Before you begin your hiking adventure you can stop at the visitors center. This was a pretty interesting part of our visit to El Yunque. It costs $3 per person to visit the center. After we parked the car we had to walked across this wooden bridge to get to the center. The center itself is not in the rain forest. It's at the bottom of the rain forest in an area known at the wet forest. The center is open 9 AM to 4:30 PM 7 days a week. The visitors center is loaded with exhibits and information about the importance of El Yunque, the wildlife of El Yunque and the plants and foliage of the area. Some of the features here include a cafeteria, gifts shop, bathrooms, and multi lingual staff.
I am sure that by now you are getting tired of reading hiking tips from me, but oh well here's another one. When Jason and I decided to visit Puerto Rico, one of the first things I did was start checking out places to hike. It didn't take me long to find the rain forest. After doing some reading, we decided to take a relatively short hike, just a couple of miles to and from. We took the Las Minas trail which was took us less than an hour. We started at one of the rest stops and walked down the slop to a really pretty waterfall. The trail is well marked and actually has a combination of stones and wooden planks to walk on. This made the hike really easy for us since Jason and I both are very physically active. These trails are easy enough for young child, but they are definitely not stroller friendly. Where walking shoes with good grip because it rains often here making the walkways slippery in some places. I wanted to see some of the orchids I have heard so much about or even the coqui frogs that you hear all over the island, alas I did not which was a small disappointment. You will get to see tons of beautiful foliage and trees, mini water cascades and clear basins of water. The trails tend to be crowded but most folks are polite and if you walk faster will step aside and let you pass. Plan on it raining at some point during your hike, bring along a poncho if you hate to get wet. Also, if you plan on swimming, either bring your suit or change at the ranger station. There is no changing area by the falls. The trails are open from 7:30 AM until 6:00 PM. We brought along a couple bottles of water and some snacks just in case we got hungry.
The forest is open daily from 7:30 AM until 6:00 PM
Specially built for the Disney coneursiurs (thats my attempt at that word) This tower is the second stop along the swervy asphalt road that swivels into the jungle. I was actually thinking of doing a little by-pass surgery on this attraction, just for the fact of the hordes roving up the spiral staircase. Yuki persuaded me in, and I am glad she did, the panoramic veiws were astonishing. Once you stuck your head through the arched windows you were able to put the tower behind you and with it enclose all the Panama-Jack hat wearing goof-balls.
This is a must in Puerto Rico! The rainforest is located right by Fajardo. There is a visitors center with a great view and information and many hiking trails. We climbed to the waterfalls, where we had fun splashing around in the water. Its not a strenuous hike, but does take some effort if you are not used to hiking. We had no trouble at all!
The mountains and valleys are clothed in palms, ferns, moss and other very green flora. I have thouroughly introduced myself to National Parks of America but none have that tropical feel I have only had floating in my head through day and night dreaming. This was that Paradise Island Interior feel I saw on Gilligans Island.
"When I hike I wear myself some high heels, I get my nails did and sport my dopest bikini. I headed down by da wawta, to meet my man. We's were sitting pretty all up on those rocks. Juan was der, José was dere. Dat day was the bomb. I got out da wata, and threw on my head to toe mesh outfit."
I swear there were women wearing high heels and bikinis hiking in the woods and one woman did go head to toe clear mesh outfit I guess to be enclosed in a misquito net.
The watering holes are packed. Bodies floating everywhere, and people posing in front of these beautiful natural scenes. Crazy contrast.
For a more relaxing swim in the stream, walk up-stream a bit, theres multiple oppurtunities to be alone with nature.
The name's not Spanish, it's Taíno. Most of the cities in Puerto Rico that have names that don't sound Spanish are Taíno, my ancestors. They probably didn't build this tower, but it was most likely the name of the terrace it was built on or near. Climb to the top, and you will get a rewarding panorama of Puerto Rico from thousands of feet high. It's exhilerating to see, and the climb up the tower is not at all laborious, too. It's free, like most everything in the park short of food and drink and souveneirs... and you know how I am about the free stuff! It's wonderful, higly reccomended.
Although this is not part of the rainforest, it is nearby. Luquillo is considered to be one of Puerto Rico's nicest beaches, and there are good facilities here. It could be a great way to relax after your visit to the rainforest. The beach is on the north side of the island and faces the Atlantic Ocean.
You will see waterfalls everywhere in El Yunque. Even if you only stick to the road, they will be visible. However, it is nice to see them from the trail as well. In some areas, they make cascade downward to form a natural swimming hole. Some of these areas are very popular. If you take a trail that leads to a waterfall, you might want to take your swimsuit with you.
It would be a shame to only see the rainforest from the car or the visitor center. Fortunately, there are several trails that will take you into the rainforest. Notice how every inch of ground is covered with vegetation. You will most certainly hear the coqui frog make its whistling sound. If you are lucky, you might spot a Puerto Rican parrot. There is a wide variey of foliage to see as you make your way through the trail. In May, the trail I took was not crowded at all, and it was one of the more popular ones.
After leaving the visitors center on the main road through the park, you pass by La Coca Falls. You can pull off the road and take a picture, no hiking required.
The paths are simple. The high traffiked look like this photo. Paved into comfort for those unprepared ladies wearing high heels and bikinis.