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Head Away From Old San Juan and to Luquillo, Puerto Rico

in Puerto Rico Travel Blog

This is a guest post from a friend and fellow travel blogger Maria from LatinAbroad.com

From pre-Columbian Taino-Indian petroglyphs to Spanish fortresses; gorgeous beaches to rainforest adventure parks: Puerto Rico is the kind of destination that draws thrill-seekers and history buffs alike. Better yet? La Isla Del Encanto is an unincorporated US territory, so no US passport needed if you’re a citizen!

And while most travelers flock to Old San Juan, I personally recommend you venture out of its Metro area in order to experience a more unique, adventurous trip. My favorite beach town in the vicinity? LUQUILLO! It’s only 45 minutes east of the capital, an easy ride whether you rent a car or go with a San Juan Tours in Puerto Rico & Excursions with Go Tours Puerto Rico.

Luquillo Balneario La Montserrate

Balneario La Montserrate

There is SO much to see and do there: from surfing to world-class fishing; palm-fringed balnearios to world-class Caribbean food right by the water. Before I give you a healthy list of things to do in my favorite Puerto Rican beach town though, let me give you a visual introduction:

Fun huh? Here’s a bit more info about the places and activities I described in the video:

Saint Joseph Parish Catholic Church (Iglesia Catolica San José)

Address: Luquillo’s main square, off Calle 14 de Julio, on Calle Jesus T Pinero

I’m in love with this church’s intricate altar, as it is a beautiful reflection of Puerto Rico’s diverse heritage. You will see natural symbols–pelicans, palm trees, fruits, beaches, mountains–mixed harmoniously with religious figures and symbols (brought by the Spanish conquistadors) and even some Taino-Indian carvings.

Luquillo St. Joseph's church altar

Intricate altar at St. Joseph’s church (photo by j.lowrydoyle, Flickr)

Hacienda Carabali & Rainforest Park

Address: Road # 3 Km. 31.6, Exit 992, Street A

If you only have one day to visit Luquillo (and don’t want to go to the beach), I highly recommend the Hacienda Carabali and its very own rainforest park. Literally, there’s something for everyone here: ATVs, go karts, horseback riding for the adventurous; plus a lounge with spectacular views, a good restaurant, and 2 event halls with a pool. You can go watch the Luquillo Beach video again above so you can see the facilities better ;-)

things to do in Luquillo Puerto Rico, go kart racing

Hacienda Carabali even has a go kart racetrack!

Luquillo kiosks (a.k.a. “los chinchorros de Luquillo”)

Address: along PR 3, calle marginal

Absolutely no visit to Luquillo is complete without visiting its kioskos or, how Puerto Ricans call them, chinchorros! As I explained on the travel video, a chinchorro is a hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves local food. At times, the name is given to small beach shacks or shops by the beach as well. And you can find plenty of those here!

My tip though? If you want THE best Creole food in the Northeast of the island, head to La Parilla restaurant. One of the few establishments on the kiosk strip that is not a traditional chinchorro, but a rather upscale dining experience. Don’t be fooled by this, though: only refined in its cuisine, not its surroundings! You can walk right into the surf from the back porch, giving a whole new dimension to al fresco dining. Makes for the perfect beach casual dinner.

La Parrilla Luquillo kiosk

Probably the nicest kiosk/restaurant in Luquillo: La Parilla (photo by Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr)

Yunke Zipline Adventures

Address: barrio Mameyes, PR 992, Km 4.0

Want to go zip lining, rappelling, and even hiking around the largest rainforest in the Caribbean? Then head to this tour operator to arrange all types of adrenaline-pumping day trips and activities at the foothills of the famous El Yunque.

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