Destination: El Yunque Rainforest
Distance from San Juan: 45 minutes
Family Friendly: Yes
I used to make fun of hikers (see this post from 2014). That was before I married an Austrian man and moved to the Pacific Northwest. It's like the universe yelled out: Rita, you MUST hike NOW! And when the universe speaks, I obey. Mostly. :)
So when I went back to PR for 3 months, I decided to stretch myself beyond the place where I do most of my walking (Plaza las Américas...it's a thing, I promise) and find some trails in the great outdoors. Luckily, we have El Yunque, the only tropical forest in the United States and one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was that Hurricane María was not a friend of El Yunque. Many of the trails I went to as a child (namely La Mina) are still closed and under repair - check out an updated grid of open trails below. This forced me to explore some that I'd never been to before: Mount Britton and El Yunque Peak. Both are open and better than ever. You get an amazing view of the coastline and, on a clear day, you can even see Vieques and Culebra in the distance.
La Coca trail is also open, but I warn you - it's not for the faint of heart. I quit about 15 minutes in because my post partum body just couldn't handle it the steepness (read: calfs on FIRE).
When you're done with your hike, I suggest you grab a bite in Luquillo. For fans of fried food, you can hit up "Los Kioskos de Luquillo" - no better place to eat bacalaitos and alcapurrias. But if you're like me and hikes put you in a zen/vegan frame of mind, I recommend 18 Degrees Juice Bar. You'll see signs for it as you're leaving El Yunque. Their Acai bowl made me feel like one with mother nature. OM.
Finally, some "expert" tips:
- If you're going on a weekend, get there early to avoid crowds.
- El Yunque is a rain forest so it's highly likely it'll RAIN! :) Suprise suprise. If tropical showers are not your thing, bring an umbrella or rain jacket.
- If you want to spend a full day at El Yunque and are up for a bit more adventure, check out these zip line tours. I'm a coward and didn't do it, but some friends have told me it's really cool.
- Bring water!