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Things To Do in El Yunque Rainforest Puerto Rico

Here are the best things to do in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico!

mt britton tower in el yunque national forest

My favorite place to visit in all of Puerto Rico is El Yunque National Forest. 

El Yunque (pronounced el-YOON-kay) is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system.

It is home to hundreds of unique plants and animal species – plus lots of waterfalls!

In this post, I’ll share my favorite things to do in the rainforest, including the best El Yunque hiking and trails.

How To Get To El Yunque Rainforest

view of rainforest and ocean from yokahua tower window

El Yunque consists of two main areas – the La Mina Recreation Area in the north (where most people visit) and the El Toro Scenic Byway in the southern part of the forest. 

It takes roughly 30 minutes to get to the entrance of the La Mina area from San Juan International Airport. 

For directions to the main area with the most sights, I suggest searching for El Portal Visitor Center on your maps app. 

That will take you right to the entrance to the park which is easy to navigate with the map I’ll share below. 

On to the best things to do in El Yunque, including hiking, waterfalls, swimming, and eating!

El Yunque Hiking

el yunque trail going down mt britton

El Yunque undoubtedly has the best hiking in Puerto Rico.  There’s a wide variety of trails for all abilities. 

Here are my top picks for El Yunque trails. 

Mt Britton Trail

view of mt britton tower from parking lot

My favorite El Yunque trail is the 1.6-mile roundtrip Mt Britton trail. You will hike to the tower that looks tiny in this picture, but the trail is far less challenging than you’d expect!

It starts at a trailhead at the top of 191-N in the La Mina Recreation Area. 

el yunque hiking on mt britton trail

The trail is well-maintained, with parts of it almost paved. 

It was created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) so it has an interesting history. 

mt britton trail el yunque national forest

You’ll reach Mt Britton Tower after 0.8 miles uphill.

It was built from 1935-1938 by the CCC. 

view from top of mt britton el yunque

At the top of the tower, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire northeastern part of the island. 

The trail can be slippery after it rains so be sure to wear suitable footwear. Please don’t try this in flip-flops. 

The most challenging trail in this section of El Yunque is located nearby.

It is the 2.4 mile one-way trek to El Yunque Peak. Plan for 4 hours roundtrip for this demanding trail. 

Angelito Trail

things to do in el yunque - hike to rio mameyes

My second favorite El Yunque trail is the Angelito Trail. 

It is an easy 0.8-mile roundtrip trail that leads down to Rio Mameyes, a designated US Wild and Scenic River. 

It is also located in the El Mina Recreation Area, though it is outside the main section that most people visit. 

puerto rico rainforest hiking trail

To find the trail, turn off of the main road (PR 191 N) onto PR 988, which you will see shortly after passing the visitor’s center if you are entering the park. 

After about 5 minutes of driving (3.6 km to be exact) you will see cars parked along the road and the trailhead sign on your right. 

The trail is wide and well-maintained – perfect for kids. 

It’s about 0.4 miles downhill to get to Rio Mameyes. 

swimming in rio mameyes on angelito trail

There are ample places to swim, check out some brook trout, or climb around on the rocks. 

Bring water shoes, swimsuits, and towels. 

Little ones won’t want to leave so plan for at least an hour here!

Other Trails

Here are a few more El Yunque hiking trails that you might want to check out:

  • La Coca Trail leaves from the parking lot across from La Coca Falls. It is steep and muddy, involves several stream crossings, and is 3.6 miles roundtrip. 
  • La Mina Trail has been closed since 2017 but we are hopeful it will reopen at some point. 
  • El Toro Trail is accessible from Route 186 in the southern section of the park. It’s a difficult 4.6-mile trail up the highest mountain in the forest, El Toro Peak. 

There are also some short accessible trails found around the El Portal Visitor Center. 

Now on to another big attraction, the El Yunque waterfalls!

El Yunque Waterfalls

el yunque waterfall san diego upper falls

There are a bunch of lovely waterfalls in El Yunque National Forest.

Here are my favorites!

Juan Diego Falls

people under juan diego falls puerto rico

My favorite spot in El Yunque is Juan Diego Falls, which is actually a series of several waterfalls. 

To access the short trail to the falls, park along Rt 191 next to the trailhead – you’ll see lots of cars there. 

puerto rico waterfall and pool below

The first set of falls is reachable by a five-minute hike. 

Bring your swimsuit and wade into the cold water for a refreshing shower!

I also strongly recommend water shoes. The rocks are painfully sharp without them. 

To the right of the main falls is another rough trail that goes steeply up to access the upper falls. 

juan diego upper falls

I only recommend this for older kids and for when it isn’t too muddy. Coming down the trail when it is wet can be dangerous. 

At one point the trail will split – be sure to stay to the left to get to the upper falls. 

This is actually the taller of the falls and very impressive!

You’ll great photos at both locations so bring your phone or camera along. 

La Coca Falls

girl in front of la coca falls

La Coca Falls is the first thing you will see when you enter the restricted part of La Mina Recreation Area. 

It is a huge waterfall literally right off the road!

You can park across the street to access photo ops for La Coca Falls. 

La Mina Falls

la mina falls

Photo Credit: US Forest Service

Sadly, the trail to La Mina Falls has been closed since Hurricane Maria caused major damage in 2017. 

La Mina Falls is a gorgeous 35-foot waterfall reached by a steep 1.4-mile roundtrip trail. 

I hope that the Forest Service is able to restore this trail at some point so more visitors can enjoy La Mina Falls. 

Onto more fun things to do in El Yunque National Forest!

El Portal Visitor Center

flowers in front of el portal visitor center

The El Portal Visitor’s Center reopened in January 2022 after many years of rebuilding from hurricane damage. 

The new space is beautiful and a great example of sustainable architecture. 

exhibit in el portal

There is a cost associated with visiting the center, however.

It is $8 per adult and kids under 15 are free. 

If you have a National Parks Pass you’ll pay half price, which is what we did. 

girls looking at map in puerto rico rainforest visitor center

There are some educational displays on the first and second floor. I think you can see everything in less than an hour. 

Don’t miss the chance to see some Puerto Rican parrots! They are critically endangered and the birds there are part of a reintroduction program. 

el portal rainforest cafe sign

I highly suggest grabbing lunch at the cafe at the Visitor’s Center!

It has excellent and affordable Puerto Rican cuisine. 

puerto rico rainforest cafe seating

There’s lots of seating and it’s been quiet both times we’ve visited. 

puerto rican fried food platter

This sampler platter was $20 and included seven different Puerto Rican dishes. 

Though there is an additional cost associated with the Visitor’s Center, I think it’s worth it.

Plus part of your money will support conservation efforts, which are sorely needed. 

El Yunque Rainforest Map

el yunque mountains and flowering tree

El Yunque consists of two main areas – the La Mina Recreation Area in the north (where most people visit) and the El Toro Scenic Byway in the southern part of the forest. 

You can get maps of both parts of the forest here.

I highly suggest downloading a copy of the map to your phone, since service can be spotty when you are inside the park. 

Currently, you no longer need a timed reservation to access parts of the El Mina Recreation Area.

El Yunque Rainforest Zipline

el yunque rainforest zipline tour info

A popular activity in El Yunque is ziplining. 

There are lots of companies that offer an El Yunque zipline tour on Viator, my preferred way to book activities. 

Kids need to be about eight years old to participate, so we might try this on a future trip.

El Yunque Horseback Riding

puerto rico horseback riding in el yunque

We have horses at home so on one trip we hoped to ride horses in the rainforest.

However, I was really picky about the tour guide I used.

Animal welfare isn’t great in Puerto Rico overall, and I had seen horses that were clearly underfed and mistreated while on the beach in the past. 

I was so happy I found Amy at La Vista Rides, an experienced horsewoman who runs an excellent operation!

paso fino horse

All of her horses were well cared for and clearly loved. 

I got to ride her Paso Fino Mariposa who was super sweet. 

swimming in river on rainforest ride adventure

We took her signature Rainforest River Ride Adventure, which involved a short ride down the mountain to a gorgeous river for a swim. 

After the swim, we rode back up the mountain and had fresh fruit from the trees on her property. 

el yunque horseback riding puerto rico trail

If you are looking for horseback riding in El Yunque, I highly recommend La Vista rides

I honestly don’t think you’ll find many other Puerto Rico horseback riding experiences that will be on horses that are actually cared for properly. 

Yokahua Tower

yokahua tower full view

If you are traveling with little ones or didn’t get to do the hike to Mt Britton tower, then you’ll definitely want to check out Yokahua Tower before you leave. 

It is close to the forest gate entrance and has ample parking right in front. 

view from the top of tower of ocean and luquillo

When you climb to the top you’ll be rewards with panoramic views of the forest and down to Luquillo and the beach. 

It’s a nice quick stop before you head out of the rainforest. 

leaving el yunque national forest sign

I hope this post helped you discover all of the fun things to do in El Yunque rainforest. 

There’s great hiking, ziplining, horeseback riding, swimming and more that you don’t want to miss on your visit. 


Any questions about planning a trip to El Yunque Puerto Rico? Just leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer. 

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Tuesday 7th of May 2024


Thank you so much for sharing your amazing itinerary. We will be doing a 4-day trip to San Jaun for my friend's 40th and I wanted to know who you booked your horseback riding tour with please.

Thank you!

Leah Crocker Althiser

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

You're welcome! I highly recommend booking with Amy at La Vista rides:

Harriet Cole

Tuesday 23rd of January 2024

Do you know if the tours check ages? We’re 73 and are interested in a tour that says it’s for ages 5-59. I haven’t gotten an answer from them.


Tuesday 23rd of January 2024

I can’t say for sure but you might have to show ID?


Monday 8th of January 2024

Hi! What natural water slides would you recommend? Our youngest is 10. Thanks!


Wednesday 10th of January 2024

Hi Chris! I haven't been to any of the natural water slides found in the southern part of El Yunque. But from what I read online, both La Tinajas and Charco el Hippie are great. You can search for both on Google Maps. You can likely find a guide to take you there on Viator, or follow directions online to find yourself. Use caution with you little one of course - these slides make me nervous about injuries so I've never been with my kiddo.


Thursday 1st of June 2023

Did you see any snakes when you were at El Yunque?


Sunday 4th of June 2023

We did not see any snakes. There are snakes in Puerto Rico however.


Friday 7th of April 2023

How would you suggest getting to and from El Yunque if you don't have a car? We are flying into San Juan and will be heading to Culebra but want to stop at the rainforest on our way. Thank you!


Sunday 9th of April 2023

I think your best bet would be to do a tour or hire a private driver. I have used Viator to book tours so maybe start there? Your hotel may be able to recommend a private driver as well.

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