Puerto Rico is a beautiful island destination that offers far more to the intrepid explorer than the classic sun, surf, and sand combination. While it has those in spades, it also boasts stunning architecture, dramatic mountains, lush rainforests, and a rich, storied culture, not to mention a wide variety of fascinating activities and experiences to be discovered.
If what you want from a vacation is to lounge on a paradise beach, soak up the sun, dip your toes in the water now and then, and watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand, Puerto Rico will provide. But if you are looking for experiences that fly under the radar and are a little more unusual, then this is the place for you!
There are countless ways to enjoy all that Puerto Rico has to offer, from luxury resorts and a Puerto Rican cruise experience to rainforest hikes and mountain cabanas. If you are looking for something that might take you a little way off the usual tourist trail, then here are four unusual things to enjoy in Puerto Rico.
The tanks of Flamenco Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Flamenco Beach is blessed with soft white sand, gentle waves, and gorgeous views. The wildlife sanctuary that surrounds it lends an air of tranquility, while the turquoise waters are brimming with vivid life, perfect for snorkeling. But the real draw of this exquisite beach are the giant, rusting hulks that lie abandoned on the sand. These World War II tanks are a remnant from when the US Navy used the beach for test landings and target practice, and were left behind after a wave of non-violent protests forced the US Government to put an end to the military drills. These days they are covered in brightly colored graffiti and add a delightful if surreal touch to this delightful corner of Culebra.
Just off the coast of Puerto Rico lies Cayo Santiago, a small island that is uninhabited save for a troop of around 100 rhesus macaques. These fascainating creatures were introduced to the island back in the 1930s, and now are fully in control of its 38 acres. Almost tame and deeply comfortable with human visitors, these monkeys will approach you with a total lack of fear, meaning you can get some great snaps! The original reason for introducing monkeys to this tiny islet was for scientific research, which continues today, making these macaques some of the best-studied primates on the planet. The research has given Puerto Rican scientists a far greater understanding of animal behavior than would have been possible almost anywhere else in the world.
Bioluminescence in Mosquito Bay
The shining, shimmering, electric light show that graces the waters of Mosquito Bay might be world-famous, but it is still one of the most unusual phenomena that nature has to offer and should be number one on any visitor’s itinerary. Bioluminescence is caused by a type of microorganism called dinoflagellates, which glows electric blue when distrubed at night. A kayak adventure across the bay throws up vivid splashes of vibrant, shining blue, and is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This enormous radio telescope in the north of Puerto Rico is the largest of its kind in the world, a truly staggering feat of engineering, and well worth a visit. At 1,000 feet across and 167 feet deep, this vast satellite dish dwarfs the surrounding landscape and makes for an impressive sight. Set in a natural sinkhole, it has been at the forefront of astrological discovery, as well as being the heart of the search for alien life across the universe! Film fans might recognize Arecibo from the James Bond film Goldeneye or Jody Foster’s Contact. Sadly the telescope is no longer functioning as a result of a collapse in 2020, but it is still a stunning and unusual place to visit!