El Yunque National Rainforest

#6 in Best Things To Do in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Rainforest picture1 of 3
El Yunque National Rainforest2 of 3
epslight/Getty Images

Key Info

Route 191

Price & Hours

Free
7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Details

Natural Wonders, Free Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.2

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The El Yunque National Rainforest, or simply El Yunque, 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 about 30 miles east of San Juan.

Remember to wear layers that can get wet (the highest elevations can receive up to 200 inches of rainfall 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 is still undergoing recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria. Certain trails remain closed (such as La Mina) but other hikes are open and range in difficulty. Angelito Trail, an easy hike that leads you to swimming spots; El Toro Trail, a difficult trail which takes you to the highest peak in the Luquillo Mountains; and La Coca Trail, an extremely challenging and primitive hike, are all open to visitors. All camping is also unavailable at this time. Check the U.S. National Forest Service's alerts and notices website before your trip to know which trails and roads are open.

Travelers agree that El Yunque is a worthwhile daytrip to get out of the busy city. In addition, many travelers also note that they explored the forest on a guided tour, rather than exploring by themselves. Tours can be prebooked on your own, or your hotel's concierge can recommend one for you when you arrive.

Entering the forest is free. You can access the forest from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Note that the visitor center (El Portal) is currently closed. Visit El Yunque's official website for further details.

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Type
Time to Spend
#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 hideout but at night, the waters emit a blue glow from the organisms, called dinoflagellates, that live there. More than 600,000 bioluminescent dinoflagellates live in each gallon of bay water, and recent travelers have been amazed by just how much visibility these tiny creatures provide.

Avoid visiting the bay during a full moon; the microorganisms aren't as visible then. Also aim for a quiet approach. Recent travelers recommended going out in a kayak to get the full effect of the glow and to prevent disturbing the dinoflagellates.

Read more
Todd Van Hoosear/Flickr
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