Top 3 Things to do in Puerto Rico with teens
Visiting Puerto Rico has the benefit of many activities in close proximity. Often times, my biggest decision of the day is what to do. Here are my top 3 three things to do in Puerto Rico with teens.
1. Hiking in El Yunque National Rain Forest.
El Yunque, in the north east corridor of Puerto Rico, is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System and consists of 29,000 biologically diverse acres. Over 200 inches of rain in some areas is responsible for it’s lush foliage and abundant waterfalls. The nature and beauty makes hiking in the rain forest one of my top 3 things to do in Puerto Rico.
The Stunning El Portal Visitors Center
Enter off Route 3 in the town of Palmer a municipality of Rio Grande. This little town boasts two fun gift shops, a smoothie bar and a few small eateries all in walking distance of one another. It’s a great place to grab a snack, down a cool drink and buy a trinket to commemorate your visit. As you head up the hill, twisting and turning with the road, make a stop at the beautiful El Portal Visitors Center for exhibits and educational information about the rain forest.
La Coca Falls
As you continue heading up the road, you’ll first encounter a handful of parking spaces before La Coca falls on the right. Park and take a few photos of the rushing mountain water overflowing on the rock beds and take the time to really feel the falling dew and inhale the soft, steamy mist of the rain forest. Continue to drive up the hill to
Yokahu Observation Tower.
View from La Yokahu Tower
Big Tree Trail
Continue to drive up the mountain side and park at the next lot and hike Big Tree Trail which leads to La Mina Falls. It’s about a half hour hike in, and another half hour out. Don’t enter the water at the base of the falls during an especially rainy period. The waters are swift and powerful and if you slip and fall it will be difficult to get out. Other times they are calm and tranquil and taking a dip at the base oftentimes becomes a popular activity.
La Mina Falls
Be prepared. Wear sneakers and bring water and a rain jacket. It’s hot, humid and It often rains here when it’s sunny everywhere else. The path can be slippery so take it slow and always stick to the trails.
There are other trails offering longer hikes to which I haven’t yet explored. Perhaps that’ll be next on my to do list and provide you with another story to share. El Yunque offers a one of a kind opportunity for adventure while connecting with nature. It has been a favorite of activity of mine, time and time again.
Address: Río Grande 00745, Puerto Rico
Phone: +1 787-888-1880
Web: El Yunque National Forest
2. Kayaking in the Bioluminescent Bay
Kayaking through the mangroves to the bioluminescent bay in Las Croabas, Fajardo is one of my top 3 things to do in Puerto Rico with teens. They will absolutely love this tour. There are only four places in the world to do this! One of them is in the northeast corridor of Puerto Rico!
Joining a kayaking tour group is the only way to experience the unique eco-system of the bioluminescent bay. The dinoflagellates, or phytoplankton which are in the water, glow when subjected to vibration. They sense they are being pushed and pulled and respond by producing light in response to stress.
The Mangrove Forest
The tour leader will review safety procedures and paddling techniques and your group will enter a hidden opening in the mangroves by kayak off the end of the beach. For the one mile trip through the dark and ominous mangrove forest, the parade of kayakers follow one another, guided only by the lights on the front and back of the boat. An iridescent blue glow will surround the paddle as you gently move it through the water. We got to see the outline of a large manta ray as it floated below, as if it were a cloud casting a shadow.
The group leader leads you out of the pitch blackness of the mangrove canal to the Laguna Grande (big lagoon) which is part of Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Preserve. When emerging from the channel and entering the wide expanse of the calm lagoon, the open sky above with millions of twinkling stars shimmer like lightning bugs on a summer night. The silence surrounding all the kayakers like a warm blanket, exudes a peaceful calm and all are in awe of what they see. As we gently moved our paddle through the open lagoon, the blue glo of the dinoflagellates illuminate the water below. It’s a trip not to be missed.
Two of my favorite tour operators are:
3. Touring the Fajardo Lighthouse in Las Cabezas Nature Preserve
Visit Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Preserve also on the northeast corridor of Puerto Rico in Fajardo. From trails and boardwalks you will explore sensitive eco-systems with trained guides. What makes it one of the top 3 things to do in Puerto Rico with teens? They get to hold bio-luminescent dinoflageliates in their hand, hike through a red mango forest, and view fossilized coral on the beach.
The red mango trees turn the water an interesting color.
Via a tram, you are given an educational experience about the surrounding mangrove swamps as you hike over and through them by boardwalk. You come face-to-face with fossilized coral on a breath-taking rocky beach, and you get to hold biolumenescent dinoflageliates which glow and turn blue in the dark.
Views from the Top of the Lighthouse
Climb the iron staircase to the observation deck of the lighthouse and take in stunning views of the preserve, bio bay and El Yunque on one side, and the islands of Vieques, Icacos and even St. Thomas islands on the other. Visit their website: Para La Naturaleza.com and book your tour online.
I have yet to get tired of the exquisite beauty and natural resources on this island. That’s what makes Puerto Rico so special. Adventure and beauty are everywhere!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my top 3 things to do in north east Puerto Rico. Send me a note and let me know which ones you’ve visited.
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