to schedule during a new moon phase - the darker the night sky is, the better you'll see the bioluminescence.
- Leave your camera on your hotel - the level of darkness, paired with the motion of the kayaks, will prove impossible to get a photo. Plus, you'll probably drop any equipment. Trust me, I'm a professional photographer, get unplugged, and keep your eyes very open for beautiful surprises.
- There's a reason it's called mosquito bay - but you can't wear bug spray, as it is lethal to the bioluminescent creatures you're visiting. Wear long sleeves and leggings if you're sweet for bug bites, and please go with clean skin, free of lotions and chemicals.
- Bring your water shoes, you'll thank me later.
Rent a Treehouse
Adventurous couples are usually better served by AirBNBs than hotels. And there are many fantastic places listed as short-term rentals, but one of my favorites has to be the Tree House in San Germán.
Spend a day of Hiking and Beaches in Cabo Rojo
On the furthest point from San Juan, almost a 3-hour drive, you'll find one of my favorite places for a day trip. Visit the National Wildlife Refuge in Cabo Rojo. There you'll find Playa Sucia, unique landscapes at the salt flats, and finally, the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse, on a cliff where I recommend sitting down to wait for the sunset.
Visit El Yunque Rainforest
This blog would be bogus if it didn't mention our biggest pride: El Yunque Rainforest at Río Grande. The only tropical rainforest in US-territory, which makes it a unique experience. Breathe the freshest air, and immerse yourself with one of the most biodiverse forests. Please, wear appropriate footwear (no flip-flops), and also, don't swim in the waterfalls if it's raining. Conditions could get dangerous.
Scuba Diving in Culebra
Maybe you could turn that sunset sail into an adventurous diving trip, and experience the beautiful underwater wildlife that thrives in the reefs surrounding Culebra Island. My favorite diving spot in Culebra is in Cayo Luis Peña.
Maybe your travel itinerary doesn't let you make it to Culebra, or you're not too sure about diving. You can also try snorkeling at Steps Beach, or at Playa Peña Blanca in Aguadilla. Keep your eyes open for turtles!
If you Want a Beachy Laid-Back Puerto Rico Honeymoon
Beach Sunsets at Rincón
Our westernmost corner has the most beautiful sunsets and so many gorgeous beaches. Also, the most lazy-beach-town vibe you'll find in Puerto Rico. Many US-expats make Rincon their home, and there are many lovely bars, inns, and small businesses catering to anglo speaking visitors. Great for people-watching, too.
My favorite beaches at Rincón: Steps (Tres Palmas), Sandy Beach, and Domes.
Stay in Aguadilla
As a small town with a balanced mix of US-expats and locals makes Aguadilla very diverse and booming. There are many restaurants, bars, short-term rentals, and many of Puerto Rico's best beaches. You can skip San Juan altogether, by flying directly to Aguadilla from some continental US locations. Finally, it is also very close to many other great coastal towns, such as Isabela and Rincon.
Some of my favorite beaches in Aguadilla: Borinquen, Survivor, and Playa Peña Blanca.
Help Local Communities during your Puerto Rico Honeymoon
Local Guest is a company that connects tourists with authentic and sustainable experiences, supporting, in turn, the local communities in which they take place. Check them out and book a tour through them!
Well, this was a long one! But I've been wanting to make it for a while, so please I want to hear feedback from you! Let me know what else you saw and tried during your visit, or if I'm missing something. Of course, the comments section is always available for questions that I'll be happy to reply to!