The northeast corner of the island, less than an hour from San Juan, contains the island's major attractions, El Yunque rainforest, two of the world's rare bioluminescent bays whose waters glow at night, and several great beaches, including Luquillo Beach. There are a variety of landscapes, ranging from miles of forest to palm groves and beachside settlements. Here you will find one of the best resorts on the island, El Conquistador Resort, which literally sits on the northeast corner of Puerto Rico, where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet.
At Fajardo, a preeminent sailor's haven, you can catch ferries to the nearby island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra. The east coast city is actually the start of a chain of islands, moving onwards to the island towns and weaving along the neighboring U.S. and British Virgin Islands and beyond. The area forms perhaps the greatest pleasure boating area in the world.
The Navy completed its exodus from Roosevelt Roads base south of Fajardo in 2004, and the government is proposing a massive tourism development, but for the moment Ceiba and Naguabo are sleepy, quaint towns that are worth a look.
Halfway down the coast is Humacao, home to Palmas del Mar Resort, an ever-growing resort and upscale vacation-home community on a wildly gorgeous beachfront. There's a Sheraton Five Points hotel, and two five-star hotels are under development: a Mandarin Oriental Resort Spa and Regent Hotel Resort, both slated for opening in 2011.
Visitors can also rent private vacation homes and villas throughout the resort, which sprawls across 2,700 acres (1,093 hectares) and has a yacht club, equestrian center, the Caribbean's largest tennis center, a beach and country club, great beaches, and lush tropical grounds. Plenty of watersports activities are available. Luxury residences, used as both vacation properties and year-round homes, are divided into distinct communities. Palmas also has its own school and post office.
The Robert S. Vilella Expressway 53 heads south from Humacao and then joins Rte. 3, and turns the southeast corner of Puerto Rico towards Guayama and Puerto Rico's long Caribbean coast, which is actually at its prettiest at its eastern and western extremes.
At Yabucoa, take the coastal Rte. 901, which switches back and forth along oceanfront cliffs and sleepy coastal villages, to experience one of the most breathtaking series of views on the island. The road continues to hug the coast as it reconnects with Hwy. 3 and rounds the southeast corner of Puerto Rico to Guayama. There are several nice beaches.
This once important sugar town has long since been converted into an industrial and commercial center, but time stands still at its downtown plaza, which has beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, restored buildings, and a provincial air.