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El Yunque picture in Puerto Rico
epslight / Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • Visitor center fee is $4 for adults; free for kids 15 and younger (cash only)
  • 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Details

  • Natural Wonders Type
  • More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.1
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    4.5
  • Facilities
    2.5
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

Sometimes referred to as the Caribbean National Forest, the El Yunque National Rainforest, or simply El Yunque, this lush expanse is the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System. It's also a particular favorite for vacationers who like to hike  but even if nature really isn't your thing, travelers urge you to make the trip just 35 miles east of San Juan. Remember to wear layers that can get wet  the site receives more than 100 billion gallons of precipitation annually — and pack a water-resistant camera to capture some of the area's splendor. Keep your ears peeled in the evenings, when Puerto Rico's tiny coquí tree frogs begin their serenade.

The forest has 13 well-marked hiking trails that range in difficulty. The two most popular, La Mina & Big Tree Trail, are a combined two-hour hike that snakes by La Mina River and ends around La Mina Falls. 

Travelers agree that El Yunque is too much to handle in one day; many choose to camp or find accommodations in the area. You can obtain a free permit (before 3 p.m. each day) to camp on El Yunque's premises, but facilities are few and far between. Many hotels in San Juan offer day trips or excursions to the rainforest, so be sure to inquire with your concierge.

Entering the forest is free, but there's a modest admission charge into El Portal visitor center or to arrange an overnight tour of the forest. Visit El Yunque's official website for further details.

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
  • Hotel
Ceiba Country Inn

Ceiba Country Inn ...

  • 3.3 Miles Away
  • 2.5-star Hotel Class
Fajardo Inn

Fajardo Inn ...

  • 1.9 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
See all hotels in Puerto Rico »

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#1 Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay (Vieques) This south Vieques beach might not sound like much, but it's one of travelers' favorite experiences in Puerto Rico. During the day, Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay is your stereotypical Caribbean ... Read more » Todd Van Hoosear / Flickr

#2 El Morro (Fuerte San Felipe del Morro) El Morro juts out of San Juan harbor beckoning to cruise ships just as it used to deter sea attacks. The structure is a hulking six-story fortress built between 1539 ... Read more » dranzi / iStockphoto.com

#3 Flamenco Beach On the island of Culebra — which sits about 20 miles east of Puerto Rico— visitors will find a beach perfect for families, snorkelers and those looking for a remote spot ... Read more » ARENA Creative / Shutterstock

#4 Sun Bay (Vieques) Mosquito Bay is popular in the evenings, but the island of Vieques' daytime beachcombers like the chalky sands and serene vantage point of southwestern Sun Bay. It's also the ... Read more » MsDivinity / Flickr

#5 El Yunque National Rainforest Sometimes referred to as the Caribbean National Forest, the El Yunque National Rainforest, or simply El Yunque, this lush expanse is the only tropical forest in the U.S. National ... Read more » epslight / Getty Images

#6 Castillo de San Cristobal Fort San Cristóbal's 27 acres were built to protect the city of Old San Juan from land attacks. It doesn't receive as many visitors, or as much adoration ... Read more » Terraxplorer / Getty Images

#7 Calle del Cristo Outlet shoppers should come to Old San Juan prepared to let go of a few dollars. The city's Calle del Cristo is a haven of restaurants, art galleries and ... Read more » Erin Shields / USN&WR

#8 Condado Beach If you're staying in San Juan there's a good chance you'll never venture farther than Condado Beach. For many sun-lovers, that's just fine. Condado is framed ... Read more » dennisvdw / Getty Images

#9 Museo de Arte de Ponce Following an extensive renovation, Museo de Arte de Ponce reopened in 2010 boasting a bigger space and a larger art collection. Today, the museum houses more than 4,500 works ... Read more » Daniel Lobo / Flickr

#10 Carolina Beach (Balneario de Carolina) Located near the Isla Verde resort area in greater San Juan, lengthy Carolina Beach is a popular public beach among both visitors and locals. Families especially love its white sand ... Read more » runneralan2004 / Flickr

#11 Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy Most travelers say the same thing about the Parque de las Cavernas del Río Camuy: Loved the caverns, didn't care so much for the tour. Too bad it's ... Read more » Jason Sturner / Flickr

#12 Luquillo Beach (Balneario de Luquillo) The resort beaches along Condado or Isla Verde are beautiful, but if you tire of the same old scenery, take a 30-minute drive east along Route 3 to Luquillo Beach ... Read more » arenacreative / Getty Images

Bioluminescent Bay picture in Puerto Rico
El Morro  picture in Puerto Rico
Flamenco Beach picture in Puerto Rico
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El Yunque picture in Puerto Rico
Castillo de San Cristóbal picture in Puerto Rico
Calle del Cristo picture in Puerto Rico
Condado Beach picture in Puerto Rico
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Bioluminescent Bay picture in Puerto Rico
El Morro  picture in Puerto Rico
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Castillo de San Cristóbal picture in Puerto Rico
Calle del Cristo picture in Puerto Rico
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Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy picture in Puerto Rico
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Todd Van Hoosear / Flickr

You can walk though the six stories of this famous fortress, including a maze of tunnels, barracks and prison cells. dranzi / iStockphoto.com

Flamenco Beach is often regarded by travelers as the most beautiful beach in Puerto Rico for its clear, shallow waters, soft sands and remote location.  ARENA Creative / Shutterstock

This Vieques beach is the only one of the tiny island with public facilities; the town of Esparanza is just a short walk away. MsDivinity / Flickr

Just 35 miles east of San Juan, El Yunque rainforest is a great picture-taking and hiking opportunity. epslight / Getty Images

The 27 acres of Castillo de San Cristóbal were built to protect Old San Juan from land attacks. Today, the site offers breathtaking views of the sea.  Terraxplorer / Getty Images

Calle del Cristo is lined with pastel-hued buildings, cobblestone streets and many shops, bars and eateries. Erin Shields / USN&WR

If you're staying in San Juan there's a good chance you'll never venture farther than Condado Beach, which frames a string of high-rise hotels. dennisvdw / Getty Images

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Located near the Isla Verde resort area in San Juan, the Balneario de Carolina is often crowded.  runneralan2004 / Flickr

Jason Sturner / Flickr

Families flock to this shore for its reef-protected calm waves, and you'll see a lot of daytrippers fresh from a jaunt in El Yunque rainforest. arenacreative / Getty Images

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