El Yunque National Rainforest

Less than an hour from your beach hotel in San Juan is El Yunque National Rainforest Puerto Rico. Every season is rainy season at El Yunque, where over 250 inches of rainfall each year — making it the rainiest of all National Forests. Encompassing 28,000 lush acres, visitors have a chance to see the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, hike trails to waterfalls, and marvel at giant tree ferns as well as hundreds of species of trees, plants, and other birds. Listen carefully for “El Coqui,” a noisy, but reclusive tiny tree frog native to the island. Only at El Yunque can you enjoy vistas of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

There are miles and miles of scenic drives, plentiful picnic areas, and towers to climb for spectacular views. But the best way to experience this tropical magic is on foot. Our favorite trails are The Big Tree Trail, 2.25 KM (1.4 miles) round trip, that takes you to the refreshingly cool La Mina waterfall; and El Toro Peak and Tradewinds Trail, a strenuous three-hour hike that summits at 5,396 KM (3,353 ft.), the highest peak in the Luquillo Mountains. El Portal Visitor Center is a worthwhile stop for multimedia displays, books, and souvenirs.

Be sure to plan ahead as some trails and camping sites are currently unavailable as a result of Hurricane Maria. The Big Tree Trail is expected to reopen at the end of 2019.