Puerto Rico is well known for the beauty of El Yunque National Forest and the fabulous historic buildings around Old San Juan. There are many more fantastic activities you can enjoy around this fascinating tropical island within a short drive from Dorado. So, pack your bags and get ready for some fun!
#1. Cruise around Monkey Island
The tiny island of Cayo Santiago is only a ½ mile off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Boats frequently sail over to the island from nearby Naguabo, though they are not allowed to land on this unique scientific reserve. Naguabo is over an hour’s drive from Dorado.
The island is known as Monkey Island because it is home to approximately 2,000 Rhesus monkeys. These monkeys are not native to Puerto Rico and were captured in India and introduced to the island in 1938 for scientific research purposes. Visitors can get close to the island to observe the antics of the monkeys either on a cruise boat or by paddling a sea kayak around the coast. However, only primatologists or other authorized research personnel may set foot on Cayo Santiago.
There are several operators that offer organized tours to the Island and Paradise Villas & Vacations hosts can assist you with your activity planning.
#2. Explore a cave system
Cuevas Las Cabachuelas is an extensive cave system within the Cabachuelas Natural Reserve 35-minutes southwest of Dorado. There are 60 caves within the reserve and guided small group tours are available to help you explore these breathtaking underground caverns. So don your waterproof boots and prepare for a spectacular underground adventure.
Until recently, the cave system was largely unknown. However, in recent years 2 spelunking experts called Roberto Martínez and Ovidio Dávila studied and charted the system in considerable depth and paved the way for public access.
The caves have significant archaeological and cultural importance because of the ancient Taino petroglyphs discovered inside. They are also significant as a natural landmark. Because the cave system only opened to the public in February 2019, relatively few visitors to Puerto Rico have enjoyed this unique experience.
#3. Enjoy rock climbing
Because Puerto Rico is a mountainous island, it’s a great place to learn how to climb. There are multiple locations for experienced climbers to go for rock climbing adventures, such as Enrique Julio Monagas Park. It is possible to hire local expert guides or join organized climbing tours to discover the best climbing spots and learn new climbing techniques.
Enrique Julio Monagas Park is a 20-minute drive from Dorado and features karst limestone cliffs popular among rappelling enthusiasts and climbers. The park is divided into 9 areas with climbing routes of varying difficulty over limestone and tufa. The established routes remain shady all day, which allows you to enjoy your climb even on hotter days.
Experienced local climbers have provided technical difficulty grades and odd names for the popular routes. The 5.12a Shanghai Bombay climbs a gradually steepening face, the 5.11c Cianuro passes through complex pockets, while the 2.10b Bacalaito commences in a pit and forces you to climb through a hole. While these routes are aimed at more athletic and experienced climbers, there are other routes in the park better suited to beginners supervised by experienced coaches.
#4. Experience a unique sea kayaking adventure
Did you know that Puerto Rico boasts 3 bioluminescent bays? Only 5 ecosystems around the world provide the conditions necessary for this unique natural phenomenon, and 3 of those are found around the island.
A microscopic organism called dinoflagellates glows in the dark when stimulated by movement. This single-celled creature is found throughout the world’s oceans. However, it is rare for them to populate areas of water in sufficient quantities for this effect to be visible. In a few locations like Laguna Grande in Fajardo, large quantities of dinoflagellates light up the water with a blue-green color whenever you paddle through the waves.
The best way to see this spectacular phenomenon is to join a night kayak tour that uses clear bottomed kayaks to explore the lagoon. These tours are also a great way to learn about marine biodiversity in Puerto Rico. Laguna Grande is a 1-hour-21-minute drive to the east of Dorado. Another location is at La Pargera and Paradise Villas & Vacations can recommend a few different operators that offer access to that bio-bay, located in the south-west tip of the Island.
#5. Visit a Caribbean rum distillery
When people think of the Caribbean, they often picture pirates and bottles of rum. Indeed, rum is important to Caribbean culture and the local economy. And Casa Bacardi in Cataño is the largest rum distillery in the world.
Casa Bacardi is a scenic 21-minute drive east from Dorado along a coastal road. Because Bacardi is so proud of its operation in Puerto Rico, the company offers 3 separate tours for tourists who are interested in rum production. Bacardi also provides a welcome cocktail for adult visitors.
The history tour teaches visitors about the history of rum production in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico’s role in Bacardi’s turbulent history. The rum tasting tour gives visitors an opportunity to sample some of the best rum in the world. And the mixology class offers enthusiastic amateurs the chance to learn how to mix some of the world’s best rum-based cocktails.