Discovering Puerto Rico: Ecotourism Destination
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.
Pack your bags!
Get ready to enjoy Puerto Rican wonderful nature. These are some activities to do:
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Would you like to visit Puerto Rico?
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 the most beautiful beaches of the world) will be reviewed later in their own hub.