El Yunque, Puerto Rico – What to do when you are there

Puerto Rico is a central island in the Caribbean, a USA territory with the same currency and about 3 hrs from NY or FL and fares are low – less than $300. El Yunque is a major attraction – most people do not know what to do – but since beaches are near a good combo is the best. El Yunque was hit by Hurricane Maria and many key trails are still closed (La Mina is closed).

0-Study the roads – PR 66, PR-191, El Yunque trails, be prepared. Bring water and food and a backpack with some 1st aid and raincoat, bath suit, good shoes.

If you want a slower way to get to EYNF you can go via Rio Grande, see this nice video on this approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxRVX6-TzKI. This is precisely the way back I recommend + Loiza road up to Old San Juan. It does cover the entire PR 191 road to El Yunque – a GREAT video – thanks!

1-Have your own car, arrive EARLY – EYNF Park Opens 7:30, closes 6 pm. Entrance is free.

2-From SJ use Route 66 (toll – prepaid) – it’s much faster. But can return via Luquillo beach and then Loiza to Condado direct,  Make stops – food, beaches & can see awesome sunsets, coastline and palm trees on Loiza road PR-187 on the way back. PR-187 starts in PR-3 Rio Grande town – after EYNF entrance and gets to Condado and Old San Juan in the end – with little traffic compared to PR-3.

3-Take a plunge and explore Quebrada Juan Diego – not may chances now for bathing,  La Mina Trail is closed after Maria.There is a great waterfall at the end of the trail too, but like all trails walk with FULL focus on the trail – to be SAFE. This has very few parking spots – if not possible keep going, or have someone drop you and pick you up later, or can walk up to road – but there is a lot of traffic.

4-Jump quickly to La coca falls, take photos and then Yokahu tower to get soon to Mt Britton trail. Maybe find a place to get wet in la Coca if step#3 failed.

Next when you go up notice how the forest changes – you are arriving at the true cloud forest – the pristine forest that has never been cut down.

5-Drive to the end of the park,  road PR-191, it makes a LOOP then there are about 20 parking spots (that’s why it is best to be early), else wait. Go up the Mt Britton  trail – a very good trail  – BEAUTIFUL and varied. Paradise! Great for photo and videos. The trail is up for about 1 hr. Go to Mt Britton tower, then explore if you have time – this is another story…go down via the main (asphalt) road  – not the trail – more views and it’s easy and longer. Note: the image is of the view of East peak from Mt Britton tower. What is the East Peak? – Sorry it is an open SECRET…

6-You will then end up just after the PR-191 close gate (half of PR-191 is closed due to a huge landslide) – go RIGHT. This closed road section is far more PRIVATE – and there are no cars! Not many reach here!

7-Soon will see the Tradewinds trail (14km – very long). If have good shoes go for about 30 minutes slowly, appreciate the true forest. This is AFTER Maria, there is damage, but it is recovering fast. Explore a bit but do not leave the trail. It looks bad at the beginning – due to erosion – but it improves very quickly.

8-Walk down the closed PR 191 as much as you want – it’s 2 hrs down and get back. I like to have picnics on this road. Kill the day there and relax

9-Get back to the car, drive down to Luquillo beach (balneario La Monserrate) , have food, swim. There is food there too. Quiet during the week.

10-Return via Loiza (entrance in Rio Grande). Do not use PR 66 – unless you are in a hurry. Enjoy the many food places there, make stops, see the sunset.

11-You end now in a triumphant entrance to Condado via Isla Verde, another great beach on the way. Hang out in El Morro lawn or Old san Juan …

It’s great feeling to have the 4-elements in a day:

a) A Good bath in a Yunque river b) Hike a trail c) Relax and explore El Yunque a bit and have a picnic in a private setting d) Swim in the beach – it’s a magical feeling!