How to Get Outdoors and Immerse Yourself in Nature in Western Puerto Rico

Explore natural parks, lighthouses, farms, and more as you walk, hike, and swim through this coastal Caribbean destination.

Boats on the sand at Crash Boat Beach

Boats on the sand at Crash Boat Beach

Photo by Jen Ruiz

Known for its surfing and epic sunsets, the west coast of Puerto Rico offers much more to see. From a weekly art walk in downtown Rincón to mushroom foraging in the wild, free-spirited travelers will love the easygoing vibes of the area. With plenty of delicious eating along the way, this itinerary is great for nature lovers who want more than just gorgeous landscapes. U.S. citizens can leave their passports at home when they embark on this tropical adventure.


Trip Highlight

Farm-to-Fork Dining

Farm-fresh cuisine is abundant on this trip, from breakfast with a mountain view to internationally award-winning chocolate. You can even dine at a restaurant helmed by a James Beard Award semifinalist.
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Trip Designer

Discover Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a premier destination for leisure, business, and events for a reason. The knowledgeable team of experts at Discover Puerto Rico is thrilled to share the inside scoop, including all the best outdoor experiences and hidden gems that make this Island paradise so unique.
Arecibo Lighthouse

Arecibo Lighthouse

Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Day 1Hiking in Arecibo

Your trip begins at the Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park. It’s worth climbing to the top of the lighthouse to see ocean views. Check out the small aquarium onsite, located inside a pirate cave, along with model ships, a collection of maritime antiques, and a replica of a Taíno village. This a fun stop for families and ocean lovers alike.

Next, hike or try mountain biking in Cambalache State Forest, a great opportunity for birdwatching. It’s free to enter and gazebos, picnic tables, and a playground for children are available.

For lunch, visit El Fogón de Abuela in Camuy. It has oceanfront views and balcony dining if you want to hear the waves in the background. Try the grouper ceviche as an appetizer and the pulled pork burger as your meal. The restaurant serves fresh-caught fish as well, and if you’re in the mood for a piña colada, this is the place.

Save room for dessert at La Chocolatería in Aguadilla. This family-owned shop was named among the best chocolate in the world in the Cocoa of Excellence Awards. There’s space for dining inside and decadent treats like chocolate mousse–stuffed croissants, triple chocolate cremeux, and crème brûlée cream puffs.

Check into your hotel for the night at the Royal Isabela, a golf resort with acres of land sitting atop oceanside cliffs. The onsite restaurant serves three meals daily, so you don’t have to leave for dinner. Plus, it’s dog friendly, and the accommodations are private casitas, making it a popular spot for honeymooners.
Breakfast at The English Rose

Breakfast at The English Rose

Photo by Jen Ruiz

Day 2Shop Rincón

Have breakfast at The English Rose, a stunning property in the mountains with views of the surrounding treetops. The restaurant’s British-inspired menu has items like The Full Monty, with eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, skillet potatoes, toast, and baked beans. For those with a sweet tooth, the Dead Elvis consists of thick-sliced French toast with Saigon cinnamon and caramelized bananas. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.

Charming boutiques fill this area that you won’t want to miss. First, head to Wild Culture Mushrooms, a shop that grows and prepares medicinal mushrooms. For instance, the Lion’s Mane mushroom tincture helps support cognitive function. Oyster mushrooms regulate blood sugar levels and promote heart health. The staff is knowledgeable and standing by to provide more information as needed.

After, stroll around Rincón’s town center to check out several boutiques and shops, all within walking distance of each other. Uncharted Studio is an environmentally conscious silk screening house and retail store. It aims to offer high-quality cotton-based apparel, and all its solvents are non-chemical, using soy and citrus as the base instead.

Mango Beach Shop is well-known for its shirts and offers souvenirs like handmade jewelry, painted driftwood, and beach supplies such as tote bags and bathing suits. Prior to being transformed into a shop, it was the family home of the owner.

Ocean State of Mind has boho style galore, with crystals, apparel, stickers, macrame decor, and more. It’s an eclectic but well-curated collection. There’s a limit on the number of customers allowed inside at any given time to preserve the shopping experience for patrons and a hammock out front should you have to wait.

Stop for lunch at Jack’s Shack, an outdoor eatery with serious surfer vibes. A favorite is the fish tacos with homemade pineapple salsa. The restaurant also has sandwiches, vegetarian-friendly options, iced coffee, and seasonal fresh juices, from watermelon to passion fruit.

If you happen to be in Rincón on a Thursday, you can’t miss the Rincón art walk in the late afternoon. This gathering of local artists includes booths and tables in the main plaza and live music.

For dinner, make a reservation at Estela. It’s usually booked up, for good reason. Chef Abel Mendoza is from Puerto Rico and was a 2022 James Beard Semifinalist as Best Chef South. The farm-to-table restaurant also offers a vegan menu. Dishes change regularly but are generally a masterful combination of unexpected flavors.

Spend the night at the Rincón of the Seas Grand Caribbean Hotel, which has both a pool and beach access. The property’s 112 guest rooms feature private balconies and Art Deco design.
AFAR contributor Jen Ruiz sits in one of Puerto Rico’s natural pools

AFAR contributor Jen Ruiz sits in one of Puerto Rico’s natural pools

Photo by Jen Ruiz

Day 3Into the Wild of Mayagüez

There’s something special about Puerto Rican bakeries and Ricomini Bakery is no exception. Start your day off with strong coffee and a pastry, like a tornillo, a puff pastry filled with Bavarian cream and topped with powdered sugar.

Then head out into the forest to forage for mushrooms with local mushroom taxonomist Kurt Miller, founder of Hongos de Puerto Rico. Go into wild and damp environments to learn about Puerto Rico’s environment and search for rare and edible mushroom species. (Pro tip: Contact Miller to book in advance.)

Afterward, go to Franco’s in Mayagüez to try their famous brazo gitano or gypsy arm. It’s a rolled sponge cake filled with different options like cream or guava and cheese. The bakery is also well known for its carrot cake.

Next, enjoy a hike to the Salto Curet waterfall. There are different levels depending on your energy and experience and a swimming hole awaits at the base of the waterfall. Go during a weekday to seem like you have it all to yourself.

Your morning with Miller will teach you about native flora and a visit to Fusion Farms illuminates Puerto Rico’s approach to farming and produce. The sustainable indoor facility helps fight food scarcity on the Island. They specialize in microgreens, leafy greens, and hydroponics. Guests can arrange for a tour.

Finish your trip at the former convent, Posada Hotel Colonial, a beautifully preserved historic property in the center of Mayagüez. The staff is informed about the hotel’s history and very attentive. An onsite pool complements free parking.