Planning Your Time
It’s actually possible to take a drive-by tour of the east coast’s triumvirate of spectacular natural sights—Piñones, El Yunque, and Playa Luquillo—in a single day if you’re pressed for time. But a better option is to spend a full day exploring each one. The attractions are less than an hour’s drive from San Juan, and only minutes apart from one another.
When it comes to natural treasures, El Yunque Caribbean National Forest is Puerto Rico’s shining jewel. One of the world’s most accessible rain forests, it offers hours of hiking, swimming, and bird-watching in a lush, tropical setting.
Coming in a close second as Puerto Rico’s most popular attraction is Playa Luquillo, officially named Balneario La Monserrate. This is what picture postcards are made of: a long crescent of pristine sand gently lapped by the Atlantic Ocean and shaded by a thick palm grove.
Despite its proximity to San Juan, Bosque Estatal de Piñones is one of the most beautiful spots of coastal wilderness to be found on the island. It’s easy to spend a day hiking or biking through the mangrove forest along the newly constructed bike path, kayaking through its lagoons, and swimming in the Atlantic surf beside palm-lined beaches.
Spending at least a long weekend in Fajardo is recommended for sports enthusiasts who want to enjoy all the boating, diving, fishing, and golfing to be had here. Reserva Natural Las Cabezas de San Juan is home to a diversity of ecosystems, as well as Laguna Grande, a bioluminescent lagoon that must be experienced at night.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition