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Tropical Showers in El Yunque National Forest

Cruising for Saints in the Caribbean Our objective today was to head east and explore the largest and most visited National Forest in Puerto Rico, El Yunque, then stop by a beach and having a fancy dinner in Old San Juan.

Our group slowly emerged from our rooms and had breakfast at the hotel. We then got into our cars and drove about an hour to the park.

El Yunque National Forest

The park was started in 1876 by the Spanish King Alfonso XII, making it one of the oldest reserves in the Western Hemisphere. It became a National Forest in 1906 and is the only tropical forest in the US system of parks.

The first stop in the park is El Portal, the visitor center where you can learn about the park and get trial maps. This is the only part of the park that has an admission charge ($4). There is a gift shop and some displays to learn about stuff, but not much else.

Entering El Yunque!
Entering El Yunque!

Driving up the path, we came up to the La Coca Falls and many tourists taking pictures.

You can climb up over the fence to get a closer look at the falls.
You can climb up over the fence to get a closer look at the falls.

Our next stop was Yokahu Tower. There is a convenient parking right on the side of the road, but it can get full. This tower give you panoramic views over the forest and of the ocean.

Yokahu Tower in El Yunque.
Yokahu Tower in El Yunque.
A short climb up, gives you views like this. Great for photo-ops!
A short climb up, gives you views like this. Great for photo-ops!

Next we stopped at the Big Tree Trail and hiked into the forest to see La Mina Falls.

There was a big tree on the trial, but your view would mostly be of lush tropical forests and vegetation
There was a big tree on the trial, but your view would mostly be of lush tropical forests and vegetation
I thought I was at a frat party when I finally reached the falls. It apparently is a popular tourist bathing spot.
I thought I was at a frat party when I finally reached the falls. It apparently is a popular tourist bathing spot.
There were giant snails everywhere in the forest.
There were giant snails everywhere in the forest.
The only other wildlife seen besides birds were the many different kinds of lizards.
The only other wildlife seen besides birds were the many different kinds of lizards.

Hiking back, we drove up and stopped at Yuquiqu Delights for a local snack. I recommend the quesadillas.

We then drove to the end of the road, where we wanted to hike to Mt. Britton Lookout Tower, but at this point it was raining quite hard and the park was closing. So we decided to call it a day and start driving back.

Overall, the park was well maintained, easily accessible, and worthwhile stop if you are visiting Puerto Rico! There were some longer trails that looked like fun hikes, but I didn’t get a chance to experience them.

We decided to take in the sunset from the beach, so we stopped at the seafront Parque Damaso Riviera. The atmosphere was fun, with some lively restaurants along the road and a relatively clean beach.

Sunset from Parque Damaso Riveria's beach in Puerto Rico.
Sunset from Parque Damaso Riveria’s beach in Puerto Rico.

Back in Old San Juan we rested up a bit before an elegant dinner at St. Germain. Friendly staff and delicious meals made for a perfect conclusion for a day of activity! I could definitely get use to sipping on a ginger margarita every evening.

St. Germain's entrance.
St. Germain’s entrance.

After that I headed out to check out some nightlife with my brother. We looked up the reviews of local places and started at the grungy El Batey, a local dive bar. The walls were full of graffiti and if it weren’t for the tourists and reviews, I would feel quite uncomfortable in this dingy bar.

Nice place for a romantic drink... or not.
Nice place for a romantic drink… or not.
We stopped by another bar before heading back around the time that the party was spilling onto the street.
We stopped by another bar before heading back around the time that the party was spilling onto the street.

More Puerto Rican sightseeing tomorrow!

David De Clercq

About David De Clercq

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and has less than 10 countries left! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!