City Spotlight: 5 Reasons to Visit Carolina, Puerto Rico
San Juan tends to get all the buzz when it comes to Puerto Rico travel. But when you step off the plane at Puerto Rico’s main airport (Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport [SJU]), you’re actually in Carolina!
You might be in a hurry to get to your next destination, whether you’re heading to the storied streets of San Juan or lush El Yunque Rainforest. But Carolina is more than a stopover – in fact, it’s one of the trendiest towns in Puerto Rico, and it deserves some attention on your next island vacation.
See all the reasons to visit Carolina and check out all the fun things to do in la Tierra de Gigantes – “the Land of Giants,” named for the tallest man in Puerto Rican history (7’ 11”).
1. It’s a Short Drive to San Juan
Besides its importance as the location of Puerto Rico’s main airport, Carolina’s proximity to San Juan, the capital city, makes it a great place to visit. Just 25 minutes away, it’s easy to make a day trip from San Juan to Carolina or vice versa.
If you’re staying in San Juan, check with your hotel to see if they offer free airport shuttles from Carolina. You can also easily rent a car at the airport or take a taxi.
And for those Carolina daytrippers, keep reading for all the amazing reasons to visit!
2. Carolina’s Beaches are Gorgeous
You don’t have to go far to find a classic Puerto Rican beach experience. Carolina has some beautiful – and well known – beaches that are perfect for putting your feet up, taking a swim, or exploring the shoreline.
Isla Verde Beach is somewhat famous around the States and on Puerto Rico travel lists. In fact, it’s earned awards like “Best Urban Beach.” This popular spot is a 3-mile stretch of beautiful sand lined with hotels, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and featuring stunning ocean views.
Interestingly, Isla Verde technically comprises three distinct beaches: Pine Grove, Alambique, and Balneario de Carolina.
Pine Grove offers a laid-back feel and coral reef where you can go snorkeling! To the east, the waves begin to pick up, which makes this a popular spot among locals for surfing. Grab a board and join them!
Alambique boasts calm waters and few waves, with plentiful beach chair rentals and water sports all within walking distance. It’s also near the hotels and restaurants which makes it so convenient for accessing the necessary amenities.
Balneario de Isla Verde has showers, gazebos, calm waters, and even a water park for the kids! It has good parking space and lifeguards so you relax while your family enjoys the water.
3. It Has Fascinating Museums for All Ages
Puerto Rico may be known for its sunshine, but it does see some rainy days. And when they roll in, Carolina’s museums are the perfect solution to keep busy – even on a sunny day when you just don’t feel like hanging at the beach.
Museo del Niño is the perfect destination for families with young children. From hands-on exhibits to artwork and an erupting volcano, there’s so much to keep your little ones stimulated, including a full-size airplane that your kids will love exploring.
The Museo Casa Escuté hosts exhibitions from local and visiting artists with three main rooms dedicated to the town’s culture, history, and important figures throughout the years.
There’s also the Museo de Historia y Arte Carolina for people who like an art gallery feel with some historic touches.
4. The Carolina Food Scene is Sure to Delight!
We all know one of the top reasons to visit Puerto Rico is its amazing food! The island’s rich flavors come to life in popular dishes like papas rellenas, pasteles, and amarillos. If you’re an adventurous eater, you’ll have so much fun exploring the different towns, and Carolina has plenty on offer.
Carolina is particularly known for its beachside food stands or kiosks known as chinchorros. After a delightful day at the beach, nothing hits the spot like a cold beer and salty snack of bacalaíto, codfish fritters.
Of course, there are more upscale, sit-down options as well. Some of our favorites include Meat Market Miami, a Puerto Rican steakhouse, and Alambique Beach Lounge, which boasts gorgeous beachside views and serves fresh seafood. Piu Bello serves delicious local cuisine like sweet plantains, but you can also cool off with a smooth, decadent gelato after your meal.
Can’t get enough of Puerto Rico cuisine?
5. Carolina Has Things to Do for all Lifestyles
In our opinion, the best reason to visit Carolina is that this trendy, modern town has something for everyone, from those who love soaking up the sun on the beach to visitors who prefer shopping and sightseeing.
Outdoor enthusiasts or anyone looking for a breath of fresh air will love Julia de Burgos Park, a beautiful open area with lush greenery and a great walking path, picnic areas, and benches. If you’re looking for more of an adventure, Carolina offers tours and activities like jet ski rentals, ATV rides, and more!
One of the most popular outdoor attractions is Hacienda Campo Rico, a beautiful park on a former agricultural plantation where you can go horseback riding, ziplining, and more.
There are also nearby casinos where you can roll the dice and maybe win it big! Plaza Carolina is a shopping mall with global brands and local boutiques if you need a shopping fix while you’re in town. There’s even a movie theater where you can catch a film on a rainy day.
By night, the fun continues in Carolina with awesome bars and clubs where you can dance your heart out and enjoy a few classic Puerto Rican beverages like the pitorro (Puerto Rican moonshine!), coquito, Don Q, and more.
Where will your Puerto Rico vacation take you? Visit the Island Guide for inspiration and trip planning!