Puerto Rico Does it Better. ¡Hola! Old San Juan and El Yunque.

Puerto Rico Does it Better. ¡Hola! Old San Juan and El Yunque.

 

Puerto Rico has welcomed us with great weather even in the off-season, so we decided to visit El Yunque and afterwards enjoy San Juan and nearby beaches.
Caribbean Islands during the off-season are much less crowded, so it is a great time to visit any of these wonderful islands.

 

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So we head up first for the magical rainforest El Yunque, which is about an hour drive from San Juan city center.

Each year El Yunque welcomes about 600,000 visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy more than 240 tree species, La Coca waterfalls and beautiful trails.

Renting a car costs about twenty dollars, but reserve a car in advance from home, because once you are in the Caribbean, cars can be costly if you try to rent them directly from a rental destination (we were quoted a hundred dollars in San Thomas).
Old San Juan Puerto Rico

If you don’t want to drive a car, then you can take a half-day trip from the port, this will cost about thirty-five Dollars, and after visiting the rainforest you can spend some great time on the beaches.

We loved everything here; great ambience, weather, people, land and historical background.

Because I love cities with history, I couldn’t wait to see San Juan’s Fortresses, mighty Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal.

After one hour, we have finally arrived – El Yunque.

rainforest-puerto-rico

You cannot believe that you will see something like this only one hour drive from the city center, it is like a great urban rainforest. I think that only Rio de Janiero with Tijuca Forest and South Africa offer this.
El Yunque National Forest is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system.

Hiking to the peak is probably best in the morning. Hiking here is not complicated or hard, but I am an experienced hiker with some mountain background behind me. Be careful, because the stones are wet and always wear the right footwear.

La Coca Falls

We tried different trails, but we loved La Coca trail.

rainforest-watterfall

We also took a hike from La Mina Trail to La Mina Falls. Once you arrive, you can swim here under the waterfalls. The La Mina trail is a very popular trail, because it is the shortest trail to get to the falls.
This trail is pretty steep and has many steps up and down, so take care of your knees. Watch out also because the trail can be slippery.

Puerto Rico Rainforest

Caribbean Rain Forest

El Yunque

And finally we are here!

El Yunque

Humidity in the park is really high, so be aware and plan ahead.

While here, we followed the path to Yokahu Observation Tower to take a deep look at this natural beauty.

Yokahu Tower

Two observation towers are located in the park, but Yokahu is the better of the two with regards to the view offered.

yokahutower

Wonderful

rainforest

What do you think?

If you plan to visit the beach after hiking, go for Luquillo Beach. Entry into the water is little shallow, so it is also great for kids and families.
The beach is clean, with clear water and nice soft powdery sand. While I would not consider Puerto Rico only for the beaches, you can find some nice ones such as Rincon’s beach, Playa de Ponce, and Rosado Beach.

Now it was time to explore Old San Juan.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, is a 400 year old fort that guards the entrance to the harbor.

San Felipe del Morro

San Cristobal

Hundreds of years ago, Puerto Rico, was a strategic location. Spain started colonizing it, but needed to defend it from pirate and privateer a (nicer word for pirates) attacks.
The city needed proper protection, so the El Morro came to life – offering six levels of defense.
Wonderful Fort San Cristobal was build to protect against land attacks.

Puerto Rico

San Cristobal offers wonderful views.

puertorico

san-juan-puerto-rico

The Three Flags of San Cristobal

We felt very safe while traveling in Puerto Rico, but it was probably due to Police that watched everyone closely (I am kidding, look at the T-shirt).
The police force will help guide you on your way through the old part of this city. Dont be shy, if you get lost or just need guidance, stop and ask for directions.

Old San Juan

This old historic city has so much to offer. History, great food, and art. Wandering around in Old San Juan is free, so do it and enjoy.
Most of the historic sights are located on Cristo Street, but you will find here everything easily, even without a map.

Old San Juan

Life is colorful not grey.

san-juan

I didn’t try the water quality.

Puerto Rico San Juan

sanjuan

I am looking forward to coming back.

If you are a rum lover, don’t miss the Bacardi Rum Factory and Bacardi Casa; just take a ferry from Pier 2 to Cataño and enjoy two complementary drinks at the site.

 

What is your Caribbean experience with Puerto Rico? Let me know.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Joe Balbona

    October 25, 2014 at 17:16

    El Yunque National Forest is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system.

    Not true! The Hoh Rain Forest is located in the Olympic National Park in Washington.

    • Miro Henzel

      October 25, 2014 at 19:07

      I learned something new Joe. The Hoh Rain Forest looks great.

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