Puerto Rico for the Nature Lover

Puerto Rico for the Nature Lover

Bioluminescent Bays

Imagine the blackness of the sea on a moonless night. Now watch it sparkle with the darting lights of a million fireflies. Nature lovers will not want to miss the phenomenal experience of visiting a tropical phosphorescent bay!

The phosphorescence is actually bioluminescence generated by microscopic organisms in the water. It is believed to be part of a natural defense system triggered by the movement of predators. Many scientists believe the tiny organisms light up so their predators can see more desirable prey, and thus leave them alone.

The phenomenon occurs sporadically in warm seas around the world, but Puerto Rico is one of the only places on the planet where you can depend on it every evening at two different protected bays and a lagoon. 

El Yunque Rainforest

The Caribbean National Forest, often called El Yunque Rainforest, has the highest visitation of any natural site in Puerto Rico. When you see it, you'll easily understand why.

Named after the benevolent Indian spirit Yuquiyu, El Yunque is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Comprised of some 240 different species of trees, it is actually a series of forests, each one determined by its altitude. El Toro, the highest peak in the forest at 3,532 feet, has only odd dwarf vegetation clinging to its sides.

More than 100 billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths occasionally pierced by sunlight. Spectacular waterfalls rush alongside its well-maintained (but slippery) trails. There are many favorite spots for visitors to take photos or a refreshing dip in the pristine pools.

No one knows how many specimens of the noisy, ubiquitous tree frog, el coquí, live here, but you'll hear them. You will also find endangered Puerto Rican parrots. You can see the forest best on foot, but much of its splendor can be appreciated during a slow drive up and down the mountain. You can explore on your own, park along a roadside tower to see the view, or take a guided tour.

Toro Negro Forest & Lookout Tower

This fantastic natural forest is unique from others with impressive panoramic views, waterfalls, small creeks, a man-made fresh water lake, and migratory birds to watch. The park is managed by State's Natural Resources Department. Toro Negro has several hiking trails for walking with proper shoes. At Toro Negro Forest, you can hike the two tallest peaks of Puerto Rico: Cerro Punta and Cerro La Rosa.