El Yunque Rainforest: The Only Rainforest in The United States

Wander along winding, tropical trails and swim in crisp waterfalls to truly see the natural side of Puerto Rico at El Yunque Rainforest


During our stay in colorful San Juan, Puerto Rico, we wanted to switch up the pace a little. Of course, Puerto Rico is full of gorgeous beaches and great relaxing opportunities, but it also has a wild side with lots exotic nature to offer — El Yunque Rainforest. Instead of eating and lounging by the beach (for half a day at least), we set off into the jungle to hike around and play in waterfalls! Getting outside of civilization for a breath of fresh air — albeit humid and jungle air — made our entire experience of the island.

El Yunque Rainforest sprawls across 28,000 acres of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains in northeastern Puerto Rico. The area gets over 200 inches of rainfall a year, which makes for a vibrant, damp atmosphere teeming with wildlife and bright flora. Small rivers wind through the jungle, leading to waterfalls of all sizes — our favorite part! Paths and trails unfold throughout the jungle making it easy to navigate, although one of the best ways to see it is by a professionally guided tour. We explored the rainforest with Castillo Tours, which we booked through our hotel and it was one of our favorite memories of Puerto Rico!


Touring El Yunque

At the start of our tour, we were picked up at the Ritz Carlton in a small van with a few other travelers. The group was small and felt somewhat private, which we appreciated. Our guide took us into the rainforest, providing information along the way. He pointed out the native plant life, but sadly we didn’t see any animals and there are no monkeys in Puerto Rico (if you know me, you know I have a sight obsession with monkeys).

As we climbed down the trail, we passed small rivers where locals set up tables and chairs in the water. They played games and barbequed with their families while staying cool from the jungle heat. At the top of the trail there are small BBQs where you can bring your own food and have a cook out in the rainforest! With the Castillo tour, you can’t do that. But having lunch in the rainforest would be an amazing way to experience this destination! Something to do next time.

When you get to the bottom of the trail you can play in the water or the falls, but beware it will be you and hundreds of other tourists and locals.  We decided to walk back up a little bit where there were no crowds and took a dip in the water with no one else around. Do the tour, so you can get around, but don’t be afraid to venture on your own...you’ll be glad you did! The hike was mildly athletic, but not challenging. This tour is more about getting a taste of the rainforest than working up a sweat.

Wandering through a rainforest is beautiful, rejuvenating, and a little bit mysterious.

Information About The Tour

Castillo Tours has been adventuring around Puerto Rico for the last 40 years. Their tour guides are experts, providing information that is culturally relevant and actually interesting! They have a wide variety of options in addition to the rainforest tour, like zip lining, fishing, helicopter tours, and horseback riding. During the tour we went to Yokahú Tower,  La Coca Waterfall and La Mina Trail. We also made a quick stop by the El Portal Visitor Center.

Castillo Tours will pick you up in the morning, between 8:00 and 9:00. It takes about 45 minutes to travel to the trailhead. The trail itself requires 45-minutes of hiking each way, but most of the time is spent playing in the water. All in all the tour lasts around five-and-a-half hours, so you can expect to be back just in time for lunch on the beach! 

The cost is $86USD for adults and $81USD for children, and covers the transportation to and from El Yunque, the rainforest entry fees, and the professionally guided tour.

Touring the El Yunque rainforest during our stay in Puerto Rico gave us a completely different perspective of Puerto Rico. There’s no other terrain like it in the States.

For more information, or to book a tour, follow the link below