El Yunque National Forest Things to Do

  • Path to the visitor center
    Path to the visitor center
    by xoxoxenophile
  • Rainforest exhibits
    Rainforest exhibits
    by xoxoxenophile
  • Rainforest exhibits in the visitor center
    Rainforest exhibits in the visitor...
    by xoxoxenophile

Best Rated Things to Do in El Yunque National Forest

  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Mt. Britton

    by Dabs Updated Feb 10, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We still had a lot of time after hiking the Big Tree/La Mina trails so we decided to drive to the end of the access road and do one more hike to the Mt. Britton tower. This trail is almost entirely vertical so you should be in decent shape to do it. Follow the signs to the trail head and park there, you have to take a right off the main road and continue driving to get to where it starts.

    The Mt. Britton trail isn't as well marked as the more popular trails but it's easy enough to figure out, once at the top of the tower you have a spectacular view over the park. The Mount Britton trail is 0.8 miles (1.3 km) in length, estimated at 40 minutes one-way, difficulty level is challenging.

    The Mt. Britton tower, named for botanist Nathaniel Britton, was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. From the top of the tower you can see out to the Atlantic, the Caribbean and off in the distance you can see San Juan.

    Mt. Britton tower View from Mt. Britton tower

    Was this review helpful?

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Bird Watching

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 8, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    At El Yunque there 50 species of birds, 11 species of bats, 8 species of lizards, and 13 species of coquí (a tree frog - photo 5). Also found here are several species of shrimp and fish. So sounds you hear may be either those of birds or frogs.

    There are 17 endemic species of birds in Puerto Rico and many other birds that stop on the island on their migration routes.

    A list of birds seen in the Forest include
    * Red Tailed Hawk (Guaraguao)
    * Mangrove Cuckoo
    * Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo (Coccyzus vieilloti)
    * Puerto Rican Woodpecker
    * Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa)
    * White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
    * Green Mango: [Anthracothorax viridis] hummingbird
    * Puerto Rican Emerald
    * Puerto Rican Tody (San Pedrito)
    * Gray Kingbird
    * Pearly-Eyed Thrasher
    * Red legged Thrush
    * Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
    * Cape May Warbler
    * Black Throated blue warbler
    * Black-Cowled Oriole
    * Shiny Cowbird
    * Striped Headed Tanager
    * Antillean Euphonea
    * Indigo Bunting
    * Black-faced Grassquit (Tiaris bicolor)
    * Black Whiskered Vireo
    * Pin Tailed Whyoah
    * Greater Antillean Oriole
    * Puerto Ricon Bull Finch
    * Puerto Rican Fly Catcher
    * Great White Egret (Casnerodius albus)
    * Black-and-White Warbler (mariatilta varia)
    * American Redstart (sectophaga runticilla)
    * Northern Parula (Parula americana)
    * Antillean Mango (Anthracothorax dominicus)
    * Puerto Rican Tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus)
    * Puerto Rican Screech Owl (otus nudipes)
    * White-crowned Pigeon (Columba leucocephala)

    The endangered species Puerto Rican Parrot (amazona vitatta - photo 4) lives only in a few hidden areas of the Caribbean National Forest. There are presently approximately 102 birds alive, but only about 40 in the wild. That is up from about 11-16 birds in 1968

    A good book is Puerto Rico's Birds in Photographs (Paperback) by Mark W. Oberle. The book includes a CD-ROM of bird sounds and photographs and is available at El Portal visitor
    Center in El Yunque

    We had no need of this book because we were not in the area long enough to photograph any of the birds or the frogs. The only pictures I have are those of the signs at various sites.

    Sign at the Visitor Center Book on birds at the Visitor's Center Sign about birds at the tower Sign about the endemic parrot Sign about the frogs at the Visitor's Center
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Birdwatching
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

    Was this review helpful?

  • XanderDone's Profile Photo

    Yokaku Tower

    by XanderDone Written Jun 4, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    Yokaku Tower
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Backpacking

    Was this review helpful?

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Yokahu Tower

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 8, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The name of this tower is not Spanish, it's Taíno. The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of this area, but they did not build this tower. It was built as an overlook by the Park Service- you can see 10 miles on a clear day.

    Only by hiking can you reach the forest's highest peaks with the views of the surrounding forest, neighboring peaks, of incoming clouds and of the nearby Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, but the Yokahu Tower is a less strenuous option.

    Bob climbed the 98 steps to the top of the Yokahu tower and took some pictures from the top (photo 4), but I remained at the bottom and just took pictures from there. I took a picture of some flower petals, but I don't remember what kind they were (photo 5)

    Regular operating hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, seven days a week

    Top of the tower Bottom of the tower Bob's photo from the top Flower petals Whole length of the tower
    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • sswagner's Profile Photo

    Take a hiking trail

    by sswagner Written Jan 18, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    Trail
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

    Was this review helpful?

  • sswagner's Profile Photo

    See a waterfall

    by sswagner Written Jan 18, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    Waterfall
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

    Was this review helpful?

  • chodearm's Profile Photo

    Mountain Palms

    by chodearm Updated May 22, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    mucho palms, foto Yuki
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

    Was this review helpful?

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Waterfalls

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 8, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Because this is a rain forest, there is a lot of water around, and some of it falls down cliffs - making waterfalls. Apparently sometimes people swim in pools that form at the base of the waterfalls. I've been in a ship's pool where there was a waterfall, and it seems like this is more fun to think about than to actually do. Because the water isn't hot like in a shower - it is cold. And it can be harder hitting than your regular shower at home.

    A lot of the better falls - those with pools that you can swim in - have to be hiked to. I wasn't going to do any hiking so the only falls we saw were the ones by the road or at the visitor's center. These pictures are of the La Coca Falls which is the first one seen by the visitor traveling up to the Forest . The waters of La Coca Falls drop 85 feet (26 meters) onto a huge rock formation at the bottom of the falls.

    According to the official website of the U.S. Forest Service: La Coca Falls derives its name from its official owner in the 14th century, Spanish settler Juan Diego de La Coca. Historically in Puerto Rico properties have been referred to by the owner name. However, throughout time, names have undergone some evolution resulting in shortened versions. Thus, the property of Juan Diego de la Coca is presently known as La Coca Falls.

    Surprisingly, these falls have never dried up. This is quite unusual given the fact that the Forest has periodic dry spells. Yet, La Coca continues to run freely and greet visitors each day. Rocks are extremely slippery and no trails are maintained around the falls. Two parking areas are available for visitors.

    La Coca Falls Waterfall by the road Another waterfall photo Waterfall Picture of me by the waterfall
    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Cruise

    Was this review helpful?

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Hiking the Los Picachos trail

    by grandmaR Written Apr 7, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Marion said we would take a short trail. It WAS a short trail (the Los Picachos trail which was only 0.3 mile) - I could do it fairly easily although we got almost to the end and there was a tape across (like a crime scene tape) which said that there were killer trees. Marian said there were no killer trees in PR - actually we found out later that they were just repairing the trail. The school kids that were also at the center were doing a longer trail - 2.4 miles which would take 2 hours.

    The steps were another matter. They were stone and didn't have handrails and there were quite a number of them.

    Trail maps Closeup of area we are in Vereda Trail map What you see on a trail Stone walkway - Marian and me
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Cruise

    Was this review helpful?

  • xoxoxenophile's Profile Photo

    La Coca Falls

    by xoxoxenophile Written Jan 31, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    La Coca Falls is really easily accessible in El Yunque--it's one of the first stopping points along the road after the Visitor Center and right near the road (no hiking involved!). We were there in summer and so the flow of the waterfall was more of a trickle--I imagine it might be stronger in the fall when there's more rain. It's a nice little place to get out of your car and check out the falls, and I even saw a lizard nearby (the only animal we actually managed to get a picture of in El Yunque). This is a nice stop, but if you are able to, I highly recommend hiking down to the much larger La Mina Falls, where you can even swim beneath the falls!

    La Coca Falls Tourist on rocks near La Coca Falls Lizard near La Coca Falls Into the canopy La Coca Falls
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • xoxoxenophile's Profile Photo

    Visitor Center

    by xoxoxenophile Written Jan 31, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A visit to El Yunque is free if you don't stop by the visitor center, but I recommend doing so. It's only $4 a person, and you can glean a lot of information about both El Yunque and rainforests around the world from the exhibits there. It's also a good idea to stop and get a map and information on any hikes you'd like to do from one of the very helpful staff members there before you head out to explore. The area round the visitor center has some nice raised pathways where you can get some great views of the surrounding forest, and I would imagine that would be a great way to see some of El Yunque if you don't have full mobility or can't hike on any of the trails. There's also a gift shop where you can purchase anything you forgot, such as bug spray!

    Path to the visitor center Rainforest exhibits Rainforest exhibits in the visitor center Stream near the visitor center Palms near the visitor center
    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • xoxoxenophile's Profile Photo

    La Mina Falls & La Mina Trail

    by xoxoxenophile Written Jan 31, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We spent the morning in El Yunque hiking down La Mina trail to the falls. El Yunque National Park isn't super big, and only really has one road through it, so to make the most of your trip there it's best to try to do a hike or too. La Mina Trail is a popular one, because at the end you're rewarded by being able to swim in a pool beneath a beautiful waterfall.

    The way down was not really strenuous at all. It's partially paved, with some stairs and places that are cracked or rocky along the way. Most of this was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, so that's understandable. The trail more or less follows the stream down to the falls. It's only 0.7 miles, and so it probably only took 30-45 minutes to get down to the waterfall, and along the way there is some really beautiful plant life to see. At the bottom is the waterfall, which is really pretty, and will likely be surrounded by tourists in swimsuits hanging out beneath it. We didn't swim because we hadn't brought our suits down with us (and we'd be heading onto Luquillo Beach afterwards) but we enjoyed walking on the rocks below, feeling the spray of the falls and people-watching. The way back up though, was of course much harder. It's only 0.7 miles but you ascend/descend over 2000 feet, and by that point in the day it was very hot and humid and we were very sweaty! We made it back to the top to our (mercifully) air conditioned car. Anyone who's in reasonable shape shouldn't have trouble on this trail--you can see the variety of tourists that made it down in the pictures--but you may have to take your time on the way back up. I'd also recommend doing the trail either earlier in the day or later in the evening both because it will be cooler and because you may encounter fewer tourists. That wasn't an option for us, but we still had a great time hiking through El Yunque down to La Mina Falls!

    Hikers on La Mina Trail Tourists swimming beneath La Mina Falls La Mina Falls Ryan and me at La Mina Falls La Mina Falls
    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • risse73's Profile Photo

    Drive Through El Yunque Rainforest

    by risse73 Written Feb 26, 2012

    If I remember it correctly, there is a drive up the rain forest road (Rd#191?) that will allow you to pass one of the falls (I think it's La Coca) where you can pull up the road and take a picture of it. On this drive, you will see various tropical foliage.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Eco-Tourism

    Was this review helpful?

  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    La Coca Falls

    by Dabs Written Jan 24, 2011

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    La Coca Falls

    Was this review helpful?

  • chodearm's Profile Photo

    Hiking in the Rainforest

    by chodearm Updated Aug 3, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The paths are simple. The high traffiked look like this photo. Paved into comfort for those unprepared ladies wearing high heels and bikinis.

    to the waterfalls
    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: El Yunque National Forest

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

50 travelers online now

Comments

El Yunque National Forest Things to Do

Reviews and photos of El Yunque National Forest things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for El Yunque National Forest sightseeing.

View all El Yunque National Forest hotels