Among the most popular and beloved destinations in Puerto Rico is El Yunque, the island's gentle rainforest and the only subtropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service. An easy day-trip from San Juan (it's about 45 minutes from the city, depending on traffic), the forest offers a network of hiking trails ranging from easy to expert, with the La Mina Trail leading to a waterfall that invites you in for a dip. Secluded pools, panoramic vistas and beautiful trails abound.
Of course, a day might not be enough in El Yunque. For those who want to prolong their time in this verdant oasis, there are several lovely inns that will welcome you.
This may come as no surprise, but Puerto Rico has beaches. Miles of them. Over 270, in fact. So which beach is the perfect beach for you? I can't cover all of them, but I've got a handy guide that may help you decide where to go.
Getting to the beach is the reason millions of tourists flock to Puerto Rico each year, and it's certainly the most indolent way of getting out of your hotel room ... unless you're going to surf or enjoy other watersports.
If your idea of getting outdoors involves swinging from a steel cable and flying through the air across a forest valley (or even an underground chasm across a subterranean river), then try out one of the many zip-line parks in Puerto Rico.
My favorite of all the parks I've been to is Toro Verde, home to "The Beast" (a worthy name for a worthy ride through the sky).
Kiteboarding is a combination of waterskiing, windsurfing and paragliding. The waves, currents and adrenaline rush make it a great afternoon out.
And if you're worried you won't know what to do up there, you'll be in safe hands; every beginner goes on a tandem ride with an instructor.
6. Tee Off
I don't think Puerto Rico gets the credit it deserves for its outstanding golf courses. Many of these were designed by the game's greats. People like Tom Kite, Arthur Hills and Greg Norman have put their fingerprints on courses throughout the island, and Puerto Rico's famed East Course was recently reopened following a major renovation.
Add the stunning views of ocean and/or forest, the near-perfect weather most of the year, and the outstanding service you find here, and you'll find that golf in Puerto Rico makes for a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
8. Go Dry
El Yunque might get most of the credit for being Puerto Rico's most amazing forest, but don't discount the wanders of the Guánica Dry Forest. A United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, the dry forest is an ecosystem that is vastly different from the humid environment of the rainforest. Trails run through the forest, past over 600 plant and animal species, some 48 of which are endangered.
The dry forest is a highlight of visiting the Porta Caribe region of Puerto Rico, and is worth for anyone who likes to spend the day hiking amid unique natural beauty.
9. Go Where the Coffee Grows
The verdant foothills and highlands of Puerto Rico happen to be the perfect grounds for growing coffee. This once-vibrant industry was considered a luxury good, so much so that Puerto Rican coffee was once the preferred choice of the pope!
After experiencing a decline, the island's artisanal coffee industry is enjoying something of a resurgence, and one way to experience its coffee roots is to take a tour of a coffee plantation. There are several to choose from, and one that I recommend is Hacienda Buena Vista, a 19th century wonder that will show you one of the few remaining coffee plantations to run on water power.
10. Go All Out
Finally, there's going outdoors, and then there's going outdoors with Rossano and his crew at Aventuras Tierra Adentro. There are a few excellent eco-tour operators in Puerto Rico, and Aventuras Tierra Adentro ranks among the best of them.
So if your idea of spending a day outdoors involves rappelling, zip-lining, caving, hiking, and a via ferrata climb up the side of a rainforest chasm, then you'll want to give Rossano a call, and pump yourself up for an adrenaline-filled day outdoors.