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Home > Interests & Activities > Nature > Hiking
What do you look for when you go hiking? Do you seek out rugged, hard-to-find woodland trails or broad paths through a lush forest?
Do you prefer to slosh through the shallows of a fast-moving river or hear the crunch of fallen leaves high above sea level? Or do you look for a hike that leads to a treasured destination, like a pristine waterfall that invites you to dive beneath its cascading waters?
In Puerto Rico, you can enjoy every one of these hiking experiences, and much more. We have a remarkable 14 state forests, along with nature reserves, salt flats, caves, rivers, and beaches dotted around our islands. This means you have a virtually endless array of trails to choose from, and an incredible variety of natural settings in which to enjoy hikes that range from leisurely to expert-level. You can either head out on your own or book a tour with our tour operators, who will happily lead the way on a hiking adventure. All you need are good shoes.
The most popular hiking destination in Puerto Rico is our subtropical rainforest, the only one of its kind in the U.S. National Forest Service. Our gentle forest spans 28,000 acres and is crisscrossed with hiking trails that range from leisurely to very challenging. Its most frequented trail is La Mina, a relatively easy hike that leads to one of the forest’s most beloved sanctuaries: the La Mina waterfall. Bring a change of clothes so you can dive in and dip your head under its cascading waters. Located off Route 191, La Mina is one of several falls in the rainforest. You can also hike to the Juan Diego Falls, which lies farther along Route 191. Other points of interest include the Mt. Britton Tower, a stone tower built in the 1930s that offers magnificent panoramic views, El Portal Visitors Center, and the El Toro Peak, the highest peak in the Luquillo Mountains.
DIY or Guided Tour?
You can easily rent a car and hike El Yunque on your own, but if you prefer a guide, Legends of Puerto Rico, Acampa, and Eco Action Tours are among the tour companies that offer hiking tours here. AdvenTours even offers a nocturnal hike through the forest.
After a day of hiking, quench your appetite and your curiosity at the Luquillo Kiosks. Located just a few miles east of El Yunque along Route 3, this string of about 60 rustic eateries are a must-visit culinary tradition.
If you’d like to combine beach and mountain on your day out, spend the morning in El Yunque and the afternoon in the calm waters of Luquillo Beach, located east of the forest just a few minutes’ drive off Route 3.
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.
Adventures in the Forest
If you want to truly conquer Toro Negro, take a tour with Acampa, and zipline, hike, swim and rappel your way through the forest.
The Panoramic Route
Route 143 is the main artery through Toro Negro; this road is part of the Ruta Panoramica, or Panoramic Route, a scenic, winding network of roads through the central region of Puerto Rico.
Toro Negro is a wonderful destination for campers, offering ample camping grounds with picnic shelters, water and restrooms.
Guánica Dry Forest
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.
Among the places of interest at the Guánica dry forest are the circular lookout tower of Fort Caprón, accessible from the Fuerte Trail, the many examples of petrified trees, and the 400-year old Guayacán tree.
Don’t Stay Dry
While Guánica is one of the most interesting natural destinations to explore in Puerto Rico, it can also be one of the hottest. Bring a hat and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
DIY or Guided Tour?
The San Cristóbal Canyon
The San Cristóbal Canyon is the only volcanic rift in Puerto Rico, a deep crevasse in the earth that extends 650 feet beneath the surface. Within this seldom-visited area in central Puerto Rico are two rivers, lush tropical vegetation, and with the right guides, an exhilarating outdoor adventure.
This is one of the least accessible destinations in Puerto Rico, but San Cristóbal Hiking Tours will get you in and out of the canyon.
Feet off the Ground
A tour of the canyon doesn’t only include hiking. You can rappel, zipline, and swim here during a full-day outing.
Prepare to be Tested
San Cristóbal is a demanding hike that will test your physical fitness. Bring a backpack with supplies and water, as this is an isolated, back-to-nature destination.
If you really want to get away from it all and experience the Caribbean at its unspoiled best, charter a boat from the west-coast cities of Mayagüez or Cabo Rojo and head to Mona Island. Known for boasting some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the region, it’s also been called the “Galapagos of the Caribbean” for its wildlife, which includes a colony of giant iguanas and over 100 bird species. Who wouldn’t want to hike among the mangrove forests of a place that’s been compared to the Galapagos?
Worth the trek
Mona Island is undoubtedly one of Puerto Rico’s most spectacular natural jewels, but it’s also a remote destination. Lying 42 miles off the western coast, it’s a six-hour journey by boat. Fortunately, you can camp here at designated beaches.
Explore the Waters
A visit to Mona Island would not be complete without exploring the fantastic marine life that thrives in its waters. This is one of Puerto Rico’s best dive destinations.
Preservation and Conservation
The environment at Mona Island is strictly maintained by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources, and no more than 100 people are allowed on the island at any given time. Make sure to abide by their rules when you visit.
Culebra Island is known worldwide for its beaches, but two of them – Brava and Resaca – will make you earn their idyllic charms. These hard-to-reach beaches are accessible via hiking trails. Of the two, Brava is the easier trek; Resaca, not as well marked and often overgrown, is the more challenging of the two. A third beach, Carlos Rosario, is a much easier and more accessible hike away from world-famous Flamenco Beach. From the parking lot at Flamenco, a gate (usually locked, but you can slip through) leads to a trail that will have you in front of a pristine crescent of golden sand in about 20 minutes.
Watch the Surf
Swimming isn’t recommended at either Brava or Resaca beach, which are known for their rough surf and strong undertow.
These destinations are completely isolated; as such, bring plenty of water and food if you plan to spend the day here.
Snorkeling at Carlos Rosario
Carlos Rosario offers some of the best snorkeling in Culebra; take advantage, and bring your snorkeling gear with you when you visit.
Black Sand Beach
Exploring Vieques Island is all about getting to know its many beaches. Most of them are accessible by car, jeep or scooter, but there is one beach that will require you to slip on your hiking shoes and get off the open road. Black Sand Beach is among the more unusual beaches on the island. Streaked with volcanic black sand, it’s a visually dramatic and often isolated setting.
To reach Black Sand Beach, drive along Route 201 past Route 996, until you cross a small bridge. There’s a small clearing where you can park. From here, head down the slope to the trail.
Black Sand Beach is an isolated destination; bring plenty of water and food if you plan to spend the day here, and don’t forget the bug spray!
Why is the Sand Black?
The volcanic deposits of Mt. Pirata on Vieques Island have helped form the singular, dramatic black sands of this beach. If you’re looking for something different, look no further!