Explore Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central
As enticing as Puerto Rico’s beaches are, there are plenty of good reasons to spend time in the Cordillera Central, the island’s interior mountain range. Gorgeous tropical jungle, hiking trails, natural pools, and indigenous culture are just some of the attractions to be explored.
One of the great things about the Cordillera Central is that it’s possible to get a taste of its charms on a day trip from just about anywhere on the island. Travelers seeking a mountain getaway may want to escape to the Cordillera Central for two or three days, while more ambitious travelers will want to reserve four or five days to fully explore the mountainous terrain.
Fly into San Juan and drive to Cayey. Eat your fill at one of the lechoneras serving pit-roasted pork and other local delicacies, and walk it off on the 0.5-mile hike in Reserva Forestal de Carite, a subtropical humid forest. Go for a swim in the natural pool at Charco Azul. Camp there for the night or stay in a nearby hotel.
Drive to Barranquitas and tour the quaint town, stopping by Museo Luis Muñoz Rivera, a museum home honoring the poet, journalist, and politician who lived here. If you want something a little more adventurous, take a hiking and rappelling tour of San Cristóbal Cañon, between Barranquitas and Aibonito. Head to Coamo for the night and relax in the natural hot springs.
Head to Jayuya and tour Museo del Cemi, a museum shaped like a Taíno amulet and featuring excavated artifacts from the island’s indigenous culture. In the afternoon, visit La Piedra Escrita, a boulder covered with Taíno petroglyphs located in a river by a large natural pool where you can take a cool dip.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition