Known as Porta Atlántico, the northern side of Puerto Rico is one of the fastest growing regions in the island, with a combination of natural and manmade wonders along the towns of Camuy, Hatillo, Arecibo, Barceloneta, Manatí, Vega Baja, Vega Alta, Dorado, and Toa Alta.
The incredibly diverse attractions and landmarks make the north coast a destination worth visiting. From the outstanding luxury hotels to its beautiful scenery, there is something for every tourist in this part of the island.
Two of the most notable attractions in Puerto Rico are located in this region.
Arecibo Radio Observatory - The world's largest radar-radio telescope. Movies Contact (1997) and Golden Eye (1995) have filmed in this spectacular science location.
Rio Camuy Cave Park - This national park has for decades been the site where visitors from the island and abroad are introduced to the fascinating underground geography of Puerto Rico.
Dorado lies just a few miles west of San Juan, hugging the Atlantic coast and boasting the ideal topography and scenery for golf. Here’s where you find the Dorado Beach Resort, home to four of the best courses in Puerto Rico. The famed East Course, reopened in November 2011 and restored to the original vision of designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr. by his son, Robert Trent Jones II, has achieved legendary status from the game’s greats. In fact, Jack Nicklaus once ranked its 4th hole as one of the top ten holes in the world.
In addition, Dorado Beach boasts the West Course, the Sugarcane Course, and the Plantation Course, giving golfers 72 holes of championship play. Dorado is also home to the Dorado del Mar Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course designed by native son and golf great Juan “Chi Chi” Rodríguez.
Today, Dorado hosts numerous tournaments, including the Honda Classic and the Puerto Rico Amateur Open Golf Championship.
The North’s karst landscape contributes to its dramatic beauty and has produced one of its most distinctive features: one of the largest cave systems and one of the longest subterranean rivers in the world. This limestone underworld includes the breathtaking: Río Camuy Cave Park, Mar Chiquita & Cueva de las Golondrinas, Manati (Small sea nad the Cave of the Swallows). Mar Chuquita is a beautiful ecosystem that includes mangroves, caves and the sea. Its shallow pool is a delight, but stay away from narrow openings and its strong current. Cueva Golondrinas has an impressive rock formations and petroglyphs. Cueva Ventana (The Window Cave) - For an authentic local adventure visit Cueva Ventana. It is open to anyone. You'll enjoy a spectacular view, some say one of the most beautiful sceneries in Puerto Rico. You should take some precautions and study the journey to get there.
Shopping at Puerto Rico Premium Outlets, Barceloneta: Located approximately 45 minutes from the San Juan Metro Area and in the northern coastal town of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico Premium Outlets features an impressive collection of designer and name brand outlet stores offering huge savings every day. For those who love shopping and are looking for a family pleasant day, the Puerto Rico Premium Outlets is the perfect destination.
Among the oldest and most celebrated festivals in Puerto Rico, the Festival of Masks has been celebrated annually in Hatillo since 1823, the year of the town’s founding. This cultural tradition pays homage to the search for the baby Jesus and is one of the most colorful events of the year.
Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park
This cultural theme park transports you through five eras of Puerto Rico’s history, from the Spanish Conquest of 1494 to the Spanish American War in 1898, the same year the Lighthouse was built. Inside the restored Lighthouse there’s a museum of marine artifacts and on its rooftop there are great views of Arecibo, the Atlantic Ocean, and, if in season, a couple of whales swimming by.
The world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, the Arecibo Observatory, has been responsible for many notable findings in radio astronomy, planetary radar and terrestrial aeronomy. A tour of this unique attraction does more than channel your inner astronaut; it’s a chance to explore a true marvel of engineering.
Balneario de Cerro Gordo
One of the most popular “balnearios”, or public beaches, in Puerto Rico, Cerro Gordo is a wide crescent of sand on the shores of the deep blue Atlantic. You can swim, kayak and dive here against a lovely backdrop of rolling hills and green forests.
The Camuy Caves present one of the most dramatic natural settings that Puerto Rico has to offer. Set deep within a valley of lush tropical foliage, the extensive cave system runs along a mighty subterranean river. The national park extends beyond the caves and includes ample picnic and camping areas. Facilities include showers, bathrooms, and a well-stocked gift shop.
Off the beaten path, Mar Chiquita (“Little Sea”) is a uniquely picturesque beach. Mar Chiquita’s waters are protected from the rough Atlantic surf by twin arms of rock and coral that nearly enclose it, creating a beautiful natural pool.
Tortuguero Nature Reserve
The Tortuguero Lagoon is part of a nature reserve formed by swamps, mangroves, and karst hills. It is Puerto Rico’s largest sweet water lagoon, home to exotic flowers and several endangered species. You can hike, picnic, and even fish.
Dorado Beach Hotel/ Plantation Village
Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar Beach & Golf Resort
Hyatt Hacienda del Mar
Punta Maracayo Resort
Parador El Buen Café
Arecibo Observatory and Camuy Caves
Amador Island Tours, Arecibo
Attractions: Arecibo Observatory, Camuy River Cave Park
Caving, Body Rafting and River Journey
Activities: Hiking, Caving, Body-rafting
Rappelling, Caving, Body Rafting and River Journey
Activities: Hiking, Caving, Body-rafting, Rappelling
Río Camuy Cave Park
Puerto Rico Day Trips, Camuy
Attractions: Las Cavernas de Camuy, Camuy River Cave Park
Activities: Sightseeing, Hiking
Atlantic Surf & Bodyboarding School, Arecibo
Activities: Surfing Lessons, Bodyboarding
Guided Eco Expedition to Window Cave
Aventura Cueva Ventana, Arecibo
Attractions: Cave, Arecibo River, North Karst formations
Activities: Hiking, Sightseeing, Ecotourism