Take a hike. Puerto Rico's mountainous interior offers ample opportunity for hiking and climbing, with many trails presenting spectacular panoramas at the least-expected moments. There are also awesome beachfront and coastal trails around the island.
- El Yunque (tel. 787/888-1880 for information): Containing the only rainforest on U.S. soil, the El Yunque National Forest east of San Juan offers a number of walking and hiking trails. The rugged El Toro trail passes through four different forest systems en route to the 3,523-foot (1,074m) Pico El Toro, the highest peak in the forest. The El Yunque trail leads to three of the recreation area's most panoramic lookouts, and the Big Tree Trail is an easy walk to gorgeous, refreshing La Mina Falls, the perfect picnic stop. Just off the main road is La Coca Falls, a sheet of water cascading down mossy cliffs.
- Guánica State Forest (tel. 787/724-3724 for information): At the opposite extreme of El Yunque's lush and wet rainforest, Guánica State Forest's climate is dry and arid, the Arizona-like landscape riddled with cacti. The area, cut off from the Cordillera Central mountain range, gets little rainfall. Yet it's home to some 50% of all the island's terrestrial bird species, including the rare Puerto Rican nightjar, once thought to be extinct. The forest has 36 miles (58km) of trails winding through four forest types: Tabonuco Forest, Palo Colorado Forest, Sierra Palm Forest, and Dwarf Forest, which create a magnificent tangle of vegetation, ranging from tall-treed-canopy, to low-lying upland swamp trees, to palms, to a sweep of dwarf evergreens that look like bonsais.
- Mona Island: Off the western coast of Puerto Rico, this fascinating island noted for its scuba-diving sites provides hiking opportunities found nowhere else in the Caribbean. Called the "Galápagos of Puerto Rico" because of its unique wildlife, Mona is home to giant iguanas and three species of endangered sea turtles. Some 20 endangered animals also have been spotted here. Eco-tourists like to hike among Mona's mangrove forests, cliffs, and complex honeycomb of caves, ever on the alert for the diversity of both plant and animal life. There are 417 plant and tree species, some of which are unique and 78 of which are rare or endangered. More than 100 bird species (two unique) have been documented. Hikers can camp at Mona for a modest fee, but they will also have to hire transportation to and from the island.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.