Luquillo Beach, Puerto Rico's finest beach, is palm-dotted and crescent-shaped, opening onto a lagoon with calm waters and a wide, sandy bank. It's very crowded on weekends but much better during the week. There are lockers, tent sites, showers, picnic tables, and food stands that sell a sampling of the island's frituras (fried fare), especially cod fritters and tacos. The beach is open from 8:30am to 5pm, Wednesday through Sunday, plus holidays.
You can also snorkel and scuba dive among the living reefs with lots of tropical fish. Offshore are coral formations and spectacular sea life -- eels, octopuses, stingrays, tarpon, big puffer fish, turtles, nurse sharks, and squid, among other sea creatures.
The Río Grande–Fajardo area has become the golf hot spot in Puerto Rico, which itself is known as the Ireland of the Caribbean because of the number and quality of its greens.
While standard green fees are high, from $165 to $275, there are often special rates and guests usually are afforded discounts as well. Tom Kite and Bruce Besse designed two 18-hole courses for the Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico, 100 Clubhouse Dr., Río Grande (tel. 787/657-2000), adjacent to the well-recommended Gran Melía Puerto Rico (see below). You face a spectacular vista of fairways, lakes, and the Atlantic beyond, with two courses with their own character, which fan out from the Caribbean’s largest clubhouse, which has been redone in the regal style of the Trump name. Luxury vacation villas, condominiums, and a beach club are being developed by Trump and his local partner Arturo Díaz.
The St. Regis Bahia Beach Plantation Resort and Golf Club, Rte. 187, Km 4.2 (tel. 787/857-5800), was given a renovation by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The breathtaking 7,014-yard course, sprawling across some 480 acres (194 hectares) of lush beachfront, runs from the tip of Loiza River to the mouth of the Espíritu Santo River, overlooking a verdant green valley of El Yunque rainforest. The golf gets high marks, and the new luxury St. Regis resort only makes this spot all the better. Jones’ father, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., designed the legendary Dorado Beach East golf course, and brother Rees Jones undertook the Palmas del Mar’s Flamboyán course in 1999.
The Wyndham’s Río Mar Beach Resort has two world-class courses that stretch out in the shadow of El Yunque rainforest along a dazzling stretch of coast. The entire 6,782 yards of Tom and George Fazio's Ocean Course has seaside panoramas and breezes, and fat iguanas scampering through the lush grounds. The other course, a 6,945-yard design by golf pro Greg Norman, follows the flow of the Mameyes River through mountain and coastal vistas. This is one of the better deals in the area with standard greens fees starting at $165 but offers as low as $99. El Conquistador’s golf offerings in nearby Fajardo are also well regarded, as are the greens in Palmas del Mar in Humacao.
Watersports kiosks at both the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort and the Gran Melía Puerto Rico resorts have everything from Hobie Cats (about $100 per hour) to sea kayaks (about $15 per hour) for rent. Both properties have lots of beach and watersports activities on site, but your best bet for scuba diving and snorkeling is to head farther east to Fajardo for a scuba trip or a day-sailing and snorkeling adventure. Dragonfly Adventures (tel. 787/649-8040 at Gran Melía and 787/637-8600 at Rio Mar) arranges tours from either property to make it easy. There’s a kayak eco-adventure, day-long snorkeling trip with picnic lunch and a sailing trip to Culebra on offer. Sea Ventures Dive Centers (tel. 800/739-3483 or 787/863-3483) at Fajardo's Puerto del Rey Marina is among the best bets for scuba diving. A two-tank discover dive package costs $150, while a two-tank dive for certified divers is $119 (both rates include gear).
Sports & Adventure
Hacienda Carabalí, Road 992, Km 4, Luquillo, (tel. 787/889-5820 or 889-4954) is a 600 acre ranch that gives horseback riding tours, mountain bike, and all terrain vehicle tours on trails running through the rainforest, along river banks and ocean coast. There's also a go-kart track and restaurant with entertainment. Soar through the rainforest with the folks from Yunque Zipline Adventure (tel. 787/242-3368), a fabulous, fun 3-hour tour costing $99 per person. The course is beautiful and includes the island's longest zip-line at 850 feet or 259 meters. The tour also involves rappelling, so a moderate degree of physical fitness is required.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.