The magnificent rainforest of El Yunque on the island of Puerto Rico is a special place. It is the only tropical rainforest included on the US National Forest Service register, and boasts an astonishingly rich biodiversity. Although it is quite small, as rainforests go, it more than makes up for its size with the richness of its wildlife and scenery.
El Yunque is defined by its mountainous landscape, with the soaring peaks of Pico El Yunque, Pico del Este, Pico del Oeste, El Cacique, and El Toro rising dramatically from the lush, verdant forest canopy below. This mountainous terrain gives rise to the crags, waterfalls, and plunging river valleys that make up much of the forest.
This marvellous Caribbean rainforest is a truly fantastic sight, and a wonderful vacation destination. Given that you can cruise to Puerto Rico without even needing a passport, it is a superb option for an adventure all year round. Here are some of the highlights of El Yunque National Forest.
El Yunque is home to the most beautiful waterfalls in Puerto Rico, and possibly even throughout the Caribbean. La Coca Falls, close to La Coca Trail, is the most impressive cascade, but Cascada La Mina and the Juan Diego waterfall are well worth discovering as well.
El Yunque boasts more than 10 day-hiking trails, with options for every level of experience. The most popular is La Mina Trail, which winds its way along La Mina River and takes in the impressive Cascada La Mina. The Caimitillo Trail is relatively short, so is a great option for less experienced hikers, while the El Toro Wilderness Trail takes you on a three-hour adventure to the top of the highest peak in the forest!
El Yunque is home to a dazzling array of birds and beasts. The bird life in particular is fantastic, with species like the colorful little tody delighting visitors, or the Puerto Rican screech owl, the only native owl species on the island. El Yunque is also home to the Puerto Rican parrot, an extremely endangered species that has lived in the forest for thousands of years.
The only mammals that are native to Puerto Rico are bats, but you might see mongoose or rats who came over with sailors and traders. Reptiles are common and quite impressive, from the weird and wonderful coqui (raining frog) to the Puerto Rican boa constrictor.