Puerto Rico Takes Center Stage As an SI Swimsuit 2023 Hot-Spot Destination

Tap into your sense of adventure while soaking up rich history and culture.
Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico.

For its 2023 issue, the SI Swimsuit team traveled to Puerto Rico with rookies Jennifer Atilémile, Ellie Thumann and a few familiar faces, including Lorena Durán, Jasmine Sanders, Marquita Pring, Mady Dewey and Georgina Burke.

An archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico consists of one main island and four smaller islands, as well as numerous islets. While the territory is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, it’s rich in both culture and history. Old San Juan is the oldest European-founded city in the Americas.

Kenzie Murphy, SI Swimsuit’s Brand Coordinator was in awe of the island. “Having never been to Puerto Rico, I was blown away by it’s beauty. Ornate seashells cover the white sands and the ocean sparkles in the sunlight. What stood out to me most was the locals’ friendliness and generosity. It was truly a special place with a magical energy!”

Puerto Rico is known as a hot spot for authentic cuisine, exotic animals, gorgeous beaches, incredible mountains and more. The island offers a little something for everyone, whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation—or a bit of both.

Crash Boat Beach

Crash Boat Beach.

How to get to Puerto Rico

When traveling by air, there are more than 100 direct flights from major U.S. cities to Puerto Rico, the international airport hub of the Caribbean. Direct flights are available on a number of airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, Frontier, JetBlue and United.

If traveling by sea, San Juan has two cruise terminals and hosts about 500 cruise ships each year. Consider a vacation cruise with a stop in Puerto Rico to enjoy local dining and culture.

Puerto Rico offers ideal weather year-round. The warm and tropical climate typically varies between 70° and 80° F. When scheduling your travel, keep in mind that the ideal time to visit depends on your personal itinerary.

While December through March provides a great opportunity to escape the winter chill, April through June is the start of harvest season in Puerto Rico, including peak flower season in late May into early June.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective trip, consider planning your vacation for July through September when you may be able to find more affordable deals. Those who are traveling to Puerto Rico in order to catch a few waves may want to plan their trip for October through mid-December, when the surfing conditions are ideal.

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel.

Where to stay in Puerto Rico

Wyndham Palmas Beach & Golf Resort

If you’re wishing for an intimate retreat, look no further. This resort offers secluded suites, multiple dining options, an equestrian center and two championship golf courses. There are also plenty of all-ages activities to enjoy on site if you’re making your trip a family affair.

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort

Tropical tranquility is this resort’s specialty. Located right on the Atlantic, each guest room and suite offers incredible balcony views of the ocean, the resort’s various pools or El Yunque National Forest.

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel

This resort features villas and luxury cabanas for lodging, as well as opulent amenities, including four pools, live entertainment, a spa and a signature restaurant. The San Juan hotel is known for being a favorite of glamorous Hollywood icons like Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli.

St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort

Located in Rio Grande, this hotel is situated between El Yunque National Forest and the Espíritu Santo River. Offering incredible ocean views, the resort has a secluded beach, a luxurious spa and two bird sanctuaries.

Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort

With a 27-hole golf course, clubhouse and casino on site, you won’t have to stray far from this Ponce resort for fun activities. The property offers an incredible view of the Caribbean Sea and boasts four restaurants, three bars, sophisticated suites and two pools.

Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort.

Where to eat in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s cuisine is largely influenced by Spanish, Taino and African flavors. Enrich yourself in local culture by trying mofongo (a comfort food dish made with deep-fried green plantains, garlic and pork), lechón asado (marinated adobo pork) or arroz y habichuelas (a traditional rice and beans side dish).

1919 Restaurant

Executive chef Juan José Cuevas serves the freshest ocean-to-table meals at this beachfront establishment. Located inside the historic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, decadent dishes range from braised veal cheeks to pineapple-cilantro sorbet.

La Central by Mario Pagán

Chef Pagán is known for incorporating sugarcane and rum into the majority of the dishes served at this fine eatery, from meat to fish to seafood. The bar offers a variety of rum-focused cocktails.

Chocobar Cortés

For dessert, Chocobar Cortés is a must. Try the Chocolate Lover’s Cake for a decadent treat. The establishment is also a great option for grabbing a coffee or enjoying happy hour.

La Factoria

Named among the world’s best 50 bars, sip on a craft cocktail while you enjoy live salsa music. Puerto Rico is known for its rum, so try a piña colada while you’re visiting.

El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque National Forest.

What to do in Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest

This national forest offers hiking trails, waterfalls and tons of gorgeous scenery. The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, El Yunque is also home to the coquí, a small frog that emits a unique—and loud—song at night.

Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park

If you’re feeling adventurous, take in the gorgeous scenery with an ATV ride through this 600-acre ranch, located between El Yunque and the Atlantic Ocean.

Aqua Sunset Tours

The island of Vieques is home to Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescence effect in the world. Take in the incredible glowing waters in a clear kayak at night.

Toro Verde Adventure Park

Get your adrenaline pumping with “The Beast,” the longest zipline in the Americas, located at this adventure oasis. The park also offers climbing towers and toro bikes.

Kayaking at night

Kayaking at night.

The best beaches in Puerto Rico

With more than 200 beaches along approximately 300 miles of coastline, Puerto Rico offers secluded sandy spots and breathtaking views.

Playa Negra

This dramatic black sand beach is a must-see while vacationing in Puerto Rico. The unique color is a result of offshore volcanic rocks, creating a streaked effect in the sand unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Crash Boat Beach

The most popular beach in Aguadilla, Crash Boat Beach offers a variety of activities, including swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing. El Natural, a diving spot with marine activity, is located nearby.

Domes Beach

An idyllic spot for surfing, Domes Beach boasts turquoise waters and a gorgeous sand beach. Though it’s not suitable for swimming, enjoy whale watching during the winter months or tour the area on horseback.

La Playuela

While this beach requires a hike to get to, the views are worth the effort. Explore nearby Los Morrillos Lighthouse or just kick back, relax and catch some rays.

La Playuela

La Playuela.

Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.