Boulevards & Byways

Eco-Friendly Fajardo

Puerto Rico’s Slice of Island Paradise

When a traveler mentions Puerto Rico, most people think of Old San Juan. However, Puerto Rico’s capital is not the only city worth visiting when on this beautiful island. Take a few days to explore Fajardo. With its deep connection to nature and marine life, the area provides an abundance of eco-friendly things to see and to do.

Fajardo Puerto Rico for those who don’t know it, is where you can night kayak with glowing organisms, explore remote islands, snorkel marine abundant reefs, and hike to hidden beaches.

The remarkable nature of this area and the nearby smaller islands and cays make it a top eco-friendly destination for travelers. Here are the best things to do in Fajardo, both the highlights and hidden secrets.

Visit Las Cabezas Nature Reserve

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, located on the eastern tip of the island is home to a 19th-century lighthouse built in 1882. From trails and boardwalks, visitors have the opportunity to explore sensitive eco-systems with trained guides from Para La Naturaleza, the nonprofit group that runs Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve.

The tour includes a boardwalk hike to the mangrove forest surrounding the bio bay and a beach visit to examine fossilized coral. Climb the iron staircase to the top of the lighthouse. It’s where visitors take in stunning views of the preserve, bio bay, and El Yunque on one side, and the islands of Vieques, Icacos, and  St. Thomas on the other.  Downstairs, enter a darkened room and hold bioluminescent dinoflagellates which glow in the dark.

Travel Tip: It gets hot on the tour.  Bring water, a hat, suntan lotion, and of course don’t forget your camera.

Kayak the Bio Bay

There are only five places in the world to do this and one of them is in Fajardo!

Joining a kayaking tour group is the only way to experience the unique eco-system of the bioluminescent bay. The dinoflagellates, or phytoplankton, which are in the Laguna Grande bio bay, glow when subjected to vibration, producing light in response to stress.

Two of my favorite tour operators are:

Kayaking Puerto Rico Snorkeling & Adventure Tours

Yokahu Kayak Trips

Explore Seven Seas Beach

The public beach of Seven Seas is dotted with clear, calm blue water, beautiful coconut palms, and provides full amenities and facilities. Named after the seven different shades of blue-green in the water, it’s teeming with vibrant tropical fish and coral reefs, perfect for exploring and snorkeling.

Found at the entrance of Seven Seas Beach, Pirate Snorkeling Shack offers highly personalized service for incredible snorkeling and kayaking tours of Seven Seas Bay. In addition, they offer full rentals should you choose to explore on your own. Kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and stand up paddleboards are always available.

When you come back from your adventure, make sure you rent one of Pirate Snorkeling Shack’s fun and colorful swan or unicorn floats and spend your afternoon floating on the bay and enjoying the beautiful vista.
Night snorkeling and yoga on stand-up paddleboards are also offered. Tell Hector, “Sandy from Boulevards and Byways sent you.”

Hike to Hidden & Secret Beaches

Playa Colora

Playa Colora named for the orangy tan sand is a 10-minute walk from Seven Seas Beach. When you are facing Seven Seas beach, walk to the left of the beach through the opening in the path. Continue the walk for about 10 minutes through the mangrove forest and go right at the sign that says Playa Colora. Secluded and private, it’s flanked by large boulders. The waves can be quite large so swimming is not recommended. Across the bay, you get a stunning view of the lighthouse that sits at the top of Las Cabezas Nature Preserve.

Playa Escondida

Playa Escondida means hidden beach in Spanish and that’s for a good reason. It’s about a 25-minute walk through the mangrove forest after you see the sign for Playa Colora. Continue on the path and you will be rewarded with an expansive stretch of white sand beach and gorgeous vistas. Keep in mind that there are no facilities here. Bring water for your return trip.

Drive a Mini Boat to the Cordillera Nature Reserve & Icacos Island

There’s a unique adventure located in Fajardo. Kayaking Puerto Rico provides mini boat tours for travelers to the Cordillera Nature Reserve. You’re the captain of this drive-it-yourself mini speed boat tour that combines a beach stop on the island of Icacos, snorkeling, and a high-speed drive past the remote islands of the Cordillera.

The mini speed boat tour provides a fun, unique way to explore this vast protected area, a critical habitat for seabirds, turtles, and manatees.

Spend the day on Icacos Island

This stunning white sand beach with clear turquoise water can only be accessed by the mini boat tour, a catamaran tour, or arranging transportation with a water taxi. Most tours provide food and drink, but if you go on your own via a water taxi you must bring everything; food, drink, chairs, towels, snorkeling equipment and of course, don’t forget the suntan lotion. The coral reefs here are home to tropical fish and stingrays.

Visit the neighboring islands of Vieques and Culebra

Vieques and Culebra offer incredible opportunities to explore two unique islands. Both can both be reached by ferry or small plane from the nearby town of Ceiba. Tour operators out of Fajardo also offer day trips to Culebra and Vieques.

Vieques

Vieques has over 40 stunning beaches to explore and each one is highly unique and worth a visit. This eco-friendly island is special. There are no high-rise hotels and horses roam freely in the streets. It’s all about nature.

Day trips from Fajardo to Vieques

Culebra

Culebra’s white-sand beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming with turtles can’t be beaten, not to mention its great fun driving around the island on a golf cart. On Flamenco Beach, one of the top ten in the world, you’ll see an unusual site, old U.S. Army tanks. You’ll be hard-pressed to believe it when you see the gorgeous area, but it was used for military exercises until 1975.

Day trips from Fajardo to Culebra

Where to Eat in Fajardo

Las Vistas Cafe

This beautiful rooftop café with a 360-degree view specializes in breakfast and brunch. The owner Gladys spoils visitors with fresh fruit from her garden, homemade arepas, fluffy coconut pancakes, and tasty pasta dishes.

El Varadero Seaside Grill

In the Villa Marina Harbor, El Varadero is known for its authentic Caribbean menu with unique “Criollo” flavor fused into their dishes. Be sure to try their frozen mojitos as you relax on their outdoor deck overlooking the marina.

The House of Pastelillos

This beach shack on Seven Seas Beach specializes in over 20 varieties of Puerto Rican pastelillos. These flaky, hot turnovers are stuffed with everything from mofongo to seafood and are quite delicious.

La Estacion

 A converted gas station with an open-air dining room and inviting bar, this restaurant has a worthy menu of grilled and smoked specialties including snapper, ribs, and pork.

Rustica Pizza

This might just be the best pizza I have ever had, and I’m from New York. Made with all fresh ingredients, there’s a variety of pizzas for every taste. Great $5 drink and appetizer specials during happy hour from 4-7 every day!

Dulce Aroma

Serving delicious coffee and sandwiches it’s a great place for a tasty snack or meal.

DownTown Creamery

What sets this place apart is the assortment of unusual and delicious ice cream flavors. Try the almond or cornbread. You won’t be disappointed.

Cremaldi Ice Cream

Sit on a swing while you eat your ice cream. This cute ice cream shop offers an assortment of yummy flavors, and something unusual, fried ice cream.

Things to do in Neighboring Luquillo

Luquillo, only ten minutes away, provides an array of activities to do and places to explore including El Yunque Rain Forest, the famous Luquillo Kiosks, surfing lessons, horseback riding, jet skiing, and expansive beaches.

Things to do in Old San Juan

Only 40 minutes from Fajardo, the city of Old San Juan is filled with colorful architecture, first-rate restaurants, museums, and old forts to explore. Use the handy guide below for a walking tour of all of the incredible sites!

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