When we were in Puerto Rico, we decided last minute to check out the El Yunque rain forest. At first, I wasn’t too excited, but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences. The rain forest is about a 45 minute drive from old town San Juan and it was a gorgeous day, so we put the top down on the jeep & cruised right there. If you are looking for a change of scenery from your hotel pool / beach, I recommend taking a few hours to get out and explore this beautiful, natural spot.
Traveler Tip: We stopped at a random restaurant on the side of the road that was super crowded (signs of a good place).We had a big plate (that we attempted to order in Spanish) of rotisserie chicken, ribs, pork, rice & beans, potatoes and plantains. All 100% local, authentic and incredible. It gave us just the amount of energy needed to hike!
One of my gripes about El Yunque is that it’s not easy to figure out where to park, where trails begin, what the level of hiking is, etc. For example, the first “waterfall” (La Coca) was a quick hike from the car and nothing to write home about. Once Terry took over, we hiked for about 45 minutes and it was probably intermediate level. While it was on a distinguished path, it was quite hilly and given that we were trucking along at a brisk pace while wearing a 25lb backpack, it was a pretty good workout. We ended at La Mina Falls and boy, was it worth it. The main waterfall is beautiful, but touristy.
We chose to walk down (full of slippery rocks- be careful there) and found a few waterfalls of our own. We got out the Go Pro and took some awesome pictures. On the way out we climbed the Yokahu Observation Tower- it’s an easy 100 stair climb to the top, but the view is nothing short of incredible. A 360 view that goes from rain forest to ocean to rain forest. It is really spectacular and the perfect way to end the hike.