Puerto Rico has tons that teenagers will delight in—if you can imagine that—as it is hard to beat the outdoor activities on the island. Most tour companies will come and pick the entire family up and transport them an hour or two away—where ever the action happens to be. Many family adventures await on this island down in the Caribbean.
The only American rainforest
El Yunque is a stunning rainforest—the only tropical rainforest on U.S. soil—where visitors are welcome to enjoy many things. Because of Puerto Rico’s location in the Caribbean, the weather is in the 70’s year round—ideal for outdoor activities. Be on the lookout for the famous coquí, or small tree frogs, of which fifteen species inhabit this small forest. Hundreds of other tiny creatures are hidden among the greenery making for a great “grown up” game of Where’s Waldo? You can see and hear brightly colored birds, like the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot, as you trek through the lush vegetation. Stop in at the El Portal Visitor Center for guidebooks and more information about what you will see on your trip.
This national forest is littered with hiking trails for all experience levels. Take a light stroll down one of the elevated walkways which give visitors a bird’s eye view of the forest from up in the canopy or any of the easy, paved trails near the visitor center. If your teen is looking for something more vigorous or is interested in photography, hike the Las Picachos trail for amazing views of El Yunque and the Atlantic Ocean or drive up Road 10 to the peak.You will most likely get wet as it rains on and off during the day, something the words rain and forest might suggest. Enjoy all of the water features on your trip into El Yunque; take a swim in the pool beneath one of the many waterfalls in the park, or get your adventure on with the teenagers and rappel down one. (All the cool parents are doing it.) More adventure awaits your teens just outside of El Yunque where several tour companies offer ziplining and even rock climbing experiences. For a real treat, try your hand at kayaking in Bioluminescent Bay.
Spend a day in the sun
For a more laid back outdoor experiences, head to the beach; they are simply everywhere. You can relish a day listening to the waves break while working on your tan—what teenager wouldn’t love that? You can also hop on a catamaran and head out on the water for a day of scuba diving or snorkeling. The various colors and species under the ocean’s surface will surprise and delight. Chase around the pretty little yellow fish or dive down and watch the shiny silver ones watch you. Fajardo—a two-hour drive from of Old San Juan—is a famous diving spot, which offers visitors to get up close and personal with the local sea turtles. Rent gear or take a class with one of the local tour groups; this is a great way to introduce your teen to scuba diving.
Allow your teenager to select a few dream activities for a shorter trip or come out for at least a week and do it all. From active excursions to animal watching, Puerto Rico has a gazillion ways for your family to live it up outdoors.
Shauna Armitage is a parenting blogger, a freelance travel writer and the co-founder of Pure Wander Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @CarpeCalamus