Rainforest Walks, Waterfalls Swims and Mountain Hikes
When Caribbean trade winds meet the mountains of Puerto Rico, rain clouds form and tropical forests thrive. In America's southernmost National Forest, a network of trails lead hikers through green-clad valleys and wooded slopes to discover waterfalls, wildlife and scenic vistas. There are adventures of discovery for all. Relaxing strolls lead through groves where orchids, hibiscus, bromeliads and giant ferns grow, and the sounds of the islands' iconic coqui frogs resonate through the forest canopy. Longer routes take in waterfalls and jungle streams, while climbs towards summits lead into cloud forests decorated with evergreen fern trees and air plants.
- Best for: Everyone, from rainforests to watersports and spas, Puerto Rico has something for everyone
- Best season to visit: Year-round
- Weather: Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from the 70s in winter to summer highs in the upper 80s. Inland mountains remain cooler, and east coast sites enjoy trade winds. Winters are dry. Rain is more common from April through Nov
Puerto Rico Information
Hiking in Puerto Rico Overview
The most extensive and varied network of hiking trails on the island of Puerto Rico is found within the 29,000-acre El Yunque National Forest. This is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System, and one of the most biologically diverse, home to hundreds of animal and plant species, some of which are found nowhere else.
Hiking in Puerto Rico Tips
Because the trails of El Yunque are just a 45-minute drive away from hotels in the San Juan area, and equally convenient to resorts on the island's east coast, it's possible to arrive early without having to get up before dawn. An early arrival at the forest will allow you to enjoy the sights and trails before the crowds get there.
Best Places to Hike in Puerto Rico
La Coca Falls and the Caimitillo Trail provide an easy introduction to the rainforest. Deeper in the forest, La Mina and Big Tree lead to cool waterfalls that tumble 35 feet into crystal clear pools. The Bano de Oro route reveals historic ruins and a less-visited side of the park, while El Yunque Trail climbs through a dwarf forest to a summit that provides panoramic views.
What to Pack for Hiking in Puerto Rico
It's called a rainforest for a reason, so wear sturdy shoes that can handle a bit of mud. Some tours will provide rain ponchos for passing showers, but a light-weight; water-resistant windbreaker may still be in order. Bring a swimsuit and towel if you want to jump in at the falls.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry Requirements: No passport necessary for U.S. citizens to enter Puerto Rico. No visa is required for U.S. Citizens.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Puerto Rico. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
When you arrive in Puerto Rico, you are still on US soil, but also very much in the Caribbean. No passport is needed, and English and Spanish are spoken in equal measure, but the culture is a blend of island styles and Latin-American traditions. San Juan is a cosmopolitan and thoroughly modern commercial center, but also a city with a long and storied history dating back to the days of Spanish treasure galleons and the real pirates of the Caribbean. The posh resorts and trendy boutiques of the Condado District are just a short stroll away from the narrow cobblestone streets and colonial-era buildings of Old San Juan. Drive into the mountains and as four-lane highways transition into cliff-hugging single lanes you step back into an era of village life, and then into settings where nature still takes center stage. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the US National Forest System, and surrounding mountains hide an eco- adventurer's dreamscape of canyons, caves and waterfalls. At Toro Verde, the mile-and-a-half-long Monster is the world's longest zip line, and the Camuy River Cave Park features the world's third longest underground river. Surfers flock to world-class breaks near the west-coast town of Rincon, paddlers explore the mangrove lagoons of Parguera, and big game fishermen depart San Juan Harbor to do battle with trophy sized blue marlin. Those who prefer luxury over adventure can relax at premier resorts, play tour-worth golf courses, indulge in five-star spa services and sample the island's vibrant culinary scene.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Puerto Rico is 110 volts, 60 cycles, so no adapter will be needed for US visitors. The country code/area code for Puerto Rico is 787. Some U.S. providers include calls and data usage from Puerto Rico so be sure to check with your provider to see if additional costs will apply. Many hotels offer WiFi.
The environmental standards that apply to water in the U.S. apply to Puerto Rico. The water is safe to drink and bottled water if preferred is available for purchase.
Language & Currency
Both English and Spanish are the official languages in Puerto Rico, however Spanish is more frequently spoken by the people of Puerto Rico. The currency in Puerto Rico is the US Dollar.
Puerto Rico is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Puerto Rico is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Puerto Rico is an archipelago in the Caribbean and part of the Greater Antilles. The islands are located west of the Virgin Islands and east of the Dominican Republic. The Northern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean while the Southern coast faces the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico is 30 miles wide North to South and 90 miles long East to West, 3,515 square miles total and includes a number of small islands, Mona to the west, along with Culebra and Vieques to the east. The capital and most populated municipality is San Juan, located on the northeastern shore of the main island
The population of Puerto Rico is 3.68 million (2016).