Unique Places in Puerto Rico

  • Trail into the Dry Forest
    Trail into the Dry Forest
    by xoxoxenophile
  • Plants in the Guanica Dry Forest
    Plants in the Guanica Dry Forest
    by xoxoxenophile
  • Abandoned lighthouse
    Abandoned lighthouse
    by xoxoxenophile

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Puerto Rico

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    Karst Country

    by Tom_Fields Written Feb 10, 2008

    The term "karst" came from the Balkans, where volcanic activity created this incredibly rugged terrain. The many small but steep hills seem rather surreal.

    From Highway 2, near Arecibo, follow 129 and turn onto 134. Then go left on 111, and left again on 140. Then take 123 north, and finally Highway 10 north to Highway 2. The scenery is gorgeous, but be careful and take your time. The roads are very narrow, winding, and difficult.

    Karst around Arecibo Observatory One of the steep hills in Karst country View of the mountains Rugged karst along Highway 10
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    Devils Guerite, San Cristobal, San Juan

    by lil_wings Written Jan 27, 2008

    The oldest part of San Christobal has the La Garita del Diablo, where it was rumored that Soldiers sent for watch there would disappear randomly. Apparently the truth is that a young Soldier did... running away with his girlfriend instead.

    The guerite is in the old part of the fort, built in 1634.

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    Birding Humacao Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 24, 2008

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    Humacao Wildlife Refuge is one of the better places in Puerto Rico to find several species of birds, including West Indian Whistling-Duck, White-cheeked Pintail, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, and Green-throated Carib. Numerous other species frequent the marshes, lagoons, and forests, including several of the Puerto Rican endemics.

    Green-throated Carib White-cheeked Pintail Little Blue Heron Snowy Egret Orange-cheeked Waxbill
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    Hiking Humacao Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 24, 2008

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    There are several miles of trails crisscrossing through Humacao Wildlife Refuge, leading to a variety of habitats including cattail marsh, mangrove lagoons, and tropical forests. The trails typically backtrack, but there is a diversity of birdlife and lots of very large iguanas.

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    Humacao Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 24, 2008

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    Located approximately an hour from San Juan on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, Humacao Wildlife Refuge is a 2800 acre reserve containing wetlands, mangrove lagoons, and tropical forests. The area, which is managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, is free to visit and offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, birding, and nature photography.

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    Birding Maricao State Forest

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 24, 2008

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    Found along Route 120 between Sabana Grande and Maricao, lies the Maricao State Forest. The forest’s main draw for birders is the elusive Elfin-woods Warbler. Unknown to science until the early 1970s, this endemic warbler is found only in the windswept elfin woods and surrounding montane forests of central Puerto Rico. These hyperactive birds looks superficially similar to Black-and-white Warblers but have a bit of a clown-face and act quite differently, preferring to work the outer limbs rather than the trunks of trees. One of the best places to look is along the service road leading to the picnic area found at Kilometer 16.2. The birds can be found working the trees on the hills on either side of the road. In the same area, you can find almost all the other Puerto Rican endemics found in the area, including Green Mango, Puerto Rican Emerald, Puerto Rican Vireo, Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Puerto Rican Tody, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Puerto Rican Tanager, Puerto Rican Spindalis, and Puerto Rican Bullfinch.

    Green Mango Puerto Rican Tody Puerto Rican Tanager Gray Kingbird
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    Birding Boqueron Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

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    Outside the hunting season, Boqueron Wildlife Refuge is a decent enough place for birdwatching. More than 120 species have been spotted on the refuge, with shorebirds, waterfowl, and passerines all well represented. The cattail marshes and mangrove tangles harbor herons, egrets, flycatchers, and warblers, and many other birds. During winter, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, and Yellow Warbler are all common, as are Puerto Rican Pewee and Puerto Rican Flycatcher. They are joined by Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Black-crowned Night-Heron, among other species.

    Puerto Rican Pewee Yellow Warbler Northern Waterthrush Great Egret Black-crowned Night-Heron
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    Hiking Boqueron Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

    There are only two “trails” at Boqueron Wildlife Refuge, both of which traverse similar habitats. Emanating from the refuge headquarters, the trails are actually roads closed to public vehicle traffic. One trail is approximately 1.5 kilometers (one way) and runs south from the refuge headquarters along the east side of the refuge. The other trail, which is approximately 2.5 kilometers (one way), heads west from the headquarters before turning south and running along Rincon Lagoon. Neither of the trails receives much foot traffic and neither trail loops, so backtracking is required for both.

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    Boqueron Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

    Established in 1963 for waterfowl hunting, the Bosque Estatal de Boqueron Refugio de Aves (Boqueron Wildlife Refuge) covers 463 acres of tangled mangroves, cattail marsh, and brackish lagoons. Primarily used by duck hunters and fishermen, the refuge also will appeal to birdwatchers, hikers, and nature lovers and photographers. The refuge is in far southwestern Puerto Rico, one mile south of the village of Boqueron, just west of Route 301.

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    Birding Guajataca State Forest

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

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    Of all the places I went birdwatching in Puerto Rico, Guajataca State Forest was by far the birdiest. Puerto Rican Vireos called incessantly, and several other Puerto Rican endemics were present in good numbers. Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Puerto Rican Emerald, Puerto Rican Tody, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Puerto Rican Tanager, Puerto Rican Stripe-headed Tanager, Puerto Rican Bullfinch, and Puerto Rican Pewee were all relatively easy to find. Also present and easily found were Black-whiskered Vireo, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Red-legged Thrush, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and several species of warbler, including Adelaide’s, Black-throated Blue, and Northern Parula. All of these birds were seen on the trails leading to and emanating from the campgrounds near the forest entrance.

    Puerto Rican Tody Bananaquit Black-throated Blue Warbler Northern Parula
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    Hiking Guajataca State Forest

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

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    With miles of legitimate hiking trails (as opposed to most of the “trails” in Puerto Rico’s parks, which are abandoned roads), Guajataca State Forest offers some of the best hiking on the island. Many of the trails, including a 1.5-mile interpretive trail lead to or emanate from the campgrounds located near the forest entrance. The trails wind their way through the wet limestone forest, with one trail (Trail #1) leading to a cave. In addition to the many different species of plants, the area is alive with birds, lizards, and other creatures which thrive in such habitats.

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    Guajataca State Forest

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

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    It takes some work to get to, but the rewards offered by Bosque Estatal de Guajataca (Guajataca State Forest) make it a place definitely worth visiting. This underutilized gem offers some of the best hiking and birding in Puerto Rico, with a fraction of the crowds of more popular destinations such as El Yunque. Miles of hiking trails wind through the forest’s 2300 acres, providing a nice introduction to the area’s karst landscape. The park, which is located in northwest Puerto Rico, can be reached by taking Route 446 south from Highway 2.

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    Cabo Rojo Salt Flats

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

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    Serving as the most important stopover site in Puerto Rico for migrating and wintering shorebirds, the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats are well worth a visit. The shorebirds congregate on the flats late in the afternoon and are best observed at that time or early in the morning before they disperse to feed. Species commonly seen include Stilt, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black-necked Stilt, Willet, Ruddy Turnstones, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. In addition to shorebirds, this area is one of the few places on the Puerto Rican mainland where it is still possible to see the endemic and endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. The salt flats are found in far southwestern Puerto Rico off Route 301, and facilities include an information center and viewing tower.

    Willet Black-necked Stilt Ruddy Turnstones Lesser Yellowyegs and Stilt Sandpiper
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    Birding Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

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    Sporting a bird list well over 100 species, Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge is another of southwestern Puerto Rico’s most popular birding spots. Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Puerto Rican Tody, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Puerto Rican Bullfinch, and Puerto Rican Pewee are some of the more frequently encountered endemic species present. Other common species include Least Grebe, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Caribbean Eleania, Adelaide’s Warbler, Loggerhead Kingbird, Greater Antillean Grackle, Smooth-billed Ani, and Troupial. These species can be encountered on the interpretive trail or along the many tracks crisscrossing the refuge.

    Adelaide's Warbler Prairie Warbler Loggerhead Kingbird Puerto Rican Flycatcher Troupial
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    Hiking Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge

    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 23, 2008

    For those interested in birds, lizards, insects, or plants, the hiking opportunities at Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge will be of interest. The walks are flat and fairly hot (there is limited shade to be found), and the grass trails appear to be seldom used and poorly maintained. But the habitat is somewhat diverse and includes cactus gardens, dry forest, and several small ponds. A mile-and-a-half interpretive trail, which accesses all of these habitats, makes a loop from and to the refuge headquarters and serves as a good introduction to the area. Those with more time and interest will want to further explore the area by hiking the “roads” that crisscross the refuge.

    Least Grebes
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