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Discovering Puerto Rico: Ecotourism Destination

Island Bites is a Puerto Rican writer who has a MA degree in Caribbean History. She also loves nature, culture and travel.

Principles of Ecotourism (TIES)

  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate.

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people". (The International Ecotourism Society, 1990)

In other words, Ecotourism is a low-impact alternative to commercial tourism that involves visiting natural areas. It is intended to promote environmental awareness through the appreciation for nature and cultural heritage of the planet.

Waterfall at El Yunque

Waterfall at El Yunque

Pack your bags!

Get ready to enjoy Puerto Rican wonderful nature. These are some activities to do:

  • hiking
  • snorkeling
  • diving
  • camping
  • rappelling
  • trekking
  • kayaking
  • canoeing
  • and more...

The Enchanted Island

Puerto Rico is part of the Caribbean Antilles. It is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the United States Virgin Islands. It is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America.

The Puerto Rican archipelago consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and several smaller islands and islets. Other than the main island, only Vieques and Culebra are inhabited.

If you love adventure and enjoy nature, Puerto Rico is the perfect destination. There are mountains, beautiful beaches, rain forest, dry forests, waterfalls, canyons, caves and a lot more to discover...

El Yunque

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El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest system and has been a Federal Forest Reserve for over a century. It is part of the Sierra de Luquillo.

El Yunque has four different forest vegetation areas: Palo Colorado Forest, Tabonuco Forest, Sierra Palm Forest, and Dwarf Forest. The forest hosts hundreds of animal and plant species. In 1976 it was declared an international biosphere reserve by UNESCO. El Yunque was a finalist for the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign.

El Yunque

El Yunque

View of El Yunque

View of El Yunque

Bosque Seco de Guánica

Guánica State Forest is a dry forest reserve, the largest remaining tract of tropical dry coastal forest in the world. It was designated an international Biosphere Reserve in 1981. The forest reserve hosts many bird species, like the Puerto Rican Lizard‑Cuckoo, the Puerto Rican Woodpecker, the Puerto Rican Nightjar, and the Puerto Rican Emerald hummingbird. It is also home to more than 550 plant species.

Guanica State Forest

Guanica State Forest

Toro Negro

Toro Negro State Forest is Puerto Rico's highest cloud forest. This natural reserve is located in the central region of the Island and it covers almost 7000 acres of land. It includes four types of forests in two climatic biome zones: subtropical moist forest life zone (31% of the forest) and the lower mountain wet forest (the remaining 69% of the forest). Some of the "points of interest" are hiking trails, waterfalls, an observation tower, camping facilities, rivers and natural swimming pools. The forest also includes Puerto Rico's highest peak (4,390 ft), Cerro Punta.

Toro Negro

Toro Negro

Natural Pool at Toro Negro

Natural Pool at Toro Negro

Las Cabezas de San Juan, Fajardo

Las Cabezas de San Juan, in Fajardo, is a natural reserve that includes rare flora and fauna, a bioluminescence bay, trails and boardwalks, and a scientific research center. The small reserve shelters seven different ecological systems, including beaches, lagoons, a dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves.

Bioluminescent Bays

Puerto Rico has three of the few bioluminescent bays, or biobays, of the world. Kayaking and swimming is permitted, but it must be as part of guided tours. The best time to visit any bioluminescent bay, is at the dark of the moon.

  • La Parguera, in Lajas, is the most popular of the three, even though it is the least bright.
  • Laguna Grande, in Fajardo, is the second brightest biobay of the Island.
  • Mosquito Bay, in Vieques is the most brilliant biobay in the world. This bay contains up to 720,000 bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water.

Mosquito Bay in Vieques, PR

Did you know...?

Bioluminescence in the bays is caused by dinoflagellates, which are single-cell micro-organisms. This organisms release energy in the form of neon blueish light when agitated.

Cueva Ventana, Arecibo

Cueva Ventana or "window cave", is a large cave situated atop a cliff in Arecibo. This cave has different rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites, and a number of smaller caves and tunnels. It has a big opening with spectacular views of the Río Grande de Arecibo valley.

Cueva Ventana

Cueva Ventana

Cueva Ventana

Cueva Ventana

Cavernas del Río Camuy

Las Cavernas del Río Camuy is a caves system located in northwestern Puerto Rico. The caverns are part of one of the largest and most dramatic caves system of the western hemisphere. The third-largest underground river in the world, the Río Camuy, runs through the 45 million years old network of caves, canyons and sinkholes.

Inside Cueva Clara, the main cave, you'll enjoy a nature spectacle of impressive rock formations, crystal stalactites and stalagmites. It is one of the main natural attractions of the Island.

Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy

Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy

Stalactites at Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy

Stalactites at Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy

Adventure at Toro Verde

Toro Verde Adventure Park is an ecotouristic park in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. The park is perfect for extreme sports and adrenaline rush lovers. The park offers four different tours:

  • The Monster: Equivalent to 28 football fields, this 1.57 mile long cable is the longest zip-line in the World. It reaches a speed of up 95mph at more than 1245 feet high.
  • The Beast: Almost a mile long (4.745 feet), the Beast is one of the World’s longest single run zip-line. With a height of 843 feet, the zip-line reaches speeds up to 60 MPH.
  • The Canopy Tour: Eight two-line wires, each with arrival and departure platforms and small walks across multiple platforms.
  • The Wild Bull: This adventure includes five suspension bridges, zip-lines and rappelling to a waterfall.
  • Bull Maze: This rope course combines rope nets, suspension bridges, monkey bar, and other obstacles of varied difficulty distributed among three levels of a 42 feet tall structure.

The park also has a world-class mountain bike circuit, the Single Track Jungle, designed by the world champion mountain biker Marla Streb.

El Cañón de San Cristóbal

San Cristobal Canyon is the deepest canyon in all the Antilles islands. This 9km long and 500km deep canyon is located between Aibonito and Barranquitas. It was carved by the Usabón river that runs through the bottom of the canyon. It has pools, cliffs, rock formations and waterfalls, including the highest waterfall of the Island.

Isla de Mona & Caja de Muertos

Isla de Mona is the third-largest island of the Puerto Rican archipielago. It is a natural reserve located in the Mona Passage, a strait between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The island is uninhabited.

Isla de Mona has 200-foot cliffs riddled with caves, mangrove forests, coral reefs and the world's largest marine-originated cave system. It is home to hundreds of rare animal species, including more than 100 endangered species. That is why it is known as the “Galapagos of the Caribbean.”

Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island or Dead Man's Chest) is an uninhabited island located 8 miles off the southern coast of Puerto Rico. This small natural reserve is just about 1½ miles long and about ½ mile wide at its widest point. It has beautiful beaches, coral reefs, dry forests, a lighthouse, hiking trails and a cave. The island is home to animal and plant species not found anywhere else in the world.

Isla de Mona

Isla de Mona

It's a Paradise...

Those are some of the awesome Puerto Rico's natural attractions. There are more than 30 natural reserves. If you love nature, Puerto Rico should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

Puerto Rico's gorgeous beaches, including Flamenco Beach in Culebra (considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) will be reviewed later in their own hub.

© 2013 IslandBites


IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on September 11, 2018:

Didn't know that.Thanks, quicksand!

quicksand on September 11, 2018:

Mick Jagger makes mention of Puerto Rico in the track 'Miss You.' He refers to it elsewhere too!

Anyways, looks a great place to visit. Nice images too!

Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on September 21, 2017:

I hope your okay and great article. I really want to visit Cuba and Puerto Rico too. Love the food! Mmm

Marcos on December 26, 2014:

I know what you mean, I just want to pick a cheap weekend trip to Florida or soerwhmee close for my partner and I. I just want to feel the sun on my face. Why do we live here again? lol

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on November 07, 2014:

Glad you liked it. Thank you for the comment!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 07, 2014:

Everything that I have heard about Puerto Rico being a beautiful place to visit has been confirmed in this fabulous hub of yours. Thanks for this in depth look at it. Going to pin this to my Puerto Rico board and dream about visiting there someday.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on April 15, 2014:

Hope you can visit soon. :)

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 09, 2014:

Thank you for the advice. Since I tend to stick to off the beaten track, I will go with a tour company.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on April 08, 2014:

Thanks for the comment!

There are some places that are easy to access, so a map will do. To visit other places like Cueva Ventana or el Cañon de San Cristobal, you'll need someone that knows the area.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 08, 2014:

A very informative and interesting hub about a great ecotourism destination, along with beautiful pictures and videos. I will definitely be here one day.

I need an advice though. Will you suggest going there on our own or go with a tour guide / company?

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on October 21, 2013:

Thanks for your comment, rebecca!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 21, 2013:

Voted Interesting! I think I have heard of this concept from people taking trips to Cuba, but I was not familiar with the term Ecotourism. It's nice to be able to put that label on it. Thanks for sharing this!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on October 21, 2013:

I appreciate your comment, GoForTheJuggler! Thanks. Hope you can visit someday!

Joshua Patrick from Texas on October 21, 2013:

My best childhood friend was from Puerto Rico, and when I was 13 he and his family moved back there. I definitely want to visit someday. Great hub full of beautiful pictures and great info - voted up and shared!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on October 18, 2013:

It is a great destination. The average temperatures range from 70 to 90. Fortunately, no major hurricane has hit us over the last 15 years. Hope you can make someday! Thanks for the comment!

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on October 18, 2013:

You live in a lovely place :-) I can imagine the weather is usually fantastic.... except when there are hurricanes! I hope that one day I can go and discover your island! There are a lot of things to do and fantastic vegetation to see! Thank you for the pictures :-)

Voted up, interesting and beautiful!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on October 08, 2013:

Yes, it is a great place. Thank you, Shinkicker!

Shinkicker from Scotland on October 08, 2013:

Awesome looking place. Beautiful photographs, some are truly spectacular. And so important to preserve these wonders of nature.

Voted up.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on October 03, 2013:

Thanks, Eddy!

Eiddwen from Wales on October 03, 2013:

A wonderful hub; loved it and voted up.


IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on September 22, 2013:

Thank you! I hope you can visit in the future.

Angela Joseph from Florida on September 22, 2013:

Wow! I love those photos. They make me want to visit. I passed through Puerto Rico a few times en route from Trinidad to the US, but I never set foot on land. Now I want to make it a holiday destination. Great job!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on September 08, 2013:

Thanks, guys! Hope you can visit someday!

Silva Hayes from Spicewood, Texas on September 08, 2013:

You made me want to go there; great hub.

freecampingaussie from Southern Spain on September 08, 2013:

Love this hub with all the photos - makes me want to visit ASAP, voting you up.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on September 03, 2013:

Thanks! I tried because there is a lot to enjoy. I'll do a hub about the best beaches and another about regular tourist attractions soon.

Schoolmom24 from Oregon on September 03, 2013:

Wow, super job covering so much of what Puerto Rico has to offer! You covered so much detail and I learned a lot. It looks so gorgeous and I would love to visit it some day! Thanks so much for visiting my hub and following...doing the same here! :)

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 31, 2013:

Glad to read that. Hope you can visit in the future. Thanks!

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 31, 2013:

I had no idea how beautiful Puerto Rico is until I read your hub and looked at these gorgeous photos. I would love to visit. Got it on my list now. Thanks for this beautiful, informative hub. Voted up and more.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 27, 2013:

I appreciate it, Mike! Thanks for the comment!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 27, 2013:

Blossom, PR is a colony of the USA since 1898. Although not everything is perfect, PR is indeed beautiful and I do love it. Thanks for stopping by!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 27, 2013:

Thank you, epbooks! I hope you can visit us again. You'll always find something new to do.

Mike Robbers from London on August 27, 2013:

Wonderful travel article, IslandBites! Your presentation of Puerto Rico and the photos are stunning! Voted and pinned!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on August 26, 2013:

What a great visit you took us on with all those lovely photos and great descriptions, too. I had no idea that it was part of the US. It looks so lovely and unspoiled, you must love it very much. Thank you for sharing about it.

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on August 26, 2013:

Wow- such beautiful pictures. I have been to Puerto Rico twice and fell in love with it. I'm not sure if I'll get the opportunity to go back, as I now live in Vegas, but it is amazing. Thanks for sharing this!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 26, 2013:

Yes, Kathryn. Puerto Rico is a US territory, and all Puerto Ricans are US citizens.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on August 26, 2013:

Nice, I didn't realize that U.S. citizens don't need a passport to go there, so that is good to know.

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on August 26, 2013:

They sure do. I imagine it must be quite a thrill to be cruising from up there!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 25, 2013:

Thief, the views from the Beast are gorgeous, right? Thanks for the comment!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 25, 2013:

Thanks, Kathryn! I forgot to mention that US citizen do not need passport. I hope you can visit soon. You're going to love it.

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on August 25, 2013:

Great hub and beautiful place! Lots of places I haven't visited in awhile. And that Beast zip-line looks awesome! :-D

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on August 25, 2013:

This is beautiful! You did a great job covering different destinations, and including photos. It seems there's a lot to do there!

I have been to the Caribbean, but not that far. The Cayman islands are the closest I have been. Someday I may visit that area.

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a wonderful day!

~ Kathryn

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on August 25, 2013:

Welcome! Yes, el Yunque is awesome. I'm glad you're enjoying your trip. I hope you can visit PR again. Thanks for the comment.

Nick Jones on August 25, 2013:

Thank you very much for sharing this. I'm in PR from a few days ago, I visited El Yunque and is beautiful. Now i Iknow other places to visit. I hope I have enough time. I would definitely visit all of them in my next trip.

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