Nature

You get to touch the clouds

Hardyboy208
Reviews provided by Reviews provided by TripAdvisor

Puerto Rico might be the smallest of the Greater Antilles, but it’s a big hit with birders. That’s because we are home to over 300 species of birds, 17 of which are recognized as endemic. They include the Puerto Rican lizard-cuckoo, tody, oriole, spindalis, woodpecker, emerald hummingbird, and parrot. But half of the fun of bird watching in Puerto Rico is where you’ll go find them. Puerto Rico’s subtropical rainforests, protected biospheres, salt flats, and secluded islets make a great background for any bird.

El Yunque

The only subtropical rainforest in the United States National Forest Service is a prime destination for bird watching. Take an early morning hike along a secluded nature trail and listen to the sound of birdsong accompanying the melody of coquí tree frogs. Watch for the red-tailed hawk, Puerto Rican lizard-cuckoo, gray kingbird, pearly-eyed thrasher, shiny cowbird, and that rarest of jewels, the Puerto Rican parrot.

Cabo Rojo

The salt flats of Cabo Rojo & Combate Beach coastline trails are a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge and an absolute paradise for bird watching enthusiasts. This arid landscape, almost an alien world amid Puerto Rico’s lush vegetation and azure beaches, is home to 25 species of migrating shorebirds. In fact, this is the most important point of convergence for migrating shorebirds in the eastern Caribbean. The salt flats are also frequented by over 90 resident and migratory birds, and are part of the designated critical habitat of the Yellow-shouldered blackbird, an endangered species.

Guánica Dry Forest

A unique and remarkably well-preserved natural treasure, the Guánica Dry Forest is nothing like El Yunque or most parts of the island. It’s also a must-visit destination for bird watchers. The forest is home to the largest number of bird species in Puerto Rico. A dry forest doesn’t mean an absence of greenery. In fact, the forest is a place of incredible beauty and diversity, home to hundreds of plant species as well as more than 150 bird species. It also makes for a fascinating place to hike, with over 30 miles of trails to keep you exploring all day. Guánica’s abundance of flora and fauna is due in part to its biodiversity. No less than three different ecosystems can be found here: deciduous, semi-evergreen and scrub forests.

Humacao Nature Reserve

The Punta Santiago Nature Reserve in Humacao is among the less-visited sanctuaries of Puerto Rico, but it’s a wonderful place to spot birds and other wildlife. You can do kayaking and bird watching through the canals and lagoons of this tropical wetland ecosystem.

Tours

  1. El Yunque Birding Trip

    AdvenTours, Rio Grande

    Attractions: El Yunque Rainforest

    Activities: Birding

  2. Mona Island Trip

    Adventures Tourmarine, Cabo Rojo

    Attractions: Mona Island

    Activities: Camping, Diving, Snorkeling, Hiking, Birdwatching

  3. North Belt Region Birding Trip

    AdvenTours, San Juan

    Activities: Birding

  4. West Birding Trip

    AdvenTours, Mayagüez

    Activities: Birding

You’ll have to wait for the sun to set if you want to see what might just be our most spectacular natural phenomenon: our bio bays. A bioluminescent bay is the result of a delicate ecosystem. Bio bays flourish when tiny single-cell organisms called dinoflagellates (pyrodinium bahamense) thrive in a protected environment. When they are agitated, they release energy in the form of light. In other words, they glow, emitting an ethereal neon green aura. So does anything they touch: fish, human hands, the oars of a paddle, even raindrops.

There are only a few bio bays on Earth, and Puerto Rico has three of them! They are best enjoyed when there is no other light to minimize the bioluminescence. So when you go, avoid a full moon to get the best of this unforgettable experience.

Mosquito Bay, Vieques

Mosquito Bay, in the island of Vieques, is the most brilliant bioluminescent bay on Earth according to the Guinness Book of World Records. What separates the Vieques biobay from all others? It all comes down to numbers. The density of the organisms here – over 700,000 per gallon of water – is unequaled anywhere in the world. There are no motorboats allowed in the Vieques bio bay, but that doesn’t mean you have to kayak out as the only way. An electric pontoon boat is also available to shuttle visitors out to the bay.

Tours


Laguna Grande, Fajardo

Located in the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, this lagoon is visited by tours that offer a complete nature and adventure experience, taking you through a charming mangrove canal before arriving to the bioluminescent water.

Tours
  1. Bio Bay Adventure at Laguna Grande

    Pure Adventure, Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Kayaking

  2. Bio Bay Laguna Grande

    Kayaking Puerto Rico, Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Kayaking

  3. Bio Bay Tour Laguna Grande

    Las Tourtugas Adventures Inc., Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Kayaking

  4. Bioluminescent Lagoon

    Eco Action Tours, Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Kayaking, Sightseeing

  5. Bioluminiscent Bay Kayaking Adventure

    Enchanted Island Eco Tours, Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Kayaking

  6. Boat Trip to BioBay Lagoon

    Bio Island, Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Sightseeing

  7. Glowing Bay Adventure

    Island Kayaking Adventures, Fajardo

    Attractions: Laguna Grande Bioluminiscent Lagoon

    Activities: Kayaking



La Parguera, Lajas

La Parguera was the first known bio bay in Puerto Rico and now is part of La Parguera Natural Reserve. You can reach La Parguera by kayak, small boat, or even a large, two-level, glass-bottom boat. This is the only bay that allows diesel-powered boats. The brightness in La Parguera may vary, depending on various changing factors in the natural ecosystem.

Tours
  1. Sunset Cruise at la Parguera

    Coastal Marine at West, Lajas

    Attractions: La Parguera, La Parguera Biobay

    Activities: Cruising

Protecting and conserving our natural resources is vital to maintaining Puerto Rico's natural beauty. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company has created the Green Lodging Program to help promote sustainable and conservationist practices that minimize hotel impact on the environment and our natural resources. Hix Island House in Vieques is the first property to be awarded the Green Lodging label and many more are sure to follow this Earth-friendly initiative.

  1. Casa Sol

    Old San Juan - Metro Region

    At 316 Calle Sol in legendary Old San Juan. Casa Sol provides its guests with the experience of staying in a restored colonial style 18th century building. The restoration process made use of reused materials that were salvaged from other properties in Old San Juan. “Casa Sol is a piece of architecture that evokes the past, and offers commodity to the modern traveler searching for personal attention in a cozy and family friendly ambiance.” as described by owners Eddie Ramírez and Margarita Pastor. This bed and breakfast inn has five uniquely decorated rooms, all with antique - carefully restored furniture and artwork by local artists. Casa Sol embraces environmental responsibility, has internal practices for waste reduction, recycling, electric and water conservation, and it also supports local manufacturers and growers.

    Website (787) 399-0105
  2. Hix Island House

    Vieques Island - East Region

    Located in a 13-acre natural refuge, here you will be one with nature in total privacy and tranquility. 6 of its 19 lofts are located in Casa Solaris, which is completely powered by solar energy. Its swimming pools, fountains and pumps run directly with power from the sun. Solar panels augment electrical capacity and provide hot water. Water from your shower and basins are collected and flowed back to various fruit-bearing plants. Casa Solaris is also powered by the trade winds of the Caribbean and uses the latest in LED lighting and super-efficient appliances.

    Website (787) 741-2302
  3. Parador Villas del Mar Hau

    Isabela - West Region (Porta del Sol)

    Installed its first solar panels in 2009, which provided energy for 3 of their beach front cabins, as well as their Olas y Arena Restaurant. These cabins run solely on solar energy. Its roofs have been sealed with an acrylic elastomeric paint. They’ve also been properly insulated, lowering the temperature approximately 25%. Each cabin comes with a system that collects rainwater for the cabin. In addition, hotel management has purchased a solid waste trash compactor to decrease their solid waste. During 2012, they have continued installing solar panels throughout the facility and installed a windmill of 20 kilos.

    Website (787) 872-2045
  4. Turtle Bay Inn

    Lajas - West Region (Porta del Sol)

    The Turtle Bay Inn is the first solar-powered guesthouse in the southwest region of Puerto Rico, featuring a photovoltaic system that doesn’t require batteries and provides 90% of its energy needs. Solar LED high-efficiency lighting can be found in every room and around the premises. Hot water is distributed to all rooms using three turbo solar water heaters. Recently added gardens with Puerto Rican plants provide direct contact with nature. Air wind meters monitor wind power with the intention to add a wind turbine that could provide the remaining 5-10% energy to make the hotel 100% independent of electric power.

    Website (787) 899-6633

Mona Island

50 miles west off Cabo Rojo
Natural Resources Department
(787) 723-1616

Mona Island has inarguably our most secluded beaches. A natural reserve maintained by the Department of Natural Resources, Mona Island is the definition of remote. It’s approximately a 4 to 5-hour boat ride away from Puerto Rico’s west coast, and access to the island is strictly monitored. In other words, you’re guaranteed not to find crowds when you step onto one of its unspoiled beaches. It is known as the “Galapagos of the Caribbean” for its wildlife, which includes a colony of giant iguanas and over 100 bird species. Getting to Mona can be a challenge. It requires a Natural & Environmental Resource Department permit in advance and coordinating with a tour operator.

  1. Adventures Tourmarine

    Website (787) 255-2525


Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge and Salt Flats

Cabo Rojo
Road 301, Km. 11
(787) 851-2999
http://www.proambientepr.org

The salt flats of Cabo Rojo and the Combate Beach coastline trails are a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge and an absolute paradise for bird watching enthusiasts. This arid landscape, almost an alien world amid Puerto Rico’s lush vegetation and azure beaches, is home to 25 species of migrating shorebirds. In fact, this is the most important point of convergence for migrating shorebirds in the eastern Caribbean. The salt flats are also frequented by over 90 resident and migratory birds, and are part of the designated critical habitat of the yellow-shouldered blackbird, an endangered species. Trails available from the salt flats, Combate Beach, visitor centers, and Laguna Cartagena Refuge.

Guánica Dry Forest

Road 334, Km. 6
(787) 821-5706
http://www.drna.gobierno.pr

Among Puerto Rico’s most unique natural environments, the Guánica Dry Forest is an ecological marvel, the product of an arid climate not found anywhere else on the island. The 9,000-acre forest has been designated a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations and is prized for its unique ecosystem. A dry forest doesn’t mean an absence of greenery. In fact, the forest is a place of incredible beauty and diversity, home to hundreds of plant species as well as more than 150 bird species. It’s a fascinating place to hike, with over 30 miles of trails to keep you exploring all day.

Caja de Muertos

4.8 miles south off La Guancha, Ponce
(787) 999-2200
http://www.drna.gobierno.pr

Caja de Muertos, or Coffin Island, is one of Ponce’s natural treasures. It’s a pristine environment with crystalline beaches a short ferry ride away from the coast of Ponce. It’s also a great place to hike and kayak. To secure your trip, reserve the ferry or tour in advance.

  1. Island Venture Water Excursions

    Website (787) 843-0148
  2. Acampa Nature Adventure

    Website (787) 706-0695


Toro Negro Forest

Road 143, Km. 32.4
Jayuya
(787) 867-3040
http://www.drna.gobierno.pr

When you visit the second-highest peak in the Cordillera Central mountain range, you can expect your share of forest hikes. Stop by the ranger station on Route 143 and pick up a trail map. Among the highlights at Toro Negro are the challenging hike to the observation tower, the small but picturesque La Confesora falls and pool, and the spectacular Doña Juana waterfall. Route 143 is the main artery that runs through Toro Negro. This road is part of the Ruta Panorámica, or Panoramic Route, a scenic, winding network of roads through the central region of Puerto Rico.

  1. Acampa Nature Adventure

    Website (787) 706-0695


Hacienda Buena Vista

Road 123, Km. 16.8
Ponce
(787) 284-7020

This unique 19th century landmark combines history and nature in a single tour. Guided tours will take you to the historic estate of the original owners, to walk through the natural protected areas, and will show you how coffee and other products were harvested and roasted using the latest technology in the 1800s. Hacienda Buena Vista is located north of Ponce. Guided tours are conducted daily, but tours in English are held only at 1:30 from Wednesday to Sunday by appointment.

Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

Road 987, Km. 6
Fajardo
(787) 722-5882

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, perched on the northeastern bluff of the island, is managed by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico. It’s a chance to enjoy bird watching in various ecosystems ranging from swampy mangrove forests to rocky beaches. Guided tours are conducted in English and Spanish by appointment.

Camuy Caves

Road 129, Km. 18.9
Camuy
(787) 898-3100
http://www.parquesnacionalespr.com

The Camuy Caves present one of the most dramatic natural settings that Puerto Rico has to offer. Set deep within a valley of lush tropical foliage, the extensive cave system runs along a mighty subterranean river. The national park extends beyond the caves and includes ample picnic and camping areas. Facilities include showers, bathrooms, and a well-stocked gift shop.

Carite Forest

Road 184, Km. 4
Patillas
(787) 839-5929

This forest in the south-central part of the island is the home of Charco Azul, a natural pool with crystalline waters. You’re free to hike, camp, picnic and, of course, dive into the pool.

Tortuguero Nature Reserve

Road 687, Km. 1.2
Vega Baja
(787) 884-2587 http://www.drna.gobierno.pr

The Tortuguero Lagoon is part of a nature reserve formed by swamps, mangroves, and karst hills. It is Puerto Rico’s largest sweet water lagoon, home to exotic flowers and several endangered species. You can hike, picnic, and even fish.

But wait, there's more!

Villas del Mar Hau

Villas del Mar Hau

Hacienda Buena Vista

Hacienda Buena Vista

Playa Sucia

Playa Sucia

Gulligan Island

Gulligan Island

Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach

Hix Island House

Hix Island House