El Yunque

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Puerto Rico, United States

El Yunque Reviews

JohnBoricua JohnBori…
12 reviews
Tropical Rain Forest in the US Jun 04, 2012
Was in PR with 4 friends on August 2011. This was our first excursion from the hotel. It is just under a 1 hour drive from the San Juan tourist traps of El Condado or Ilsa Verde.

There is a tourist information/welcome center when you pass the main entrance. However, you don't really have to stop in there. The center is nice 7 informative but if you just want to hike & see the terrain & landscape, don't waste your time or money here.

Instead when you get past the main entrance just keep going straight ..... well just follow the road ahead I mean. These mountain roads are not straight at all. The drive up the mountains is an adventure within itself. The roads are narrow, twisty, and steep. If you are the type that rattles easily while driving .... let someone else with thick skin drive. the roads in the mainland US are luxurious compared to these roads. If you love to drive challenging roads ... this place is for you. Occasionally you will get some of the locals (or frequent visitors like me) auditioning for the next "Fast & Furious" movie ripping up or down the roads trying to see how fast the car can go & not fall off the mountain .... hahaha .... but that's just me .... what the heck, it's a rental .... hahaha.

Along the drive up El Yunque's roads are areas to park alongside the points of interest , like the Cocoa Falls, the Observation Tower, the gift/snack shops, the hiking trails, and a few other falls or small ponds.

The parking lots are small and you may have to wait for a decent spot. Or you can do like the natives do & park along the narrow roads close to the parking area and risk having some crazy Puerto Rican "Fast & Furious" wannabees side swipe your ride.

The views from the Observation Tower are phenomenal. It's a steep hike up the circular stairs inside the tower so bring you some comfortable shoes. You can see the clouds scraping over the mountain tops. On a clear day you can see the neighboring pueblo of Luquillo. If it's not too cloudy (like my N.A. friend's last urine sample .. haha) you can just chill out & watch the varying shades of sunlight on the mountains. simply beautiful.

If you are into hiking ..... DING!!! You came to the right place. There are many trails which are STEEP & SLIPPERY. DO NOT even think about hiking without rubber soled shoes ... preferably hiking shoes or trail sneakers. I kid you not ..... YOU WILL SLIP and risk getting jacked up if you think you're gonna go down in flip flops or dress shoes.

The best hike is down to La Mina Falls is about a 45 minute hike down. If you think the hike down is grueling, wait till you go back up. You have to be committed to make this hike for the amazing view at the bottom. Once you get to the falls, you jaw will drop & you'll say "Whoa"!! If you want to go in the water, BE WARNED ...... the rocks are slippery and the water is COLD. I was in the water 20 minutes and shivered the whole time. also, the place gets crowded as many people are resting up for the hike back up.

My advice is bring water (especially in the summer), wear sneakers or hiking shoes, and DON'T FORGET your camera. I brought my waterproof camera to get shots in the falls. There are guided tours available to see some of the many hidden treasures here which I have yet to see but have heard about via legend, story telling, rumors, and of course the brochures & innernet.

There are some local restaurants on the sides of the mountain roads. do the locals a favor and get some of that delicious PR food. Who wants to eat chain restaurant fast food, when the local cuisine is so darn good and for you health nuts out there .... WTH .. your on vacation live a little.

Oh yeah, not so far from El Yunque is the pueblo of Luquillo with PR's famous Luquillo Beach. This beach is often on post cards ... with all it's coconut & palm trees. About a 15 - 20 minute drive is the pueblo of Fajardo. This is where the ferry launches to the satellite islands of Culebra & Vieques.

Plan the whole day for this trip to El Yunque. If you want to go to the islands of Vieques or Culebra, plan 2 days.
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