Editor's Note: El Yunque was formerly known as the Caribbean National Forest.
Results 11-20of 23 Reviews
New York, New York
January 3, 2005
It's worth going into El Yunque rain forest just to prove to yourself that it's there. It's quite a treat to go from a hot, dry beach to a mountainous, cooler, and perennially raining forest.
While taxis may charge $80 or more to get you to the park, you can get there easily in a rental car ($30, gracias a Dios) if you know where you're going . There is a small fee to enter the park, and then you are free to roam.
We drove up the Yokahú tower, from which you can get a beautiful view of the coastline if it's not too cloudy. After that, we backtracked to the La Coca Falls trail. It's a very short distance to the falls, but the trail is clogged with slow-walking tourists who, in our case, seemed unwilling to let us pass. The falls themselves were not particularly impressive, but it's worth going to see them just to get out and walk a bit.
If you're visiting the rain forest in winter, keep in mind that it will be cooler at the higher altitudes and most likely raining. Bring a light rain jacket and wear clothes you don't mind getting wet.
From journal December Sunburn in Puerto Rico
Somewhere, South Carolina
December 21, 2004
For the hike to the peak, take the "service" road instead of the actual trail and you'll be there in 45 minutes. Other sights to see before you head to the Peak of El Yunque include the trail to LaMina Falls. Beautiful! Many have taken a dip there, but when we went, it had rained in the days before and that day, so the water was murky and very dangerous.
From journal An Enchantment Week in Puerto Rico
July 25, 2004
From journal One week in Puerto Rico
Cary, North Carolina
January 22, 2004
From journal Puerto Rico - There's a Shrimp In My Pants!
by Brenda De Ramus
August 23, 2003
The trails throughout the rain forest are generally well-marked. The Big Tree Trail has many informational plaques describing the history and ecological importance of the trees and plants along the way to the trail's main attraction: La Mina Falls. Here dozens of people enjoy swimming as well as relaxing on the rocks. If you're not into crowds, you might want to skip the falls, but the trail offers an opportunity to learn much about some of the trees and flora native to Puerto Rico.
Be prepared for sudden rain showers and wet trails. Although hiking boots are not necessary, I recommend shoes with good tread for safe hiking because the trails are either muddy, cobbled or rocky. The hike to the top of El Yunque (elevation 3,533 feet) takes about three hours round-trip. There are, however, shorter trails leading to other points of interest such as Mt. Britton and El Toro. Mt. Britton has an architecturally interesting castle-like tower at trail's end that affords a panoramic view of the rain forest and the ocean beyond. Surprisingly, El Yunque's summit boasts only a huge radio tower, a caretaker's quarters and an abandoned-looking building that serves as a viewing post. Unfortunately, we were not inspired to linger and enjoy the views.
There is an intriguing variety of ferns, palms and other plants. However, the absence of animal life (not even a glimpse) was surprising, if not disappointing. An occasional bird-call and the amusing coqui frog whistle-like shrill is the sum of our exposure to the fauna of Puerto Rico.
From journal San Juan and Beyond
December 25, 2002
There are huge trees, vines, ferns, moss, and impatients blooming by the thousands. Numerous streams run down the mountainsides making waterfalls and pools.
Don't miss the visitor center, El Portal, at the entrance. There are many displays, a short film in English and Spanish explaining the forest, restrooms, and a gift shop. There is also a nature trail with plants labeled. The breadfruit tree was one interesting plant along the boardwalk--also orchids growing.
Near the main road is La Coca Falls. Park your car and get out to crawl on the rocks up to the rock wall with water streaming down. Take a look over the edge of the bridge on the other side to see the water continue its tumble down.
The Yokahu Observation Tower offers a magnificent view of the forest and the whole northeastern coast of Puerto Rico. Lots of stairs here, but worth it.
Farther into the park you will find a trail to La Mina Falls. This is .8 mile of fairly rigorous hiking. The trail has a number of stairs so it's not good for wheelchairs or strollers. The falls are beautiful, and there is a large pool to frolic in--if you can take the cold water! I was suprised to find such cold water in the tropics! Begin your hike early to avoid the crowds that arrive in the afternoon.
We didn't see or hear any coquis, but I'm told they only come out at night or after a rain.
There are several concession stands along the road. Longer hiking trails lead up the mountains if you have more time. We spent 4 hours here and didn't have time to do the longer trails.
From journal Stop Over in San Juan
Bayside, New York
December 16, 2001
As you start rolling on 191, it's about 2 miles before you get to the new visitor center which they call "el Portal" . The signs will direct and greet you. They have handicap facilities, toilets, phones and a gift shop. Expect a $3.00 entrance fee for adults, $1.50 for kids 12 and over. We collected some maps at the entrance which is cleverly designed so that you are actually walking over the rainforest canope, so it's an interesting perspective. There are exhibits and interactive displays which educate you about el Yunque.
It started pouring, but stopped right after the 12 minute film, narrated by Jimmy Smits, which is shown before you start your tour. It's optional, but I suggest you see it as it's very informative. We learn that the Puerto Rican parrot is an endangered species and they are being bred in captivity to increase the population. Also learned that the rainforest played a pivotal role in 1989 when hurricane Hugo went tearing through the Caribbean, in that it absorbed most of the violence, thus protecting the island from destruction.
We start off on the tour, and the road is very narrow and tortuous. Don't drive like a maniac. This is an instance where pictures are worth more than words as they really tell the story. We stopped by the Yokahu Tower where you can scale to the top to appreciate the view; we found it unnecessary as you can get an eyeful from that vantage point anyway.
The variety of trees and leaves will astound you and the flowers are wonderful, although not abundant. Near one of the vistas is a whole slew of passion flowers and frangipani, which is so rare and so aromatic. Then I found some bizarre looking growths which I shot and decided to investigate them later. The "La Coca Falls" are worth getting out of the car for. There are also many designated trails which you can attempt if you are ambitious; they do let you know the degree of difficulty for each and what you are likely to encounter. We were encouraged to bring rain gear, but it’s really not needed. It did rain for a few minutes, and the wetness was refreshing. Both Chuck and I had cameras and shot different views which we would merge later.
The history of this forest dates back to the time of the Taino Indians, which are Puerto Rico's ancestors. The name was taken from the word "Yuke" which means sacred or white lands, which is a reference to the clouds. Though we did not see any, there are petroglyphs to be found on rocks within the rivers which support evidence as to the Taino presence here.
From journal Puerto Rico - Isle in Style
July 30, 2001
From journal Relax in Puerto Rico
Mill Creek, West Virginia
July 17, 2001
We took the Mt. Britton trail (moderately strenuous, but only a couple of miles long). It had lots of ancient tree ferns and orchids. You'll probably want to stop at Las Cocas falls (right on rt. 191), and if you take a tour you should go to Las Minas Falls, so you can swim. Wear a swimsuit under your clothes if you go to las Minas. Trails are well marked and well maintained. Good rainforest. Good visitors' center and souvenir shop. See the Jimmy Smits narrated film. A great place to walk with your kids. We saw a rare Puerto Rican parrot in a tree. Loved the whole experience.
From journal Puerto Rican Paradise
San Juan, Puerto Rico
October 31, 2000
From journal El Yunque Rain forest